Written Answers Stephen Donnelly

These are the written answers received by Stephen Donnelly TD to Facebook-Header-Written-Answersquestions asked of Ministers and Departments on various subjects.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Job Creation Data

 

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs created by companies supported by the Industrial Development Agency Ireland in County Wicklow in each of the past ten years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7337/16]

Richard Bruton (Minister, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)

IDA Ireland’s employment figures are presented on an annual basis through the Annual Employment Survey. Over the last ten years, there were a total of 906 new jobs created by companies supported by IDA Ireland in County Wicklow. The table sets out the number of IDA supported jobs created from 2006 to 2015 in the county.

Table shows the number of new jobs created by companies supported by IDA Ireland in Co. Wicklow from 2006 to 2015

IDA Jobs Wicklow

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Housing Assistance Payments Administration

 

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the additional resources being allocated for local authorities to assist the implementation of the housing assistance payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7419/16]

Alan Kelly (Tipperary, Labour)

There are now over 8,500 households in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and the scheme has been rolled out to all categories of households in 19 local authority areas. The Dublin Region Homelessness Executive (DRHE) is also managing a HAP Homeless Pilot for the four Dublin local authorities.

Budget 2016 has increased the funding for the HAP scheme to €47.7 million in 2016, in order to meet the continuing costs of existing HAP households, and the costs of an additional 10,000 households to be supported by HAP in 2016. The majority of this funding is to support on-going rent payments to landlords in respect of existing HAP households and the cost of additional HAP tenancies as households find accommodation through the scheme during the year.

The primary administrative support to HAP local authorities is the central transactional shared service being provided by Limerick City and County Council to all local authorities operating the HAP scheme. This shared service is responsible for a range of functions including monthly payments to landlords and the collection of weekly differential rent from tenants and provides a range of efficiencies to the operation of the scheme.

Each Chief Executive of a local authority is responsible for staffing and organisation arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is responsible. My Department works closely with all local authorities and all have been invited to submit staffing sanction requests to facilitate the delivery of the Social Housing Strategy. Each staffing sanction request is examined on a case by case basis having due regard to the continued delivery of key services in the context of staffing and budgetary constraints. To date 55 HAP related posts have been sanctioned by my Department in response to staffing requests from HAP local authorities and the shared service centre provided by Limerick City and County Council.

In order to cover staffing and administrative costs arising due to the operation of the HAP scheme in their area, local authorities are provided with an administrative payment of €150 per household supported as they are set up under the HAP scheme. In 2015, some €993,000 was paid by my Department in such HAP administration costs to local authorities. Local authorities will be able to make claims on a similar basis for 2016.

The phased roll out of the HAP pilot scheme has proved to be an effective approach. In this context, my Department maintains regular contact with the pilot local authorities in order to learn from their experience of the scheme, and to address operational issues as they arise.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Broadband Service Provision

 

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with regard to his broadband map, if he will confirm that blue areas that are due to receive 30meg by end of 2016 via commercial operators will do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7572/16]

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to measure broadband provision in rural Ireland within either the blue or amber areas of the national broadband plan, if so, the measurement which would be provided, the areas in which this measurement will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7573/16]

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with regard to the national broadband plan map, where there are infill areas provision of less than 30meg within a blue area, the timeframe for commercial operators to provide 30meg to these users; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7574/16]

Alex White (Dublin South, Labour)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 496 to 498, inclusive, together.

The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure that every citizen and business, regardless of location, has access to a high quality, high speed broadband service. This will be achieved through a combination of commercial investments and a State led intervention in areas where commercial services will not be provided.

The commercial telecommunications sector has invested over €2 billion in network upgrades and enhanced services in the last four years, and is continuing to invest.  These very significant investments represent a step change in the quality of broadband services available.

The EU State Aid Guidelines for Broadband require Member States to thoroughly evaluate any commercial plans so as to ensure that State Aid is confined to those areas where commercial investment in high speed broadband services is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future.

