48. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to advocate at the EU Foreign Affairs Council for the lifting of the EU’s economic sanctions against Syria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53156/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Syrian Conflict)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 56 together.
Sanctions are a tool which the international community may use to put political pressure on those who commit violence against their own people. In the case of Syria, the EU sanctions include an oil embargo, restrictions on investments, a freeze of Syrian Central Bank assets and export restrictions on equipment and technology that might be used for internal repression, ...

56. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to contact the US Ambassador to raise the issue of lifting the United States’ economic sanctions against Syria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53157/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Syrian Conflict)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 56 together.
Sanctions are a tool which the international community may use to put political pressure on those who commit violence against their own people. In the case of Syria, the EU sanctions include an oil embargo, restrictions on investments, a freeze of Syrian Central Bank assets and export restrictions on equipment and technology that might be used for internal repression, ...

130. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to a report a report by CAO on An Garda Síochána regarding the use by the former Garda Commissioner of a personal email account (details supplied); if he or persons in his Department have received such a report; if persons in his Department have been in correspondence with members of An Garda Síochána by email or other forms of correspondence regarding this report; if he has not received such a report, if he will request same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53362/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Policing Authority Reports)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As I set out in my reply to the Deputy’s recent question in relation to the Policing Authority, the establishment of the Authority represents one of the most significant developments in policing since the foundation of the State.  It constitutes a major element of the comprehensive programme of justice reform which is being delivered by the Government, aimed both at ensuring continuing confidence in the work of An Garda Síochána and at...

136. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has formally requested an interim report from the Commission on the Future of Policing; if so, when this request took place; if he has received such a report; if so, if he will publish same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53402/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Commission on the Future of Policing Reports)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland which began its work in May, is undertaking a comprehensive examination of all aspects of policing including all functions currently carried out by An Garda Síochána including community safety, security and immigration. 
The themes it is to address are:
-  the structures and management arrangements
- the appropriate composition, recruitment and training of...

137. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will make public on his Department’s website all email correspondence between the former Garda Commissioner and officials in his Department during the summer of 2017, concerning their position as Commissioner and their possible retirement (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53403/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Departmental Communications)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): It is generally not the practice to comment on or publish material relating to an individual’s personal employment situation.
 
 ...

54. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on the fact that 335 members of the Defence Forces have left voluntarily to date in 2017; if he has satisfied himself that the pay and conditions of the Defence Forces is acceptable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52966/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Defence Forces Retirements)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Given the unique and demanding nature of military life, there is understandably a relatively high level of turnover among Defence Forces personnel. However, this is not new and the Defence Forces have always had a level of turnover that far exceeds other are a s of the public service.
Voluntary exit interviews of personnel of all ranks conducted by the Defence Forces indicate that the reasons for leaving range from economic fac...

78. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the considerations and planning his Department has taken with regard to Ireland’s imminent joining of PESCO; if the defence budget for 2018, 2019 and 2020 will now increase year on year due to the commitments required of PESCO membership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52965/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Permanent Structured Co-operation)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Consideration is currently being given to the potential PESCO projects in which Ireland will participate. The work on elaborating the details of these project proposals and potential participants is currently ongoing at EU level and Ireland is playing its full part in those deliberations.
While some additional costs may arise in respect of participation in specific PESCO Project(s) similar to the case where the Defence Forces p...

511. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is entitled to fuel allowance. (Question 52913/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Fuel Allowance Eligibility)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): This gentleman is in receipt of Disability Allowance (DA) since 23 April 2014. An application for Free Fuel Allowance (FFA) was received from this gentleman on 20 October 2017. FFA is a payment under the National Fuel Scheme to help with the cost of heating your home during the winter months. It is paid to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments and who are unable to ...

8. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to the announcement by the Minister for Finance of the creation of Home Building Finance Ireland, HBFI, if his Department has engaged with the Department of Finance regarding HBFI; the role he envisages his Department playing with regard to HBFI; if he has satisfied himself that HBFI will bring the required funding into the area of residential development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52273/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Provision)

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: As announced in budget 2018, my colleague, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, intends to establish Home Building Finance Ireland, HBFI, to provide funding on market terms to viable residential development projects whose owners are experiencing difficulty in obtaining debt funding.
Officials from my Department have met with Department of Finance officials on the matter and will continue to engage with them as the enabling legislation ...

16. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of HAP tenancies created to date in 2017 throughout the country; the number of HAP tenancies created to date in 2017 in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52269/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Assistance Payment Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a flexible and immediate housing support that is now available to all eligible households throughout the State. There are currently over 30,000 households in receipt of HAP and over 20,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme.
An accelerated target of an additional 15,000 households to be supported by...

22. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of properties acquired by the 31 local authorities to date in 2017; the number that are vacant at present; the average vacancy time for local authority acquisitions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52272/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Local Authority Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Through the supports made available under Rebuilding Ireland, funding is available to all local authorities to deliver additional social housing stock through new construction projects and through the acquisition of new and previously owned houses/apartments for social housing use, including through working with approved housing bodies. 
Details on the number of properties purchased by all local authority areas, for lett...

27. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether the local authority in County Wexford will only directly build three social houses in 2017; if he is satisfied with the rate of building of social housing by all 31 local authorities, if his Department will consider releasing extra funding to the local authorities specifically for the direct building of social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52271/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Local Authority Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Addressing our housing shortage and homelessness crisis is the number one priority and Rebuilding Ireland is focused on increasing and accelerating housing delivery, across all tenures. 
It should be noted that the funding for the social housing element of Rebuilding Ireland was increased from €5.35 billion to over €6 billion in Budget 2018. €1.9 billion of this is allocated for housing in 2018.  Beyond 2018, my Departme...

35. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his Department has conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the HAP scheme in its current form; if so, the details of the analysis; if he is satisfied the HAP scheme is helping to solve the housing crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52270/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Assistance Payment Administration)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a flexible and immediate housing support that is now available to all eligible households throughout the State. There are currently more than 30,000 households being supported by the scheme. On average, 350 new households are supported by HAP each week in 2017, and the Rebuilding Ireland 2017 target of supporting 15,000 additional households with the scheme has been exceeded. 
The ...

41. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has satisfied himself with the progress on the creation of a university for the south east, if he has satisfied himself with the progress of the proposed acquisition of land for a new Institute of Technology Carlow campus in County Wexford, if either will address the third-level educational deficit faced by persons in County Wexford and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52009/17 asked on 06 Dec 2017 - Technological Universities)

Deputy Mick Wallace: The planned amalgamation of Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow into a technological university of the south east has been slowly plodding and going nowhere for two or three decades. I am sure the Minister of State might want to tell me about the progression of the Technological Universities Bill but the truth is that even a technological university will do little to address educational deficits faced by people in Wexford. Earlier this week...

78. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken to address the problems facing eligible children who were not allocated a seat on a school transport service due to services being oversubscribed; his plans for a grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements for these children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52010/17 asked on 06 Dec 2017 - School Transport Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
Currently over 114,000 children, including some 11,000 children with special educational needs, are being transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.
The purpose of the School Transport Scheme is, having re...

45. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the recruitment process for the post of Garda Commissioner; the timeframe to fill the post; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51744/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Garda Commissioner Appointment)

Deputy Mick Wallace: It will be three months this weekend since the resignation of Nóirín O’Sullivan as Garda Commissioner. She was on leave before that, since 17 July, which makes it almost five months since she has performed her role. The Policing Authority told us on 11 September that it had commenced consideration of and research into the process to identify and appoint the next Commissioner. The Minister often points out that it is the Policing Authority which runs the appointments proce...

53. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has received correspondence from the legal team of a Garda whistleblower in the Athlone district; if his Department has engaged with the legal team; his plans to raise the issues with the acting Garda Commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51746/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Departmental Correspondence)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy knows, the Protected Disclosures Act was enacted in 2014 to introduce specific protections for whistleblowers.  The core provisions in the Act provide for protection from dismissal and other forms of penalisation for the making of a protected disclosure, and for the protection of the identity of persons making disclosures.  I am not, therefore, going to discuss the details of any correspondence which I or my Department ma...

72. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied with the work of the Policing Authority to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51745/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Policing Authority)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Policing Authority represents one of the most significant developments in policing since the foundation of the State.  It constitutes a major element of the comprehensive programme of justice reform which is being delivered by the Government, aimed both at ensuring continuing confidence in the work of An Garda Síochána and at supporting the women and men of the service in the work they do on our behalf every day. 
The Authority’s r...

90. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the fact that transcripts delivered to GSOC on its investigation into certain matters arising from the O’Higgins commission were incomplete; if he has sought an update from GSOC regarding this investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51748/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Commissions of Investigation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I want to make clear at the outset that my Department provided to GSOC all the records within its power or procurement related to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.
On 11 January 2017, GSOC was granted a Court Order for access to certain records of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, including relevant transcripts of Commission hearings relating to allegations which arose following the publication of the Report of the O’...

377. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health his plans to address the high prices of the official car park for Wexford General Hospital; the number of car parking spaces available at Wexford General Hospital; the charge per hour; the charge per space; the revenue generated by the car park in each of the years 2010 to 2016 and to date in 2017, in tabular form; and if the car park is operated by the HSE or a private contractor. (Question 51892/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Parking Charges)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): In relation to the query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.
 ...

16. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance the number of NAMA staff that have taken voluntary redundancy to date in 2017; the number of staff expected to take voluntary redundancy in 2018 and 2019; his views on the number of redundancies taken to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50870/17 asked on 30 Nov 2017 - NAMA Staff Data)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As outlined in my response to Dáil Question No. 199 of 20 September 2017, the NAMA voluntary redundancy scheme, which includes a retention element, was established to help safeguard NAMA’s performance, aid the Agency in retaining its operational capabilities through the retention of key staff during the course of its disposal strategy, and allow NAMA to fulfil its objective of maximising value for the State. 
I am advised that 41 staff in total depa...

18. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the legislation change which allowed the deferring of tax assets against future profits by banks is having a negative impact on the Exchequer; if his Department has carried out an analysis of the change since it was introduced in 2013; is he has considered reinstating legislation in the original rule that a bank could only write off 50% of these deferred tax assets against future profits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50873/17 asked on 30 Nov 2017 - Corporation Tax Regime)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 23 together.
Under the Irish corporate tax regime, losses incurred in the course of a business are allowed to be taken into account in calculating the appropriate amount of tax due by companies.  Loss relief recognises the fact that business cycles run over a longer period than just a single year and that it would be inequitable to tax profits in one year and not allow loss relief in the next.  
Under the NAMA...

59. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance his dealings to date with the EU director general for competition with regard to a State aid complaint regarding the use of NAMA funding for residential and commercial development; if his Department or NAMA has been in contact with the five developers that submitted the complaint; when a decision will issue from the director general on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50871/17 asked on 30 Nov 2017 - State Aid Investigations)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): In late 2015, a complaint was submitted to the Competition Directorate of the European Commission (DG Comp) by a small number of property developers - including some former NAMA debtors - alleging that there may be State aid implications to NAMA’s providing financing for the development of commercially viable residential projects by some of NAMA’s debtors and receivers.
As the primary relationship with the Commission is held by the State, all respon...

60. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance his plans to revise the State’s policy of adhering to EU fiscal rules under the stability and growth pact due to the urgent need for infrastructure investment throughout the State; if his Department has examined cases throughout the EU in which member states have broken the fiscal rules; the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50872/17 asked on 30 Nov 2017 - Stability and Growth Pact)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The fiscal rules are designed to promote budgetary discipline and underpin sustainable economic growth. While Ireland’s economy is growing and debt is on a downward trajectory, the debt level is still comparably high and caution must be exercised due to rollover risk related to possible interest rate increases. We are a small and very open economy in a world that has more risks than usual. Compliance with the fiscal rules underpins the Government’s ...

46. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she has satisfied herself that the public service identity data her Department as data controller provides to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, as data processor, is processed with appropriate security and data protection safeguards. (Question 50588/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - Data Protection)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Single Customer View (SCV) was developed to enable sharing of Public Service Identity data (called PSI) in accordance with Sections 262 (5) and 262 (6) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. In addition, the system facilitates the sharing of this PSI data for control purposes in accordance with Section 261 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. Only bodies specified in legislation are legally entit...