Written Answers

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies received from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 11, inclusive, answered orally.

House Prices.

Seán Crowe

Question:

12 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures that are being planned by the Government to tackle ongoing house price increases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12266/04]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

19 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the average cost of a new house in Dublin, a second-hand house in Dublin; a new house outside of Dublin and a second-hand house outside of Dublin in 1997, the latest year for which figures are available; the plans he has to ensure availability of affordable housing, in view of the recent surveys showing that house prices are continuing to rise; his estimate of the likely increase in house prices during 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12195/04]

Martin Ferris

Question:

30 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the percentage increase in house prices from 1997 to date; if he is concerned regarding the impact of these increases on the ability of persons within this State to secure housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12311/04]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

48 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the increasing fear regarding the development of a bubble or over valuation in the housing market in this State. [12308/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 19, 30 and 48 together.

The unprecedented demand for housing, fuelled mainly by rapid economic growth and demographic changes, has been the major driver of house price increases in recent years. The Government's strategy is to increase housing supply to meet demand and to improve affordability, particularly for first-time buyers, and in this way to seek to bring moderation to house price increases. The measures introduced by this Government to boost supply, including significant investment in infrastructure, improving planning capacity and promoting increased residential densities, are having effect. The years 2003 was the ninth record year for house completions, with 68,819 units completed, an increase in output of 19.3% on 2002 and an increase of 10.5% in output in the greater Dublin area during the same period. Ireland is building at the fastest rate in Europe — 17 houses per 1,000 population — which is an outstanding achievement.

While the rate of house price increases is still problematic, this has moderated considerably since the late 1990s when price increases peaked at 40% per annum in 1998. Detailed information on house prices are set out in my Department's housing statistics bulletin, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library. A number of market commentators, including the Central Bank, are now predicting greater balance in the housing market over the next few years, as increased supply has a restraining effect on house prices. Indicative data available to the Department shows that first time buyers continue to have a significant presence in the housing market.

The Government will continue to focus on measures to maintain a high level of housing supply. The investment in the servicing of land has led to a strong stock of land available for residential development. At the same time, the Government is concerned to ensure that the broad spectrum of housing needs is met. Almost €5.17 billion has been spent in the first four years of the national development plan on social and affordable housing measures, over 7% ahead of the forecast for that period, reflecting the strong commitment of the Government to continue to meet the needs of low income groups and those with social and special housing needs. The housing needs of over 13,600 households were met in 2003 compared to almost 8,500 in 1998, which is the highest level of housing provision under the full range of social and affordable housing measures for over 15 years.

The Government is committed to continuing with measures to boost the supply of housing and ensuring that the demand for housing is met in a sustainable manner. It will continue to monitor and review housing developments and policies as necessary.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Bernard Allen

Question:

13 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of houses completed as a result of the promise given by him under the programme for Sustaining Progress that 10,000 social and affordable houses would be constructed. [12185/04]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

60 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress which has been made to date with regard to the 10,000 houses promised as part of Sustaining Progress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12327/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 60 together.

The affordable housing initiative under the Sustaining Progress partnership agreement is designed to meet the needs of persons currently priced out of the housing market. In response, the Government has committed to an ambitious scale of delivery of affordable housing through this initiative and the provisions of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. In 2003, 88 affordable units were delivered under Part V and last Monday the Taoiseach turned the sod on the site at Finglas Road marking the commencement of the first affordable housing initiative project on State or local authority lands. The project, which consists of more than 150 affordable residential units, senior citizen units, private residential units, a medical centre, a crèche facility and a hotel building, is real evidence that the initiative is being progressed as a priority by the Government.

This project is a significant milestone in delivering the initiative and adds to the considerable progress made so far, one year after signing the Sustaining Progress agreement. First, the identification of sites for the initiative last July and December has been a critical step in ensuring early mobilisation of affordable housing for the initiative. There are now 24 individual projects on the lands identified to date for the initiative. Together with affordable housing coming through Part V arrangements, the sites so far identified have the potential to deliver 6,100 housing units. The fact that these sites are being released by both local authorities and a range of other State authorities indicates the broad commitment at Government level to facilitate the earliest delivery of housing at affordable prices.

Second, working with the parties to the pay agreement, we have developed a delivery model which builds upon the existing expertise of local authorities, while at the same time ensuring that there is no impact on general Government finances, as this is one of the parameters set by the agreement. The housing will, therefore, be delivered through arrangements between local authorities and the private sector. Third, we have agreed, in principle, eligibility criteria with the parties to the pay agreement subject to further discussions on the detail.

The timescale for delivery and the precise number of units to be delivered on each site is being determined in planning the projects. There are 24 projects involved and they vary in terms of key site characteristics such as zoning status and servicing. Allowance must also be factored in for the procurement of specific developers to deliver the projects through competitive tendering and for obtaining planning permission. These processes, while involving a time element, are necessary to ensure the effective delivery of housing and the creation of housing in good quality environments. We will, of course, parallel activities as necessary to ensure early delivery of units.

The contact group on the affordable housing initiative, which is chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach and comprises representatives of my Department, the Department of Finance and the Central Statistics Office, plays an important role in ensuring the effective implementation of the initiative. Its work includes overseeing the effective and early implementation of the projects already identified, addressing any policy issues arising in implementing the initiative within the parameters of the agreement and continuing with the process of identifying State lands for use in the initiative. Furthermore, an implementation team within my Department and project managers at local level are all working to ensure the success of the initiative.

Considerable work has been done to date on the initiative, the fruits of which will emerge during this year and into the future as projects are brought to the market, and further work on implementing the initiative is progressing as a priority. This, I believe, is firm evidence of the Government's determination to make measurable progress in the implementation of the initiative. We will also work to ensure that the output from all affordable housing schemes is maximised while ensuring the continuation of measures to maintain the overall supply of new houses.

Local Authority Housing.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

14 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the total number of persons on local authority housing lists at the latest date for which figures are available; the way in which this figure compares with the corresponding figure for the equivalent dates in each of the previous five years; the total number of local authority dwellings completed or acquired in 2002 and 2003, and the anticipated number for 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12196/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

69 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which he proposes to resolve the increasingly serious housing problem, with particular reference to meeting the accommodation needs of the 60,000 families on housing waiting lists in various local authorities throughout the country, some of whom have been on such lists for ten years or more; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12314/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 14 and 69 together.

The results of the statutory assessment of local authority housing need, which was undertaken by local authorities in March 2002, indicated that a total of 48,413 households were in need of housing, compared with 39,176 households in March 1999. Detailed information on the results of the 2002 assessment was published in my Department's September 2002 quarterly edition of the housing statistics bulletin, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library.

Local authorities completed or acquired 5,074 units in 2002, 4,972 units in 2003 and at this stage it is estimated completions or acquisitions will be approximately at the same level in 2004.

Information published as part of the last assessment of local authority housing need undertaken at the end of March 2002 indicates that approximately 60% of households assessed as in need of local authority housing were on the local authority waiting list for less than two years. It is, however, the case that some applicants for local authority housing are on waiting lists for longer periods on the basis that their housing need has a relative lower priority compared with the needs of households that have been allocated housing. The relative priority of households on the local authority waiting lists is determined in accordance with the authorities' scheme of letting priorities, the making of which is a function reserved to the elected members.

The Government has been conscious of the increased level of social housing need and has responded actively to this situation by expanding social and affordable housing output. It is anticipated, for example, that total social housing output this year, taking account of new local authority housing, vacancies arising in existing houses and output under other social housing measures, will meet the needs of approximately 13,000 households. This compares with 7,000 households in 1993.

Decentralisation Programme.

Joe Costello

Question:

15 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the work undertaken to date by the internal implementation team within his Department dealing with decentralisation; if sites for decentralisation have been agreed; if the team has undertaken or plans to undertake a survey to establish the number of persons employed in his Department and in boards or agencies operating under the aegis of his Department who are willing to move to the new locations announced by the Minister for Finance in his budget speech; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12194/04]

The internal implementation team in my Department is co-operating actively with the decentralisation implementation group, the Department of Finance and the Office of Public Works on the decentralisation programme announced in budget 2004. The Department's implementation team is committed to developing innovative approaches to information management, communications and logistics so as to maintain and improve the quality of service to be delivered under decentralised arrangements and to minimise disruption. A detailed implementation plan is being prepared, in accordance with the recommendations of the report of the decentralisation implementation group, covering all aspects of the decentralisation process for my Department. It is intended to finalise this plan by the end of May 2004. The team is also facilitating full and timely communication with staff of the Department on the progress of the decentralisation programme, through the Department's partnership committee and otherwise.

The Office of Public Works is responsible for the selection of suitable sites for Departments' offices and is currently consulting my Department on the property aspects of the decentralisation programme. The provision of high quality office accommodation will be a primary consideration in the selection of a property in all locations.

My Department considered that a survey of its staff would most valuably be undertaken when greater clarification on detailed arrangements was available following,inter alia, publication of the Flynn report on 31 March 2004. In accordance with the report’s recommendations, the Department of Finance is developing an integrated transfer system or central applications facility which will allow people to apply for transfer to decentralised locations and rank their preferences for different locations. This system will begin to be deployed in May 2004 and will enable my Department determine interest in transferring to its designated south eastern locations.

Traveller Accommodation.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

16 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress which has been made to date on the implementation of Traveller accommodation programmes. [12328/04]

Under their five year Traveller accommodation programmes, local authorities provide accommodation for Travellers in Traveller specific accommodation, such as group houses and halting site bays, and in standard local authority houses. Local authorities also assist Travellers in providing their own accommodation through the shared ownership and tenant purchase schemes and the special Traveller house purchase grant. Local authorities also refurbish existing accommodation to modern standards.

In the first four years of the accommodation programmes, 2000 to 2003, local authorities provided or assisted in the provision of permanent accommodation for an additional 1,369 Traveller families. This includes an additional 487 families in Traveller specific accommodation, 681 families in standard local authority accommodation and 201 families in accommodation provided by Travellers with the assistance of local authorities. A further 236 units of permanent Traveller specific accommodation were refurbished to modern standards and 228 units of temporary or emergency accommodation were also provided.

Funding provided by my Department amounted to just under €95 million for new and refurbished Traveller specific accommodation in the years 2000 to 2003. A further €40 million has been provided in my Department's Vote for this purpose in 2004. This is in addition to expenditure on standard local authority houses, provided under my Department's local authority housing programme, allocated to Traveller families.

Since the commencement of the programmes, the number of Traveller families on unauthorised sites reduced from 1,207 families at the end of 1999 to 788 families at the end of 2003. This reduction of 419 families constitutes a significant and consistent reduction since the programmes started and I expect it will continue in the final year of the programmes.

Nuclear Plants.

Jack Wall

Question:

17 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the latest information available to his Department on the progress made with the vitrification of the highly active liquid waste stored at the Sellafield complex; when it is estimated that the process will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12243/04]

The vitrification plant at Sellafield, which came into operation in 1991 with two vitrification lines, encapsulates the liquid high level radioactive waste held in storage tanks at Sellafield into glass blocks. This is a more stable form for storage and reduces the risk of leakages and subsequent radioactive contamination of the environment. As a result of technical problems with the vitrification plant, throughput performance has been well below that expected. A third vitrification line, aimed at increasing vitrification capacity, is currently at the final stages of commissioning and is scheduled to commence operations by the end of June 2004.

In January 2001, BNFL was directed by the UK Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate to reduce, by way of vitrification, the amount of liquid waste in the storage tanks to a small buffer stock volume by July 2015. The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, RPII, has been advised by the UK nuclear installations inspectorate that despite the ongoing problems with the existing vitrification lines, the July 2015 target date is achievable. The RPII has asked the NII to keep the RPII regularly updated on progress with vitrification.

