1. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach further to the reply from the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to Parliamentary Question No. 21 of 25 January 2018, the status of the proposal to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025. (Question 19091/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Departmental Strategies)

The Taoiseach: Plans to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025 are advancing. As I have previously stated, that does not necessarily mean a doubling of agencies, embassies, staff or budget – though we are and will be expanding these where appropriate. It means taking the steps necessary to double our impact around the world. The exercise will enhance Ireland’s visibility globally, extending our international influence. It will position us for trade and investment growth in new and existin...

10. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he met the DUP and Sinn Féin leaders when he visited Northern Ireland on 30 April 2018; and the issues they discussed. (Question 19987/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 11, inclusive, together.
On the afternoon of 30 April, I travelled to Northern Ireland following my attendance at the fourth plenary meeting of the all-island civic dialogue in Dundalk.
I had a number of different engagements during my visit, which was part of my efforts and those of the Government to stay engaged with all parts of society in Northern Ireland.
My first engagement was a visit to New-Bridge integrated college in Loughbrickland. ...

8. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if Prime Minister May outlined her views on a workable backstop when he last spoke with her. (Question 19989/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, together.
I had a short meeting with Prime Minister May in the margins of the European Council on 23 March during which we discussed the latest developments in relation to Brexit, Northern Ireland and Russia.
On Brexit, I welcomed her Government’s commitment to ensuring the backstop forms part of the withdrawal agreement, and looked forward to progress on this and on the other options before the European Council in June. I expe...

93. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he held meetings while attending the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium; and the issues that were discussed. (Question 19619/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 94 together.
I delivered an address on the Future of Europe at the Catholic University of Leuven as part of its Wilfried Martens series of lectures. This is an annual event, with previous speakers including Commission President Juncker and former German Finance Minister Schauble. The event was live-streamed and the text of my speech is available online. 
My speech covered the many achievements of the European Union, the benefits for Irelan...

94. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his speech in Leuven. (Question 19621/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 94 together.
I delivered an address on the Future of Europe at the Catholic University of Leuven as part of its Wilfried Martens series of lectures. This is an annual event, with previous speakers including Commission President Juncker and former German Finance Minister Schauble. The event was live-streamed and the text of my speech is available online. 
My speech covered the many achievements of the European Union, the benefits for Irelan...

95. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach when he last spoke to Prime Minister May; if the framework for the future relationship was discussed; and if she spoke regarding the backstop outlined in the December 2017 agreement and the way in which she referenced same in her speech in the Mansion House, London recently. (Question 19622/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I had a short meeting with Prime Minister May in the margins of the European Council on 23 March during which we discussed the latest developments in relation to Brexit, Northern Ireland and Russia.
On Brexit, I welcomed her government’s commitment to ensuring the backstop forms part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and looked forward to progress on this and on the other options before the European Council in June. I also conveyed to her my outrage at the attack in Salisbury. 
This w...

96. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he met the Commissioner, Mr. Phil Hogan, when he was in Dublin addressing Seanad Éireann; and if so, the issues that were discussed. (Question 19623/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I had a private meeting with the Commissioner on the evening Wednesday, 25 April. We had an exchange of views on a range of issues, including Brexit, reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the new Multiannual Financial Framework.
 ...

97. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to mark the 40th anniversary of Irish troops being deployed to Lebanon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19658/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Defence Forces)

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): This year marks significant anniversaries in relation to Ireland’s UN peacekeeping role.  It will be the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s first participation in a UN peacekeeping mission and it is the 40th anniversary of the first deployment of Defence Force personnel to Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission.   
Ireland has made a huge commitment to supporting peace and security in the Middle East region and has participated ...

102. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he or officials in his Department met the British Minister for the Cabinet Office, Mr. David Lidington, when he visited Dublin. (Question 19620/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Ministerial Meetings)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I met with UK Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington, during his visit to Dublin in April. As the Minister for the Cabinet Office often deputises for the Prime Minister, it is appropriate for me to routinely meet Minister Lidington to discuss issues of importance to both Governments. 
Although the Minister for the Cabinet Office does not have lead responsibility for Brexit, his visit to Dublin, and subseque...

104. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Mr. Michel Barnier elaborated on the scope of the alignment he referred to in his speech in the context of the Border when they met on 30 April 2018. (Question 19988/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Brexit Issues)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 104 and 108 together.
The Taoiseach and I met with Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations, on 30 April in advance of his address to the All-Island Civic Dialogue. Our meeting offered an opportunity to take stock of the current state of play in the negotiations on both the future relationship and the draft Withdrawal Agreement, including progress on the ...

105. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; and if he or his officials have held meetings recently on the matter. (Question 19990/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Dublin-Monaghan Bombings)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Dealing with long-outstanding issues relating to the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland are of the utmost importance to the Government. 
The Programme for a Partnership Government highlights this priority, with specific reference to implementation of the All-Party Dáil motions relating to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. 
The All-Party motion on the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings that was adopted by the Dáil on 25...

107. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if it will be October 2018 before a possible deal will be negotiated on Brexit; and the way in which it will be applied to the Border. (Question 19729/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Brexit Negotiations)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 107 together. 
Following on from the March European Council, the EU and UK agreed to five additional formal rounds of negotiations between April and the next European Council in June. These negotiations are focused on all outstanding issues in the draft Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as the future relationship.
The UK has ag...

108. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he spoke with Mr. Michel Barnier regarding the way in which total alignment would work after Brexit in March 2019. (Question 19731/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Brexit Issues)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 104 and 108 together.
The Taoiseach and I met with Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations, on 30 April in advance of his address to the All-Island Civic Dialogue. Our meeting offered an opportunity to take stock of the current state of play in the negotiations on both the future relationship and the draft Withdrawal Agreement, including progress on the ...

148. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) which provides special services for autistic children is oversubscribed; his views on whether the new school that is being built in 2019 can cater for that oversubscription; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19656/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 149 together.
My Department provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools, which have enrolled students with special educational needs, including those with Autism in order to ensure that wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education. 
Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appr...

149. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a child (details supplied) has been denied a place in a school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19657/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 149 together.
My Department provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools, which have enrolled students with special educational needs, including those with Autism in order to ensure that wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education. 
Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appr...

1. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the Cabinet committee at which communications and media mergers are discussed; and when it last met. (Question 17973/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Media Mergers)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, together.
The object of Cabinet Committee D, infrastructure, is to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the development and implementation of policy on housing infrastructure investment and delivery, climate action and the delivery of Project Ireland 2040.
 ...

5. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to the President of the European Council, Mr. Donald Tusk, since his speech on 18 April 2018 to the European Parliament on Brexit regarding the forthcoming assessment on the talks on transition in June 2018. (Question 17972/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Brexit Negotiations)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 7, inclusive, together.
I have not spoken to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, since his statement to the European Parliament on 18 April. As Deputies are aware, I last met formally with President Tusk in Dublin on 8 March, when we discussed a range of issues across the EU agenda, including Brexit. I thanked President Tusk for his ongoing strong support in relation to the Irish-specific issues arising from the UK’s decision...

8. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the referendum campaign on the eighth amendment of the Constitution. (Question 17977/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Referendum Campaigns)

The Taoiseach: The reply may make the issue somewhat moot.
The question relates to my role as Taoiseach in the referendum campaign on the eight amendment of the Constitution. I have no function in the matter. My Department has no role in any campaign related to the referendum and no involvement beyond its normal role of supporting and providing a secretariat for the Government.
 ...

82. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance when the summer economic statement is planned. (Question 19089/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Summer Economic Statement)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The Summer Economic Statement (SES) is a key element of the reformed budgetary process which complements the Stability Programme Update (SPU). The macroeconomic outlook that was published in April, as part of SPU 2018, will underpin the SES. The SES will provide an updated assessment of the broad parameters for fiscal policies in 2019 and will outline what I believe will be the appropriate fiscal stance for our economy next year.
The SES is expect...

183. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she and her predecessors have taken to address the concerns of members of an association (details supplied) about their pensions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19231/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 to 185, inclusive, together.
All dealings and decisions made by corporate or individual trustees of an occupational pension scheme are governed by legislation and enforced through the supervision of the Pensions Authority. The duties of a pension scheme trustee include administering a scheme in trust in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and rules. Consequent...

184. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is satisfied that the trustees of a pension scheme (details supplied) have acted in the best interest of all beneficiaries and in particular the best interests of an association; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19232/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 to 185, inclusive, together.
All dealings and decisions made by corporate or individual trustees of an occupational pension scheme are governed by legislation and enforced through the supervision of the Pensions Authority. The duties of a pension scheme trustee include administering a scheme in trust in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and rules. Consequent...

185. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she or her predecessors have taken to address the concerns of an association (details supplied) that is of the view that decisions were taken without its input in 2010 in relation to its pension scheme which closed off the defined benefit pension and replaced it with a defined contribution scheme and changed rules and governance arrangements; the efforts that have been made to resolve these matters; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19233/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 to 185, inclusive, together.
All dealings and decisions made by corporate or individual trustees of an occupational pension scheme are governed by legislation and enforced through the supervision of the Pensions Authority. The duties of a pension scheme trustee include administering a scheme in trust in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and rules. Consequent...

186. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if safeguards will be put in place to enable pensioners have a greater say in the governance of their pension scheme in view of the fact that many defined benefit pension schemes are closed to new members and that pensioners constitute a growing percentage of scheme memberships; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19234/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defined Benefit Pension Schemes)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The governance of an individual pension scheme is generally a matter for the scheme trustees. Scheme trustees have duties and responsibilities under trust law, under other relevant legislation and under the Pensions Act, 1990, as amended. The duties of pension scheme trustees include administering the trust in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust deed and rules. It is important to note that pension sc...

187. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to introduce measures to specifically protect retired members of defined benefit pension schemes particularly in view of the fact that pensioner groups only have one month to appeal the decision of the pension fund trustees to make an application for a section 50 order to the Pensions Authority for reduction in pension benefits to the courts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19235/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defined Benefit Pension Schemes)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): If the funding of a pension scheme is not sufficient to satisfy the Funding Standard, the trustees may apply to the Pensions Authority for a direction under section 50 of the Pensions Act 1990. Under such an order accrued benefits relating to members’ past service can be reduced. Prior to making an application to the Pensions Authority, trustees must have undertaken a comprehensive review of the scheme with a view ...

188. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to amend section 81E of the Pensions Act 1990 to abolish the six to 12 month time bar in which pensioners cannot pursue a complaint once they have retired longer than 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19236/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Pensions Legislation)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Section 81E of the Pensions Act 1990 refers to the forum for seeking redress in relation to equal pension treatment in occupational benefits schemes. The time limit provisions contained in Section 81E relating to equal pension treatment and redress are derived from overarching legislative provisions pertaining to access to industrial relations machinery in Ireland. Under that legislation access to industrial relatio...