Speech to Kildare County Council

Action Plan for Housing, Housing and Urban Renewal, Speeches

(Check against delivery)

Tuesday, 27th September 2016

With Mayor Ivan Keatley, Kildare Co. Co.

With Mayor Ivan Keatley, Kildare Co. Co.

A Chathaoirligh, elected Members, esteemed colleagues: good afternoon everyone.

Thank you for affording me this opportunity to address you today.

Homelessness and the acute shortage of homes available to those who need them is one of the greatest challenges facing this country today.   It is having a profound effect on the daily lives of many individuals and families who feel they have been failed by the system and who urgently require homes.

The Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing and homelessness crisis and under Rebuilding Ireland we have set out a broadly-based and comprehensive set of action to do just that.

Shortly after its publication, my colleague, Minister Coveney wrote to all elected members and all Chief Executives in relation to the implementation of the Rebuilding Ireland

As I see it, local authorities are absolutely central to that implementation, given your role as the main vehicle of governance and public service at local level.

One of the biggest challenges we face is getting house building, and supply more generally, moving again. Planning powers, in particular, at the disposal of local authorities can be employed to encourage and facilitate good quality housing, at affordable prices, in high demand areas.

It is imperative that local authorities do all within their power to get all suitable potential sources of housing supply to be activated as quickly as possible.

Both Minister Coveney and I will be visiting as many local authorities as we can over the weeks ahead to outline what we need and expect to see in terms of implementation and to hear from you the specific challenges that are faced locally in delivering on the Plan.

So where are we now? At the last summary of social housing assessments, the housing waiting list in -Kildare County stood at – 5,454(of course we’ll have updated figures when this year’s summary is published towards the end of the year);

In contrast to this the total number of new houses completed last year in the county was just 767 homes, nearly 30%of which were individual one-off houses

We are building considerably less new homes than we need and have done so for a number of years;

Almost 6% of housing stock in the county was reported as vacant in the 2016 Census and,

Meanwhile thousands of families and individuals are in mortgage arrears or facing increasing rents.

Failure to address the housing challenges we face, threatens our future growth and prosperity.

It’s time to do something serious about this, that’s my mandate from Government, as Minister of State with responsibility for Housing and Urban Renewal, and that’s what we’re here to talk about to-day.

Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing & Homelessness

Rebuilding Ireland sets out a practical and readily implementable set of actions that will increase housing supply to create a functioning and sustainable housing system that is capable of:

  • Providing homes for families in emergency accommodation;
  • Tackling the underlying causes, addiction and otherwise, of people living on our streets;
  • Producing a minimum of 25,000 housing units nation-wide every year by 2020;
  • Performing post-2020 in response to contemporary housing needs
  • Delivering more social housing, much faster, and putting in place financially sustainable mechanisms to meet current and future requirements for social housing supports.

Accelerating delivery to this level is essential if we are to –

  • Address the unacceptable level of households, particularly families in emergency accommodation;
  • Moderate the rental and purchase price inflation, particularly in urban areas;
  • Address the growing affordability gap for many households wishing to purchase their own homes;
  • Support the emergence of a rental sector which provides choice, mobility and quality accommodation in the right locations;
  • Position the housing sector such that its contribution to the national economy is steady and supportive of sustainable economic growth; and,
  • Ensure that measures intended to remedy the current supply difficulties also contribute to longstanding objectives in the housing sector, such as the need to support urban development and achieve sustainable communities.

Rebuilding Ireland balances delivery on these fronts with the necessary financial resources (€5.5bn investment by 2021) and structural reforms.

A key feature of the Plan will be highlighting ‘pathfinder’ projects, innovative and effective solutions to problems and approaches to projects that can be replicated in other local authority areas. I would encourage -Kildare to come forward with an exemplar in this regard.

We know that to deliver more quickly we need to look at the States procedures and processes be they planning, approval of social housing or otherwise and we’re doing that.

In terms of improving the viability of construction, it is important to recognise the reforms already in place. These include

  • Reduced development contributions;
  • the vacant site levy;
  • Part V;
  • apartment guidelines;
  • financing under Activate Capital, and,
  • Planning and Strategic Development Zones.

It is estimated that such measures taken to reduce input costs have decreased the cost of building new residential units by between €20,000 and €40,000, depending on whether apartments or houses are being constructed.

The Minister for Finance has indicated that fiscal measures to support the Rebuilding Ireland programme, and importantly measures for first-time buyers, will be included in the Budget in October.

We have responded in particular to the calls for funding to address infrastructure blockages, through the establishment of a €200m Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to support enabling infrastructure to release lands for housing development. A call for proposals for suitable projects issued from my Department on 26th August and proposals are due back on 14th October. We anticipate that this fund has the potential to release the delivery of at least 15,000 to 20,000 new homes, which would otherwise not be delivered.

In terms of improving the functioning of the rental sector in the first instance we had to protect the most vulnerable and the increases in rent supplement and Housing Assistance Payment limits will do that.

In the longer term we need a really good and attractive rental option and the publication later this year of the comprehensive rental strategy currently being developed by the Department will chart a course to achieve a vibrant and attractive rental tenure option.

Rebuilding Ireland is a holistic Plan, an all-Ireland Plan, a plan that includes rural Ireland

Since taking up this Ministry, I have seen first-hand the negative effect the housing shortage is having on people and their families and how the whole system is struggling to cope and devise solutions.

Rebuilding Ireland is, I believe, a really good starting point to resolve these problems. Our commitment of €5.35 billion will go a long way to providing much needed social housing and the €200m infrastructure fund should encourage the production of thousands of homes for the market.

It’s a whole-of-Government initiative, and a national plan that needs to have an impact at all locations and all scales of development. Revitalising our rural towns and villages is as important as the plans for the main urban centres.

I lead the Urban Renewal Working Group, and I am committed to the re-building of our communities by addressing not just the physical environment but also by investing in social and economic development and in this context, we intend to introduce a new Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

Using the €30 million available to local authorities this year, the Scheme will seek to increase the attractiveness and sustainability of our towns and villages as places to live and work. My aim is use housing and community schemes in a collaborative way to improve city, town and village centres.