The RPII and the Irish Government are concerned about the continuing storage of this highly active waste in liquid form in tanks at Sellafield and have been pressing, and will continue to press, the UK authorities to accelerate the rate of vitrification. This liquid waste arises from the reprocessing operations at Sellafield. As such, the need for vitrification will ultimately cease when the production of the liquid waste also ceases. The Government will, therefore, continue to use available avenues, both diplomatic and legal, to bring about an end to reprocessing operations at Sellafield.

Case Against BNFL.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

18 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the latest position regarding this country’s international legal case in connection with the Sellafield nuclear plant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12239/04]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 54 of 4 March 2004.

A reply has been lodged with the European Court of Justice by the European Commission in its case against Ireland under Articles 10 and 292 EC and Articles 192 and 193 EURATOM, Case C-459/03, in accordance with the schedule of the court.

The provisional measures award and orders of the UNCLOS tribunal of 24 June 2003 and 14 November 2003 recommended that Ireland and the UK enter into dialogue to improve co-operation and consultation between the two Governments and report to the tribunal on specified dates. A further report to the tribunal is due to be made by 31 May 2004. While these discussions are ongoing, they remain confidential to the parties and to the tribunal, pending outcomes. It is my intention to report on any initiatives arising from this process in due course.

Question No. 19 answered with QuestionNo. 12.

Local Authority Housing.

Willie Penrose

Question:

20 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the additional provision he intends to make from within resources available to his Department within 2004 for the provision of accommodation for lone parents and other persons on low incomes, particularly in view of the decision by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs to impose severe restrictions in eligibility for rent supplement and her views that the housing needs of such persons should be met by local authorities; if he will confirm that his Department received only one day’s notice of the intentions of the Department of Social and Family Affairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12229/04]

Lone parents and persons on low income who are unable to provide housing for themselves from their own resources are entitled to apply for social housing which is provided by either a local authority or a voluntary housing body. The Government's positive commitment to the social housing programme is shown in the increased provision for social and affordable housing in 2004. The total housing provision, Exchequer and non-Exchequer, in 2004 of €1.884 billion represents an increase of 5.4% on the 2003 provision.

The increase in the housing provision will allow for 5,000 starts under the main local authority programme, an increase of 500 above 2003 levels, and a further 500 commencements under area regeneration programmes in 2004. In addition, the voluntary and co-operative housing sector will provide some 1,800 units of accommodation in 2004. Many of the housing units being provided by local authorities and voluntary and co-operative bodies in 2004 will be let to lone parents and persons on low incomes.

The regulations made by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs regarding changes in the SWA rent supplement scheme provide a number of exemptions. These are also reflected in guidelines issued by her Department to health boards regarding implementation of the new rules. My Department has advised housing authorities about the changes. The Minister for Social and Family Affairs gave specific assurance about the recent changes in the rent supplement scheme. She indicated, for example, that people who have particular problems and difficulties will be cared for, including people who are at risk of becoming homeless and other vulnerable people. In addition to the specific exemptions in the regulations, health boards have wide discretionary power to award rent supplement where the circumstances warrant payment. Accordingly, the question of additional provision in this context does not arise.

The regulations providing for the changes to the rent supplement scheme were made on 18 December 2003. The Minister for Social and Family Affairs informed me on 12 November of the proposal to introduce changes in this area in the context of the 2004 Estimates. During the intervening period there was a considerable amount of interaction between the two Departments, particularly on the need for adequate safeguards and exemptions to ensure that people with genuine needs would not be adversely affected and to monitor closely the effects of the changes. These matters have been reflected in the regulations and guidelines.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

21 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason the Government decided to attach a use it or lose it clause to the emissions trading certificates that power generation companies will receive under the new European emissions trading arrangements; and if he is concerned that this clause will encourage power generation companies to maintain older power plants which have high CO2 emissions in operation. [10301/04]

Under the national allocation plan, NAP, for emissions trading in the period 2005 — 2007, withholding the issue of allowances in respect of future years to companies that close will apply in respect of closures and potential closures in the two years 2005 and 2006 only, with the Exchequer benefiting from the auction of any such allowances. All elements of the emissions trading scheme and its impacts will be subject to an evaluation prior to the finalisation by June 2006 of the NAP for the Kyoto period 2008-2012.

The provision for a clawback of the free allocation of allowances to installations that close is part of the overall NAP which forms a balanced package between competitiveness and environmental protection and which is an important "learning by doing" element prior to a more rigorous allocation necessary for achieving our Kyoto target. I am satisfied that the overall balance will encourage greater efficiency and cleaner production of electricity and, therefore, a reduced greenhouse gas intensity in its production.

Planning Issues.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

22 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he intends reviewing the position of An Taisce under the Planning Acts; if he intends to provide sufficient funding for the organisation to carry out its remit adequately under the Planning Acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12279/04]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

24 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he is considering change in the role of An Taisce as a prescribed body under the Planning Acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12224/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 24 together.

Section 33 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that regulations regarding applications for permission may be made requiring,inter alia, that planning authorities must notify prescribed bodies of the receipt of certain classes of development. Article 28 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 lists the bodies prescribed for this purpose. An Taisce is given notice of planning applications only in circumstances where it appears to the planning authority that the proposed development might impact on matters such as areas of special amenity, protected structures, national monuments and nature conservation. The current list of bodies prescribed for the purposes of planning applications is kept under review.

An Taisce is an independent voluntary body whose financing, through membership subscriptions and otherwise, is properly a matter for itself. In 2001, my Department agreed to pay An Taisce an annual grant of €69,836 for the three year period 2001-2003 to assist it in its role as a prescribed body under planning legislation. There was no commitment to a continuation of this funding and there is no provision in my Department's Vote to provide similar funding in 2004.

My Department provides grant aid to An Taisce under a number of initiatives, namely administration expenses of the blue flag scheme in Ireland — €75,156 in 2003; an An Taisce led anti-litter initiative national spring clean — €250,000 in 2003; local agenda 21 from the environmental partnership fund — €6,875 in 2003 and core funding of €1,000 in 2003. In addition, An Taisce was given financial assistance of €500 in 2003 towards anti-litter advertising.

Willie Penrose

Question:

23 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the latest position regarding the threat by the European Commission to take legal action arising from the decision of the Government to introduce a €20 charge for making a submission on a planning application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12217/04]

On 23 January 2003, the European Commission issued Ireland with a reasoned opinion to the effect that the €20 fee for the making of a submission on a planning application which requires environmental impact assessment is contrary to the public participation provisions of Directive 85/337/EEC on environmental impact assessment, EIA. A reply, responding to each of the points raised in the reasoned opinion and issued to the European Commission on 16 May 2003, set out our contention that the imposition of a €20 participation fee is not in conflict with the provisions of the directive.

On 22 July 2003, the European Commission issued a press release in which it stated its intention to refer the case to the European Court of Justice. No official communication has been received from the Commission to date. I have no proposal to amend the relevant regulations, which reflect an approach endorsed by the Oireachtas in the context of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Question No. 24 answered with QuestionNo. 22.

Archaeological Sites.

David Stanton

Question:

25 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to raise awareness about the value and importance of Ireland’s archaeological heritage; his further plans to prevent damage and destruction of archaeological sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12315/04]

My Department operates a number of initiatives to assist in raising awareness of the archaeological heritage. Approximately 120,000 monuments receive protection as part of the record of monuments and places, RMP. The RMP is available for public viewing on a county by county basis. As part of its current work programme, my Department has started to update the RMP and to consider making it available on CD-ROM and via the Internet. My Department is also responsible for the Archaeological Survey of Ireland, ASI, which produces an inventory of all known monuments on a rolling basis. Surveys in 14 counties have been published in book format.

My Department is considering using the tool of the Internet to make its resources on the archaeological heritage available to a wider audience. Along with the RMP and the ASI inventories, the making available by Internet access of site excavation reports held by my Department is also being considered. In the meanwhile, my Department provides fundingfor an annual publication summarising all excavations in the country. Funding is also provided so that this information can be available on theexcavations.ie website. The Department’s archaeological archive, which contains the original RMP fieldwork files and copies of reports submitted on foot of archaeological licences, is available to the public.

The focus of awareness with the farming community is through Teagasc. My staff give talks to farmers who are participating in the rural environment protection scheme. The Department has also published a booklet, "Good Farming Practice and Archaeology", which will be distributed through Teagasc offices. The Department is actively engaging with the development sector to ensure that archaeological issues are considered at the earliest stage in the development process and, to this end, I have agreed codes of practice for the protection of the archaeological heritage with a number of development bodies such as the National Roads Authority, Bord Gáis, the Irish Concrete Federation, Coillte and the ESB national grid. These codes are published and are available publicly. Furthermore, staff of my Department regularly give their time to make presentations to local historical groups and societies.

Overall, I am happy that good progress is being made to raise awareness of our archaeological heritage and I hope to build on this to generate further awareness. On the issue of damage to archaeological sites, there is evidence to show that this is low and reducing. I believe also that a revision and consolidation of the National Monuments Acts, which is now in hand, will strengthen protection.

Nuclear Safety.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

26 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the role the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland will play in monitoring emissions from Sellafield, specifically with regard to the new TPP process to be used at Sellafield; if the RPII has been fully briefed on the TPP process; if the RPII will visit Sellafield to inspect the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12310/04]

Jack Wall

Question:

54 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will give his views of the recent announcement of new practices by British Nuclear Fuels aimed at reducing, by about 90%, discharges into the Irish Sea; if he will raise with the British authorities the need for international monitoring to ensure that this commitment is honoured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12242/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 54 together.

The new TPP process, a chemical treatment which removes up to 97% of the technetium-99 from one of the waste streams at Sellafield, is something I welcome as the first step towards zero radioactive discharges from Sellafield into the Irish Sea. In so far as international monitoring is concerned, these discharges fallinter alia under the reporting and monitoring requirements of the OSPAR strategy with regard to radioactive substances.

I am informed by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, RPII, that the RPII's extensive marine monitoring programme readily detects technetium-99 and a range of other radionuclides discharged by Sellafield in seawater and seaweed from coastal locations and in a number of fish and shellfish species from commercial landings. The reduction in technetium-99 discharges from Sellafield will also reduce concentrations in the Irish Sea, but the transit time of about six months to Ireland's east coast means that this effect is unlikely to be observed until 2005.

Over the past six months the RPII has been in regular contact with the UK Environment Agency and has been briefed on a number of occasions on the outcome of the TPP trials. The RPII will be further strengthening its relationship with the Environment Agency and will also maintain its existing monitoring programme to ensure that the reductions that have been promised do, in fact, materialise.

Access to Sellafield by Irish experts has been sought by the Irish Government on an ongoing basis and I have raised this matter directly with relevant UK Ministers, most recently in my meeting with a number of UK Ministers in December last. Further access for the RPII to Sellafield is also one of a number of issues that have been raised in the context of discussions with the UK following the provisional measures award of the UNCLOS Annex VII tribunal of 24 June 2003. These discussions are ongoing and are confidential to the tribunal and the parties pending outcomes to the process. However, under the terms of the order, there is an obligation on both parties to improve co-operation and co-ordination arrangements and discussions are continuing on this basis.

In welcoming this technical development to reduce discharges, I expect this new situation to be reflected appropriately in the UK statutory annual discharge authorisation for technetium-99 from Sellafield.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

27 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to concerns expressed by the ESRI that the Government’s recently announced proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was self defeating because it rewarded dirty firms and encouraged them to stay in business; his response to the concerns raised by the ESRI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12215/04]

I am satisfied that the Government has appropriately implemented the terms of Directive 2003/87/EC establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the community and amending Council Directive 96/61/EC. This directive includes a requirement that at least 95% of the allowances being made available to installations are to be allocated free of charge.

