1. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the progress of the capital review; the discussions he has had with the Minister for Health on health capital investment priorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2486/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Capital Expenditure Programme Review)

Deputy Dara Calleary: I am trying to get a sense of the timeline for the capital plan review. Has the Minister set a deadline for publishing it? I asked parliamentary questions of all of the Ministers, and I got no sense of major urgency in terms of their various priorities and negotiations with the Minister on the plan. This morning I want to focus specifically on the health element of the plan, bearing in mind the Minister for Health has said he intends to engage with the Minister on the ca...

2. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if additional use of public private partnerships, PPPs, in capital spending beyond the 10% cap will be ruled out in view of the lack of a systematic cost-benefit analysis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2405/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Public Private Partnerships)

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: I ask the Minister to rule out the use of PPPs in capital spending beyond the 10% cap in light of the review and given the lack of cost-benefit analyses.
 ...

3. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of cases of bullying and sexual harassment that have been reported within a Government Department since 2011; the outcome of such cases; the steps he is taking to ensure the safety and dignity of all employees within the public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2487/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Bullying in the Workplace)

Deputy Dara Calleary: Bullying and harassment at work has come into a new focus in recent weeks and months. I am conscious of the Minister’s Department’s Dignity at Work document. I want to know what engagement there is between his Department and other Departments on the issue of bullying and sexual harassment within each line Department.
 ...

4. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the core priorities of his Department with respect to the ongoing challenges presented by Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2609/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Brexit Issues)

Deputy Mattie McGrath: My apologies. I was attending a meeting of the Business Committee. What are the Minister’s priorities in respect of the ongoing Brexit debate? This issue is hugely worrying for many.
 ...

6. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the drainage projects to be undertaken by the Office of Public Works in County Cavan in 2018; the estimated cost of same; the drainage projects to be undertaken by Cavan County Council with financial assistance from the Office of Public Works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2131/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Office of Public Works Projects)

Deputy Brendan Smith: Many parts of County Cavan are affected by severe flooding. Unfortunately, however, very little of the county is covered by the Arterial Drainage Act 1945. There is at times a huge burden on the county council to carry out flood relief and drainage works. Will the Minister of State ensure whatever proposals are put before the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform by Cavan County Council are given urgent and favourable consideration? Will he engage with the Ministe...

7. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress his Department has made on the report on pay equalisation as specified in the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017; the scope of the report; the timeframe involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2339/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Public Sector Pay)

Deputy Dara Calleary: We proposed an amendment to the Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill on pay equalisation and I want to ensure that this is working its way through the system.
 ...

8. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to prioritise particular projects in the context of the capital review programme; the extent to which he expects to address issues in health, housing or other sensitive areas in this context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2344/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Capital Expenditure Programme)

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: My question relates to the extent to which the Minister might find it possible, in the context of the capital review programme, to identify the most important items of infrastructure with a view to benefiting the economy.
 ...

10. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to review and address recruitment and retention issues in various areas of the public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2342/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Public Service Pay Commission)

Deputy Dara Calleary: During the course of last year there was a major issue in some areas of the public service. Once again the health sector was highlighted in the past few weeks owing to the difficulties faced in the recruitment of nurses and emergency doctors. Difficulties are also evident in the disability services. There was a debate in the House yesterday on section 39 organisations. What are the specific plans in place and the targets for recruitment campaigns in the next quarter to ...

11. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department will issue guidelines to other Departments regarding the engagement of private companies for contract work; if the working conditions of staff in these companies’ firms, including trade union recognition, will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2163/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Public Procurement Contracts)

Deputy Mick Barry: When other Departments engage private companies for contract work, will the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform issue guidelines as to the regard to be given to the conditions of workers in those private companies, including trade union recognition? I am interested to hear a statement on that matter.
 ...

12. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the actions taken in the event that spending projections across Departments are not met; if the €317 million underspend in net voted expenditure in 12 Departments announced in the December 2017 Fiscal Monitor will be returned to the central fund or if the funds will be kept in the Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2343/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Public Sector Expenditure)

Deputy Dara Calleary: I ask the Minister to confirm the end-of-year figures in terms of current and capital underspend. I note a total of €352 million, made up of €314 million and €38 million. Will that underspend be retained in each Department or go back into central funds?
 ...

15. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the proposed legislation to increase the compulsory retirement age for public servants to 70 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2121/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Public Sector Staff Retirements)

Deputy John Brady: I want to ask the Minister about the announcement he made last December whereby he decided to increase the retirement age for public service workers from 65 to 70. That must be welcomed, although it does not go far enough. The Minister is aware that I put forward legislation to ensure no worker would be subject to a mandatory retirement age. However, there is some concern on this issue. With whom did the Minister consult regarding the interim arrangements he announced in a...

17. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the flooding projects undertaken in 2017; the status of the projects planned for 2018; the position regarding CFRAM; if his Department has a role in ensuring insurance companies process storm damage claims in a timely manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2340/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Flood Relief Schemes Status)

Deputy Dara Calleary: We had a short discussion prior to Christmas about catchment flood risk assessment and management, CFRAM, and insurance. I know the Minister and his yellow jacket have been on tour around the country, along with various Fine Gael Ministers, since then. Where are we on the CFRAM issue? I understand the Minister is planning some big announcements in the next while. Where are we with insurance companies, in particular concerning the events in Galway and other places over C...

19. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to prioritise the flood defence needs of the State in the next capital plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2334/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Flood Relief Schemes Funding)

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: This is to ask the Minister of State about capital spending on flood defence projects and if he will make a statement on the priorities.
 ...

30. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the measures that will be undertaken by the Office of Public Works in 2018 to alleviate flooding caused by the River Erne in County Cavan due to the damage caused by such flooding over recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2130/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Flood Prevention Measures)

Deputy Brendan Smith: The River Erne, which rises in County Cavan and flows from County Fermanagh into County Donegal, causes major flooding in Cavan. One problem relating to drainage comes from a channel between upper and lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh. I urge the Minister of State to maintain ongoing contact with the authorities in Northern Ireland to bring forward a scheme which will benefit the citizens of both County Fermanagh and County Cavan.
 ...

33. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress made in addressing the issue of pensions for community employment supervisors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2118/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Deputy John Curran: I know time is short so I will be very direct. The issue of pension rights for community employment supervisors has been raised in the House, and time and again we are told that the high level forum in the Minister’s Department is dealing with the issue. Will the Minister advise us and update us on any progress that has been made recently.
 ...

40. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason public service workers who wish to remain at work beyond 65 years of age will see wage cuts as per the terms and conditions set out for those wishing to remain at work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2349/18 asked on 18 Jan 2018 - Public Sector Staff Retirements)

Deputy John Brady: I want to ask the Minister about the announcement he made last December whereby he decided to increase the retirement age for public service workers from 65 to 70. That must be welcomed, although it does not go far enough. The Minister is aware that I put forward legislation to ensure no worker would be subject to a mandatory retirement age. However, there is some concern on this issue. With whom did the Minister consult regarding the interim arrangements he announced in a...

1. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the latest survey of income and living conditions, SILC, data which show that approximately 11% of children are living in consistent poverty, that 19% are at risk of poverty and that 25% are experiencing deprivation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2134/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Child Poverty)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: I raise this question to reflect my concern that the substantial rates of economic growth we have been experiencing in recent years have not translated into a substantial reduction in the level of child poverty.
 ...

2. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the timeframe for the restoration of the State pension for those affected by the 2012 changes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2331/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Pensions Legislation)

Deputy John Brady: I start by expressing a happy new year to everyone in the House, to the Minister, to the staff and to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
Will the Minister outline clearly a timeframe for the reversal of the 2012 pension changes and a timeframe for the restoration of pension payments to more than 42,000 people who are directly affected by these changes?
 ...

3. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to correct the 2012 pension anomalies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2190/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Pensions Legislation)

Deputy John Brady: I start by expressing a happy new year to everyone in the House, to the Minister, to the staff and to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
Will the Minister outline clearly a timeframe for the reversal of the 2012 pension changes and a timeframe for the restoration of pension payments to more than 42,000 people who are directly affected by these changes?
 ...

4. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when she will take measures to reverse the discrimination facing women whoraised families before 1994 when their contributory pension entitlements are calculated; the steps she is taking to address the losses suffered by pensioners as a result of the changing of the bands for the contributory pension in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2330/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - State Pension (Contributory))

Deputy Bríd Smith: I am asking the Minister the same question as the previous one but in a different manner and I would like the Minister to take a slightly different emphasis from the one she took with respect to the question of discrimination against women in this regard. Although these band changes affect both men and women, there are particular measures of discrimination affecting women who raised their families prior to 1994. In addressing the question and making the statement that I have...

5. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the average waiting time for decisions on carer’s allowance and domiciliary care allowance payments; the number of persons awaiting decisions on such payments, including the length of time involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2133/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Social Welfare Payments Waiting Times)

Deputy Catherine Connolly: It has come to my attention that those waiting for decisions on carer’s allowance and domiciliary care allowance paymentds can wait for anything between nine and 18 months for them. My question is about the number of persons waiting for such decisions and the length of time involved. Will the Minister make a statement on the matter?
 ...

6. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans for the Tús scheme and the community employment schemes in view of the fact that many community groups are finding it difficult to recruit persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 1878/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Community Employment Schemes Review)

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: This is to ask the Minister her plans for the Tús and the community employment schemes in view of the fact that many community groups are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit persons, particularly in light of some of the employment agencies which work on behalf of the State having to prioritise applicants if they are called for those first even in cases where a Tús scheme or a community employment scheme might be more beneficial and more suitable to an applica...

7. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when persons who have been adversely affected by the contribution band changes for the State pension in budget 2012 are to have their payments reinstated and reimbursed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 1848/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I know the Minister spoke at length on this issue earlier. This morning a group of civic society bodies, including Age Action, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, Fórsa, SIPTU, Active Retirement Ireland and Pensioners for Equality are all demanding that the Minister take urgent action. Unfortunately, the Minister was not present for Report Stage when I got an opportunity to try to amend the recent Social Welfare Bill so that...

8. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the various conflicts emerging between operators of community employment schemes and those agencies (details supplied) tasked with reskilling; her plans to reform the schemes and address current restrictions preventing fuller participation in community employment schemes for many persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 1992/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Community Employment Schemes Review)

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: This is to ask the Minister her plans for the Tús and the community employment schemes in view of the fact that many community groups are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit persons, particularly in light of some of the employment agencies which work on behalf of the State having to prioritise applicants if they are called for those first even in cases where a Tús scheme or a community employment scheme might be more beneficial and more suitable to an applica...

9. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to improve the operation of family income supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 1966/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Working Family Payment)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: I apologise. The reference in Question No. 9 to “family income supplement” should read “working family payment”.
 ...