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Category Archives: Parliamentary Question

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)

317. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the recent traumatic events in France and the recommendation of the Constitutional Convention, the plans the Government has to hold a referendum to exclude blasphemy from the Constitution Article; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3864/15]

 Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)

The Deputy will be aware that the Government agreed last September to hold a referendum on removing the offence of blasphemy contained in Article of the Constitution, in response to the 6th Report of the Convention on the Constitution.

The work necessary to prepare a Referendum Bill and a Bill to amend the current legislative provision for the offence of blasphemy is ongoing in my Department.

An appropriate date for the Referendum will be decided by Government when the legislation has been prepared. Earlier this month, the Taoiseach confirmed in the Dáil that the blasphemy referendum will not be held this year, as two referenda are already scheduled for this year.

In the meantime, my officials and I are working on preparing the necessary legislation which is included in the Government Legislative Programme for 2015, as announced on 14 January.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy TD (Tipperary South, Independent)

243. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Industrial Development Agency sponsored visits to County Tipperary in the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; and the number of planned visits for 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3866/15]

 Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton TD (Minister, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)

I am informed by IDA Ireland that in the 4 year period from 2011 to 2014, inclusive, there were 13 IDA Ireland sponsored site visits by potential investors to Co. Tipperary. The number of site visits paid in each of those years is set out in the following tabular statement. For reasons of commercial sensitivity and client confidentiality IDA Ireland does not comment on upcoming site visits by potential investors.

Statistics show that there are 11 IDA Ireland client companies in County Tipperary employing 3,370 people in full and part time employment.

IDA Ireland is currently in the process of finalising its new strategy for the coming 5 years and is conscious of the need to secure investments and jobs for all regions of the country over the lifetime of the strategy.

Growing both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and indigenous enterprise is key to Ireland’s economic recovery. I am glad to inform the Deputy that 2014 was a record year for both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland in terms of investment wins and job creation, with 7,131 net new jobs being created in IDA Ireland client companies and 8,476 net new jobs being created in Enterprise Ireland client companies.

As Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, I introduced a collaborative, cross government approach to advancing job creation in the State. The Action Plan for Jobs is an annual plan designed to drive action across all Government Departments and Agencies in a collective effort to put in place the conditions needed to support and grow enterprise in the State.

As I have said on more than one occasion, I have been working with my Department on the development of a framework for the formulation of Regional Enterprise Strategies that will enable us to identify the sustainable competitive strengths of each region and to better integrate the efforts of the enterprise development agencies and other regional stakeholders in supporting enterprise growth and jobs in areas of potential, which I hope to publish shortly.

It is my intention that the Regional strategy will be rolled out firstly in the Midlands before being rolled out in other regions and will include specific actions and targets on the part of my Department, the enterprise development agencies and other public bodies to promote enterprise growth and job creation in the region.

Table showing the number of IDA sponsored site visits by potential investors to Tipperary in each of the years 2011 to 2014 inclusive

Number of site visits

Question to An Taoiseach:
Seamus Healy TD: In June, some weeks after the local elections, the Taoiseach came to the House and agreed that his Government would restore medical cards to people who had lost them. These were people who had held them on discretionary medical grounds. The process was to take three weeks. It is now four months later and there are still thousands of people who have not had their cards restored.

When will that process finish? When will the committee of experts that was set up at the time to address this issue report? Has it reported? Will the report be placed before the House? In particular, when will the cards be restored to the thousands of people who, four months later, still have not got their cards back?

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny: I thought the vast majority of people had had their cards restored following the Government decision. As I understand it, the Minister has not yet received the Keane report into the matter but it is due to be sent to him shortly. Obviously, he will examine that, assess the report’s analysis and findings and bring it before Government and the House in due course.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 1st July, 2014.

* 590. To ask the Minister for Health the position regarding the extension of BreastCheck to the 65-69 age group; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Seamus Healy T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 1st July, 2014.


The BreastCheck Programme provides free mammograms to all women aged 50-64. A priority of the BreastCheck Programme at present is to maximise national uptake in the 50-64 year age cohort.
It is my intention to extend the upper age range to include the 65-69 age cohort as soon as possible in line with available resources.

