To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he will meet an organisation (details supplied) to discuss the Irish independent production sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
My officials met with Screen Producers Ireland (SPI) earlier this year for a full briefing on the Irish independent production sector.
SPI have recently been in contact with my office requesting a meeting since my appointment as Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment. Unfortunately, this has not been possible at the present time due to diary commitments. I have, however, offered SPI the opportunity to meet with relevant officials from my Department who will brief me on any issues arising.
To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the reduction in spend from RTÉ to the Irish independent production sector (details supplied); the steps he is taking to ensure that this spend in the sector is increased back to 2007 levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Section 116 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 provides that RTÉ make specific amounts available each year for the commissioning of television and radio programmes from the independent production sector. The statutory minimum amount for 2009 was €40m, and for subsequent years, the Act provides that the statutory minimum amount varies in line with the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI).
I am very much aware of the challenges that face the existing TV Licence system, including the current unacceptable levels of evasion. While the rate has fallen from 15.3% at the end of 2013 to the current rate of 14.1%, it is still very high.
Government approval was obtained to draft a number of legislative amendments to the Broadcasting Act 2009, including amendments for the tendering of TV Licence fee collection.
The proposed amendments were considered under Pre-Legislative Scrutiny by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action & Environment and their report was received on March 8th. The Bill is currently being drafted by Parliamentary Counsel and is included as a priority on the Government's Legislative Programme.
The Committee were requested to examine the longer term issue of the future funding of public service media and the Committee published their report at the end of November 2017. Following consideration of the recommendations made in that report, Government approval was received in July 2018 to establish a Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting. The Working Group will examine a number of options to support future funding and the reform of television licence fee collection and it is intended that it will report to me in Q1 2019.
To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the aspects of the television licence fee reform the interdepartmental working group is reviewing; when he expects this report to be published; if there will be engagement by the group with stakeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on public service broadcasting; his further views on licence fee reform; when he will publish his action plan points in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on appointing the Revenue Commissioners as the licence fee collection agent to help reduce evasion rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I propose to take Question Nos 201, 202, 204, 205, 207, 210, 211, 213, 216, 217 and 219 together.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action & Environment examined the longer term issue of the future funding of public service media, which included a period of public consultation and stakeholder engagement. The Committee published their report at the end of November 2017.
Following consideration of the recommendations made in that report, Government approval was received in July 2018 to establish a Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting.
The group is chaired by an Assistant Secretary from my Department and comprises senior officials from the Departments of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
The Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting forms an important input into the work of the group. There are no plans, therefore, for any further stakeholder engagement by the Working Group. The group will examine the following options for the future funding of public service broadcasting and collection of the TV Licence fee:
The group will also examine the following related issues:
The Group is meeting monthly to consider of all of the issues set out above. It is intended that the Group will report back to me in Q1 2019 and I will revert to Government at that stage.
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review the early closure time of Malahide Garda station with a view to extending the hours of operation to 24 hours to provide for the safety and protection of the local community; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of resources available to An Garda Síochána. This includes operational matters such as the opening hours of Garda stations. As Minister, I have no role in relation to that matter.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that that Malahide Garda Station, located in the Coolock District which forms part of DMR North Division, is open from 7am to 9pm daily.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the strength of the DMR North Division was 705 on the 30 September 2018, the latest date for which figures are readily available. Of these, I am informed that 213 members are assigned to the Coolock District and 27 members are assigned to Malahide Garda Station. Where appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is also supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
I understand from the Garda authorities that the allocation of Garda resources is subject to constant review in light of crime trends and policing needs arising, to ensure optimum use of Garda resources and that the best possible policing service continues to be provided to the public.
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for the long-term use of the Thornton Hall site at Kilsallaghan, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Thornton Hall site was purchased in 2005 with the intention of constructing a large scale prison campus to replace the 19th century complex at Mountjoy Prison which the then Government planned to sell to fund the development. Due to the downturn in the economy, the scale of the project could not be accommodated within the capital allocation available and the project did not proceed. In the decade since the original plan, international research has tended towards smaller prisons within reach of support communities as the best option for rehabilitation. In addition, in light of the decision not to proceed with Thornton Hall, significant capital investment has been made at the Mountjoy campus over recent years to upgrade accommodation and eliminate the practice of slopping out.
In the meantime, the Thornton Hall site which is fully serviced and adjacent to Dublin airport remains in my Department’s ownership and in recent years a working group, which included representatives from the OPW, considered future use options for the site. This included discussions with Fingal County Council. More recently, the site has also been flagged to the Department of Housing and Local Government, and to the Land Development Agency. As such, the site will be considered both in the context of broader State requirements for land assets and future requirements in relation to detention of prisoners.
To ask the Minister for Finance the amount of the €335 million received from the sale of the stake in Aer Lingus and placed into a connectivity fund which has been invested by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (“ISIF”) has completed four investments under the Connectivity Fund, namely:
These investments bring the total deployed under the connectivity fund to over €90 million. The NTMA have also advised me that ISIF is working on a range of further pipeline connectivity-based investments.
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to review the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011 with regard to sinking fund contribution minimum levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The position is that the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 was enacted with the primary purpose of reforming the law relating to the ownership and management of common areas of multi-unit developments and facilitating the fair, efficient and effective management of owners' management companies (OMCs). These are companies registered under the Companies Acts, the members of which are the owners of residential units within the development and which are established for the purposes of ownership and management of the common areas of that development.
Section 19(1) of the Act provides that an OMC must establish a sinking fund for the purpose of discharging expenditure reasonably incurred on the refurbishment, improvement or maintenance of a non-recurring nature of the multi-unit development concerned. Section 19(3) obliges the owner of each unit in the multi-unit development to make payment to the sinking fund of the amount of contribution fixed in respect of the unit concerned. Section 19(5) provides that the amount of the contribution to be paid to the sinking fund in respect of a particular year shall be €200.00 or such other amount as may be agreed by the members of the OMC at a meeting.
Thus, while there is a legal requirement on each OMC to establish and maintain a sinking fund, the determination of the annual contribution to the fund is a matter for each OMC. In the absence of such a determination, a contribution of €200.00 shall continue to apply. Section 19(1)(a) provides that expenditure may be incurred from the sinking fund in order to obtain advice from a suitably qualified person in relation to the likely reasonable costs of refurbishment, improvements or other expenditure of a non-recurring nature.
As regards the payment of agreed sinking fund contributions, section 22 of the 2011 Act provides that such contributions may be recovered by the OMC as a simple contract debt in a court of competent jurisdiction.
While I have no specific plans to review operation of the Multi-unit Developments Act 2011 at present, operation of the Act's provisions is kept under general review by my Department.
All Parlamientary Questions I make and their answers can be viewed in this section