The Department has had extensive engagement with operators to identify those areas where there are concrete plans to roll out high speed broadband on a commercial basis in line with EU Sate Aid Guidelines for broadband.  In October 2015 the Department published the process used for assessing commercial high speed broadband investment plans. Plans received from commercial operators are assessed under technical, deployment and financial criteria, in line with the EU State Aid requirements.  This resulted in the publication of the High Speed Broadband Map 2020 in December 2015. No additional commercial plans have been submitted since the 2020 map was launched in December 2015.

The Map shows, based on the plans of commercial operators, that there are some 1.6m  premises in the BLUE area,  representing 70% of the total premises in Ireland. The remaining 30%, which comprise some 757,000 premises are in the AMBER area and are expected to be served by the State Intervention. The Department is monitoring the commercial rollout plans of operators on an ongoing basis to ensure that all of the 1.6m premises will have access to High Speed Broadband of at least 30Mbps.

The Department has also published a process for managing the high speed broadband map which can be accessed at

http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/communications/SiteCollectionDocuments/Broadband/Updated%20Expert%20reports/Managing%20IA%20Map%20-%20Consultation%20Paper%20FINAL%2021-12-15.pdf.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Public Transport Provision

 

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a proposed timeline for the extension of the Luas green line to Bray in County Wicklow is in place; if not, when this timeline is to be published; the route options which are currently under consideration; if a preferred route has been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7412/16]

Paschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the implementation and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), including Luas light rail projects.

In this regard, I recently approved the NTA’s Transport Strategy for the GDA (comprising the counties of Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow) for the period 2016-2035. The Strategy provides a framework for the planning and delivery of transport infrastructure and services in the GDA over the next two decades. It includes a proposal for an extension of the Luas Green Line to Bray. Following approval of the Strategy, and in accordance with its statutory mandate, the NTA has now commenced work on a six year Integrated Implementation Plan.

The Government’s plans for transport investment for this period are set out in the new Capital Plan, ‘Building on Recovery’ Infrastructure & Capital Investment 2016-2021. The Capital Plandoes not include funding for this project so it will not be advanced during this period.  The timeline for the project will be determined in the context of future Integrated Implementation Plans brought forward by the NTA for implementation of the Strategy and future Capital Funding Reviews.

The development of any Luas project would also be subject to appraisal and evaluation (including review of a detailed business case) under the Public Spending Code as well as the availability of funding.

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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Department of Education and Skills

School Transport Expenditure

 

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she is satisfied by documentary evidence concerning the risk reserve she referred to in Parliamentary Question No. 445 of 22 March 2016 and that Bus Éireann has never used reserve funds for any other section of its businesses other than school transport services. [6401/16]

Damien English (Meath West, Fine Gael)

Bus Éireann has provided written confirmation that the funds referred to by the Deputy are used exclusively for the school transport scheme.

In addition, the Bus Éireann School Transport Accounts which are audited each year by independent auditors are available on my Department’s website at www.education.ie

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills to provide the same information for the years 1997 to date as that given in the table in her response to Parliamentary Question No. 445 of 22 March 2016. [6402/16]

Damien English (Meath West, Fine Gael)

Bus Éireann has advised that information requested is only available from 2006 and that it will be sent directly to the Deputy.

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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Department of Education and Skills

School Enrolments

 

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the allocation of an additional stream for junior infants at a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if she has made a decision on the application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6403/16]

Jan O’Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has received a request from the Patron body of the school in question to operate an additional junior infant stream. The request is currently being considered and my Department will convey a decision to the Patron when this process has been concluded.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Department of Education and Skills

School Transport Expenditure

 

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the precise amounts in euros for the “Return to risk associated with School Transport business” forming part of the “contribution” as referred to on her Department’s website in the explanatory notes published with the audited statement of accounts of Bus Éireann for each of the years 2011 to 2015, in tabular form; and if she will state in tabular form what this money was spent on. [4792/16]

Damien English (Meath West, Fine Gael)

The accounting rules governing Bus Éireann’s operation of the School Transport Scheme are laid down in the 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements. These Arrangements require Bus Éireann to charge my Department for all direct costs – contractors, fuel, maintenance etc.