We will continue to work with colleagues in the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to co-ordinate their schemes with ours and to bring forward joint demonstration projects, where we can.


So that’s my take on what needs to be done to fix our broken housing model.

I really want to hear your views to make sure we have all the facts and that we are heading in the right direction under the Rebuilding Ireland

Returning to a normally functioning housing and construction sector is critically important in order to support economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability. Our engagement here today forms an essential element of this broader policy context.

While the Government is acting, the challenge does not stop there. It is vital that as the 84 actions to facilitate house build are implemented that local authorities, approved housing bodies, builders and developers proactively respond to the housing supply challenge.

I know from talking to you and other Councils around the country that you are up for that challenge and will not be found wanting.


Speech to Simon Community Seminar: Housing, Homelessness and Rights

Action Plan for Housing, Housing and Urban Renewal, Rebuilding Ireland, Speeches


Speech to  Simon Community Seminar

Housing, Homelessness and Rights

Monday, 26th September 2016

Good morning.

As we all know, we have a national housing crisis. The broken housing market has led to consistent under-supply of homes since 2009.

Rebuilding Ireland – The Government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness is about fixing the range of individual, but totally inter-dependent factors, crucial to a proper functioning market. It is solution focused. It is well resourced. Implementation is underway.

To remind ourselves of where we’re at in terms of homelessness:

During a single week in August, 4,248 adult individuals and 2,363 children used emergency accommodation. That’s 6,611 people. The children are part of 1,151 families in emergency accommodation.

Almost 90% of these families are in the Dublin Region, where just over 650 of them are accommodated in hotels any given night.

While Rebuilding Ireland kicks in and social housing supply increases, actions on homelessness can’t wait. That’s why Pillar 1 focuses on how to move people out of homelessness and also prevent people falling into homelessness.

Response to Date and why Rebuilding Ireland is Different

Homelessness is not easy to solve and requires a response across multiple Government Departments and Agencies. Pillar 1, as launched last Thursday, like the rest of the Plan, brings together the actors needed to make it happen. It has buy-in and support across the relevant Government Departments and Agencies to make actions happen.

Key Actions for Exiting Homelessness

Let me tell you about some of the key initiatives which will help move people out of homelessness, and where we’re at on them.

Out of Hotels

The Plan commits to ensuring that by mid-2017, hotels will only be used as emergency accommodation in limited circumstances. For that to happen we have 3 key actions and targets.

Firstly, at least 1,500 rapid-build homes will be delivered by end-2018. We will have more than 320 homes either complete or under construction on site by end-2016. Sites for a further 200 have already been identified and work is ongoing to identify sites for a further 500 homes to be constructed in 2017.

It is important to emphasise that Rapid build is just part of a broader social housing construction programme. Efforts to significantly ramp up social housing construction nationally are taking effect. In 2015, only 74 units were constructed by local authorities. In 2016, more than 1,500 units across 100 sites will be completed or under construction. In 2017, more 2,300 additional units will be completed or under construction. Before year end these figures will increase further.

Secondly, we’re expanding the Homeless HAP scheme in the Dublin Region to create 1,750 tenancies by end-2017; 550 this year and 1,200 next year.

We’ve created 450 tenancies so far this year, so we’re well on target. Also, 70% of these are families with children.

Including the Dublin scheme, some 715 homeless households have been homed nationally through HAP to date

Thirdly, the Housing Agency has been given a rotating fund of €70m to acquire 1,600 units from banks and investment companies for social housing by 2020.

Already, 737 properties have been referred to the Agency for potential acquisition, with expressions of interest made in respect of 686 of these. Thus far, the Agency has made bids for 96 of these properties, of which 49 have been accepted. Some work done but a lot more to be done.

It’s important to note the on-going and good work done in housing authorities and housing services in moving people out of homelessness. In 2015, 2,315 people were assisted in moving out of homelessness. In 2016, to end-June, over 1,350 sustainable exits have been achieved.

Housing First

Housing First is an approach that puts appropriate housing in place first and then provides the wrap around supports in terms for health and other support that people need.

Rebuilding Ireland commits to tripling the target for housing for rough sleepers provided by the Housing First Teams from the current 100 to 300 by end-2017. Housing first Teams are a consortium of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, Focus Ireland and McVerry Trust.

54 individuals have been homed to date under the current programme. Cork City Council is considering arrangements for a similar housing-led initiative. Also, the Department of Housing is considering arrangements to establish a ring-fenced fund for housing-led initiatives across the country in 2017.

Supports for Those in Emergency Accommodation


We are committed to ending the use of hotels for emergency accommodation. In the meantime, we are going to ensure that services and supports for families, and particularly children, are far better.

The Minister for Children and Youth affairs is committed to helping with additional supports to get families out of emergency accommodation including the funding of additional support works.

Other supports being put in place by the Minister for Children include access to Early Year Services, School Completion Programmes, access to free public transport for family travel and school journeys. Practical supports and advice for good nutrition for those with access to cooking facilities.

Individuals/Rough Sleepers

It’s important to ensure that there is sufficient emergency accommodation in the system, particularly as we head into the winter period.

We have requested and received proposals for additional emergency accommodation from Dublin Region Homeless Executive to ensure that no one needs to sleep outdoors this winter.

On Thursday, Minister Coveney announced that 210-230 additional spaces for single homeless adults will be provided over the period November – January in Dublin and he is committed to making funding of up to €4 million available for this purpose.

This emergency accommodation will be city-based in safe, appropriate and good quality facilities which can be brought into use on a temporary basis.

Also, the Action Plan commits to reviewing emergency accommodation capacity nationally to ensure that the facilities and bed-spaces are adequate for demand.

Along with the provision of stable housing, healthcare services have a particular role to play in supporting homeless people, each of whom has a unique personal history, their own story and experiences, which have culminated in becoming homeless and needing support.

While housing supply and accommodation are obviously major elements of the Government’s action plan, accommodation alone will not address some of the more complex needs related to homelessness like addiction and mental health issues.

As part of the Action Plan, the Department of Health has demonstrated its commitment to providing additional healthcare support services for homeless people through an additional €2 million in funding for the HSE for these services in 2016 and a commitment that this will treble to €6 million during 2017 and 2018.