Within these limits, the national allocation plan provides that 0.75% of allowances will initially be auctioned by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency will also auction any unissued allowances from the new entrants' reserve — 1.5% of allowances are being made available for this category — and from unissued allowances in respect of closed installations. These additional auctions will be subject to the overall requirement of the directive that not more than 5% be charged for and any allowances that cannot be auctioned will be cancelled.

I am satisfied that an appropriate balance under the terms of the directive has been achieved in Ireland and that emissions trading creates a market value on greenhouse gas emissions allowances that will internalise the environmental cost of emissions and set a powerful incentive for industry to become cleaner, with companies having to identify and implement emissions reductions measures at or below the prevailing market price. The ESRI concerns referred to in the question are essentially addressed to the provision of the EU emissions trading directive rather than to the method of implementing this by the Irish authorities.

Development Contribution Schemes.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

28 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to efforts by the local authority in County Donegal to adopt controversial development contributions that could add thousands of euro to school building costs; the action he intends to take to remove schools from being subject to these levies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9790/04]

Brendan Howlin

Question:

70 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the warning from the Construction Industry Federation that new homes across the country will rise in price by thousands of euro due to the development levy; his views on the projections made by the CIF; his plans to assist those on lower incomes to cope with the higher house prices arising from the levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12197/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 70 together.

Development contributions are attached as conditions of planning permission by local authorities in accordance with schemes adopted democratically by them. While the development contribution system was reformed in the Planning and Development Act 2000, planning authorities have been levying contributions since the enactment of the 1963 Planning Act.

In a circular letter issued on 27 June 2003, planning authorities were advised that while it is expected that the planning authority should ensure that developers make an appropriate contribution towards the costs of public infrastructure and facilities, care should be taken to avoid development contributions that are excessively high. Authorities were also advised that a scheme can allow for a reduced contribution or no contribution in certain circumstances, for example, for particular types of community infrastructure, shops and so forth, in areas in need of regeneration, in brown field areas or for charitable developments. However, it is ultimately a matter for the elected members of each planning authority to determine the level of contribution for their own functional areas and the classes of development to which contributions will apply, having regard to the actual cost of providing infrastructure in that area.

It is not anticipated that the contributions levied will unduly affect the price of houses. The major driver of house price increases in recent years has been the demand for housing, fuelled by rapid economic growth and demographic changes. The Government has responded to this unprecedented demand by focusing on measures to boost supply as the most appropriate way to bring moderation to the rate of house price increases. The key component of this strategy is ensuring a supply of serviced land for housing which the development contribution system helps fund.

Waste Disposal.

Martin Ferris

Question:

29 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will introduce legislation to ban incineration. [12312/04]

National and EU policy both recognise that thermal treatment, with energy recovery, licensed to the highest environmental standards, has a role to play as one element within the integrated approach to waste management, based on the internationally recognised waste hierarchy. The operation of such facilities in Ireland is subject to rigorous licensing by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Waste Management Acts 1996 to 2003, taking account of the requirements of the EU incineration directive which has been transposed into Irish law. Accordingly, I have no plans to introduce a ban of the kind mentioned.

Question No. 30 answered with QuestionNo. 12.

Environmental Policy.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

31 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the plans he has to ensure that the TEN-T guidelines that threaten Nature 2000 sites here and in the extended EU are rejected and strong environmental provisions are incorporated in the guidelines. [12300/04]

I am informed by the Department of Transport that the European Parliament has approved the proposed EU guidelines for the development of trans-European networks in the transport sector, thus enabling their formal adoption this week before the enlargement of the Union.

The guidelines fully recognise the importance of respecting the protection of the environment in planning and developing projects, inter alia, through use of environmental impact assessments and observance of the requirements of the habitats directive. These concerns are already appropriately incorporated into Irish law and practice.

Waste Management.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

32 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made to date in regard to his consideration of the report of the Health Research Board study commissioned by his Department into the likely effects of landfill and thermal treatment; the specific steps he intends to take to deal with the finding in the report that Ireland has insufficient resources to carry out adequate risk assessments for proposed waste management facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12213/04]

Question No. 33 answered with QuestionNo. 10.

Environmental Policy.

Mary Upton

Question:

34 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to encourage food processors and poultry and pig farmers to reduce the levels of pollution, as listed in the European pollution emission register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9165/04]

The Irish food processing, pig and poultry facilities in question are listed in the European pollutant emissions register, EPER, by virtue of the fact that they hold integrated pollution control, IPC, licences from the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992. The inclusion of these facilities in the EPER demonstrates the progress already made in Ireland with the licensing of activities with significant polluting potential.

IPC licensing is a modern and sophisticated system with an emphasis on pollution prevention techniques, including cleaner technologies and waste minimisation. EPA monitors compliance with licence conditions and, in carrying out this task or on request, may provide advice and assistance to licence holders on any aspect of their operations.

The Protection of the Environment Act 2003 provides for the revision of the IPC licensing system to bring it fully into line with the requirements of Council Directive 96/61/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control. I will commence shortly the remaining provisions of the Act. This will,inter alia, extend licensing requirements to additional activities in the sectors referred to in the question and require EPA to review each existing licence to ensure compliance with the directive by its relevant target date in 2007.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Dan Neville

Question:

35 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will obtain adequate funding for the special housing aid for the elderly scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10854/04]

In recognition of the valuable work being done, funding for this scheme has been maintained at a high level with a provision of €11.6 million for 2004. This will enable health boards to continue a high level of activity. An initial allocation of €11 million for the operation of the scheme in 2004 has been notified to the health boards. The remaining €0.6 million of the funding provided for 2004, based on activity within the health board areas, will be allocated to the boards later in the year.

Funding for this scheme is provided through the national lottery and there is no further funding available for 2004.

Archaeological Sites.

John Bruton

Question:

36 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will list all excavation licences issued to a company (details supplied) indicating the locations at which and when the excavation took place; its purpose; and if a statutory report has been lodged, if this report may be inspected. [11595/04]

Excavation licences are issued to individual archaeologists and no licences have been issued to the company referred to by the Deputy. In addition, my Department cannot find any record of an excavation licence issued to an archaeologist working on behalf of the named company.

Service Charges.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

37 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the rising cost of water supply for schools across the country in general and the campaign being launched by parents against these charges in Killarney specifically; the efforts he will make to ensure that local authorities do not levy the same charges on schools as on businesses in their areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9796/04]

The Government's national water services pricing policy framework requires local authorities to recover the cost of providing water services from the users of these services, with the exception of households using the services for domestic purposes. It is a matter for each local authority to set the appropriate level of charges for non-domestic users of water services. While my Department does not collect information on individual charges, the policy framework provides only for the recovery of actual costs and charges should be determined having regard to this principle.

At present, local authority water services charges and the process used for calculating non-domestic costs vary. Local authorities are, in accordance with Government policy, moving to a more uniform system for determining and applying these charges. In this regard, the policy framework requires full recovery of the cost of providing water services to the non-domestic sector by means of a meter based volumetric charge. The framework does not provide for the exemption of any non-domestic users, including those engaged in the provision of educational services, from the charging policy. The policy is being progressively implemented in the period to 2006 and is in accordance with an appropriate application of the polluter pays principle and the requirements of Article 9 of the EU water framework directive.

Proposed Legislation.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

38 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the main provisions of the proposed national infrastructure Bill; if the heads of the Bill have yet been brought before Government and approved; when the Bill is likely to be published and brought before the House; if it is intended that incinerators will fall within the remit of the national infrastructure board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12216/04]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

67 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the proposed national infrastructure board Bill will make provision for the fast tracking of incinerators; if so, the impact this will have on planning applications already submitted for incinerators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12309/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 38 and 67 together.

The preparation of draft legislative proposals to streamline the consent process for major infrastructure projects is at an advanced stage. I will seek priority for the drafting of the legislation, once approved by the Government, to ensure the Bill is published at the earliest opportunity this year.

In advance of the Government making a decision on these proposals, it would be inappropriate to elaborate on their details, including details on the types of national infrastructure that might be included in the proposed legislation. In general terms, however, it is intended to reduce the time required for obtaining development consent for necessary major public projects and to co-ordinate and streamline the different procedures now involved, while respecting the requirements of environment and heritage protection and the need for adequate public consultation.

Election Management System.

Joe Costello

Question:

39 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has completed his consideration of the implications of the judgment of the Supreme Court given on 29 November 2002 in regard to the possible implications for legislation governing the European and presidential elections; if amendments to the legislation are planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12193/04]

Section 32 of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2004 deals with expenditure limits for presidential elections in light of the judgment referred to. With regard to European elections, the judgment has already deemed paragraphs 2(a) and 2(c) of the Schedule to the Electoral Act 1997 to be invalid having regard to the provisions of the Constitution; further legislative provision is not considered essential at this stage.

Local Government Reform.

David Stanton

Question:

40 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the plans he has to reform local government here; the further plans to enhance the role of locally elected representatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12553/04]

Recent years have seen a major local government modernisation programme with constitutional recognition and guaranteed local elections; record levels of funding; strengthened political and management structures; an updated legal framework as well as an efficiency agenda focused on improved corporate planning, IT, human resources and customer service. Updated financial management systems, facilitating better financial management and planning, have also been introduced and a new initiative to improve service standards with an extended range of performance indicators and independent verification was launched recently. A major independent study to identify future funding requirements and options for local government is also under way.

Local authorities have a lead role and wider sphere of influence in the county or city development board system aimed at a more integrated approach to economic, social and cultural development and it has recently been strengthened. The role of the locally elected representative has been strengthened by the elimination of the dual mandate by legislation last year; the improved financial support framework for members; better training/information opportunities; the development of the partnership model via the strategic policy committees and the local authority role in promoting the CDB system.

It is my aim, over the lifetime of the Government, to build on progress to date and to carry forward a significant change agenda which allows for proper democratic input, with an enhanced role for the elected council, secure funding and improved performance.

Planning Issues.

Seán Ryan

Question:

41 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made to date in the review of the retail planning guidelines relating to the floor space cap on retail warehouses; when he expects that the process will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12234/04]

The retail planning guidelines prescribe a maximum floor area of 6,000 sq. m. gross retail floor space for large scale single retail warehouse development. This aspect of the guidelines is being reviewed taking account of the need to ensure effective competition in this sector of retailing and ongoing developments in retail formats. The review will also have regard to issues of proper planning and sustainable development. To assist in carrying out the review, I invited interested parties to make submissions to my Department. Some 71 submissions were received and have been assessed. They will be fully taken into account in considering further whether any changes are needed in the guidelines. I expect the process to be completed shortly.

Waste Management.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

42 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the judgment of the European Court of Justice is expected in the case being taken by the European Commission against Ireland arising from this country’s inadequate administrative response to illegal waste disposal activities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12210/04]

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No. 146 of 3 February 2004. The position is unchanged.

Water Quality.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

43 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has satisfied himself regarding the adequacy of the domestic drinking water supply throughout the country; if sufficient storage exists or is planned and the extent of which; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12313/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

143 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if adequate provision has been made to ensure sufficient ongoing supply of domestic drinking water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12419/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 143 together.

The national development plan provides €4.4 billion for investment in water services infrastructure up to the end of 2006. This is approximately three times the amount expended during the 1994 to 1999 period. Expenditure by my Department on water services infrastructure this year will be of the order of €450 million. Substantial increases in water treatment and storage capacity are being achieved as a result of this increased investment. Schemes completed since 1997 have produced additional drinking water treatment capacity equivalent to the needs of a population of 968,000. The increase in water treatment capacity in the period 2000 to 2003 was sufficient to meet the requirements of a population of 560,000 people. The increase in storage capacity produced between 2000 and 2003 was sufficient to meet the requirements of a population of 765,000, representing 89% of the corresponding output in the 1994-1999 period.

