27. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Taoiseach the status of funding for a group (details supplied). (Question 35459/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Funding)

The Taoiseach: The Department of the Taoiseach is not currently in receipt of an application for funding from this organisation. In 2016 the Kerry Emigrant Social Housing Association was awarded a grant of €5,000 under the Local Diaspora Engagement Fund which was administered by the Department of the Taoiseach. This was one of a total of 106 local and community projects around the country that were approved for funding under the Local Diaspora Engagement Fund in 2016 (the total amount of the f...

28. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach the amount spent by his Department on taxi and-or limousine fares in the past two years to date by year and amount. (Question 35495/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

The Taoiseach: My Department has a taxi account for official business purposes with a company selected by the Office of Government Procurement following a public tender. Taxis are used for official purposes where there is no other practical or suitable alternative mode of transport available. 
Expenditure on taxis from January 2015 to end-June 2017 is set out in Table A. In addition, the sum of €1,800 was spent in 2015 on domestic car hire to transport relatives to the State funeral for Thoma...

29. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the strategic communications unit will interact with persons and relevant stakeholders. (Question 35528/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

30. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he held interviews for positions in the strategic communications unit; and the way in which persons were appointed to same. (Question 35529/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 32, 38, 40 and 49 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit has not been established as yet. The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of this new unit, including staffing structure and budget, will be worked out over the coming weeks. It is my intention to staff the unit with civil and public servants. The new unit will be independent of, and supplementary to, the Government Information Service.
The pay scales of those ...

31. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the Government press secretary role and the spokesperson role; the difference between the two roles; the roles they both will hold in GIS; and the reporting relationship of same. (Question 35530/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Government Information Service)

Taoiseach (Deputy Leo Varadkar)(Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 39 together.
The role of the Government Press Secretary (as Head of the Government Information Service (GIS)) is to keep the media updated on the activities of Government, including briefing the media subsequent to the weekly Cabinet meetings. 
 ...

32. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of staff employed in the strategic communications unit; the roles they will play; and the cost of same. (Question 35531/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 32, 38, 40 and 49 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit has not been established as yet. The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of this new unit, including staffing structure and budget, will be worked out over the coming weeks. It is my intention to staff the unit with civil and public servants. The new unit will be independent of, and supplementary to, the Government Information Service.
The pay scales of those ...

33. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the role the strategic communications unit will have with the GIS; and if it will be part of or separate to the GIS. (Question 35532/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

34. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the strategic communications unit will be founded; and if it is separate and in addition to the GIS. (Question 35533/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

35. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the strategic communications unit will have a role with each Department. (Question 35534/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

36. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the strategic communications unit will interact with the GIS if it is to be separate; and the proposed reporting relationship between the two. (Question 35535/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

37. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if the strategic communications unit will be working with each Department separately through each press adviser; if it will be working through each Department’s press office; and if it will operate through civil servants or political staff. (Question 35536/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

38. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the pay scales of the staff in the strategic communications unit; and the pay scales of those working in the GIS. (Question 35537/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 32, 38, 40 and 49 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit has not been established as yet. The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of this new unit, including staffing structure and budget, will be worked out over the coming weeks. It is my intention to staff the unit with civil and public servants. The new unit will be independent of, and supplementary to, the Government Information Service.
The pay scales of those ...

39. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the pay scales of the Government press secretary; and the pay scale of his spokesperson. (Question 35538/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Government Information Service)

Taoiseach (Deputy Leo Varadkar)(Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 39 together.
The role of the Government Press Secretary (as Head of the Government Information Service (GIS)) is to keep the media updated on the activities of Government, including briefing the media subsequent to the weekly Cabinet meetings. 
 ...

40. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he or officials in his Department had to obtain clearance to employ persons in the strategic communications unit. (Question 35539/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 32, 38, 40 and 49 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit has not been established as yet. The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of this new unit, including staffing structure and budget, will be worked out over the coming weeks. It is my intention to staff the unit with civil and public servants. The new unit will be independent of, and supplementary to, the Government Information Service.
The pay scales of those ...

41. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of non-civil servants employed in his Department particularly in the area of communication for the Action Plan for Jobs. (Question 35540/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Staff Data)

The Taoiseach: All employees of my Department are civil servants, either established or non-established.
 ...

42. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way the strategic communications unit will be policy and not politically based; and the roles his officials will play in supervising same. (Question 35541/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

43. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the reporting relationship of the strategic communications unit. (Question 35542/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

44. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the role of the strategic communications unit and merrionstreet.ie. (Question 35543/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

45. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to Prime Minister May recently regarding Northern Ireland. (Question 35545/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Taoiseach’s Communications)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 to 47, inclusive, together.
I spoke by phone with Prime Minister May most recently on June 27 when we discussed the ongoing talks process in Northern Ireland and our strong commitment to supporting the peace process as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. 
We agreed to continue to work together to support the parties in reaching agreement to allow the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive and the need to have all of the inst...

46. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has written to Prime Minister May regarding implementing outstanding issues from the St. Andrews Agreement. (Question 35546/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Taoiseach’s Communications)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 to 47, inclusive, together.
I spoke by phone with Prime Minister May most recently on June 27 when we discussed the ongoing talks process in Northern Ireland and our strong commitment to supporting the peace process as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. 
We agreed to continue to work together to support the parties in reaching agreement to allow the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive and the need to have all of the inst...

47. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to or written to Prime Minister May to address the outstanding issues regarding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. (Question 35547/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Taoiseach’s Communications)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 to 47, inclusive, together.
I spoke by phone with Prime Minister May most recently on June 27 when we discussed the ongoing talks process in Northern Ireland and our strong commitment to supporting the peace process as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. 
We agreed to continue to work together to support the parties in reaching agreement to allow the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive and the need to have all of the inst...

48. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the areas in which there is an underspend or in which spending is under profile to date in 2017 in his Department. (Question 35548/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Budgets)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 48, 53 and 55 together.
Expenditure by my Department up to end-June 2017 amounted to €15.63m which represents 77% of profiled expenditure for the year to date. My Department has no capital funding. 
Significant elements of the Department’s expenditure is outside of its direct control, for example, the Moriarty Tribunal of Inquiry and three Commissions of Investigation. Nonetheless, expenditure is expected to be on profile by year end. However, i...

49. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the number of staff within his Department who will be based in the new strategic information unit; the annual budget of the unit; if the staff will be established civil servants or non-established temporary positions; and the relationship between the existing departmental press office and the new unit. (Question 35660/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 32, 38, 40 and 49 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit has not been established as yet. The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of this new unit, including staffing structure and budget, will be worked out over the coming weeks. It is my intention to staff the unit with civil and public servants. The new unit will be independent of, and supplementary to, the Government Information Service.
The pay scales of those ...

51. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach if he discussed the issue of immigration reform in the United States with President Trump. (Question 36030/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Irish Communities Abroad)

The Taoiseach: I spoke with President Trump by phone on Tuesday 27th June. 
It was a short congratulatory call, during which I raised a number of issues including the situation of the up to 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US. I look forward to having an opportunity to discuss this issue with President Trump in more detail in due course.
 ...

52. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach for the details of each body or organisation that is scheduled to receive in excess of €1 million from his Department’s Vote of expenditure or the group of Votes of expenditure connected with his Department in 2017 for the provision of services by the body or the organisation concerned; the amount involved in each case; and if there is a signed service level agreement in place in respect of the services to be carried out by these bodies or organisations. (Question 36164/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Funding)

The Taoiseach: The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only body under the remit of my Department. It is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), which advises me on strategic policy issues relating to sustainable economic, social and environmental development. NESDO has been allocated a grant of just over €2 million from my Department’s Vote for 2017.
There is no service level agreement in place between my Department and NESDO as NESDO ...