This additional funding in 2016 will ensure that individuals and couples with high support needs can access the range of health services and supports they require while living in supported temporary accommodation or long-term accommodation.

Because of the strong inter-relationship between drug addiction and homelessness, the development of the National Drugs Strategy will also contribute to the goals of the Action Plan. It will include specific actions to address the rehabilitation needs of homeless people with addiction problems.

In 2017, the €6 million in additional funding will continue to support the voluntary and community sector in providing homeless services.

This will include supporting those availing of the “Housing First” scheme as this scheme grows and expands, and expanding the in-reach GP and nursing services in supported temporary accommodation where visiting health professionals visit to treat and care for homeless people.

There will also be a focus on the provision of longer term accommodation for homeless people with chronic and enduring health needs.

The Department of Health is developing Community Mental Health Teams, including additional Mental Health Nurses and counselling services to support homeless people and those at risk of homelessness will also be a priority.

Funding has also been committed for an intermediate healthcare step-down facility and the development of an addiction treatment unit by Dublin Simon at Usher’s Island in Dublin 8.

In 2016 the HSE will spend just over €30m to improve the health and quality of life of homeless people with approximately 90% of this funding going to the community and voluntary sector.


We must ensure that as many people as possible are assisted to avoid them falling into homelessness.

Over 9,000 Rent Supplement tenancies have been protected since 2014 because of case-by-case rent supplement increases from the Department of Social Protection. Also, 2,500 existing HAP tenancies have received increased payments. That’s about 11,500 tenancies protected.

An awareness and information campaign is being put in place to raise awareness for tenants about their rights and the services available to them.

The DRHE are putting in a place a One-Stop Shop assessment centre for families presenting as homeless. This will have multi-agency participation including housing authorities, Tenancy Protection Services, Tusla, Family Mediation Services, Social Protection and NGOs. The intention is every effort will be made to keep families in their homes if they present as homeless or at risk of homelessness. This will be ready by the end of the year.

Addressing mortgage arrears is critical to support people to remain in their homes. The Plan provides that people in arrears will have access to independent legal and financial advice.

The Department of Finance and the Central Bank will ensure that the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears provides a strong framework for borrowers who are struggling.

My Department is exploring how to improve the Mortgage-to-Rent Scheme to facilitate more households, including long-term leasing arrangements.

It is the co-ordinated delivery of housing, health and social care supports that is the key to resolving homelessness for rough sleepers and the long term users of emergency accommodation. The 21 actions in Pillar 1 of Rebuilding Ireland reflect this multi-faceted approach.

A whole of Government commitment to addressing homelessness is now in train. I believe it will have a measurable and sustained impact on reducing the numbers of people sleeping rough. It will also mean that more homeless people than ever before will have a permanent home with appropriate wraparound health supports, after years spent in and out of emergency hostels and shelters.


Speech at launch of the new Meath Leader Programme

European issues, Funding, Meath, Speeches


Speech at the launch of the LEADER 2014 – 2020 Programme for County Meath in the Ardboyne Hotel, Navan, Co. Meath on Thursday 22nd September 2016 at 6:00 pm by Damien English, TD, Minister for State at the Department for Housing and Urban Renewal.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here with you in the Ardboyne Hotel to launch the LEADER 2014 – 2020 Programme for County Meath.

I want to start by thanking the Local Action Group and its Chair Sinead Smith along with Michael Ludlow of Meath Partnership for asking me to join with you this evening.

LEADER is built on the strength of Local Action Groups – local people making decisions locally.

The Meath LAG was in the first tranche of Funding Agreements which were signed last July for the delivery of LEADER and I’m sure that under Sinead’s stewardship it will continue to lead the way under the new programme.

The LEADER Local Development Strategy for Co Meath is built on a vision for the county and within this vision lies a challenge to create a county which fulfils its social and economic potential.

A County that is a preferred location for living and doing business in and one that provides us and our communities with the highest standards of living and quality of life.

The LEADER Programme works off the principle that rural communities hold the key to their own destinies and that in any county the people are the greatest available asset.

LEADER helps to facilitate the practical expression of such greatness.

With a budget of over €6.9 million for LEADER in county Meath, it provides a unique opportunity to focus additional support on enterprise and jobs, social inclusion and the disadvantaged and the quality of the environment in which we live and work.

This programme will build on the work achieved during the last programme which saw some great benefits to the people, our local communities and business in Meath.

  • The Brú Micro Brewery in Trim,
  • The Military War Museum near Collon,
  • Tayto Park at Kilbrew,
  • The Meath River Rescue Boathouse at Navan
  • St Mary’s Silver Band Performance and Training Centre.

In addition to these many communities have led the development and upgrade of local community facilities, great credit is due to these volunteer bodies who took on formidable projects and the financial burden involved.

Communities which stand out in this respect include Cormeen, Ashbourne, Ballivor, Oldcastle, Skyrne, Ballinlough, Moylagh, Summerhill, Boyerstown, Bohermeen and Athboy to name but a few.

I am aware that the foundation planning is well advanced in respect of new community applications to LEADER and I wish you every success as you go forward.

As a funding initiative, LEADER is open to all rural dwellers, including community and voluntary groups, small to medium enterprises and private individuals.

Within the framework of the Local Development Strategy, LEADER can offer developmental support and grant aid to projects aiming to promote quality of life and economic opportunities through local actions and operations initiated through the bottom up developmental process.

The LAG delivering LEADER in Meath is the Meath LCDC in conjunction with Meath Partnership as the Implementing Partner and Meath County Council as the Financial Partner.

I want to acknowledge and commend the good work of all of these partners. This is a new model for LEADER delivery but with your continued hard work and a collaborative spirit, I’m confident that LEADER can make a real difference for Communities and employment in county Meath.

The LEADER programme can fund enterprise development, job creation, rural tourism and recreation. In addition, it promotes social inclusion and basic services for hard to reach communities.

Other areas of possible activity include initiatives aimed at rural youth, renewable energy, the protection and sustainable use of water resources at a local level and the protection and improvement of local biodiversity.