Details of approved proposals for further new and upgraded public water supply schemes are set out in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2003-2005, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library. The schemes included in the programme are mainly derived from regular assessments of needs undertaken by local authorities, at my Department's request, as an input to the overall strategy for meeting additional water supply requirements. The assessments will continue to be taken into account in future phases of the programme.

Earlier this year, I announced a record allocation of €110 million for the 2004 rural water programme. The main focus of this allocation is on the provision and improvement of water supplies in the private group water schemes sector. Overall, I am satisfied that the resources being put in place are sufficient to ensure that the coverage and quality of the national water supply infrastructure adequately caters for all demands placed on it.

Election Management System.

Joan Burton

Question:

44 Ms Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if all polling stations to be used in the June 2004 elections will be fully wheelchair accessible; if he will make it a legal requirement for future elections that all such polling stations will be fully wheelchair accessible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12190/04]

The appointment of polling stations at an election is a matter for the appropriate returning officer in accordance with electoral law which already provides for a number of measures relating to accessibility. The Electoral (Amendment) Act 1996 provides that local authorities in making polling schemes shall endeavour to appoint polling places where at least one polling station is accessible to wheelchair users. The Act also requires that the returning officer shall, where practicable, provide polling stations which are accessible to wheelchair users and must, where practicable, give public notice of all polling stations which are inaccessible to wheelchair users, not later than eight days before polling day. If an elector has difficulty gaining access to a polling station, the person may apply in writing for authorisation to vote at another polling station in the same constituency or local electoral area.

Once in the polling station, persons with a physical disability may avail of companion voting or may seek the assistance of the presiding officer. Alternatively, if a person has a physical disability or illness which prevents him or her from going to the polling station, the person can vote by post if he or she applies to be included in the postal voters list which is drawn up each year as part of the register of electors. My Department has also arranged for the procurement of customised tables for the electronic voting machines with a tilt facility for easier access for people with a physical disability, and in particular, for persons using wheelchairs. The accessibility of the polls and of polling stations is being kept under review as part of a policy of continuous improvement in this area.

Question No. 45 answered with QuestionNo. 11.

Proposed Legislation.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

46 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received the results of the research the Institute of Public Administration was asked to carry out into the regulation of lobbyists in other countries, which he told the Dáil on 4 March 2004 was expected before the end of that month; if it is intended to publish the results of the research; if the Government remains committed to introducing legislation to control or regulate political lobbying; when the promised code of conduct for staff and members of local authorities will come into operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12231/04]

The report of the Institute of Public Administration on this matter has recently been received and I am currently considering it. Copies will be placed in the Oireachtas Library in due course. The report is being examined along with other current legislative proposals and initiatives in this area and the question of possible further legislation will be considered in this context. It is intended that codes of conduct for staff and members of local authorities will issue under Part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001 in June this year.

Planning Issues.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

47 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he intends taking to improve planning enforcement (details supplied) following a programme which detailed serious failings in the Irish planning system principally in the area of planning enforcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12278/04]

I refer to the reply to Priority Question No. 1 on today's Order Paper.

Question No. 48 answered with QuestionNo. 12.

Waste Management.

Liz McManus

Question:

49 Ms McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he expects that the Environment Council will complete consideration of the draft revised regulations to Government waste shipments, prior to the conclusion of the Irish Presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12211/04]

It has been an important objective of the Irish EU Presidency to advance discussions on the European Commission's proposal for a revised regulation to govern waste shipments. The proposed regulation was published in June 2003. There have been substantial discussions on the matter since the beginning of this year, including a debate on a number of key points at last month's Environment Council. It remains my objective to conclude these discussions in time to facilitate the reaching of a political agreement on the regulation at the June 2004 Environment Council.

Funding of Political Parties.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

50 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his view on the report of the Standards in Public Office Commission into the operation of the Electoral Act; his views on the argument made by the commission that there is no case for increasing spending limits for general elections and its warning of the dangers of increasing donation limits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12192/04]

I am considering the report, Review of the Electoral Acts 1997 to 2002, of the Standards in Public Office Commission, which was prepared at my request. The report will provide an input to the review of the Electoral Act 1997 which I have initiated and intend to advance.

EU Directives.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

51 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will list the number of cases in which the European Commission has initiated legal action or announced that it intends to take legal action, arising from the failure by this country to implement EU directives for which his Department has responsibility; the steps he is taking to ensure that all of these directives are implemented in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12235/04]

There are currently five cases in respect of which the European Commission has initiated legal action relating to non-implementation of EU directives in areas for which my Department has responsibility. The first four cases relate to directives concerning dangerous substances in water; the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment — commonly known as environmental impact assessment or EIA; the keeping of wild animals in zoos, and end-of-life vehicles. The fifth case relates to a number of waste issues.

Legislation is in place in respect of each of the above five directives. The legal actions relate to issues regarding elements of transposition and implementation. The European Commission recently indicated its intention to withdraw the case relating to the zoos directive and confirmation of that decision is awaited. Legal action has also been taken by the Commission against Ireland on reporting requirements under an EU regulation on ozone depleting substances. A defence has been lodged in this respect.

The European Commission announced on 22 July 2003 its intention to take legal action against Ireland regarding the proposed decision by the Government to introduce a €20 charge on citizens wishing to make submissions on development consent procedures. The Commission also announced on 29 January 2004 its intention to take legal action against Ireland for alleged failure to designate a sufficient number of special protection areas for wild birds and adequately to protect sites that have or require special protection area status. No communication has been received from the European Court of Justice on either matter.

Election Management System.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

52 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps that have been taken to date to ensure that all those entitled to vote in the June 2004 elections, including non-nationals, have had their attention drawn to their rights to exercise the franchise; the position of those from the EU applicant countries, now residing here, in regard to the European elections; if they will be allowed to register to vote for the European elections after their countries become member states on 1 May 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12191/04]

A number of measures have been undertaken and further measures are under way and planned for encouraging voter turnout in the forthcoming polls. In November 2003, my Department undertook a publicity campaign to advertise the draft register of electors and advising people to check whether they were correctly registered. In addition, the form used by registration authorities to compile the 2004-2005 register contained general information on registration and specific information for non-nationals about their eligibility to vote at and contest the 2004 European and local elections. A further information leaflet for non-nationals will be distributed by my Department to interested organisations and the public. Advertising on the supplement to the register containing information for Irish citizens and non-nationals will also commence shortly. Citizens of new EU member states will be eligible to apply for inclusion on the supplement following formal accession on 1 May 2004.

Finally, the voter education and awareness campaign being undertaken as part of the nation wide roll out of electronic voting and counting will contain a major element to encourage the electorate to vote. The Referendum Commission which was established on 22 April 2004 will also have a specific remit to encourage the electorate to vote at the referendum.

House Prices.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

53 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received the report commissioned by him from consultants regarding the hoarding of building land in the greater Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12186/04]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

64 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has completed his consideration of the results of the research he has commissioned from Goodbody economic consultants into the ownership or control of building land in certain development areas, particularly Dublin, to determine whether current practices are retarding the overall delivery of building land or impeding long-term market stability; when the results of the research will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12226/04]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

71 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has considered the report of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution on property rights; his views on the findings of the committee that legislation can be introduced to cap the price of building land without the requirement for a constitutional amendment; if he intends to introduce legislation to give effect to this recommendation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12187/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53, 64 and 71 together.

My Department continues to examine possible measures aimed at moderating land costs for housing and other essential public infrastructure. The report on ownership and control of building land, which was commissioned by my Department from Goodbody economic consultants, forms part of that process. It remains under consideration and will be published when that examination is complete. I welcome the ninth progress report of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution on the subject of property rights. My Department will give detailed consideration to all its recommendations as part of that examination in consultation with other Departments as appropriate. I have noted the committee's view that capping the price of building land does not require a constitutional amendment and the Attorney General will be consulted on this and other related matters.

The National Economic and Social Council is currently undertaking a major study on housing and land policy which, I understand, will be finalised shortly. All three reports and any other relevant analysis and research will be considered in finalising a policy response to these issues.

Question No. 54 answered with QuestionNo. 26.

Waste Management.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

55 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will clarify his recently expressed view that the regions which block the construction of incinerators and other waste management facilities could suffer economically; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12214/04]

On a number of occasions I have expressed the view that sustainable development, in economic, environmental and social terms, is crucially dependent on there being in place a fully developed infrastructure through which waste can be managed in a sustainable manner. This is of particular importance in terms of the ability to attract inward investment, given the priority which companies attach to ensuring that they will have access to suitable infrastructure for managing their waste. Given the regional approach to waste management planning in Ireland, it is important each region has access to the broad suite of waste infrastructure envisaged by the integrated approach to waste management underpinning both national policy and waste management plans adopted by local authorities.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Bernard Allen

Question:

56 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has plans to introduce a grant scheme to upgrade septic tanks, prioritising areas in which group sewerage schemes are not viable; and if he will review the grant scheme for group sewerage schemes to the same levels available to water schemes. [12184/04]

There are no proposals at present to introduce a scheme of grants for septic tank improvements. The national rural water monitoring committee is currently overseeing the implementation of a pilot programme by local authorities to test a range of new, small scale waste water collection and treatment systems. In all, 12 villages in six counties have been selected as locations for the pilot programme under which appointed contractors will design, build and operate the infrastructure over a 20 year period. Construction is expected to commence later this year.

Subject to a satisfactory outcome to the pilot testing, the national rural water monitoring committee envisages a potential role for group sewerage schemes in the collection of domestic waste-water from households outside the immediate catchment of such treatment systems. Confirmation of such a role for group sewerage schemes and any review of related grants must await the outcome of the pilot programme.

Waste Management.

Liz McManus

Question:

57 Ms McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the investigation that has been held into allegations of widespread illegal dumping of waste from here in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12212/04]

I have emphasised that there can be no excuse for illegal waste activities, either in the form of illegal movements of waste to another jurisdiction or illegal dumping within the State. I have identified the effective operation of the regulatory regime for the waste sector as a key priority and I have introduced a number of significant initiatives designed to achieve more vigorous enforcement of the waste code.

First, I took the opportunity in the Protection of the Environment Act 2003 to provide new enforcement powers for the environmental authorities concerned and to increase the maximum fines that can be imposed for contravention of the waste code. Second, I have recognised the need for improved structural arrangements to underpin the enforcement effort. I announced last October details of the establishment of a new office of environmental enforcement, OEE, to be located within the Environmental Protection Agency. While it has a wide remit, the OEE, at my request, is focusing on waste related enforcement activities as a priority. Third, I have allocated €7 million from the environment fund to support the first year of a major five year programme of local authority waste enforcement activities. The aim is to provide a stronger and more visible local authority enforcement presence on the ground and to ensure more frequent inspections and speedier responses to reported instances of illegal dumping.

I am not in a position to comment on individual cases of suggested illegal dumping in this jurisdiction as the investigation of such complaints is a matter for the relevant local authority, the OEE and, in certain cases, the Garda. As regards reported cases of illegal cross-Border dumping in Northern Ireland, I am aware that there are ongoing contacts between the relevant authorities, North and South. In addition, I met with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Ms Angela Smith, MP, earlier this month and we discussed, amongst other environmental issues, the need to ensure effective co-operation between the respective authorities in dealing with illegal cross-Border movements of waste. I agreed with Ms Smith MP that a meeting of all the key authorities concerned, North and South, would be convened to establish how, collectively, we can address this problem more effectively. I expect that arrangements for this North-South meeting will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Homeless Agency.

