26. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the way in which the existing public sector pay agreements are helping to address staff shortages in front-line public services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50835/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Staff Recruitment)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Since Q4 2013 Public Service numbers have increased by nearly 30,000. Over 20,000 of those were recruited in the Health and Education sectors. Adjusting for transfers of functions between Departments, both the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills have higher staffing levels now than in 2008.
Furthermore there has been a shift from administrative staff to front-line service delivery. For example in ...

27. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the commitment in respect of the completion of the A5 motorway to Derry and Letterkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53263/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Road Projects Status)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I refer to the reply by the Taoiseach to PQ 51982 on 5 December last.
Under the Fresh Start Agreement concluded in 2015 between the British and Irish Governments and the main political parties in the North, the Irish Government reaffirmed its existing commitment to providing funding of £50 million for the A5 Western Transport Corridor serving the North West and also committed an additional £25m to the project.
A Senior Official...

28. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when flood defence construction works will advance in the upper Lee for areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53474/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Flood Prevention Measures)

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): The core strategy for addressing areas at potentially significant risk from flooding is the Office of Public Works (OPW) Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme. The Programme, which is being undertaken by engineering consultants on behalf of the OPW working in partnership with the local authorities, involves the production of predictive flood mapping for each location, the ...

29. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the proposed outcomes under the third progress report on the implementation of the Civil Service renewal plan and, in particular, on the way in which the 25 specific actions in four key areas will improve the performance of Departments of State which have been the subject of recent public criticism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53253/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Civil Service Renewal Plan)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The Civil Service Renewal Plan was published on 30 October 2014. The plan forms part of the Government’s wider public service reform programme. The Plan sets out a vision and 3 year action plan to achieve it. It outlines 25 practical actions that will create a more unified, professional, responsive, open and accountable Civil Service that can provide a world-class service to the State and the people of Ireland. The actions in...

30. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the pension and public pay restoration to be carried out under FEMPI by Department and public body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53430/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Staff Remuneration)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Public pay and pension restoration by Departments and public bodies has been and will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA): 
www.per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Public-Service-Stability-Agreement-2013-2018.pdf.
and the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA):
www.per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/LRA-extension.pdf.
Pay increases under the LRA were as follows:
2016
- 1st January annu...

31. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the key actions to improve public services under the our public service 2020 plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53254/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Reform Review)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As the Deputy will be aware, a new phase for public service reform was set out in Our Public Service 2020, which was published earlier this week. 
 Our Public Service 2020 aims to deliver better outcomes for the public, to support innovation and collaboration and to build public service organisations that are resilient and agile. There are 18 actions in the framework which is built on three key pillars as follows:
Delivering...

32. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if studies have taken place to determine the number of persons displaced by the retirement age, impacting on those 65 to 70 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53250/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Staff Retirements)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As this is a voluntary measure for existing public servants with a compulsory retirement age of 65, giving them the option to work until 70, it provides an ongoing opportunity to public servants to exercise their retirement option anytime from age 65 to age 70. This will be influenced by the personal circumstances of each individual, which may be subject to ongoing consideration as those personal circumstances change during th...

33. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans for the Office of Public Works to purchase property for State organisations in counties Cavan and Monaghan; the stages in negotiation for each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53257/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Office of Public Works Projects)

(Deputy Patrick O’Donovan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 33 together.
The Office of Public Works and the Chief State Solicitor’s Office continue to progress the acquisition of the preferred site for this project as a high priority and expect the process to reach a conclusion shortly. The Minister of State, Deputy Moran, is happy to confirm that the contracts for sale have been executed by both parties and final completion of the acquisition process will take a number of weeks. Until...

34. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans arising from a report (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53433/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Expenditure Reviews)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Responsibility for policy decisions in this area are the responsibility of the Minister for Health. 
The Deputy is referring to a paper, titled ‘Disability and Special Education Related Expenditure’, which was prepared by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service in the context of the Spending Review 2017 and was published in October. This was a cross-vote analysis of disability related expenditure across the Healt...

35. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the €788 million below profile announced in the fiscal monitor will be returned to the central fund or if the funds will be kept in each Department in the event that spending projections across Departments are not met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53463/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As set out in the Fiscal Monitor for November, published by the Department of Finance, net voted expenditure was €788 million or 1.9% below profile. However, this aggregate underspend versus profile has been impacted by almost €0.4 billion by certain timing issues in relation to the Local Government Fund.
Current expenditure in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is over €260 million below profile. This i...

36. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the Irish embassies worldwide which have enterprise attachés stationed; and the number of such attachés stationed in each such specific embassy by city and country. (Question 53667/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Consular Services Data)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The establishment of a network of locally hired Commercial Attachés was one of the key components of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Economic Diplomacy Strategy launched in January 2016. The initiative was designed to bolster the capacity of our Mission network in selected locations to support economic promotion under the Department’s ‘Prosperity’ high level goal. Its focus was to improve our capacity to ...

37. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the trial of a person (details supplied) in Turkey that began on 7 December 2017; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the Turkish authorities are not allowing them attend their own trial in person; his views on whether they will receive a fair trial in view of the present conditions in Turkey and the fact that President Erdogan openly calls his political opponent a terrorist; his views on the imprisonment of other HDP members and MPs; and if an official from the Irish embassy in Turkey is attending and monitoring this high profile trial. (Question 53545/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Human Rights Cases)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Deputy will recall that my predecessor issued a statement expressing serious concerns when the co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic (HDP) Party, Figen Yüksekdað and Selahattin Demirtas, were arrested in November 2016. A representative of the Embassy in Ankara tried without success to gain access to the court when Figen Yüksekdað’s trial opened in July and, when Selahattin Demirtas’s trial opened on 7 December, a num...

38. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the Acts, or parts of Acts, awaiting commencement within his area of statutory responsibility; the reason for the delay in the commencement of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53569/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Legislative Programme)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Specific provisions of Acts under my Department that have not yet been commenced are Sections 14(8) and 14(9) of the Passports Act 2008.
These Sections of the Passports Act, if commenced, would provide that guardians’ consent to the issuing of a passport would be considered to be enduring for the child up to the age of 18. The commencement of these provisions is currently under consideration as part of the ongoing passp...

39. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the issues discussed at the recent EU Foreign Affairs Council; the outcome of such discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53909/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - European Council Meetings)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I attended the most recent EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday 11 December, where developments in the Middle East, including the Middle East Peace Process, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Libya were discussed.
The Council had a good exchange of views on the Middle East Peace Process and developments in the wider region. We discussed what more the EU can do to promote peaceful solutions to...

40. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Prime Minister Netanyahu met the EU Foreign Affairs Council; if so, the outcome of such discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53910/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - European Council Meetings)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Brussels on 11 December preceded the Foreign Affairs Council, and was not therefore a meeting with the Council itself. The meeting was an informal breakfast meeting, essentially an exchange of views, and so there was no formal outcome as such. High Representative Mogherini hosted the meeting, and a similar encounter with Palestinian President Abbas has been scheduled for Janu...

41. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the EU-British agreement on Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53915/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Brexit Negotiations)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 41, 50 and 53 together.
I welcome the Joint Report from the EU and UK negotiators on progress in phase one of the Brexit negotiations, published on 8 December. On Irish-specific issues, the Government achieved the goals we set out to achieve in this phase. They included maintenance of the Common Travel Area, protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the p...

42. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans in respect of the implementation of the European Union work life balance directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53954/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - EU Directives)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The European Commission initiated a proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on work-life balance for parents and carers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU on 26 April 2017. The proposed directive aims to address women’s under-representation in employment and support their career progression through improved conditions to reconcile their working and private duties.
Discussions on th...

43. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the expenditure on external consultant reports commissioned by his Department since May 2016; the names of the reports in tabular form; the publication or expected publication date of each report; the cost of each report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53969/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Consultancy Contracts Data)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 59 together. 
The Department is responsible for two votes - Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Vote 27 (International Cooperation).
The Department commissions external expertise where highly specialised skills are not available within the Department and in particular where ongoing independent evaluation of programmes and projects is required. During the course of their engagem...

44. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of passports issued by his department in each of the years 2012 to 2017, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53970/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Passport Data)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The number of passports issued in the years requested is as follows: 
 Year Passports issued 2012 635,600 2013 634,635 2014 632,156 2015 672,760 2016 733,060 2017 (1st Jan. 0 10th Dec.) 752,296 
 ...

45. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of persons from Great Britain and Northern Ireland that have applied for an Irish passport in each of the years, 2012 to 2017, in tabular form. (Question 53971/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Passport Applications Data)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Tracking of passport applications is in general carried out against channel of application rather than by other metrics, including country of origin. Bearing this in mind, the following general breakdown of applications will give the available detail on numbers of passport applications received from Northern Ireland and Great Britain for 2012 to 2016 and in 2017 to date:
 Year Northern Ireland Great Britain 2...

46. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the target date set by his Department for reaching the 0.7% ODA GNP target; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53972/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Overseas Development Aid Expenditure)

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): The Government is strongly committed to Ireland’s overseas development cooperation programme and to its place at the heart of our foreign policy. Our policy for International Development, “One World, One Future”, clearly articulates our commitment to the UN target of providing 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) in Official Development Assistance (ODA), as economic conditions allow.
The current Programme for...

47. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on recent events in Venezuela including the banning of opposition parties from the 2018 election there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53973/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Human Rights)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The situation in Venezuela continues to be a matter of serious concern to the Government.
Municipal elections took place in Venezuela on 10 December 2017. Preliminary results released by the country’s national electoral institute suggested that the ruling party of President Maduro, the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV), won a significant majority of available seats. The electoral process was partly boycotted...

48. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the estimated number of Irish persons living in the United States of America without documentation; the recent efforts that have been made to resolve this issue; the number of meetings held; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53974/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Undocumented Irish in the USA)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I want first of all to reassure the Deputy that the Government remains committed to finding a solution to the plight of the thousands of undocumented Irish in the United States.
By their nature, it is difficult to put exact numbers on undocumented communities, and the thousands of undocumented Irish in the US are no different. Estimates vary as to the numbers but our priority is to assist those who need our help and to f...

49. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a budget has been allocated to the person in the role of US special envoy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53975/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Budgets)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Taoiseach appointed Deputy John Deasy as Special Envoy to the United States Congress on the Undocumented Irish in June 2017.
The work of the Special Envoy is conducted under my overall direction and is part of the ongoing engagement by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the issue of the undocumented Irish in the United States.
Our diplomatic network across the United States continues to engage at every op...

50. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the legal standing of the joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 of the treaty on European Union on the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54102/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Brexit Negotiations)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 41, 50 and 53 together.
I welcome the Joint Report from the EU and UK negotiators on progress in phase one of the Brexit negotiations, published on 8 December. On Irish-specific issues, the Government achieved the goals we set out to achieve in this phase. They included maintenance of the Common Travel Area, protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the p...