58. Deputy Cathal Berry asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of staff employed by the National Cyber Security Centre in each of the years 2018, 2019 and to date in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16249/20]


Answer from Eamon Ryan, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment:

The National Cyber Security Centre, or NCSC, which is located within my Department, is the primary cyber security authority in the State, and has a number of roles, including leading on cyber security incident response and on the resilience and security of critical infrastructure. The National Cyber Security Centre had 21 staff in 2018, 23 in 2019 and has 24 to date in 2020, with a further staff member to join in the coming weeks.

The NCSC contains the State’s Computer Security Incident Response Team, or CSIRT. This is the body that responds to the full range of cyber security incidents in the State. The CSIRT has international accreditations and operates its own, purpose built, secure incident response software environment. Since its foundation in 2011, the CSIRT has developed significant expertise in managing cyber security incidents, and now handles in excess of 2,000 incidents every year. The CSIRT has also developed and deployed the Sensor platform across Government Departments, and the deployed Malware Information Sharing Platforms (MISPs) across a range of critical infrastructure operators.

The NCSC also a set of statutory powers in terms of ensuring that critical infrastructure operators maintain and operate that infrastructure in a secure manner. To date, 67 Operators of Essential Services have been designated. The Compliance Team in the NCSC has been working with these entities to improve their security since 2018, and formal audits will start in Quarter 3 of this year.

The Programme for Government commits to the implementation of the 2019 National Cyber Security Strategy in full. This Strategy includes a number of measures designed to ensure that our level of preparedness remains appropriate to likely future threats.


43. Deputy Cathal Berry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps he is taking to support remote working within his Department, its agencies and through the funding supports provided to business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15684/20]


Answer from Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation:

As our country enters a new normal, remote working is now more important than ever. Last December my department published the Remote Work in Ireland report. This outlined the prevalence and types of remote working in existence in Ireland. It also identified influencing factors on the part of both employers and employees.

One of the findings of the report was the need for further guidance for employers and employees. My department is now working to deliver guidance that will fill that need. An Interdepartmental Group, consisting of relevant departments and agencies, has been formed to steer the delivery of this guidance.

The ‘Guidance for Working Remotely during COVID-19′ webpage is a central access point for all of the Government guidance currently available on remote working. The allows employers and employees to navigate the existing guidance easily and helps to inform those working from home during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week we launched a public consultation on remote working guidance. This consultation will help us to understand what remote working issues are most pressing for employers and employees. The submissions that we receive will allow us to identify areas where further guidance can be provided and will also shape future remote working policy. I encourage all interested parties to take part in this consultation, the full details of which can be found on my department’s website. It is open until August 7th.

Following the results of the consultation, we will work to further refine the current remote working guidance. This work will be completed later this year.

Remote working is also an important part of the work of the enterprise agencies. For example, Enterprise Ireland’s regional plan, ‘Powering the Regions’ emphasises the importance of smart working and commits to the creation of co-working spaces. To date, Enterprise Ireland has invested over €180 million in Enterprise Centres, Incubator Hubs and shared office space.

IDA Ireland are also aware of the potential business benefits of remote working. In collaboration with Laois Offaly Education and Training Board (ETB), SOLAS and Grow Remote, the IDA have recently launched two new online national training programmes in response to COVID-19. These courses aim to develop the capability and capacity of current remote workers, future remote workers and line managers nationally.

Through all of these initiatives, my department aims to facilitate the further development of remote working in our country.


Deputy Cathal Berry asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the promised redevelopment of a secondary school (details supplied) in Portarlington, County Laois; the investment committed for same to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 


Answer from the Minister for Justice and Equality:

he Major Building Project for the project referred to by the deputy is at Stage 1 of architectural planning, which entails preliminary design of site and location suitability and initial sketch scheme.

In 2019, a review of the demand for post primary provision in the area resulted in an increase in the schedule of accommodation to cater for up to 1300 pupils. The Department met with the school and the increase was accepted by the school.

Initially, it had been anticipated that this project would be delivered in the form of an extension and refurbishment. However, through ongoing engagement with the school, its Board of Management and Trustees (CEIST), the option of a New Build is currently being explored by school authorities and the Design Team.

The Design Team has been instructed to provide an initial sketch scheme for a 1300 pupil school, and submit to the Department for review. Professional fees have been agreed with the Design Team members for this additional task.

Following this review my Department will then be in contact with the Board of Management of the school with regard to the progression of the project.

This project is included in my Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.


Deputy Cathal Berry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Portarlington, County Laois; the investment committed to the office to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter


Answer from the Minister for Justice and Equality:

The Data Protection Commission is independent in exercising its functions. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Data Protection Commission has supplied the following updates on the matter.

The Data Protection Commission operates from three offices at present, two of which are based in Dublin and the third in Portarlington.  Currently, 30 staff members work at the Portarlington office across a number of teams (for example, complaint-handling, investigations) and they make a valuable contribution to the statutory functions and role of the Data Protection Commission.

The Data Protection Commission is currently in discussions with the Office of Public Works in relation to some renovation works at the Portarlington office and it hopes that this work will commence shortly.