The new LEADER Programme provides a great opportunity to build on these types of projects throughout the County, which are to the benefit of Meath and Rural Ireland generally.

I hope you agree that there is a wealth of opportunity within all those areas. I know that there are communities, entrepreneurs and businesses here in county Meath with worthwhile projects that could avail of this funding.

Finally, I would encourage each and every one of you to start the ball rolling, get networking & get involved with the Meath LAG to make these projects happen and to ‘Make It Meath’ for your business and our communities.

Thank You.

Dáil debate contribution on Apple Tax

Business, Speeches

Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Damien English):

I thank the Acting Chairman for the opportunity to address this motion. I support the Government’s decision to appeal the Commission’s ruling that Ireland provided unlawful State aid to Apple, which was not the case and is untrue. There was no proof in the ruling, yet the position taken was damaging. As such, it was imperative that the Government made its decision in a strong, considered and timely manner. I welcome the opportunity to debate it now and for everyone to put his or her thoughts on the record.

In a modern and fast-moving world, the Commission’s decision does not constitute sensible economics. Rather, it constitutes an attempt by the Commission, an appointed body as opposed to an elected one, to meddle in the national taxation affairs of a sovereign member state and of its people. Taxation is not an area of competency of the EU under the treaties, each of which was voted for by the Irish people in a referendum. The European Commission is meant to serve the interests of the EU as a whole, which is how it has generally defended its behaviour, but the EU’s very existence is meant to serve the needs of the member states, not to control or replace them.

It is important that Ireland remains in control of its tax and economic affairs. Having spent time in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, I see the benefits of being in control of our tax and economic affairs when it comes to winning jobs.

The politics of populism and protest from the fringes of the Opposition has already pocketed the €13 billion from Apple, adding some €6 billion in interest, to apply it as the magic formula to cure all our social issues. The politics of populism is spreading false hope, sowing the seeds of resentment and, ultimately, damaging politics and democracy. This is the wrong approach and one I oppose.

Earlier, a speaker claimed the Government was stealing this money. This kind of language is just being used to get news coverage and headlines. It is not helping Ireland’s recovery or job creation. The people have already copped on to this behaviour. Any Member who has spent time knocking on doors and talking to people will have realised the people understand what is at play and what the Government must do. The people understand what the majority of political parties which have been in government for a long number of years are doing to drive the country’s economic affairs. They will not buy into this populism of making grand statements in the Dáil, claiming that the Government is stealing money, just to get news coverage and headlines.

We need to maintain control over our economic affairs and taxation because we are a small island country off another island which is off the coast of Europe. We have few natural resources in the traditional sense. Yet, we are a magnet for indigenous and global business investment. Why? Why did IDA Ireland have its best year in 2015? Why did Apple decide to locate here in the 1980s? Why did Shire decide to create a new state-of-the-art biologics manufacturing campus in County Meath which it expects will lead to the creation of approximately 400 permanent jobs for the locality? Why did Facebook in April of this year begin construction on its newest data centre at Clonee, County Meath, a facility which will be the size of 14 Aviva Stadiums? Why are there 6,855 people employed in Meath in 164 companies supported by Enterprise Ireland in 2015?

It is because of our pro-enterprise environment, one of certainty and stability. That is why the Commission’s ruling going back over 25 years is a crazy decision. It is because we have a young, well-educated and flexible workforce. It is because we have an education system responsive to the needs of enterprise, one that is ever reforming and changing with new apprenticeships, traineeships, Springboard and other conversion courses to deal with the IT sector’s needs. It is because of our historic ties with Britain and that we are a bridge between America and the European Union. It is because of our vast global diaspora acting as unofficial ambassadors worldwide, spreading the message of how beneficial it is to locate business in Ireland. Finally, it is because of our taxation policy, one to which all major political parties have subscribed and respected while in government through the years.

It is also a taxation policy that the European Commission and others have tried to strike down, most recently in their response to the economic crisis. The Apple tax ruling by the European Commission is our biggest economic and sovereign challenge since the arrival of troika. It will have to be dealt with in the same way. Unless overturned, it is a challenge to our open global economy and Irish jobs. My personal view is that our position is correct, the Commission is wrong and we will win the appeal. Backing this position is backing Ireland in its hunt for the best of international capital, investment and jobs. Backing this position is backing Irish research, innovation and talent. Backing this position continues to create opportunities for all our people beyond what an island nation of ours could otherwise expect or hope.

All of our businesses can avail of our taxation system. It is fair, equal and transparent, a point on which Revenue has been clear. Ireland has over 180,000 direct jobs from foreign direct investment. Around them, there are 200,000 other jobs. The wage bill alone from the multinationals comes to over €9 billion a year, money which is spent in the economy. We have gone through a transformation over the past five years, winning back jobs that were lost in the construction sector. We are still not fully there as we still have high unemployment. We cannot rest for the next two years. To turn our backs on jobs and investment, to damage Ireland’s reputation and to cede control to others to dictate our economic policy and tax affairs is wrong for jobs and the future of this country.

Speech to Chambers Ireland Social Responsibility Awards, including Apple Tax.

Business, European issues, Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath, Research and Innovation, Science, Skills, Speeches, Wesmeath

Speech by Mr. Damien English T.D. Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal at Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility Awards 2016

Thursday 1st September

The Double Tree Hotel, Dublin 4.

Check Against Delivery

Ladies and Gentlemen. Good evening to you all.

I would like to thank Chambers Ireland and particularly Chief Executive Ian Talbot for your invitation to speak tonight.

My congratulations to your team Ian, and to Tina Roche and all at ‘Business in the Community Ireland’ for your initiative in promoting Corporate Social Responsibility in Ireland.

Nights like tonight are worth having. They reward effort, encourage excellence and highlight your work to new and wider audiences.

I am a big fan of CSR. In my previous role in the Department of Education I saw first-hand the benefits of companies getting involved in combating exclusion through programmes for literacy, numeracy and coding.

Tonight I have learnt even more about the great work that you do up and down the country.

Through your CSR you are contributing to the social recovery of Ireland, as well as our economic recovery.

For all of that, I want to sincerely THANK YOU.