Seán Crowe

Question:

58 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason the findings of the street count of rough sleepers carried out by the homeless agency in conjunction with the voluntary sector between 12 and 29 January 2004 have still not been published; when he expects this data to be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12267/04]

The publication of the outcome of the count in question is a matter for the homeless agency. It is a matter in respect of which I have no function.

Litter Pollution.

Dan Boyle

Question:

59 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the plans he has to address the litter problem caused by cigarette butts and discarded gum. [12290/04]

Under the Litter Pollution Acts 1997-2003, primary responsibility for management and enforcement responses to litter pollution generally, including problems caused by discarded cigarettes and chewing gum, lies with the local authorities. It is a matter for each local authority to decide on the most appropriate clean up, enforcement and public awareness actions for litter in their respective functional areas. On foot of the success of the environmental levy on plastic bags, which was introduced in March 2002 and has resulted in a reduction in the dispensing of plastic shopping bags at retail outlets by over 90%, the agreed programme for Government contained a commitment to consider the extension of the levy on plastic bags to other materials which may be problematic from a waste management and, or, litter perspective.

A report issued by the litter monitoring body, which is co-ordinated by my Department, in July 2003 provided valuable statistical data on litter pollution in Ireland. Chewing gum is identified in the report as the single largest litter component in the food litter category and the second largest litter component, at 18.49% of total litter, after cigarette related litter. Fast food packaging and automated teller machine, ATM, receipts were also identified as problematic litter items.

In light of the findings of the litter monitoring body report, the Minister announced his intention to take measures to tackle litter caused by chewing gum and the other two items mentioned. To this end, a consultancy study was commissioned in September 2003 to carry out an analysis and recommend appropriate economic instruments, including environmental levies and negotiated agreements with the relevant sectors, that might be implemented with regard to these items. I am considering the consultants' report which was completed recently.

Question No. 60 was answered with QuestionNo. 13.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

61 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Gogarty den Aire Comhshaoil, Oidhreachta agus Rialtais Áitiúil cathain a bheidh córas uisce nua ag an gCeathrú Rua, Co na Gaillimhe, agus an nglacann sé leis gur práinn atá i gceist leis an méid truaillithe atá i Loch an Mhuilinn, as a dtagann an soláthar uisce don phobal sin. [12294/04]

Tá scéim uisce réigiúnach chasla, a chuirfidh soláthair uisce nua ar fáil don Cheathrú Rua, sa Chlár Infheistíochta Uisce 2003-2005 de chuid mo Roinne. Tá tógáil na scéime le tosú an bhliain seo chugainn. In Aibreán 2003 ghlac mé le moltaí ó Chomhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe chun an Réamhthuairisc ar an scéim a thabhairt suas chun dáta agus tá mo Roinn ag feitheamh anois leis an tuairisc sin. Deimhníonn an tuairisc is deireannaí ón Ghníomhaireacht um Chosaint Comhshaoil (EPA) nach sáraíonn soláthair uisce na Ceathrún Rua na tomhaisí sláinte poiblí atá leagtha síos d'uisce inólta. Tuigim gur de bharr faidhb theicniúl, a réitíodh chomh tapaidh as a b'fhéidir, a bhí an córas uisce seo as eagar go sealadach i mí na Feabhra seo chaite. De réir tuairisc ón gComhairle chuig an Roinn, bhí torthaí ó tástálacha ag an am ar uisce ag teacht ó Loch a' Mhuilinn sásúil. Ghlac mé le Réamhthuairisc maidir le scéim séarachais na Ceathrún Rua i mí na Samhna, 2003. Tá mo Roinn ag feitheamh anois ar doiciméad conartha ón gComhairle don scéim seo a fheabhsóidh go mór caighdeáin an uisce sa cheantar.

Homeless Strategy.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

62 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he remains committed to the objective of the three year homeless strategy agreed by the managers of the Dublin local authorities and the Dublin area health boards; the reason there is a shortfall of €20 million in the funding for the strategy for this year; the reason voluntary housing agencies are unable to commission projects which have already been approved by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12198/04]

The Government is firmly committed to tackling the issue of homelessness. I am not aware of a shortfall of €20 million in the funding for the strategy in 2004. My Department's provision for the recoupment to local authorities of 90% of the cost of providing accommodation and related services for homeless persons in 2004 is €51 million. This brings to €190.6 million the total provided for this purpose since 2000.

The continued involvement of the local statutory and voluntary agencies is essential in facilitating the implementation of the homelessness strategies. The requirements for accommodation and related services provided by these agencies in 2004 were assessed by the homeless agency. I have received no indication that the amount I have allocated for the provision of these services in the Dublin area this year is insufficient. Further funding is provided by the local authorities and, in the case of care related services, by the health boards.

Since the publication of "Homelessness — An Integrated Strategy" in 2000, €22.63 million additional funding has been made available by the Department of Health and Children to meet care related commitments under the strategy. This is ongoing funding and will remain available to health boards for the provision of care related services to homeless persons. I have asked the Minister for Health and Children to ensure that there are sufficient resources available to meet the care related costs of homelessness services arising in 2004.

Planning Issues.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

63 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the exchange of information which has involved his Department regarding the hotel proposal for Castle Street, Trim, County Meath. [12276/04]

I assume the question refers to correspondence between my Department and Trim Town Council regarding an application for planning permission to develop a hotel on the site in question. Under the heritage, transfer of departmental administration and ministerial functions, order 2002, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is a statutory consultee on any proposed development which may have an impact on the natural or built heritage. In accordance with the relevant planning regulations, Trim Town Council forwarded to my Department on 6 March 2003 a copy of a planning application for a hotel development in the vicinity of Trim Castle.

My Department responded to Trim Town Council on 27 March 2003 stating,inter alia, that the scale of the proposed development could have a negative visual impact on the castle and suggested that further information should be sought by the planning authority prior to any decision on the application being made. This further information was sought by the planning authority and submitted to my Department. My Department responded to this further information on 13 August 2003 reiterating its view that the development should not be permitted to impact negatively or detract from the visual appreciation of Trim Castle and that the proposal should be further scaled back.

On 27 August, Trim Town Council granted planning permission for the development subject to a number of conditions, including a reduced size for the development with fewer rooms and revised elevations. Conditions were also attached requiring the developers to undertake archaeological monitoring of all sub-surface works carried out within the development site. In addition, the developers were required to submit revised layouts setting the building back from where it was originally proposed.

There was no further correspondence between my Department and Trim Town Council regarding the planning permission for the hotel. However, my Department has written recently to the town council inquiring whether it intended to refund to my Department all or some of the contribution of €63,487 that was made towards car parking facilities at the site of the proposed hotel.

Question No. 64 answered with QuestionNo. 53.

Emergency Services.

Seán Ryan

Question:

65 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has satisfied himself that the attention of Irish groups responsible for civil protection, such as the fire brigades, are aware of commitments of personnel and resources they may be asked to make under the EU community action programme; if Ireland was able to respond to a recent request from the EU for assistance in the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Iran; if a request was made to the Dublin fire brigade; if it was able to provide the assistance requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12237/04]

I assume that the question refers to the European Community mechanism adopted by Council decision 2001/792/EC on 23 October 2001 to facilitate reinforced co-operation in civil protection assistance interventions inside and outside the European Union. In this connection, I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 954 and 955 of 27 January 2004 in which I outlined Ireland's current involvement in the EU civil protection mechanism and Ireland's response to the earthquake in Iran.

My Department informed Dublin fire brigade of the request but it was not in a position to send a search and rescue team at that time. My Department recently had an exploratory meeting with bodies, including Dublin fire brigade, that had indicated a willingness to participate in EU civil protection interventions, following their participation in training in 2004 under the mechanism. The meeting reviewed the current position and possible future development of Irish participation in such interventions.

Nuclear Safety.

Mary Upton

Question:

66 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress he expects to be made during the Irish Presidency in regard to the proposed Council directive setting out basic obligations and general principles on the safety of nuclear installations and on the management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12240/04]

During its Presidency of the European Union, Ireland has sought actively to advance progress on these two proposed directives which together comprise the nuclear safety package. The two directives continue to be discussed in the European Council's atomic questions working group and, to date, have been discussed at numerous meetings of the group under the Irish Presidency.

In the latter role, Ireland is seeking to find a sound consensus on this package, which will enable its adoption at the earliest possible opportunity. The Irish Presidency will continue, through dialogue, to seek and develop consensus on the directives. While there will obviously be a need for flexibility to accommodate the different views of member states, the Presidency will be guided by the need to ensure that nuclear safety is not compromised. If satisfactory consensus on the matter can be found, it will be brought to the appropriate Council at the earliest possible date.

Question No. 67 answered with QuestionNo. 38.

Nuclear Plants.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

68 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the latest position in regard to his request to the British authorities to allow Irish experts to inspect the Sellafield nuclear plant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12238/04]

I refer to the reply to question No. 51 of 4 March 2004. The position is unchanged.

Question No. 69 answered with QuestionNo. 14.
Question No. 70 answered with QuestionNo. 28.
Question No. 71 answered with QuestionNo. 53.

End-of-Life Vehicles.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

72 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the current position with regard to the promised regulations concerning end of life vehicles; when the regulations will come into operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12236/04]

Paul McGrath

Question:

139 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position concerning the legal proceedings against Ireland which have been initiated by the European Commission for the non-implementation of EU Directive 2000/53/EC regarding end of life vehicles; if he will report on his discussions with the three stakeholder groups (details supplied) about this directive; the number of authorised treatment facilities he expects will be available; and when these facilities will come on stream. [12415/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72 and 139 together.

Member states were required to transpose the provisions of European Parliament and Council Directive 2000/53/EC on end of life vehicles, ELVs, into national legislation by 21 April 2002. That was within 18 months of the adoption of the directive on 21 October 2000. My Department has been actively engaged with the Society for the Irish Motor Industry, SIMI, the Irish Motor Vehicle Recyclers Association, IMVRA, the Metal Recyclers Association of Ireland, MRAI, and other stakeholders since before the adoption of the directive with regard to its effective implementation. The delay in transposing and implementing the directive is primarily due to difficulties encountered in reaching agreement with the relevant sectors on the detailed mechanisms for the operation of the free ELV take back arrangements required, including how such arrangements will be funded.

The legal proceedings initiated by the European Commission against Ireland in this matter relate to partial transposition into national legislation and non-implementation of the directive provisions. In this regard, enabling provisions to facilitate implementation of the directive were incorporated in the Protection of the Environment Act 2003. It is intended to make regulations later this year fully transposing the directive provisions and facilitating its full implementation in 2005. It is not possible to indicate at this stage how many authorised treatment facilities will participate in the free ELV take back scheme facilitating the environmentally sound treatment and recovery of vehicles concerned.

National Monuments.

Dan Boyle

Question:

73 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the role his Department can play in helping to develop a commemorative centre at Padraic Pearse cottage, Rosmuc, County Galway. [11812/04]

Pearse's cottage at Rosmuc, which is a national monument on the record of monuments and places, was previously in the care of my Department and was appropriately maintained and presented to the public during that period. The cost of visitor services and ongoing maintenance at the cottage ran to some €30,000 annually.

Following the reallocation of functions relating to heritage properties in State care, the presentation and maintenance of Pearse's cottage is now the responsibility of the Office of Public Works. I understand that preliminary development proposals aimed at expanding the role of Pearse's cottage have been formulated by Údarás na Gaeltachta. Issues that may arise from this initiative will be kept under continuing review by my Department in association with the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Proposed Legislation.

