1334. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the names of the special advisers employed in his Department; the names of special advisers to junior Ministers in his Department; the annual salary of each adviser; if these persons were special advisers immediately prior to taking up their current role or immediately prior to the June 2017 Cabinet reshuffle; if so, the Minister to which they were appointed to; the date each special adviser was appointed with effect as stated in the Government order; the date of the Government order; if they received a salary for the period before the appointment order was signed in the case of special advisers whose appointment order date has an effect date earlier than the order date; if so, by whom they were paid; if a special adviser during a period later backdated by appointment order had access to confidential material and or Cabinet papers; if they were subject to the Official Secrets Act 1963 during this period; if any persons currently employed as special advisers have not yet been appointed by order since the Cabinet reshuffle of 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46471/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Ministerial Advisers)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Two Special Advisers, Mr. Jack O’Donnell and Ms. Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, are employed in my Department.  Both are paid by my Department on the Principal Officer (Standard) PPC pay scale (€81,767 - €100,333).  There are no Special Advisers employed in respect of the Ministers of State in my Department.
Immediately prior to the formation of the current Government in June 2017, Mr. O’Donnell was employed as Deputy Govern...

1352. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to amend the Fire Services Acts in order to include a provision providing recognition to fire services on offshore islands and which denotes the importance of ensuring parity with fire services on the mainland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46834/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Fire Service)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1346 and 1352 together.
The provision of a fire service in its area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs, the provision of a premises and the making of such other provisions as it considers necessary or desirable, is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003...

538. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the cost liability of public sector pay restoration, as provided for under the gradual unwinding of the FEMPI measures, with respect to local authority staff, for 2017 and 2018 for each local authority, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 40552/17 asked on 26 Sep 2017 - Public Sector Pay)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): A provision of €20.3 million to assist local authorities in meeting the costs associated with the unwinding of the FEMPI legislation was made for 2017. The final outturn for 2017 is not yet known, either at a sectoral level or in respect of individual local authorities. My Department is in discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in respect of the costs for 2018 in the context of the ongoing annu...

802. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding which will be given to local authorities in 2018 in lieu of the loss of commercial rates from Irish Water properties; and the funding given in 2016. (Question 39840/17 asked on 20 Sep 2017 - Commercial Rates Exemptions)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Section 12 of the Water Services Act 2014 states that public water services property is not rateable for the purposes of the Valuation Act 2001.  This exemption applies to Irish Water for the provision of water supply and waste water treatment.  Government provides equivalent funding directly to local authorities, through the Local Government Fund, in respect of rates income foregone.
Local authorities have been compensa...

1958. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress which has been made to establish an appropriate redress scheme for home owners in counties Donegal and Mayo in circumstances in which defective block work has been found to have compromised the structural integrity of their homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37239/17 asked on 11 Sep 2017 - Building Regulations)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): The Expert Panel on concrete blocks was established by my Department in 2016, to investigate problems that have emerged in the concrete blockwork of certain dwellings in Counties Donegal and Mayo.
The panel had the following terms of reference:
(i) To identify, insofar as it is possible, the numbers of private dwellings which appear to be affected by defects in the blockwork in the Counties of ...

1962. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the total cost his Department incurred in each of the past five years due to debit and credit card payment services and banking fees; the financial institutions to which the payments were made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 37244/17 asked on 11 Sep 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The information requested is set out in the following table.
 - 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total Credit Cards Government Stamp Duty €120.00 €326.98 €180.00 €180.00 €120.00 €926.98 Allied Irish Bank - Annual Fees €338.10 €412.07 €214.32 €246.25 €40.32 €1,251.06 


 - 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total Credit Cards Government Stamp Duty ...

1644. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the estimated cost of increasing central funding to the housing adaptation grant schemes by 50% in 2018. (Question 35714/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Housing Adaptation Grant Expenditure)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The funding allocation in 2017 for the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability is €59.8m, comprising €47.84m Exchequer funding and €11.96m from local authority resources. It represents an increase of some 6% on the previous year’s allocation.  Increasing funding under this scheme by 50% would cost an additional €23.92m to the Exchequer, with a further €5.98m to be contributed by...

607. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the number of houses purchased by approved housing bodies in 2015. (Question 29665/17 asked on 27 Jun 2017 - Approved Housing Bodies)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) acquire houses with assistance from my Department and also using their own private finance arrangements. I can only provide information in relation to such acquisitions, as were assisted by my Department. There are two such schemes: the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) provides funding in respect of the costs of purchasing accommodation to meet special housing needs and 112 unit...

2149. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the number of households per county which are in receipt of the housing assistance payment; the number of landlords and agents currently participating in the HAP scheme per county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26687/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Housing Assistance Payments Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 2149 to 2152, inclusive, together.
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 22,000 households in receipt of HAP, including 7,000 households that were previously supported by Rent Supplement. There are currently more than 17,000 separate la...

2150. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the number of landlords and agents per county that have rejected housing assistance payment tenancies since the scheme’s introduction but that previously accepted tenants in receipt of rent supplement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26688/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Housing Assistance Payments Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 2149 to 2152, inclusive, together.
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 22,000 households in receipt of HAP, including 7,000 households that were previously supported by Rent Supplement. There are currently more than 17,000 separate la...

2151. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to incidents whereby landlords have expressed an unwillingness and reluctance to participate in the housing assistance payment scheme due to the requirements and obligations placed on them as part of the programme; the steps he is taking to ensure that persons in receipt of HAP are not being unfairly discriminated against by landlords; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26689/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Housing Assistance Payments Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 2149 to 2152, inclusive, together.
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 22,000 households in receipt of HAP, including 7,000 households that were previously supported by Rent Supplement. There are currently more than 17,000 separate la...

2152. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the costs incurred by his Department to date in the training of staff; the costs incurred in the setting up of office operations as part of the housing assistance payment shared services centre in Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26690/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Housing Assistance Payments Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 2149 to 2152, inclusive, together.
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 22,000 households in receipt of HAP, including 7,000 households that were previously supported by Rent Supplement. There are currently more than 17,000 separate la...

2165. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the insurance premiums paid by each local authority in each of the years 2015 and 2016 and to date in 2017 in respect of public liability insurance, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26940/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Insurance Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Details of the insurance premiums paid by each local authority in respect of public liability insurance are a matter for the local authorities concerned. Local authorities are independent in the execution of their powers and the directly elected members are democratically accountable for all expenditure of the authority. The information requested is not available in my Department.  
 ...

2172. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the workings and expected yield of a reported levy of 3% of land value which will be included in budget 2018. (Question 27120/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Land Availability)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 2156, 2172 and 2190 together.
The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 introduced a new measure, the vacant site levy, which is aimed at incentivising the development of vacant, under-utilised sites in urban areas.  Under the Act, planning authorities are required to establish a register of vacant sites in their areas, beginning on 1 January 2017, and to issue annual notices...

2245. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government his plans to review the motor tax system in view of the perceived or actual inequities in the system particularly for cars registered before 2008 and those persons that cannot afford to pay their tax in a single annual lump sum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 28635/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Motor Tax)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Motor tax for pre-2008 cars is based on engine size.  The basis of charging from 2008 onwards is on carbon dioxide emissions. 
With the exception of some categories of vehicle that have a low annual rate, motor tax can be paid on an annual, half-yearly or quarterly basis.  The rates applicable for the half-yearly and quarterly options are 55.5% and 28.25% of the annual charge, respectively.  These relativities...

103. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the expenses incurred by his Department relating to insurance of all types in each of the past five years; the cost of each insurance policy held by his Department over the same time period per annum; if he will provide the same data for all bodies under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 26285/17 asked on 01 Jun 2017 - Insurance Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Normal policy, as advised in the Public Financial Procedures, is that the State is its own insurer and as such covers its own costs. State indemnity for personal injury and third party property damage was legislated for in the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2000 where the management of personal injury and third party property damage claims against certain State authorities, and underlying...

305. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government his plans to expand the grant application process to individual property owners where it has been identified that there is a need to upgrade or repair a property’s septic tank and the property owner is ineligible for the home renovation incentive scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 24717/17 asked on 23 May 2017 - Septic Tank Grants)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2013, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas library, brought into operation a grant scheme to assist with the cost of remediation of septic tanks and domestic waste water treatment systems which are deemed, following inspection under the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Inspection Plan, to require repair or upgradi...

251. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the number of properties which have been successfully purchased through the mortgage to rent scheme since it first launched in 2012, by county, in tabular form; if he will provide these data under both the approved housing body mortgage to rent scheme and the local authority mortgage to rent scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 22018/17 asked on 09 May 2017 - Mortgage to Rent Scheme Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): There are currently two Mortgage to Rent (MTR) schemes funded by my Department. A scheme exists whereby a local authority (LA) can acquire ownership of properties with unsustainable local authority mortgages, thus enabling the household to remain in their home as a social housing tenant (LA-Mortgage-to-Rent). The other scheme provides for an Approved Housing Body (AHB) to acquire ownership of a property with...

309. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government when the report of the panel established to investigate the problems that have emerged in concrete block work in dwellings in counties Donegal and Mayo will be published; if he is considering establishing a redress scheme for property owners affected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16105/17 asked on 04 Apr 2017 - Departmental Investigations)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): An expert panel on concrete blocks was established by my Department in April 2016 to investigate the problems that have emerged in the concrete blockwork of certain dwellings in Donegal and Mayo. The panel have the following terms of reference:
(i) To identify, insofar as it is possible, the numbers of private dwellings which appear to be affected by defects in the blockwork in th...

199. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the estimated cost of abolishing the charge of an excess whereby a vehicle is taxed for less than 12 months, that is, a vehicle being more expensive when charged for six months as opposed to 12 months. (Question 14890/17 asked on 28 Mar 2017 - Motor Tax)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy in accordance with Standing Orders.
 ...

200. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the projected savings that would be made if paper motor tax discs were abolished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14891/17 asked on 28 Mar 2017 - Motor Tax)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): As the abolition of the paper motor tax disc is not under consideration at the present time, the potential savings have not been costed in my Department.
Any replacement of the requirement for the display of discs on vehicle windscreens would need to be considered in the context of the level of application of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) by An Garda Síochána, in order to ensure that adequate enfor...

285. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the EU funds his department accesses; the plans he is putting in place to access these funds to a greater degree in view of Brexit; if he will outline initiatives he is pursuing to establish access to new funds in view of the challenge of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8805/17 asked on 21 Feb 2017 - EU Funding)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): My Department currently accesses European Union funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and Horizon 2020. There are plans to seek funding from the Connecting Europe Facility funding instrument and to seek additional funding from the European Social Fund under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020 and from Horizon 2020. 
Negotiations in ...

469. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the dates on which each of the returning officers assigned to the offshore islands first formally announced polling dates for their respective islands with respect to the General Election 2016, and the Local and European Elections 2014, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 41360/16 asked on 17 Jan 2017 - Election Management System)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Deputy Simon Coveney: The information requested is not available in my Department. Electoral law provides that it is a matter for the returning officer in the relevant constituency to give public notice of his or her decision to take the poll on an island in advance of the polling day appointed by the Minister. 
 ...

237. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the dates on which polling was designated to take place on each of the offshore islands for general election 2016 and for the local and European elections 2014 in tabular form; if he will provide the deadline dates for those wishing to register for the postal vote in respect of each of these types of elections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39537/16 asked on 13 Dec 2016 - Election Management System)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): The information requested is set out in the following table:
 Election Donegal islands Mayo islands Galway islands Cork islands General election Friday 26 February 2016 Thursday 25 February 2016 Thursday 25 February 2016 Thursday 25 February 2016 Friday 26 February 2016 European Parliament and Local Elections Friday 23 May 2014 Thursday 22 May 2014 Thursday 22 May 2014 Thursday 2...

190. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the treatment of pension related deductions from local authority staff with regard to the funding of local authorities; the changes that have taken place in this treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 38494/16 asked on 06 Dec 2016 - Local Authority Staff Remuneration)

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 (FEMPI) introduced the pension related deduction (PRD) for public servants. Local authorities deduct PRD from the salaries of their employees and to date have retained the amounts collected as part of their income, using this income to help fund the services they provide. This approach was adopted by agreement in the interests of administrativ...