I note that earlier in the year, at the launch of these awards, Gerard O’Neill of Amarach Research spoke about the link between CSR and Customer Relationship Management.

In Government we have many customers and many relationships to manage.

One main group of customers we have is you; Chambers Ireland member businesses. Both indigenous Irish and Multinational Companies.

Earlier this week the European Commission attempted to drive a wedge in our long standing relationship with you, by their ruling on Apple, and it would be remiss of me not to discuss this with you tonight.

The ruling is an attempt by the Commission – an appointed body, not an elected body, to meddle in the national taxation affairs of a sovereign member state.

The European Union draws it authority from the EU Treaties which were voted upon by the Irish people. The Irish people have not authorized the EU to look after our tax affairs.

It is important Ireland maintains control of its taxation and economic affairs, because we are a small island country, off another island, off the coast of Europe. We have few natural resources in the traditional sense.

And yet, we are a magnet for global investment. Why?

  • Because of our relationship with you and our pro enterprise environment – one of certainty and stability.
  • Because we have a young, well educated, and flexible workforce.
  • Because we have an education system responsive to the need of enterprise. One that is reforming and changing, with new apprenticeships and traineeships.
  • We have a historic friendship with Britain which will not diminish with Brexit.
  • We are a bridge between America and the European Union.
  • We have a vast global diaspora acting as unofficial ambassadors worldwide.
  • And finally, because of our taxation policy.

A taxation policy that all major political parties have bought into and respected whilst in Government through the years.

A taxation policy that the European Commission and others have tried to strike down, most recently in their response to the economic crisis.

The Apple tax ruling by the European Commission is our biggest economic and sovereign challenge since the arrival of the Troika.

Unless overturned, it is a challenge to our open global economy and Irish jobs. We cannot have CSR if we have no corporations.

Our position in Fine Gael is that we need to appeal the decision. I hope the Cabinet meeting tomorrow, and all elements of our Partnership Government, endorse this position.

My personal view is that we will make an appeal. Our position is right. The Commission is wrong. And I believe we will win the appeal.

On that note I want to thank Chambers Ireland for being one of the first organisations to call for an appeal.

You in Chambers Ireland know that backing this position is backing Ireland as a location for the best of international capital, investment and jobs.

Backing this position is backing Irish research, innovation and talent.

Backing this position continues to create opportunities for all of our people, beyond what an island nation of ours could otherwise expect or hope.

And backing this position is backing the members of Chambers Ireland.

To conclude, our relationship with Chambers Ireland can be described as a mutually beneficial one. Government needs your businesses to be viable and sustainable.

We need you to be profitable to pay tax and create jobs, to employ people that will drive your business forward.

In turn it is through your success in business and your people that allows you to drive your CSR programmes forward.

All of this is at stake if we do not defend our historic open and transparent corporate tax regime.

Finally ladies and gentlemen, that is the serious stuff out of the way. Congratulations to everyone who has won an award so far, I know there are more to come.

I would like to hand you back over to our host Mary Kennedy.


Why Fine Gael is NOT a party of the elite

Action Plan for Jobs, Budget 2016, Business, Meath, Research and Innovation, Speeches, Wesmeath

Fianna Fáil’s efforts to paint Fine Gael as a party of the elite are fatally undermined by this week’s budget…

FIANNA FÁIL’S NEWEST line of attack , which finance spokesman Michael McGrath has been pushing on this website, is that Fine Gael doesn’t care about ‘ordinary’ people.

Given that Fianna Fáil screwed virtually every ordinary person in the country, the irony of this statement will not be lost on many people. This week’s budget, as with its predecessors, provided clear evidence that ordinary people are at the heart of Fine Gael’s budgetary priorities.

We reduced the rate of USC on low and middle earners from 7% to 5.5%. Low and middle earners are the focus of our tax cuts. That’s why there’s no relief on earnings over €70,000.

We believe that people should be rewarded for their work and, from January, 42,000 lower earners will no longer have to pay any USC. This means that by next year 450,000 will have been removed from the USC net by this government.

There is also a 50 cent increase in the rate of pay for minimum wage workers on the way. A full time minimum wage worker will see their annual take home pay increase by €708, a 4.2% increase, while a person earning €55,000 will see their take home pay increase by €677 or 1.8%.

The Budget also provided a €550 self-employed tax credit for small business owners, many of whom are just about getting by.

There was also a €3 per week increase in the old age pension, a €5 increase of child benefit and the commitment to provide a second year of free pre-school care, which will significantly benefit working parents and people considering having children.

So much for not caring about ordinary people.

Fine Gael is committed to ensuring that there is work for everyone who can work and that people are incentivised to work.

We also implicitly understand that lower taxes lead to further job creation. More people at work means more money for the State to spend on services like health and education and on providing strong social protection to those who are out of work or unable to work.

Not a party of the elite

mcgrathOn Fine Gael, Micheal McGrath told TheJournal.ie recently: I don’t think they care too much about ordinary people.Source: TheJournal.ie

Michael McGrath is a very capable politician and will probably be the next leader of Fianna Fáil. But I don’t believe for one moment that he actually believes the guff he is spouting.

His comments reflect a clear effort to portray Fine Gael as a party of the elite, but Michael Noonan’s Budget emphatically debunks that notion.

When I go to a Fine Gael branch meeting I meet a lot of ordinary, decent individuals who care about their community and their country. I am fairly sure that McGrath meets the same kind of people at his local cumann as does every TD when they meet their supporters. I’m sure he and Fianna Fáil care about ordinary people – virtually everyone in politics does – but caring is not enough.

Politicians are not paid to care, they are paid to deliver. Fianna Fáil has failed on this front.

In government it presided over the economic equivalent of a head on car crash. Over 300,000 ordinary people lost their jobs, saw the value of their homes plummet, struggled to pay their mortgages and make ends meet.

This government had a plan. Like all rehabilitation plans it was hard, it required sacrifices, but thanks to the resilience of ordinary Irish people it worked.

Fianna Fáil’s alternative budget doesn’t stack up. Demographic changes mean that an extra €300 million a year is needed in education and health just to keep the current level of service. Around €267 million is needed to pay for the Lansdowne Road Agreement on public sector pay increases next year. Fianna Fáil did not account for either of these in its costings.