John Bruton

Question:

74 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the perceived need for decentralisation, he has proposals to avail of Article 15(2)(1) of the Constitution to create or recognise subordinate legislatures within the State. [11622/04]

Job Losses.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

75 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will examine the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if this person qualifies for statutory redundancy. [12358/04]

If the person concerned were put on lay off for the two week period in question, it would not break his service and all his service would be reckonable for redundancy purposes. However, if he left the employment of his own accord or was dismissed by his employer, he may be deemed to have broken his service. Disputes regarding redundancy matters are dealt with by the Employment Appeals Tribunal. If the person concerned wishes to discuss this matter further, he should contact the redundancy payments section of my Department where my officials will be glad to assist him.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

76 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so her response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12378/04]

I have not received any such request from Fianna Fáil. My Department provides briefing material and information to Oireachtas Members when requested, irrespective of party allegiance and will continue to do so in an impartial and even handed way.

Industrial Disputes.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

77 Mr. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will report on the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [12414/04]

In February 2003, the employee concerned contacted my Department requesting enforcement of a Labour Court award. The legal services unit of my Department, which deals with enforcement of both Labour Court and Employment Appeals Tribunal determinations, wrote to the former employer requesting payment of the award. No response was received.

Steps necessary to entail enforcement of the award as part of the general preparatory work for the initiation of legal proceedings were taken. Checks as to the precise legal identity of the employer with a view to ensuring legal enforceability of the determination were made by consulting the Companies Registration Office and social welfare records. In addition, legal searches were carried out in the Land Registry, Registry of Deeds, the sheriff's office and the judgment office to determine whether the company had assets against which a judgment might be enforced. The case was then forwarded to the State solicitor in Cork to seek an order of the court directing that the judgment be enforced.

On 14 April 2004, my Department was informed that an application would be made to Mallow Circuit Court on 27 May 2004 for an order directing the employer to carry out the determination. A letter advising the employee accordingly was issued on 20 April 2004. On receipt of this letter the employee informed my Department that he was unable to attend the hearing. Efforts will be made to seek an adjournment of the hearing due to the unavailability of the employee. The process will have to be revisited again in due course.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

78 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Defence if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12379/04]

I have not received any specific request from the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local elections candidates nor have I provided specific briefing material to any party for local election candidates. In response to requests and queries, my Department provides material to members of the public, including public representatives of all parties and Independents, on an ongoing basis across the range of policy areas for which my Department has responsibility.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

79 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12380/04]

I have not received any specific request from Fianna Fáil to supply briefing material for local elections candidates nor have I provided specific briefing material to any party for local election candidates. In response to requests and queries, my Department provides material to members of the public, including public representatives of all parties and Independents, on an ongoing basis across the range of policy areas for which it has responsibility. My Department receives regular requests from all political parties for information relating to its activities. It assists parties' press and research offices in the preparation of speeches and other material for Members. Dealing with these requests generally involves the provision of raw material which is already a matter of public record whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches and existing briefing material.

Tax Code.

Bernard Allen

Question:

80 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Finance if VAT is chargeable on mobile home site licence fees at 13.5%. [12360/04]

The letting of caravan parks, camping sites or other similar establishments is subject to VAT at the reduced rate of 13.5%. The hire of a caravan, mobile home, tent or trailer tent is also subject to VAT at the reduced rate of 13.5%. Once-off charges for connection to electricity, water and sewerage systems are liable to VAT at the standard rate of 21%.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

81 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12381/04]

I have not been specifically requested to provide briefing material for local election candidates.

From time to time, my office provides such information as is readily available in my Department, in the same way as such information is, on request, made available to members of the public, the media or the Oireachtas.

Passport Applications.

Joan Burton

Question:

82 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of passports issued by Irish embassies to qualifying persons of Irish descent for each year from 1997 to date; the specific numbers in respect of the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa; and the total numbers for all countries. [12373/04]

The information sought by the Deputy cannot be produced from the existing passport issuing system. The system was developed 12 years ago and does not have the capacity to produce reports of the type requested by the Deputy. The new passport issuing system, which is being developed at present and will be operational in the autumn of this year, will have a much greater capacity to produce management information reports.

Paper records of the information sought are not readily available and could only be compiled by the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of time and resources.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

83 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12382/04]

I have not received any specific request from the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local elections candidates nor have I provided specific briefing material to any party for local election candidates. In response to requests and queries, my Department provides material to members of the public, including public representatives of all parties and no parties, on an ongoing basis across the range of policy areas for which my Department has responsibility. Dealing with these requests generally involves provision of material which is already a matter of public record whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Special Educational Needs.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

84 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extent to which a resource teacher can be made available to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if this can be done in particular approaching their leaving certificate examination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12359/04]

My Department allocates resource posts, special needs assistant posts and concessionary teaching hours to second level schools to cater for students with special educational needs. Applications for such support are made to my Department by the relevant school authorities. Each application is considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the pupil or pupils involved and the nature and level of the support provided is determined on the advice of the psychological service. Special needs assistant support is generally made available where the student has special care needs. The school in question has been allocated one whole-time equivalent resource post to cater for the special needs of students enrolled, including the student to whom the Deputy refers

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

85 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12383/04]

I am requested to include the Fianna Fáil press and research office in the dissemination of all publicly available information from my Department. I have no direct role as a Minister in the work of the Fianna Fáil press and research office. The Deputy will be aware that a parliamentary allowance is provided to political parties to employ staff to assist in the research and dissemination of information for their parties. As a Minister I do not cease to be a member of my party and I am, therefore, in continual contact with my parliamentary colleagues and they with me, both directly and through the press and research office employed to assist them.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

86 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will elaborate on the content of information packs prepared by his Department for Fianna Fáil local election candidates, county by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12413/04]

The packs referred to by the Deputy contained the following items of information: a list of the building projects over the past five years for the relevant county; a document regarding special needs education; a document regarding key facts about education; and a briefing document on education issues which included, among other things, references to the school building programme, school planning, the standardised school year, special needs allocations, the National Council for Special Education, the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill and the €42 million package for third level students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The information contained in the packs was in the public domain and available to the general public.

Coastal Zone Management.

Finian McGrath

Question:

87 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the position regarding the proposed 52 acre infill in Dublin Bay. [12370/04]

Certain matters relating to the application by Dublin Port Company for authorisation under the Foreshore Acts for the proposed reclamation of an area of foreshore in Dublin Bay, including queries relating to title to the foreshore in question, are being pursued with the port company. Decisions on the further action to be taken in respect of the application will be made when these matters have been finalised.

There are no proposals for the preparation of a strategic plan for Dublin Bay by my Department. Preparation of such a plan would, in accordance with the Planning and Development Acts, be a matter for the relevant local authorities in the first instance.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

88 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12384/04]

I have not received any specific request from the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local elections candidates nor have I provided specific briefing material to any party for local election candidates. In response to requests and queries, my Department provides material to members of the public, including public representatives of all parties and no parties, on an ongoing basis across the range of policy areas for which my Department has responsibility.

My Department receives regular requests from all political parties for information relating to the activities of my Department to assist their press and research offices in the preparation of speeches and other material for members of their parties. Dealing with these requests generally involves provision of raw material, which is already a matter of public record through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

89 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12385/04]

I have not received any request from the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local elections candidates. My Department regularly receives requests for information relating to the activities of my Department and dealing with these requests generally involves provision of material, which is already a matter of public record through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Grant Payments.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

90 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when the final moneys owed to a club (details supplied) in County Donegal will issue given that all relevant documentation has been submitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12428/04]

A grant of €19,046 was allocated to the project in question under the 2001 sports capital programme operated by my Department. The grant was subject to the terms and conditions of the programme and to date €15,155, representing 95% of the grant, has been paid. The remaining €3,913 will be paid when my Department receives a current tax certificate for the club and for the contractor. In this regard my Department has recently written to the club outlining the documentation required in order to have the balance of the grant paid.

Drugs Payment Scheme.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

91 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 18 who suffers from long-term illness and needs 24 hour oxygen has been refused a refund for oxygen equipment under the drugs refund scheme. [12346/04]

I presume the Deputy is referring to the drugs payment scheme, DPS, which replaced the drugs refund scheme and the drugs cost subsidisation scheme in 1999. As the provision of oxygen and oxygen equipment to persons with a DPS card is a matter for the relevant health authority, my Department has asked the chief executive officer of the Eastern Region Health Authority to investigate the position in this case and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Paul McGrath

Question:

92 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when the dialysis unit at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, was set up; the cost of setting up the unit; the training that was undertaken by staff for the unit; the number of staff appointed to run the unit and their grades; when the unit became operational; the number of persons who utilise the unit weekly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12349/04]

Responsibility for the provision of services at the Midland Regional Hospital at Tullamore rests with the Midland Health Board. My Department is advised that the dialysis unit at Tullamore is scheduled for commissioning in 2004. The detailed information sought by the Deputy is not available in my Department. The chief executive officer of the board has been asked to investigate these matters and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Paul McGrath

Question:

93 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting period that exists at Mullingar General Hospital for children to be attended to in the ear, nose and throat clinic; the number of children who are on this waiting list; and the action he proposes to take to alleviate the unacceptable delays. [12350/04]

Responsibility for the provision of services at the Midland Regional Hospital at Mullingar rests with the Midland Health Board. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to him directly.

Hospital Services.

Paul McGrath

Question:

94 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the hospitals in which there are dialysis units; and the doctor complement in each of these units. [12351/04]

The information requested by the Deputy concerning the location of dialysis units is outlined in the following table:

Health Board/Authority

Hospital

Eastern Regional Health Authority

Beaumont Hospital; Mater Hospital; St. Vincent’s University Hospital; Adelaide & Meath Hospital incorporating the National Children's Hospital at Tallaght; St. James's Hospital (acute only); Children's University Hospital, Temple Street.

Mid-Western Health Board

Limerick Regional Hospital.

North Eastern Health Board

Cavan General Hospital.

North Western Health Board

Sligo General Hospital; Letterkenny General Hospital.

South Eastern Health Board

Waterford Regional Hospital.

Southern Health Board

Cork University Hospital; Tralee General Hospital.

Western Health Board

University College Hospital, Galway; Mayo General Hospital.

In addition, the Deputy will be aware that funding has been allocated to the Midland Health Board to facilitate the commissioning of a new unit at the Midland Regional Hospital at Tullamore. My Department is advised that the unit is scheduled for commissioning in 2004.

Data in respect of the complement of doctors in each dialysis unit is not routinely collected by my Department. My Department has, therefore, requested the regional chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the chief executive officers of the health boards to collate the information requested and to forward it directly to the Deputy.

Health Board Services.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

95 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the plan he has for a replacement dentist to be appointed to treat children of the Stillorgan area in view of the fact that the dentist covering the schools (details supplied) in the area is concluding their employment. [12352/04]

The recruitment of dental staff in the Stillorgan area is the statutory responsibility of the regional chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has asked the regional chief executive to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to her directly.

Paul McGrath

Question:

96 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if an application for funding to extend the health centre at Kinnegad, County Westmeath, has been received by his Department; the date of this application; if funding is available for these works; and if he will give priority in view of the rapid population increase in this town. [12353/04]

The identification, prioritisation and provision of new health centres to meet the needs of local communities is a matter for the relevant health board or the Eastern Regional Health Authority. In the case of Kinnegad, County Westmeath, this responsibility rests with the Midland Health Board, MHB. The MHB has indicated that the development of a new medical health centre would constitute a capital priority, in the context of the current inadequate local infrastructure and major growth in population in the Kinnegad area. This capital proposal will be considered by my Department and the MHB in the context of capital priorities under the capital investment framework 2004-2008.

Consultancy Contracts.