In line with the Accounting Arrangements, a charge of 13% of certain direct costs is levied to cover all other costs associated with the Scheme. This charge is commonly referred to as the School Transport Management Charge.

The School Transport Management Charge is used to defray immediate overheads incurred by Bus Éireann in respect of the School Transport Scheme. Any surplus which may remain after accounting for the overheads referred to above is used to provide a reserve for additional expenditure which may be required in connection with the School Transport Scheme; this is commonly referred to within the Company as the risk reserve fund.

These funds can only be used in respect of the School Transport Scheme and as stated on the website provide for:

– Specific capital investment in School Transport services and administration for example IT to deliver future cost savings.

– Portion of general capital investment for example garage equipment that serves all three businesses – Commercial, PSO and School Transport.

– Reduction of cost base through voluntary severance for schools staff (direct and support).

– Return to risk associated with School Transport business.

The following table shows the opening and closing balance and committed expenditure for 2011 to 2014 and draft figures for 2015 subject to audit.

Schools

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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Coastal Protection

 

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform why so little money was allocated to the provision of coastal defence works at the Murrough in County Wicklow; if he is aware of the significant costs of the remedial works which are needed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3307/16]

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform with regard to the recent destruction of the Murrough site in County Wicklow, if he will review the events which led to the rapid erosion of the Murrough site in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3308/16]

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to release emergency funds to deal with the rapid erosion of the Murrough in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3309/16]

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide the timetable for the actions to repair the damage caused to the Murrough in County Wicklow in early January 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3310/16]

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform why the funding for the planned works in the Murrough in County Wicklow was released in November of 2015, which was too late for work to be carried out in 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3311/16]

Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Social Democrats)

  1. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has reviewed the Murrough in County Wicklow to ascertain if damage has been caused to the rail line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3312/16]

Simon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 to 57, inclusive, together.

I am very aware of the issues at the Murrough in Wicklow and I have been in regular contact with the local community and Wicklow County Council in this regard.

The primary objective of policy on coastal protection is to ensure that in areas identified by local authorities as being at greatest risk of damage or loss to economic assets through coastal erosion or flooding,  appropriate and sustainable measures are identified by the local authorities to protect those assets and, where intervention measures are economically justified on cost benefit grounds and compatible with all required environmental and other statutory requirements, they are implemented subject to the availability of resources.

It is open to local authorities to undertake any required remedial works using their own resources. Alternatively, if necessary, local authorities may apply for funding to carry out proposed works under the Office of Public Works (OPW) Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme.

It is a matter therefore for Wicklow County Council in the first instance to address coastal erosion problems at the Murrough site in Co. Wicklow and I have made it clear to the local authority of the options in relation to seeking funding from the OPW.

An application under the OPW Minor Works Scheme was received from Wicklow County Council in 2015 to fund repair works at the Murrough, Co Wicklow. The application was sent to OPW’s Engineers to make an assessment of the technical merits of the proposal and to make a recommendation on the provision of funding.

The application was subsequently approved in early October 2015, after which the Council was notified that the OPW had approved €135,000 funding for the works.

The implementation of the works is a matter for the Council but it is understood that works have commenced.

It is also understood that the Council is to make a revised application for further funding to the OPW in the coming weeks to undertake urgent works on the Murrough site for some recent damage which occurred there, which will be duly assessed once received.

I will be ensuring this application is assessed as quickly as possible to try and assist with this issue.

It is also understood that Iarnród Éireann intend to develop proposals and undertake significant protection works over the next year or so in this area in order to protect the railway line. I met with the Chief Executive of Irish Rail in Wicklow Town recently and he assured me that he would liaise with the local authority on this matter.

I might also point out that the OPW provided a once-off allocation of funding to Wicklow County Council in September 2015 for coastal repair works the Council considered necessary following the severe storms which affected the country in early 2014.

It is a matter for the Council to prioritise which areas the funding might be used for.

Details of the OPW’s Minor Works scheme are available on the OPW website at:

http://www.opw.ie/en/floodriskmanagement/floodriskmanagementoperations/minorfloodworkscoastalprotectionscheme/