The Irish economy is in recovery but still has a long way to go. The challenge for the next government will be to ensure that the recovery is sustainable and that we don’t see a return to boom and bust economics.

The choice facing the Irish people in the forthcoming election is clear: Do you chose a government with a strong record of delivery and a vision for sustainable growth, or take a chance on a party without a plan?

Damien English is Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation and a Fine Gael TD for Meath West.

Minister English’s Budget 2016 Speech

Action Plan for Jobs, Apprenticeships, Budget 2016, Business, Education, I.T., Jobs, Meath, Research and Innovation, Skills, Speeches, Startups, Wesmeath

On Wednesday night 14th October I addressed the Dáil on Budget 2016:

This budget is designed to support the recovery, hard pressed families and begin future proofing the economy.

This budget is neither the hair shirt budget that some Economists have called for, nor is the silk shirt that the opposition seem to think we can afford, rather it is a prudent budget that will create jobs.

It will remove barriers to work and make work pay, grow the economy and keep the recovery going while reducing the current account deficit.

Business in Ireland has welcomed this budget. Danny McCoy of IBEC said “The budget is right for the economy at this time and signals a new phase of economic development. The crisis is behind us and we are planning ahead. The Government has taken on board the concerns of business, reduced tax and encouraged private investment.”

ISME and the SFA have also welcomed the Budget. The SFA Chairman, A J Noonan stated “This Budget is a strong endorsement by Government of the importance of entrepreneurship and small business in Ireland.”

But this is not just a budget for business and jobs, it is also a budget for our young families.

My constituency of Meath West has one of the highest concentrations of young families in the country, with a youth dependency ratio of over 38%.

You only have to walk around the streets of Navan, Trim or Enfield to see just how young our communities are. Our young population means we can look forward to a more hopeful future, but families cannot live on hope alone.

They need help now and this budget does just that.

Cutting USC, raising child benefit, and extending the free preschool scheme to accommodate all three to five year olds will benefit young families in Meath West and throughout the country.

These families endured a lot of the pain in the recession it is only right that they get some of the gain from the national recovery.

Talk to any parent on the doorsteps in Meath West – education and the future of our children is a major focus. This budget will reduce class sizes; it will recruit an additional 2,260 teachers.

This budget will deliver a better education to our children and will invest in career guidance. This will help our children chose the courses and the skills they need to get a good job and build a better future.

With this budget young school leavers will now have a lot more choice in their career paths.

We are investing an additional €10.5m to effectively double the number of Apprenticeship Schemes available in Ireland.

These 25 new Apprenticeship Schemes will cover areas such as


Transport and Logistics,

Financial Services,

Tourism and Hospitality

and the bulk of these will be delivered in 2016.

We need to refocus the third level system to create a more enterprise responsive educational system; we need to provide the skills that students and industry require.

Future proofing the Economy is all about building skills at all levels including our pool of research skills.

Ireland’s future economic growth and prosperity will depend on our continued investment in science, technology and innovation.

This investment is all about developing:

A competitive knowledge based economy and society;

Driving innovation in enterprise;

Building human capital

And maximising the return on R&D investment for economic and social progress.

Investment in research and development is crucial for creating and maintaining high-value jobs.

In addition to the investment announced yesterday, my Department will be allocating an additional €29m specifically for investment in research and innovation to spend before the end of this year.

In addition to this, the overall 2016 capital investment will allow Enterprise Ireland to:

Support 100 Innovative High Potential start Up Companies in 2016 employing 2,000 people.

Issue six Competitive Start Fund calls with a target of financially supporting 85 innovative entrepreneurs.

Fund over 100 in-company R&D projects for companies that are valued in excess €100,000, and

Continue the development of Knowledge Transfer Ireland and the wider national Technology Transfer system to create 30 new spinout companies

For Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the 2016 allocation will:

Continue to fund the 12 SFI Research Centres, which represents an investment of €355m from the government and €190m from over 200 industry partners.

Train some 3000 researchers for key positions in Industry

Science Foundation Ireland will also undertake a recruitment campaign in partnership with the Irish Universities to attract world-class researchers.

I am pleased that Ireland’s participation in the European Space Agency (ESA) will continue to support a growing number of Irish companies in the rapidly expanding European and Global space markets. In this sector we will see:

A doubling of sales to over €80m

A rise in total employment to over 2,300, and

An expansion in the number of companies actively engaged with ESA to over 75

We are competing in an ever more competitive global environment. I am therefore pleased to report that work is almost complete on a new Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation.

It is now time for fresh strategic ideas to make research work to maximum effect for the country.

The vision for the new Strategy will be underpinned by 5 key goals:

an internationally competitive research system;

excellent research with relevance and impact for the economy and for society;

a renowned pool of talent in both academia and industry;

a joined-up research eco-system, responsive to emerging opportunities;

and a strong innovative enterprise base, growing employment, sales and exports.

We need to ensure that we have a world leading state-of-the-art research and innovation ecosystem in Ireland.

I am confident that the upcoming Strategy will provide us with the roadmap to deliver on this ambition for Ireland.

To conclude a Leas Ceann Comhairle,

This Budget charts a responsible, prudent path to fiscal stability, economic growth and opportunity.

The Budget marks a new stage in Ireland’s road to full recovery and a more sustainable future.

It will support that recovery and will begin to future proof the economy.

I commend this budget to the House and to the country.

Minister English officially welcomes Regional Action Plan for Jobs Forum to Navan

Action Plan for Jobs, Business, Farming, Funding, Meath, Navan, Research and Innovation, Skills, Speeches, Startups, Tourism
Minister English, Minister Bruton and Tom Hayes Enterprise Ireland Divisional Manager Regions and Micro Enterprises at the Mid East APJ Stakeholder Forum held in the Ardboyne Hotel, Navan

Minister English, Minister Bruton and Tom Hayes Enterprise Ireland Divisional Manager Regions and Micro Enterprises at the Mid East APJ Stakeholder Forum held in the Ardboyne Hotel, Navan

This morning the Ardboyne Hotel in Navan plays host to the Action Plan for Jobs Mid East Stakeholder Forum which will help to formulate and develop a Regional Action Plan to build on the existing strengths and opportunities within the Meath, Kildare and Wicklow Region. Local Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation was on hand to officially welcome business people, policy makers and fellow politicians to his hometown.