Michael Ring

Question:

97 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if a firm of consultants was employed by his Department to report on the theatres, theatre service and theatre equipment at Castlebar General Hospital; when this report was completed; the cost of the report; the consultants involved; when the report will be published; and the changes and improvements made at the hospital theatre arising from the report. [12354/04]

My Department has not employed consultants to report on the theatres, theatre service and theatre equipment at Mayo General Hospital. As the Western Health Board operates and manages Mayo General Hospital, the Deputy should make inquiries of the chief executive officer of the board regarding the matter raised.

Hospital Services.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

98 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children when funding will be available to open the new accident and emergency building at Cork University Hospital. [12361/04]

The additional revenue funding required to fully open the new and expanded accident and emergency building at Cork University Hospital is the subject of consideration by my Department in conjunction with the Southern Health Board. These funding requirements will have to be considered in the context of overall funding resources available for 2004 and beyond.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

99 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to a growing trend whereby general practitioners refuse to take on additional medical card holders to their lists; and if concerns regarding this issue and the possibility of an emerging two tier general practitioner system has been discussed with the IMO. [12362/04]

I am not aware of general practitioners engaging in activity such as suggested by the Deputy. This type of action would be at variance with the spirit and the terms of the GMS contract. I remind the Deputy that in order for the eligibility of an applicant for a medical card to be assessed, a doctor must be chosen from the list of GMS participating doctors in the particular board area. In instances where a medical card holder is unable to secure the services of a general practitioner, the GMS contract permits the relevant health board to assign the person to a doctor. This system operates in all health board areas.

Proposed Legislation.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

100 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if regulations under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 are planned to govern the extension of the European working time directive to hospital doctors; if an amendment to the legislation is necessary; and when an amendment or regulation, if required, will be published. [12363/04]

Officials of my Department, in consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, are currently preparing a statutory instrument in order to transpose the provisions of Directive 2000/34/EC, as it relates to doctors in training. Relevant case law of the European Court of Justice is also being considered.

Any amendment to the Organisation of Working Time Act is a matter for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and officials of both Departments are in contact regarding these issues on a regular basis. It is intended that the statutory instrument will, with the assistance of the Attorney General, be completed and put in place in advance of 1 August 2004.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

101 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12386/04]

In response to requests and queries, my Department provides material to members of the public, including public representatives of all parties and no parties, on an ongoing basis across the range of policy areas for which my Department has responsibility. My Department receives regular requests from all political parties for information relating to the activities of my Department to assist their press and research offices in the preparation of speeches and other material for members of their parties. Dealing with these requests generally involves provision of raw material, which is already a matter of public record through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

General Register Office.

Pat Carey

Question:

102 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 who proposes to marry by civil licence on 24 September 2004 will be obliged to pay a fee of €750, due to the fact that he is marrying outside of the district in which he and his fiancée live; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12407/04]

The new procedures for marriage are set out Part 6 of the Civil Registration Act 2004. The Act introduces universal procedures for notification, solemnisation and registration of marriages. When all civil preliminaries are completed a registrar will issue a marriage registration form to the couple. A marriage cannot proceed unless the couple produce a marriage registration form to a registered solemniser.

The Act makes a number of provisions regarding the solemnisation of marriage and provides that the venue for the marriage may be agreed between the couple and the solemniser. If the solemniser is a registrar, the venue must be approved by the local registration authority and if that venue is not the registrar's office the couple will be required to pay the appropriate fee and additional travel and subsistence expenses incurred by the local registration authority. The fee in question has not yet been established.

The new marriage provisions contained in the Civil Registration Act 2004 amount to a very substantial modernisation and updating of the provisions which currently apply, many of which date back to the 19th century. The General Register Office is committed to ensuring that the new provisions are brought into operation as soon as possible. The preparations for implementation of the provisions relating to marriage have commenced and it is hoped that the necessary measures can be put in place by late 2004 or early 2005. Unfortunately this means that the new provisions will not be in place for a marriage in September 2004. However, the additional information supplied by the Deputy would suggest that the marriage in question is not due to take place until September 2005.

Health Board Services.

Pat Carey

Question:

103 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if the practice of carrying out assessments on children at the age of nine months has been discontinued; if so, the reason therefor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12408/04]

Responsibility for the provision of child health development checks within its functional area is a matter for the relevant health board or the Eastern Regional Health Authority, ERHA.

My Department has been in contact with the health boards and the ERHA and I have been advised that the practice of carrying out assessments on children at the age of nine months remains unchanged. However, in the North Eastern Health Board, due to the IMO industrial action in 2003 and staff shortages, development clinics in the Meath area have not yet recommenced.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Jack Wall

Question:

104 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Carlow will be admitted to St. James’s Hospital, Dublin 8. [12409/04]

Responsibility for the provision of services for people resident in County Carlow is, in the first instance, a matter for the South Eastern Health Board. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the South Eastern Health Board to investigate the matter and reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

105 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients who have contracted MRSA in hospitals here; the degree to which treatment is readily available; if he will report on the success of such treatment; if steps are proposed to reduce the incidence of MRSA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12427/04]

The National Disease Surveillance Centre, NDSC, collects data from hospitals on methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, bacteraemia — otherwise known as bloodstream infection or "blood poisoning" — as part of the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System, EARSS. EARSS is a voluntary system and as such not all hospitals participate; nevertheless, the participating hospitals in Ireland represent at least 95% of the population, the highest level of participation of any country involved in EARSS. Thus the EARSS data for Ireland approximates the true total number of cases of MRSA bacteraemia in Ireland. In 2003 there were 477 cases of MRSA bacteraemia reported in Ireland.

MRSA is a resistant form of a common bacterium, known as staphlococcus aureus. The proportion of staphlococcus aureus bacteraemia caused by MRSA in Ireland in 2002 was 42.7%. The proportion for the last quarter of 2003 was 41.7%. Overall there does not seem to have been a significant increase in the proportion of infections caused by MRSA in recent years. However, the proportion is one of the highest among European countries participating in EARSS. The level of antibiotic resistance in Ireland to MRSA is one of the highest in Europe, second only to the UK and Malta. Two of the reasons for this, and the responses to date, are as follows.

One of the common strains of MRSA in Ireland is highly contagious and it is particularly difficult to control its spread. This strain is also seen in the UK and partially explains the reason both the UK and Ireland have such high rates. The national MRSA reference laboratory, at St James's Hospital, can now identify individual strains of MRSA and reports this back to each hospital. Having this information helps each hospital to identify whether it has a problem with a particular strain of MRSA and to decide on appropriate control measures.

There is an overuse of antibiotics in hospitals. The SARI hospital antibiotic sub-committee has completed draft guidelines for hospitals on promoting prudent use of antibiotics. Many of the regional SARI committees have also appointed clinical pharmacists to individual hospitals to improve antibiotic prescribing habits. A pilot project on promoting more rational use of antibiotics has been funded by my Department, through the SARI national committee, and has recently commenced in the Midland Health Board region. The treatment of MRSA is governed by protocols developed by those experts treating the condition and involves a range of interventions such as antibiotic treatment, proper infection control and general medical management.

In 1999, my Department asked the National Disease Surveillance Centre, NDSC, to evaluate the problem of antimicrobial resistance in Ireland and to formulate a strategy for the future. The NDSC gave detailed consideration to these issues and drew up a strategy for the control of antimicrobial resistance in Ireland, SARI, which I launched on 19 June 2001. This report contains a wide range of detailed recommendations to address the issue of antimicrobial resistance, including a strategy to control the inappropriate use of antibiotics. The SARI recommendations can be grouped into five main categories, as follows: surveillance of antimicrobial resistance; monitoring of the supply and use of antimicrobials; development of guidance on the appropriate use of antimicrobials; education of health care workers, patients and the general public; and development of principles on infection control in the hospital and community setting.

The strategy for the control of antimicrobial resistance in Ireland recommended that a national SARI committee be established to develop guidelines, protocols and strategies regarding antimicrobial resistance. This committee was established in late 2002 and as part of its remit provides advice to the regional SARI committees in each health board area which were established as a result of the strategy's recommendations. The national SARI committee comprises a wide range of experts in the field.

Tackling the problem of antimicrobial resistance is a multi-faceted issue, which will require action on a number of fronts. Implementation of the strategy is taking place on a phased basis and will take a number of years to complete. To date approximately €16 million has been allocated by my Department to health boards to enable them to put in place measures to control antimicrobial resistance. It is ultimately a matter for each health board CEO to determine the priorities in each region. These priorities should take account of the recommendations in the SARI report and also the recommendations put forward by each regional SARI committee.

Much of the funding is designated for improving hospital infrastructure for control of infection and for appointing additional microbiologists, infection control nurses and other health care professionals involved in the control of infection. Some progress remains to be made to meet the numbers of such professionals required, as outlined in the SARI report, but significant progress has been made with additional appointments over the past two years.

At national level MRSA bacteraemia is now included in the revised list of notifiable diseases, so hospitals are now legally required to report cases of serious MRSA infection to the departments of public health in the regional health boards and to the NDSC.

The SARI infection control sub-committee has recently completed a consultation process on national guidelines for hand hygiene in health care settings. Hand hygiene is a key component in the control of MRSA and the final guidelines will be available within the next two to three months. The sub-committee is also updating national guidelines on the control of MRSA and it is hoped that these will be available later this year. Each of the health boards has a regional SARI committee and these committees have been developing regional interventions to control hospital infection, including MRSA.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

106 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12387/04]

Neither I, my private office, the Minister of State, Deputy McDaid, his private office, nor my Department was asked to provide briefing material for local election candidates by any political party. In response to requests and queries, my Department provides material to members of the public, including public representatives of all parties and no parties, on an ongoing basis across the range of policy areas for which my Department has responsibility.

My Department receives regular requests from all political parties for information relating to the activities of my Department to assist their press and research offices in the preparation of speeches and other material for members of their parties. Dealing with these requests generally involves provision of raw material, which is already a matter of public record through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Road Traffic Offences.

Pat Carey

Question:

107 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Transport if passengers who are knowingly being carried in a stolen car are liable to prosecution; if so, the offence they commit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12406/04]

Section 112 of the Road Traffic Act 1961, as amended by section 65 of the Act of 1968, provides for the offence of knowingly being carried in a stolen car. Where a member of the Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is committing or has committed an offence under section 112, he may arrest the person without warrant.

A person found guilty of this offence shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €2,500 or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both such fine and such imprisonment and on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €10,000 or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment

Light Rail Project.

Mary Upton

Question:

108 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding plans to improve the visual appearance of a bridge (details supplied) in Dublin 8 in view of the fact that the current design is very ugly. [12434/04]

The Railway Procurement Agency has informed me that there are no plans to change the appearance of Rialto Bridge. Five designs were produced based upon reusing the old balustrades. However, these designs were not acceptable to Dublin City Council or the railway inspectorate on safety grounds. The current balustrade is the standard motorway protection barrier and is as agreed with Dublin City Council.

Departmental Properties.

Seán Crowe

Question:

109 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Transport if he will make funding available through the Iarnród Éireann property section to have the silos at the site on Carnlough Road, Cabra, demolished due to the anti-social and drugs problems in the area. [12438/04]

Irish Rail has informed me that it has been keeping the property at Carnlough Road, Cabra, on a care and maintenance basis since freight operations ceased in 1999. The company has previously carried out works to secure the silos and has informed me that it will re-examine them with a view to carrying out such additional works as may be required. The disposal of this site, which is intended to include the silos, is being actively pursued by the company. There are no immediate plans to demolish the silos.