Department of Finance
IBRC Mortgage Loan Book

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
To ask the Minister for Finance the fraction of the book value that was paid recently by Lone Star and Oakland Capital for the non-performing loans which had been originally drawn down from Irish Nationwide Building Society; the status of the assurance by Lone Star and Oakland Capital that they will comply with Central Bank of Ireland guidelines in dealing with mortgage debt; the entity this assurance has been given; if it is a written assurance; if the assurance is legally binding on Lone Star and Oakland Capital; if he will urgently bring forward legislation to protect these mortgage holders from arbitrary mortgage increases and repossessions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16577/14]

Michael Noonan (Minister, Department of Finance; Limerick City, Fine Gael)
I have been informed by the Special Liquidators that they will not be providing information relating to amounts paid for portfolios by third parties as this is commercially sensitive information.

As the third parties are not regulated entities they are not required to comply with the Central Bank of Ireland Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA). However he two purchasers of the residential mortgage loans, Loan Star and Oaktree, have both voluntarily committed to servicing these books in accordance with the terms of the CCMA.

The Government has always been clear that we would ensure mortgage holders maintained the protection of the CCMA. The Department’s Legislative Programme includes the Sale of Loan Books to Unregulated Third Parties Bill, which will address concerns surrounding the continued applicability of the CCMA after loan books are sold to unregulated entities.

In preparation for this legislation, my officials have been considering how best to ensure that the protections under the CCMA and other Codes continue to apply when a loan book is sold to an unregulated entity. Progress is being made and draft heads of legislation have been sent to the Central Bank for their consideration in advance of more detailed engagement with the Attorney General s office.
It is important to highlight that the contractual terms and conditions of all customer mortgages and other borrowings of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation have not changed as a result of the appointment of the Special Liquidators nor will those terms and conditions change as a result of the sale of these obligations to a third party. Purchasers of mortgage loans will be obliged to honour the legal terms of the loan agreements.

Written Answers – Department of Health: Health Insurance Community Rating (18 Feb 2014)

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)

756. To ask the Minister for Health if he will review the risk equalisation scheme currently in operation having regard to the fact a significant proportion of the elderly are now insured by companies other than the VHI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8162/14]

James Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)

The Risk Equalisation Scheme provides for a cost subsidy from younger, healthier people to older less healthy people and the compensation is provided in favour of the individual consumer and not in favour of any particular insurance company. A company with a worse than average risk profile (and therefore higher claims costs) will be a net beneficiary from the scheme while a company with a greater proportion of younger and healthier people will be a net contributor to the scheme but will benefit considerably from having much lower claims costs. Therefore, all insurers are in receipt of payments from the Risk Equalisation Fund in respect of their older customers, based on the number of older persons they have insured. I would encourage all commercial insurers to actively recruit older members to further balance spread of older customers.

Written Answers – Department of Finance: Budget Measures (18 Feb 2014)

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)

205. To ask the Minister for Finance if he will reverse the budget 2014 measure regarding health insurance due to the fact that as a result health insurance premiums have been increased excessively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8154/14]

Michael Noonan (Minister, Department of Finance; Limerick City, Fine Gael)

In the first instance, decisions taken to increase the cost of health insurance premiums are made by health insurance providers and are beyond my control. However, it is the case that in Budget 2014 tax relief for medical insurance premiums was restricted to the first €1,000 per adult and the first €500 per child insured. Any portion of premium paid in excess of these ceilings no longer qualifies for tax relief.
The cost of Income Tax relief in respect of medical insurance has increased significantly in recent years, estimated at €404 million in 2011, €448 million in 2012 and €500 million in 2013. Despite the increasing cost of the relief, the number of individuals insured has reduced over the same period, while at the same time the level of medical cover has decreased on some policies. Against this background the increase in costs is unsustainable. If the relief were to remain unchanged and the trend was to continue, the cost would increase to approximately €1 billion by 2020.
Prior to this reform the State was effectively paying 20% of the cost of all private medical insurance premiums via the system of income tax relief. In effect this means that those taxpayers who could never afford private health insurance, or who have had to give up their policies due to personal circumstances, are providing financial support via the tax system to those individuals who can afford such insurance.
Although it is true that the restriction of the tax relief may have in some cases, led to a net increase in medical insurance premiums payable by individuals, it should be noted that many would only be affected marginally, depending on the cost of the policies that individuals choose to purchase.
The measure to restrict tax relief in respect of medical insurance premiums was approved by the Dáil via Financial Resolution on Budget night and confirmed by the Oireachtas via the enactment of Section 8 of Finance (No. 2) Act 2013, which was signed into law by the President on 18 December 2013. I have no plans to review the restriction in the short term.

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