2. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on changes to his Department’s website; and if changes are being made to merrionstreet.ie. (Question 41863/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Departmental Communications)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, together. The strategic communications unit in my Department represents a step change in how we as a Government communicate with our people. It is about informing people of the work of Government in a co-ordinated, focused and cross-governmental way so that it becomes easier for people to understand what the Government is doing and the full range of State services, benefits and entitlements available to people, both new and cur...

6. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the status of the commitment in his own Department’s strategy statement to examine the balance of power and responsibility between the government and the civil service. (Question 43829/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Departmental Communications)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, together. The strategic communications unit in my Department represents a step change in how we as a Government communicate with our people. It is about informing people of the work of Government in a co-ordinated, focused and cross-governmental way so that it becomes easier for people to understand what the Government is doing and the full range of State services, benefits and entitlements available to people, both new and cur...

7. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet Committee A (Economy) last met. (Question 41642/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, together.
Cabinet Committee A held its first meeting on 12 September. Its focus is on economic issues, including implementation of the Action Plan for Jobs 2017 and preparation of a new, more focused, action plan for next year; labour market policies, including implementation of Pathways to Work and responding to emerging skills pressures; competitiveness and productivity challenges for businesses, including pressures from rece...

12. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the informal EU meeting he attended in Estonia; the issues that were discussed; the bilateral meetings he attended; and if bilateral meetings were held. (Question 42454/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - EU Summits)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 to 16, inclusive, together.
The digital summit in Tallinn was an important opportunity for EU leaders to discuss the evolution of digital technologies and their wide-ranging implications in a less formal setting than regular European Council business. The Estonian Presidency prepared a very useful, forward-looking agenda to stimulate discussion on how Europe can develop its competitive advantages in a fast-changing digital world which is re-sha...

13. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if immigration to the EU was discussed in Estonia at the informal EU meeting. (Question 42459/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - EU Summits)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 to 16, inclusive, together.
The digital summit in Tallinn was an important opportunity for EU leaders to discuss the evolution of digital technologies and their wide-ranging implications in a less formal setting than regular European Council business. The Estonian Presidency prepared a very useful, forward-looking agenda to stimulate discussion on how Europe can develop its competitive advantages in a fast-changing digital world which is re-sha...

6. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach to outline the policy areas that his appointed advisors have. (Question 41864/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Departmental Staff)

The Taoiseach: I look forward to the proponent explaining what a great idea it all is.
 ...

77. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 4 to 6, inclusive, of 27 September 2017, the status of the commitment in his Department’s strategy statement to examine the balance of power and responsibility between the Government and the Civil Service; and if he will elaborate on the operating principles of the strategic communications unit. (Question 43573/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Government Information Service)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, 95 and 99 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) will be integrated within the Civil Service structures in my Department, with the Director of the Unit reporting to the Secretary General of the Department. The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) has decided to establish a sub group of the CSMB which will act as a high-level working group. It will be chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and the membe...

78. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if the director and-or other members of the strategic communications unit have been meeting political advisers in each Department; if his attention has been drawn to the aim of these meetings; if he has received reports from these meetings; and if the Government press secretary has also attended. (Question 43574/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Government Information Service)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, 95 and 99 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) will be integrated within the Civil Service structures in my Department, with the Director of the Unit reporting to the Secretary General of the Department. The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) has decided to establish a sub group of the CSMB which will act as a high-level working group. It will be chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and the membe...

79. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the position regarding the research his Department has undertaken on existing communication activities, including the range of campaigns brands and channels of communication used by different agencies as referred to in a reply to a previous parliamentary question; and if this research will be published. (Question 43575/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Government Information Service)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, 95 and 99 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) will be integrated within the Civil Service structures in my Department, with the Director of the Unit reporting to the Secretary General of the Department. The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) has decided to establish a sub group of the CSMB which will act as a high-level working group. It will be chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and the membe...

80. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if advice from outside agencies or consultancies had been sought by the strategic communications unit before it was set up or since it has been set up. (Question 43576/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Government Information Service)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, 95 and 99 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) will be integrated within the Civil Service structures in my Department, with the Director of the Unit reporting to the Secretary General of the Department. The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) has decided to establish a sub group of the CSMB which will act as a high-level working group. It will be chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and the membe...

81. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if the strategic communications unit will provide advice on the way to deal with crisis communications; and if it is responsible for setting a positive news agenda. (Question 43577/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Government Information Service)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, 95 and 99 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) will be integrated within the Civil Service structures in my Department, with the Director of the Unit reporting to the Secretary General of the Department. The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) has decided to establish a sub group of the CSMB which will act as a high-level working group. It will be chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and the membe...

82. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the financial allocation to the strategic communications unit or another unit in the communications in addition to the merrionstreet.ie website or the GIS in his Department that is spent on promoting adverts or clips on a website and social media outlet (details supplied) or other social media outlets; and the amount that has been spent on a monthly basis to date in 2017. (Question 43628/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Government Information Service)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, 95 and 99 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) will be integrated within the Civil Service structures in my Department, with the Director of the Unit reporting to the Secretary General of the Department. The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) has decided to establish a sub group of the CSMB which will act as a high-level working group. It will be chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and the membe...

83. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach his plans to place his speeches on either his Department’s website or merrionstreet.ie. (Question 43629/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Government Information Service)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, 95 and 99 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) will be integrated within the Civil Service structures in my Department, with the Director of the Unit reporting to the Secretary General of the Department. The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) has decided to establish a sub group of the CSMB which will act as a high-level working group. It will be chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and the membe...

84. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the position regarding his weekly messages on social media. (Question 43630/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Government Information Service)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, 95 and 99 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) will be integrated within the Civil Service structures in my Department, with the Director of the Unit reporting to the Secretary General of the Department. The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) has decided to establish a sub group of the CSMB which will act as a high-level working group. It will be chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and the membe...

85. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee E, health, last met. (Question 43631/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: Cabinet Committee E last met on 12 September 2017. It is scheduled to meet again in the coming weeks.
 ...

86. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he had a further meeting with the church leaders. (Question 43632/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: On 31 August last I held my first formal meeting with representatives of the Catholic Church under the structured dialogue process. 
I intend to hold further meetings with other dialogue partners and I have asked my office to progress this matter and make the necessary arrangements. I hope to be in a position to meet next with representatives of the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland.
 ...

87. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has set up the all-party group on Seanad reform. (Question 43634/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Seanad Reform)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 87 and 88 together.
In the Programme for a Partnership Government, the Government stated its commitment to pursuing the implementation of the Report of the Working Group on Seanad Reform (the Manning Report).
That Report was published in 2015 and it is available on my Department’s website. 
One of the recommendations of the Report was the establishment of an Implementation Group to oversee implementation of the reforms contained in the Report. ...

88. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the position regarding the commitment in his Department’s statement of strategy on implementing the Manning report in full. (Question 43635/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Seanad Reform)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 87 and 88 together.
In the Programme for a Partnership Government, the Government stated its commitment to pursuing the implementation of the Report of the Working Group on Seanad Reform (the Manning Report).
That Report was published in 2015 and it is available on my Department’s website. 
One of the recommendations of the Report was the establishment of an Implementation Group to oversee implementation of the reforms contained in the Report. ...

89. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to First Minister Arlene Foster recently. (Question 43636/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Northern Ireland)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 90 together.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade is keeping me informed on a regular basis on political developments in Northern Ireland and on his contact with the Northern parties and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
The absence of an Executive in Northern Ireland continues to be a major concern for the Government who have been encouraging and supporting the two main parties to reach agreement. 
There is a real ne...

90. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill recently. (Question 43637/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Northern Ireland)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 90 together.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade is keeping me informed on a regular basis on political developments in Northern Ireland and on his contact with the Northern parties and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
The absence of an Executive in Northern Ireland continues to be a major concern for the Government who have been encouraging and supporting the two main parties to reach agreement. 
There is a real ne...

91. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach his plans for the €5 million announced in budget 2018 for the strategic communications unit; and the number of additional staff he plans to recruit in addition to the six who are working there. (Question 43665/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 to 93, inclusive, 96 and 97 together.
My Department’s budget for 2018 has decreased by 2% compared to 2017. My Department does not have any budget for capital expenditure.
The focus of the new Strategic Communications Unit established in my Department will be to streamline Government communications for citizens, develop and deliver major cross-Government communication campaigns, and improve communications capacity across Government. 
The Unit ...

92. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the element that is current and capital in the €5 million announced for the strategic communications unit in his Department in budget 2018. (Question 43666/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 to 93, inclusive, 96 and 97 together.
My Department’s budget for 2018 has decreased by 2% compared to 2017. My Department does not have any budget for capital expenditure.
The focus of the new Strategic Communications Unit established in my Department will be to streamline Government communications for citizens, develop and deliver major cross-Government communication campaigns, and improve communications capacity across Government. 
The Unit ...

93. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the strategic communications unit can be cost neutral and save money for his Department as outlined previously and receive €5 million. (Question 43667/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 to 93, inclusive, 96 and 97 together.
My Department’s budget for 2018 has decreased by 2% compared to 2017. My Department does not have any budget for capital expenditure.
The focus of the new Strategic Communications Unit established in my Department will be to streamline Government communications for citizens, develop and deliver major cross-Government communication campaigns, and improve communications capacity across Government. 
The Unit ...

94. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has met or spoken to any EU leader recently regarding Brexit . (Question 43813/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Brexit Issues)

The Taoiseach: Ongoing political engagement with our EU and international partners is crucial, especially as negotiations on Brexit proceed.
I continue to use every opportunity to ensure that other Member States and the EU institutions fully understand our particular concerns arising from Brexit, to enable the best possible outcome for this country. Of course, other Ministers - particularly Minister Coveney, who has special responsibility for Brexit - are also meeting with their EU counterparts...

95. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if the merrionstreet.ie website is being revamped or changed; and the cost of same. (Question 43859/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Government Information Service)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 84, inclusive, 95 and 99 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) will be integrated within the Civil Service structures in my Department, with the Director of the Unit reporting to the Secretary General of the Department. The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) has decided to establish a sub group of the CSMB which will act as a high-level working group. It will be chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and the membe...