“Meath is linked with the Dublin Region but we are also a County of many unique strengths and talents in our own right. We are ideally located to interact and engage not just with Dublin, but with a number of other regions particularly the Border, Midlands and South East” Minister English told the gathering this morning.

“This Mid East region including Meath now has an unemployment rate of 8.7% which is second only to Dublin amongst all the regions and well below the national figure of 9.8%. This represents a very significant achievement when one considers that in 2012, when the Action Plan for jobs was first launched, the unemployment rate for the region stood at close to 14%. However we need to continue to build on this progress” Minister English said.

“Meath’s connectivity with all regions represents a particular strength that we should seek to build upon. We have a strong diversified enterprise mix with a range of outstanding forward thinking companies and businesses operating across a range of different sectors. Meath Enterprise and Meath County Council’s vision of a Boyne Valley Food Hub as a centre of national and internationally innovation excellence in food is another example of the forward thinking vision of Meath people, which was again highlighted today” Minister English said.

We have a large highly skilled and well-educated workforce. We have a strong ETB aligned to local needs, and a new stand alone Dunboyne Post Leaving Cert. College, with good access to a wide variety of other Higher Education Institutes in surrounding regions. We also have wonderful cultural, heritage and tourist assets that are world-renowned. These are just some of the assets and strengths we possess in the region and no doubt more will be identified during the course of this morning’s Forum. The challenge today is to identify how we can capitalise on all of these strengths. But it is a challenge I know the local business community, local educators and local policy makers are well able for” stated the local Minister.

“Nationally, in the forthcoming Budget, and in future Budgets, and also through the new Capital plan 2016-2021 we will be supporting and rewarding work and enterprise through reducing the burden of tax and reforming our public spending so it best serves the consumer” concluded Minister English.

Address to Farmleigh Workshop on Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation

Research and Innovation, Science, Speeches

Address by the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English T.D.

Workshop on Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation

Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park

8th July, 2015


Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all here this morning for this very important stage in the development of our new, national strategy for Science Technology and Innovation. I appreciate that you have all taken time out from your “day job” to attend and hopefully contribute to this workshop. I think that you have a hard day of work ahead of you, but I assure you that it will be worthwhile.

Progress to date

Public research in Ireland has been transformed over the past 15 years. Prior to 2000 there was relatively little funding available to researchers in Ireland. The European Commission’s Framework programmes provided a life-line (some would say “life-support”!) for research in our public institutions.

The introduction of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions in 2000 and the subsequent establishment of Science Foundation Ireland in 2001 led to a step change in the level of research activity in this country. The cumulative investment to date under the five successive cycles PRTLI has been €1.2bn. Science Foundation Ireland has invested over €2bn to date. Other research funders, government departments and state agencies, have also invested significantly in research over the period.

In parallel with this growth in public investment, there has been a commensurate increase in the level of research activity in the private, enterprise sector. As a result, the total investment, public plus private, on research grew from 1.09% of GDP in 2000 to 1.24% of GDP in 2007. This increase is all the more impressive when one considers the phenomenal growth in GDP over this period: GDP increased by over 80% between 2000 and 2007.

Successive Government have recognised the importance of public research for Ireland’s socio-economic development. Even through the worst of the fiscal crisis this Government protected investment in research from the more extreme cuts it was forced to impose on other areas of public spending.

As a result of this sustained investment, Ireland developed world-class research capacity across a range of fields. Both the quantity and quality of scientific output have increased, as gauged by academic publications and citations. Ireland has attained world-leading ranking for citations per paper in several key fields:

·        1st in Immunology,

·        1st in Animal and Dairy,

·        3rd in Nanosciences,

·        4th in Computer Science,

·        6th in Materials Science.

Ireland is ranked 20th overall for citations per paper across all fields.

The focus over the decade 2000-2010 was on building capacity in the public research system, broadly across biotech and ICT. In 2012 the Government adopted a new framework, Research Prioritisation, for the proportion of its investment intended to support enterprise (about 40% of the total pie).  The goal of Prioritisation is to accelerate the economic returns from its enterprise supports by building critical mass in areas of strategic opportunity for Ireland. The economic crash in 2008 added a further impetus to this focusing of investment.

Ireland has now emerged from the worst of the economic crisis and is on track to record two successive years of strong growth. During the years of the crisis the over-riding policy objectives were getting the public finances onto a sustainable footing and creating jobs. Now that significant progress has been made on both fronts, it is appropriate that the Government should look to the longer-term and in particular laying the foundation for a sustainable and prosperous future over the medium- to long-term. The new strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation will form an important component of that foundation.

The importance of research for long-term socio-economic development has been underscored by the re-categorisation of public support for research as a capital investment rather than current expenditure by the EU in 2014 in their rules for national accounts.

Importance of the public research system

The nature of research is such that when we initiate a programme of research, there is an inherent uncertainty about what the outcomes and ultimate impacts of that programme will be. However, there are two certainties: firstly, the research will generate new knowledge. Sometimes that new knowledge will be of a negative result from a failed experiment or unsuccessful idea; this can be as valuable as a positive result. Secondly, the research will produce new human capital i.e. researchers with enhanced experience and skills.

I believe that a vibrant public research system, characterised by excellence and international linkages, is vital for Ireland’s future prosperity.

The benefits of public research are numerous and clear:

·        The IP generated by research can spur innovation in firms, resulting in new and enhanced products and services. These are vital for success in global markets and the creation of high-quality employment.

·        Research is also vital to address and mitigate some of the major societal challenges that we are facing, ranging from health to energy to climate change – all of which are inter-related.

·        Science and technology are becoming central to ever more areas of public policy. Those of us charged with setting public policy must be able to call on the latest scientific evidence to guide us in drafting legislation, formulating regulations, setting national goals and targets; and negotiating international treaties.

