"To the Minister for Social Protection
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if his attention has been drawn to the substantial increases in insurance premiums for community employment schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter."
"To ask the Minister for Social Protection his plans to increase the material grant provided to community employment schemes to affray the massive increase in insurance costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter"
.R E P L Y
Minister for Social Protection (Leo Varadkar T.D.):
The Department is aware there has been an increase in insurance premiums for community employment (CE) schemes in recent times. The main reasons cited for this by the insurance companies concerned is an increase in claims frequency over recent years by such schemes. In the first instance, the Department recommends that schemes seek alternative quotes to ensure they get value for money. In this context, schemes are also asked to be especially mindful of their obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
Insurance premium costs are reimbursed from the CE materials budget for the scheme. If there is a scheme experiencing particular difficulties, the sponsor should contact their local DSP office and the matter will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
The Department is aware that, more recently, the insurance premiums have started falling again somewhat as the claims frequency has levelled off and there has been a greater focus on risk awareness and health and safety considerations in general.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the actions being taken by him and his EU counterparts to address the situation in Syria; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien.
I discussed the Syrian conflict and the crisis in Aleppo with my EU colleagues at the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday 12 December 2016. We agreed that the EU must press Russia and Iran to use their influence on the Assad regime to ensure that the illegal siege of the civilian population in eastern Aleppo ends and that humanitarian agencies are allowed into Aleppo as a matter of urgency. The continued denial of essential food, shelter and medical supplies to a civilian population under military attack is intolerable.
I also made the point that the EU needs to support practical steps to ensure the effectiveness of future accountability for war crimes committed in Syria. Ministers agreed on the continued need for the EU to work to ensure that those committing these crimes do not enjoy impunity for their actions. We also discussed the conditions for EU support for a post-conflict Syria. It was agreed that EU will not support the reconstruction of a Syria if a political resolution to the conflict has not been achieved.
Ireland is working to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria and today I informed my colleagues that we are again increasing our humanitarian support to the victims of the Syrian conflict with immediate effect, raising our support by a further €5M to €25M in 2016. We have contributed over €67M in humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people since 2012.
This unprecedented level of sustained humanitarian need reflects the deliberate and systematic violation of the rights of Syria’s civilian population by all sides throughout this horrific conflict. The Assad regime, in particular, bears responsibility for these crimes.
Ireland’s priorities will remain central in our contribution to the EU’s Syria policy. In particular, we will continued to work for an immediate end to the violence across Syria and in Aleppo in particular; a lifting of all sieges and the systematic denial of humanitarian access; the renewal of a UN-led political process to achieve a negotiated end to the conflict and a political transition; and accountability for the crimes inflicted on millions of Syrian civilians.
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