1. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the roll-out of the public service information and communications technology strategy; the amount that has been spent on it to date; the estimated amount to be spent; the security implications and data protection steps that have been taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53464/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Information and Communications Technology)

Deputy Dara Calleary: I would like to ask the Minister about the status of the public service information and communications technology strategy, particularly the work being done to ensure citizens’ personal data are secure, especially at a time when data privacy is under such a threat.
 ...

2. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to a report from the IMF (details supplied) that makes a range of recommendations regarding PPPs, including that the State begin using a cost benefit analysis of them. (Question 53507/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Private Partnerships)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I should first explain that Public Private Partnerships are already subject to a strong public investment management methodology, which includes appraisal. The Deputy may be referring to a recommendation made as part of the recent IMF PIMA report, to the effect that appraisals should be published on a more systematic basis.
The National Development Finance Agency was established in 2003 under the National Development Finance Ag...

3. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress of the capital review; if the ten-year plan will outline funding beyond the 2021 timeframe; the way in which it will co-ordinate with the national development plan; if it will it incorporate a review of the role of PPPs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53590/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Capital Expenditure Programme Review)

Deputy Dara Calleary: The capital review plan has been announced many times. Will the Minister provide an update on it? I am conscious that he intends to link the capital review with the national planning framework, a document which is extremely flawed. It is only in the consultation phase. Will the roll-out of the national planning framework delay the national capital plan?
 ...

4. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to revise the national capital plan in view of the climate advisory committee’s report on the shortcomings of the national mitigation plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53817/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Climate Change Policy)

Deputy Eamon Ryan: To continue the conversation about the national capital plan, how are we going to make it green? How is the Government going to respond to the climate advisory committee’s damning criticism of our national mitigation plan? We are not doing anything, it seems. The latest Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, figures show our emissions rising across all sectors, particularly in transport. The plan within the national planning framework is all about inter-urban motorways. Th...

5. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to outline his plans to reform freedom of information legislation. (Question 53245/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Deputy Mick Wallace: The questions relate to the current freedom of information legislation. Is the Minister satisfied that the legislation is functioning properly? Will the Minister consider amending section 44 of the Act so that he can instruct the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of the operation of the Act?
My interactions with numerous freedom of information departments, State bodies and Departments lead me to believe the legislation is not working. I do not believe this so...

6. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the progress of flood defences in an area (details supplied); the next step in the works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53473/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Flood Prevention Measures)

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan: I have raised this issue of concern for Baile Bhuirne residents time and again in the House. They are concerned about flooding from the Sullane river anytime there is heavy rain. Residents need to see some progress. The issue has been ongoing since 2011, when we saw the initial designs, yet six years on, no works are in place. We need to see a plan of the works. The issue with the pearl mussel has already been set aside and resolved. There needs to be work and act...

7. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the way in which he will ensure that public servants who opt to work until 70 years of age will be doing so out of a desire to work as opposed to feeling compelled to do so for economic reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53259/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Service Retirement Age)

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: The Deputy will be aware that last week the Government decided to increase the compulsory retirement age from 65 to 70 for public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004. I announced this on Wednesday last with the Ministers of State, Deputies O’Donovan and Moran. The decision to remain at work beyond the age of 65 will be completely voluntary on the part of the employee. There will be no change to the minimum pension age, that is, the age at which a public servant ca...

8. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to improve the gender balance on each of the State boards under his remit. (Question 53246/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Appointments to State Boards)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Each Minister is ultimately responsible for appointments to boards under their aegis and must have regard to the Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards. Relevant issues relating to the effective operation of each board, including those such as diversity, gender balance and mix of expertise and skill sets are for each Minister to consider. 
As set out in the Guidelines, compliance with the Government Decision of 23 July 201...

9. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has satisfied himself with the functioning of the freedom of information system in place under the Freedom of Information Act 2014; if he will consider amending section 44 of the Act to confer power on the Minister to instruct the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of the operations of the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53475/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Deputy Mick Wallace: The questions relate to the current freedom of information legislation. Is the Minister satisfied that the legislation is functioning properly? Will the Minister consider amending section 44 of the Act so that he can instruct the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of the operation of the Act?
My interactions with numerous freedom of information departments, State bodies and Departments lead me to believe the legislation is not working. I do not believe this so...

10. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department provides funding to organisations (details supplied) to facilitate pay restoration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53432/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Voluntary Sector Remuneration)

Deputy Joan Burton: This question relates to workers paid out of the public purse, particularly in hospices but also in other section 39 organisations, who voluntarily took pay reductions during the country’s darkest hour when the economy crashed. As these salaries are entirely funded out of the public purse, what are the Minister’s plans to make a declaration on providing properly for pay restoration for these people who took a hit in the public interest? When will the Minister restore their ...

11. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on whether the guidelines for public procurement are being applied consistently throughout the public service; the specific measures that have been implemented to ensure that there is adherence to the rules on public procurement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53462/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Procurement Regulations)

Deputy Dara Calleary: The Minister and I have had several discussions on procurement and particularly on making it a friendlier process for small business. Is he happy that the guidelines for public procurement are consistent across the public service? Is he happy that those rules are being applied? Will he comment on an issue that arose overnight, the spending of €135,000 by the Central Bank on a lighting installation in its new headquarters? Is that a good use of taxpayers’ money?
 ...

12. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which, in the context of the capital review programme, he expects to be in a position to make provision for the projects previously identified as being integral to crucial infrastructure investment; if he will extend the remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53471/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Capital Expenditure Programme Review)

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: In the context of the capital review, what is the extent to which the Minister has managed to identify the most critical elements of infrastructure with a view to completing them in a reasonable period?
 ...

13. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the Civil Service People Strategy 2017-2020 and on the way in which this is being delivered to create a high-performing Civil Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53255/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Civil Service Reform)

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Obviously, we have all been reading Our Public Service 2020-----
 ...

14. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the development of the Enniscorthy flood defence scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53251/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Flood Relief Schemes Status)

(Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): The River Slaney-Enniscorthy flood relief scheme is being progressed by Wexford County Council as the contracting authority, with funding by the Office of Public Works.
Good progress is being made in advancing the scheme and a significant amount of the necessary ground work to inform the detailed design of the scheme has been carried out to date. Further work is required on the technical and cost aspects before the scheme is ready to be brought to a public informatio...

15. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the rolling selective spending review process which will take place in his Department between 2017 and 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53247/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Expenditure Reviews)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As part of my Estimates speech on Budget day last year I announced that a spending review would take place on a three-year rolling basis. 
The first cycle of the Spending Review in 2017, which culminated in the publication of over 20 analytical papers on Spending Review topics, was successfully completed in October following the publication of Budget 2018. This was the first cycle of a series of selective reviews of the curren...

16. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to address pay inequality within the public sector. (Question 53243/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Pay)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The issue of addressing the difference in incremental salary scales between those public servants, who entered public service employment since 2011 and those who entered before that date was addressed with the relevant union interests under the provisions of the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA).
From 1 November 2013 pre and post-2011 pay scales were merged into a single consolidated scale applicable to each grade. Generally, the...

17. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the flood relief projects undertaken in 2017; the projects planned for 2018; the status of CFRAM; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53461/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Flood Relief Schemes Data)

Deputy Dara Calleary: I ask the Minister of State to provide an update on the status of CFRAM and on the major projects that are planned. I do not want a long list of everything the Minister of State has done, which I am sure he had planned to give, just an update on CFRAM and the major projects planned for 2018.
 ...

18. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has satisfied himself that section 27 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is functioning properly; if all agencies that come under freedom of information legislation following the Act are applying fees and charges for FOI requests in an open and transparent manner; if guidelines are issued to the agencies with regard to calculating fees and charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53476/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Freedom of Information Legislation)

Deputy Mick Wallace: The questions relate to the current freedom of information legislation. Is the Minister satisfied that the legislation is functioning properly? Will the Minister consider amending section 44 of the Act so that he can instruct the Information Commissioner to carry out a review of the operation of the Act?
My interactions with numerous freedom of information departments, State bodies and Departments lead me to believe the legislation is not working. I do not believe this so...

19. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if funding for the flood relief works that are needed in Mountmellick and Portarlington, County Laois will be committed to once a final plan is presented by Laois County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53248/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Flood Relief Schemes Funding)

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 25 together.
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 productio...

20. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which his Department plans to incorporate further reforms throughout the services with a view to achieving better value for money, improved economic impact and delivery of services to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53472/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Reform Implementation)

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Since the first public service reform plan was published in 2011, a comprehensive programme of reform has been implemented and this continues to be a key priority. This is important as the performance of the public service has major implications for the management of our finances and for economic development and employment creation.
The public service reform plan for the period 2014 to 2016 put the public ever more to the centre of what we do, both in terms of service de...

21. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress by his Department in acquiring the new site identified in recent months for Bailieborough Garda station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53256/17 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...

22. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to develop a coordinated national coastal plan to prioritise the most at risk inhabited and to develop a unified approach to the management of coastal erosion nationwide. (Question 53063/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Coastal Protection)

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): The primary objective of Government policy on coastal protection is to ensure that in areas identified as being at greatest risk of damage or loss of economic assets through coastal erosion or flooding, appropriate and sustainable measures are identified by Local Authorities to protect those assets. Where such measures are economically justified on cost benefit grounds and compatible with all requir...

23. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount spent by Department and public body and the total cost of public relations services in the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53431/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Relations Contracts Expenditure)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As the Deputy will be aware, my Department was established in 2011. Therefore, this reply covers the period since then. 
The following tables reflect the amount spent by the Department and the bodies under its aegis on public relations services in the period in question:
 Name of Service Provider Amount Spent € Purpose Body Mindshare Media Ireland Ltd.(2017) €145,441.83 Communications Campaign – Promoting awareness...

24. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the steps being taken to prevent further damage to dunes at Portrane, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53466/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Coastal Erosion)

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): The problem of coastal erosion at Portrane is being addressed by Fingal County Council. The Council applied for and was approved funding of €57,800 in 2012 under the Office of Public Works’ Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme to carry out a Coastal Erosion Risk Management Study of Portrane to Rush. This study was completed and the Council has been working on the basis of its ...

25. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount available over the next two years for flood relief works; if he will assign a sufficient amount for capital works in the Mountmellick and Portarlington areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53249/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Flood Relief Schemes Funding)

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 25 together.
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 productio...