·        Finally, research has an important role to play in enhancing the quality and efficiency of our public services, such as healthcare.

The new Strategy

In the light of all of these considerations, there are a number of key features I want to see in the strategy:

Research Excellence

I believe that the excellence of our research is of paramount importance. It must be the over-riding principle guiding our investment decisions. While it may be appropriate to take account of additional strategic considerations, this should not result in any relaxation of the excellence criterion. We must fund the best people to do the best research.

Human capital

The strategy must fully reflect the importance of the link between research and human capital. Human capital, in other words, the knowledge and skills instilled in researchers, is possibly the most important output from research. It may be a cliché to say that our people are our greatest natural resource, but it is true nonetheless. A key goal of this strategy will be to ensure that we continue to have the best educated, best trained and most creative people in the EU. This “talent” is a vital input for indigenous firms to help them to innovate and compete successfully in global markets; it is also a key part of the package for attracting FDI into Ireland.


I am very keen to have a comprehensive, cross-Government strategy. To help achieve this, my department has established an Inter-Departmental Committee to assist in the development of the strategy. Ten Government departments, including all those funding research, are represented on the committee, as well as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government.

The traditional dichotomy between research for societal and research for economic objectives is unhelpful as it introduces a competitive tension into discussions about funding. This is not a zero sum game. The fruits of ostensibly “economic” research can and do spill-over and benefit society; similarly, research on societal issues can and does lead to commercial opportunities. Ultimately, the benefits of all research accrue to both the economy and society.


A further aspect of inclusivity is that the strategy should encompass all disciplines, the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.


Another key theme in the strategy will be collaboration between the public and private sectors. In view of the constraints on the public investment, it is worth reflecting on the fact that two thirds of the total investment in research in this country is made by private enterprise – not the state. Investment in research in the business sector rose to €2.1bn in 2014. Therefore, it is in the interests of all public funders and researchers to actively try to connect with enterprise in order to leverage the public funds and augment them with additional private funds in order to achieve maximum “bang” for the taxpayer. Similarly, researchers themselves should consider how they might tap into the private funding for research. As I indicated a moment ago, the social and economic dividends from research are mutually supportive.

Public Resources

The availability of adequate resources to implement the strategy is critical. We are a small national with limited resources relative to the research powerhouses of the US, Germany, UK and (increasingly) China. Notwithstanding our stronger economic performance over the past two years and the positive outlook for the coming years, we still have a significant overhang from the crisis: we are a heavily indebted nation – our national debt is approximately 105% GDP and we are continuing to borrow to offset our fiscal deficit – the projection for this year is that the exchequer borrowing requirement will be in excess of €6bn. Unemployment, while continuing to fall, is still unacceptably high at 9.7%.

Against this backdrop, there are many competing demands on the exchequer, closing the deficit; social housing; schools; near-term employment creation. Therefore hard choices must be made by the Government on investment. We are seeking your input today to help guide and inform these decisions.


It is probably reasonable to infer that all of us in this room share a deep conviction about the importance of research for Ireland’s future. We would all subscribe to a vision of Ireland as a leading nation for research and innovation. Our challenge is to harness this commitment and to translate it into a coherent and realistic strategy for achieving or vision. We broadly know what we want to achieve; the purpose of today is to figure out how we will achieve it.

So once again, thank for your participation in this exercise – I hope to remain with you throughout the day and I am very much looking forward to the discussion and to hearing your views and most particularly your ideas and practical suggestions on how we can deliver on a vision for research on Ireland.

To conclude, in this, the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birth, the following quotation underscores the importance of linking the cultural and STEM disciplines:

People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.

W.B. Yeats

Thank you.

Minister English Addresses Launch of Springboard+ 2015

Skills, Speeches, Springboard

7th May 2015

Check against Delivery

Good morning everyone and welcome to the launch of Springboard+ 2015.

I want to thank John, Marie and Ciaran for sharing their experiences of Springboard with us this morning.

It is clear from what we have heard that participating on a Springboard course can really make a difference.

Employment trends

An important feature of Springboard has been the evaluation of outcomes for these participants and employment trends.

This has enabled us to track outcomes for over 21,000 people who have already participated on a Springboard course between 2011 and 2014.

I am delighted that new data from the Department of Social Protection shows that 74% of all Springboard participants during this period are no longer on the Live Register.

Data also shows that while participants who were long-term unemployed at the start of their course find it harder to get employment, 45% of this group now achieve employment/self-employment within 6 months of completing a Springboard course.

This validates our focus this year on increasing the availability of Springboard courses for participants with no previous higher education qualifications.   This is being achieved by an increase in level 6 courses in particular.

Data also shows that the quality of employment is trending upwards with 85% of survey respondents in full-time jobs.

95% of jobs are in Ireland and 49% are located outside Dublin.

Feedback from participants

 In terms of feedback from participants, 98% of 2014 graduates recommend Springboard to others wishing to reskill for employment.

Participants have also identified the most helpful aspects of Springboard for securing employment as work placement, the part-time and flexible delivery of courses; course content, the qualification received; and networking opportunities with employers.

In that context, I’m pleased to say that work placement is now a feature of over 90% of courses in 2015 (excluding entrepreneurship courses) compared to 70% of courses in 2011.

Springboard+ is specifically targeted at high growth areas.   ICT skills are particularly in demand.  Springboard+ will ensure that graduates have these high-level ICT skills that will address the needs of employers.   This is supported by findings from a survey of ICT skills conversion graduates which indicates that 87% of graduates are in employment within 18 months of completing their course.

Springboard+ is just one of a number of industry focused reskilling initiatives that are available to jobseekers. Momentum, JobBridge, and the Skillnets are also providing additional targeted programmes, focused on addressing the skill needs of industry and supporting jobseekers into employment.

Information on all of these initiatives can be found on www.skillstowork.ie, which is aimed at making it easier for jobseekers and employers to know what Government skills initiatives are available.

Finally, I am delighted to see that the Springboard Helpline will be available again this year.  This helpline is invaluable to prospective students when deciding on the best course options available to them under Springboard.


– See more at: http://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Speeches/2015-Speeches/SP15-05-07.html#sthash.9YZ3xqWH.dpuf