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TAXPAYERS and citizens have every right to know how Governments spend public money – and now, with the launch of our new website, all that information is at your fingertips.

Where Your Money Goes provides an up-to-date breakdown of exactly what the State does with this year’s total spend of €68.7bn. For instance, you can see how much goes on health, education, the national debt etc. By drilling down further, you find a breakdown of how each sector allocates its total.

As minister for eGovernment, I am always looking for ways in which we can use the power of tech to bring about greater transparency around what the State does. This is designed to allow taxpayers get a better view of how their taxes fund public goods and services, using open data to promote informed debate about the most efficient and effective allocation of public resources.

To see the website go here.

To see a short video explaining the tool, go here.

For my previous work on Tax Transparency, go here.

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How will Brexit work?

Posted March 31st, 2017

The decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union presents unprecedented political, economic and diplomatic challenges for Ireland. Challenges that extend right across the policy spectrum.

For a concise look at the mechanics of the proceedings and details about who the main players are, what the timetable is etc, check out the short explainer, here.

To see what Ireland’s priorities are go here.

To see Lord Jonathan Hill and I discuss how this may affect business and our relationship in the future, go here.

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Engage and Educate Fund

Posted March 10th, 2017

The Engage and Educate Fund is open to projects that empower people through education, to achieve their full potential and to contribute to community. Projects that focus on people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, people with disabilities, and people with migrant status are encouraged to apply.

Social Innovation Fund Ireland is running the programme with support from the Government and Mason Hayes & Curran. A share of €150,000 and non-financial supports may be available to the right initiative. Applications close on the 5th April 2017.

To find out more go here.

More pics acting like a kid can be seen here.


PHOTO CREDIT: dak photography

ADDRESSING the European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries (BIPAR) in Dublin this week, I explained how the Government was working to bring more financial-services jobs to Ireland and rein in the spiralling cost of motor insurance. The conference on ‘Regulation and Digital Development’ attracted insurance professionals from across 30 countries and so was a terrific platform to emphasise once again Ireland’s strengths as the location of choice for financial-services firms post-Brexit.

Explaining that our IFS2020 strategy is on course to meet its target of 10,000 new jobs in the five years to the end of 2019, I told the conference of the importance that our 2017 Action Plan places on continually upskilling our workforce to meet the insurance sector’s needs.

I also outlined how the recommendations of the Cost of Insurance Working Group, which I chaired, are aimed at ensuring greater transparency for consumers in their dealings with insurers, as well as tackling premium inflation by addressing issues such as uninsured drivers and fraudulent claims.

Read my speech to the BIPAR conference here.

The report of the Cost of Insurance Working Group can be read here.

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WE LAUNCHED the Government’s 2017 Action Plan for the ongoing implementation of our strategy for financial services on the eve of the European Financial Forum in Dublin Castle.

Under the strategy, IFS2020, we set ourselves the ambitious target in 2015 of growing the number of jobs in Ireland’s financial services sector by 10,000 over five years, which would take us to 45,000 by the end of 2019. The good news – not just for Dublin, but for the rest of the country too – is that we are on course to meet that target.

Furthermore, while Brexit has clearly created a degree of economic uncertainty, it also represents an opportunity for Ireland to attract financial services and FinTech investment and jobs.

As Minister of State with responsibility for Financial Services, I made it clear at the European Financial Forum and in a series of overseas visits to promote the sector and our ‘IFS Ireland’ banner brand that Ireland is very much open for new business.

This year’s IFS2020 Action Plan places a strong focus on Brexit and, as I said at the launch, its structures provide the toolkit to react to domestic and international challenges and opportunities arising over the next 12 months and beyond.

Read more about IFS2020 and this year’s Action Plan here.

Listen to my comments RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on financial-services firms expressing an interest in moving operations to Ireland here.

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Motor insurance prices have been rising steeply over the past 12 months to levels that are unaffordable for many individuals and very often without cause.

To tackle the factors behind these rising costs, the Government set up the Cost of Insurance Working Group, under my chairmanship, and gave us the task of consulting with all stakeholders in order to come up with workable and durable solutions.

Earlier this month, our report, with 33 recommendations and 71 associated actions, was approved by Cabinet for phased implementation over two years. Among the measures to be taken are those which will strengthen consumer protections when renewing insurance policies, tackle uninsured driving and insurance fraud, review the cost of compensation claims for things like whiplash, and bring far greater transparency to the industry.

Consumers have every right to fairness, stability and transparency from their insurers. These actions will lead to greater stability in the pricing of motor insurance and will help prevent the volatility that we have seen in the market in the past (both up and down). Their implementation should also better facilitate potential new entrants to the market. The result will be fairer premiums for consumers.

You can read my further comments on our recommendations here.

The full report can be viewed here.


Supporting indigenous Fintech start-ups

Posted December 15th, 2016

AS Minister of State with special responsibility for financial services, I have placed particular emphasis on encouraging the development of start-up companies in the Fintech sector. This will continue to be a growing area of the economy that delivers high-value jobs.

I was therefore delighted this week to officiate at an event marking the completion by 10 Irish Fintech companies of a development and mentoring programme at Dogpatch Labs in the chq Building beside the IFSC. Earlier this year, the 10 start-ups each received €50,000 in equity support from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund under the IFS2020 strategy. This is the first dedicated funding programme exclusively for Fintech companies.

As well as their membership of Dogpatch Labs, which has nurtured and developed start-ups such as Instagram, the nascent enterprises had access to Ulster Bank’s Innovative Solutions team and were able to draw on the expertise of members of the Fintech and Payments Association of Ireland (FPAI).

As I said at the ceremony: “Strengthening our indigenous Fintech sector as a source of high-value job creation is a key objective of the Government’s IFS2020 Strategy. I welcome Enterprise Ireland’s initiative to support the development of a world-class start-up eco-system and wish these companies every success for the future.”

You can read more of my comments here.

Information about Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund is available here.


Financing for SMEs

Posted December 2nd, 2016

THE Department of Finance is acutely mindful not only of the vital importance to our economy of small and medium-sized Irish businesses, but also of the need of SMEs for access to affordable investment capital, so that they can grow and create employment.

Following on from my meeting with FEXCO at its Killorglin, Co Kerry headquarters in July, it was announced this week that FEXCO Asset Finance, working with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), is to make €70m available in specialist leasing finance.

Welcoming this latest shot in the arm for Ireland’s growing SME sector, I commented: “FEXCO is a great example of how our indigenous financial services sector can expand, both at home and through export of its services.

“Our Irish financial services industry has a lot to offer and the Government, through its IFS2020 strategy, will continue to support growth in employment over the coming years.”

Further details on the €70m fund can be read here.


Insurance Group Recommendations

Posted November 21st, 2016

Recently I presented Minister Noonan with my emerging recommendations from the Cost of Insurance Working Group.

The Cost of Insurance Working Group, which I am chairing, is undertaking a review of the factors which are influencing the increased cost of motor insurance.

The Working Group brings together all the relevant Departments and Offices involved with the process.  Its objective is to identify immediate and longer term measures which can address increasing costs, while bearing in mind the need to maintain a stable insurance sector.

You can see the list of recommendations here and my letter to Minister Noonan here.

To read my speech on ‘The Future of Insurance’ from a Business Post conference, go here.



‘Future of Insurance’ Speech

Posted November 18th, 2016

At a ‘Future of Insurance’ event, organised by the Sunday Business Post, I gave the opening address.

I spoke about the recent volatility in the sector, reforming it, and the cost of Insurance Working Group which I am chairing.

You can read the speech here.

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