Visa Applications.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

110 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 346 of 6 April 2004, if a visa will be granted to the person (details supplied). [12338/04]

An appeal against the refusal of the visa application in question was received in my Department on 20 April 2004. The visa appeals officer who examined the application took into account the information provided in the application, the applicant's ties and general circumstances in her country of origin, her immigration history, as well as the relative attractiveness and feasibility of the applicant remaining in the State. The Department's approach in these matters is informed by past experience, including experience of abuse of the system. In this instance, the visa appeals officer formed the opinion that it would not be reasonable to conclude that the applicant would observe the conditions attached to the visa and the decision to refuse the application was upheld. It is, of course, open to the applicant to make a fresh application with up to date supporting documentation and the matter will be considered anew.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

111 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12388/04]

I have not been asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to provide specific briefing material for local election candidates. However, there are periodic requests from almost all political parties for information relating to the activities of my Department to assist their press and research offices in the preparation of speeches and other material for members of their parties. This information is not provided in any specially structured or tailored way and generally involves provision of material, which is already in the public domain through answer to parliamentary questions, press releases or speeches. I have also recently arranged for a comprehensive briefing by my officials of the new justice spokesperson for the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Jim O'Keeffe.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Michael Ring

Question:

112 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, since the enactment of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003, further changes or amendments have been made to it. [12392/04]

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 has not been amended since it was enacted last year.

Garda Equipment.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

113 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the additional equipment or machinery which has been purchased or borrowed by the Garda for use over the weekend of 30 April to 3 May 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12393/04]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

115 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost of the acquisition of additional equipment or machinery and additional training which members of the Garda have undergone in preparation for the weekend of 30 April to 3 May 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12395/04]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

116 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the jurisdictions from which each additional piece of equipment or machinery has been acquired or borrowed for use over the weekend of 30 April to 3 May 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12396/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113, 115 and 116 together.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that a range of recently purchased IT, telecommunications and transport equipment will be available for use over the weekend of 30 April to 3 May 2004 and in future, and that equipment has also been hired specifically for use over that weekend. The final cost will be available when the weekend operation is completed and I will write to the Deputy with the details.

Garda Training.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

114 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the additional training which members of the Garda have undergone in preparation for the weekend of 30 April to 3 May 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12394/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a number of their members have been participants in public order training courses. In 1999, two superintendents attended a gold, silver and bronze public order commander's course in the United Kingdom. In 2001, one of these superintendents attended a master class in public order in the Netherlands. In 2002, three sergeants attended a public order instructor's course with the Greater Manchester Police.

From 2002 to 2004, a Garda public order course was developed and rolled out to each Garda region. A Garda public order commander's course was also developed and delivered to public order commanders in each Garda region. Public order training has been conducted in each of the Garda regions and a total of 1,037 members have been trained to date. I am further informed that in October 2003, two members of the Garda Síochána attended an instructor's course on first response training for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. This training is currently being delivered to 71 members of the Garda Síochána.

With regard to the specific training undergone in preparation for the weekend of 30 April 2003 to 3 May 2004, 19 members of the Garda Síochána received training in the tactical use of water cannon at the Police Service of Northern Ireland Training College.

Questions Nos. 115 and 116 answered with Question No. 113.

Garda Equipment.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

117 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if each piece of equipment or machinery planned for use or availability over the weekend of 30 April to 3 May 2004 has arrived in the State and is available for use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12397/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, that all equipment and machinery planned for use over the weekend of 30 April to 3 May 2004 is available for use.

Garda Deployment.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

118 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí who will be on duty in the greater Dublin area on each of the days of the weekend of 30 April to 3 May 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12398/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the current assessment of policing duty requirements suggest that there will be in the region of 5,000 gardaí on duty in the Dublin area over the weekend of 30 April 2004 to 3 May 2004.

All gardaí, uniform and detective, in the Dublin metropolitan region will be on duty and will be supplemented by personnel from outside the region. In addition, these members will be augmented by the operational support units. The operational support units consist of the Garda mounted unit, Garda dog unit, Garda water unit and the Garda air support unit.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

119 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí who will be on duty in the State, outside the greater Dublin area, on each of the days of the weekend of 30 April to 3 May 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12399/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the following table gives details of the number of gardaí on duty, outside the greater Dublin area, on each of the dates from 30 April 2004 to 3 May 2004.

Date

Number on duty

30 April 2004

2,892

1 May 2004

2,923

2 May 2004

2,595

3 May 2004

3,586

Proposed Legislation.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

120 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps which have been taken to implement the promise made in An Agreed Programme for Government to address judicial misbehaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12400/04]

Work is under way in my Department on the development of a scheme of a Bill on judicial conduct and ethics, arising out of the reports on these matters produced by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution and the committee on judicial conduct and ethics chaired by Mrs. Justice Susan Denham. Among the matters to be provided for in the Bill is a process for the investigation of complaints about judicial misbehaviour, including lay participation in the investigation of complaints. This process would not be a substitute for impeachment as the ultimate sanction available for dealing with allegations of the most serious misconduct, though the expectation is that in appropriate cases the process could result in a recommendation to the Houses of the Oireachtas that impeachment proceedings be considered.

As indicated in the Government legislation programme for the summer 2004 session, which was announced by the Chief Whip on Monday last, I expect to be in a position to seek Government approval to publish the Bill in the current year.

Garda Strength.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

121 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí assigned to the Dublin metropolitan district; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12401/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength, all ranks, of the Dublin metropolitan region, including those members assigned to the traffic division and the area office, as at 28 April 2004 was 3,808.

Garda Deployment.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

122 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí in the Dublin metropolitan district who have been assigned to or are engaged in administrative duties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12402/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that as at 27 April 2004 a total of 50 personnel in the Dublin metropolitan region are employed on administrative duties on a full-time basis.

This number of 50 has been calculated on the basis of those personnel who are in receipt of designated post andex gratia allowances and as such are employed on administrative duties on a full-time basis.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

123 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí on the beat at any time during the hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the Dublin metropolitan district; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12403/04]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

124 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí on the beat at any time during the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Dublin metropolitan district; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12404/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 123 and 124 together.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the total number of gardaí on beat duty over a 24 hour period in the Dublin metropolitan region would fluctuate depending on the date, time of the week and the demand on resources. Uniform resources in the Dublin metropolitan region operate a three relief system. This system comprises three roster tours of duty, 6 a.m.-2 p.m., 2 p.m.-10 p.m. and 10 p.m.-6 a.m., and also two flexi tours, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and 6 p.m.-2 a.m.

Depending on the day, a different combination of units would operate between these times and therefore the numbers of personnel available for beat duty would differ.

Registration of Title.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

125 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position with a land registry application by persons (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12405/04]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that this is an application for first registration which was lodged on 16 May 2001. Dealing No. D2001WS003637W refers.

I understand that due to the complicated nature of this type of case, which requires examination of an applicant's entitlement to the property concerned, it is not possible to estimate a date of completion at this time. However, I can assure the Deputy that the application is receiving attention in the Land Registry.

Garda Deployment.

Mary Upton

Question:

126 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will allocate additional resources to target open drug dealing at an area (details supplied) in Dublin 8 in view of the fact that this problem is now out of control. [12435/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the cessation of drug abuse, in any location, is a top priority for all members of the Garda Síochána and many notable successes have been achieved by the Garda district drug units within the DMR, south central division.

The locations referred to by the Deputy continue to be singled out for specific targeting by gardaí attached to the district drugs unit at Kilmainham station. A local initiative entitled "Operation Viking", aimed at targeting offenders engaged in drug abuse and-or dealing, continues to be implemented by the gardaí. In general policing terms, the specific locations mentioned are patrolled by uniformed gardaí, the local detective unit, the divisional crime task force, the Garda mountain bike unit and the special resource unit. In addition, the community policing units devote extra special attention to these specific locations.

I have been informed that local Garda management is satisfied that the current level of resources at its disposal, for the policing of the locations referred to by the Deputy, are adequate.

Proposed Legislation.

Mary Upton

Question:

127 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans he has to reform legislation applying to the use of fireworks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12437/04]

As the Deputy is aware, a review of the Explosives Act 1875 is ongoing within my Department. The review deals with matters relating to the manufacture, importation and storage of all forms of explosives including fireworks and consequently its review is a complex and detailed task. Pending finalisation of the review, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any aspects of the likely outcome of the review.

I will communicate the outcome of the review when it is completed.

Citizenship Applications.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

128 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in deciding an application for citizenship by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 which was made in March 2002; and when a decision can be expected. [12439/04]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Parliamentary Question No. 696 of 27 April 2004.

Garda Deployment.

Seán Crowe

Question:

129 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the serious anti-social behaviour on the part of gangs in the Tamarisk Drive area of Kilnamanagh, extra gardaí will be allocated to this area, particularly between the hours of 7 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. [12440/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that while anti-social behaviour is an ongoing problem, incidents in Tamarisk Drive are comparable to other areas in the Tallaght district. Every effort is made by gardaí to respond promptly to such incidents and take the appropriate remedial action.

Currently, one garda is assigned full-time to community policing duties in the Kilnamanagh area which includes Tamarisk Drive. Uniform and plain clothes mobile units also patrol the area and are augmented by divisional crime task force and traffic patrols. Local Garda management is satisfied that sufficient resources are available to police the area.

Garda Operations.

Seán Crowe

Question:

130 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether it is acceptable that the residents of Tamarisk Drive, Kilnamanagh, had to wait two hours for the gardaí to respond to a call (details supplied). [12441/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that patrol cars in the Dublin metropolitan region are directed by the communications centre to respond to complaints and calls from members of the public. Depending on the nature of the call, a priority classification is allocated to it that governs the sequence in which calls are responded to. Calls of a serious nature will obviously receive priority treatment. This system can result in the accumulation of calls in each district to be responded to when vehicles become available. Beat personnel are also utilised, when available, to respond to calls.

I am further informed that a response of over an hour would be an exception and that a concerted effort is made to provide a professional speedy response to calls at the first available opportunity. Supervisory personnel at local level and at the communications centre monitor response times to complaints and calls and take remedial action if appropriate.

Garda Deployment.

Seán Crowe

Question:

131 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the heightened vandalism in an area (details supplied), the Garda Commissioner will authorise extra uniform or undercover Garda presence in same. [12442/04]

I refer the Deputy to the reply to his Parliamentary Question No. 738 of Tuesday, 27 April 2004, where this information was provided.

Garda Equipment.

Seán Crowe

Question:

132 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether it is acceptable that, after telephoning the local Garda station, the residents of an area (details supplied) in Dublin 7 were told that there was no patrol car available and that they had to wait 40 minutes before one arrived. [12443/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 739 of 27 April 2004 on this matter.

Animal Welfare.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

133 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 520, 526 and 550 of 23 March 2004, the outcome of his discussions with interested parties about the proper management of kennels and the bringing into force of section 19 of the Control of Dogs Act 1996 or other legislation in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12355/04]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 808 of 27 April 2004.

Water and Sewerage Systems.

Jack Wall

Question:

134 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position in regard to the provision of a new sewerage system for Athgarvan, County Kildare; if plans have been submitted to his Department by the local authority regarding the application; if provisions have been put in place for a connection from the Kilcullen Oberstown line for the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12356/04]

The Athgarvan sewerage scheme was originally advanced through planning as an element of the upper Liffey valley regional sewerage scheme but could not proceed to construction stage in advance of the Kilcullen element of the regional scheme which has since been completed.

A preliminary report for the Athgarvan scheme was submitted by Kildare County Council in March 2001. There has been a delay in obtaining further information required by my Department in regard to the preliminary report due to a failure in communications between my Department and Kildare County Council. My Department will seek to facilitate this project as quickly as possible on receipt of the necessary information.

Grant Payments.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

135 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if an application for a new house grant in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare continues to be valid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12357/04]

The final deadline for occupation and receipt of claim for payment of the new house grant was 2 April 2004. This statutory condition, which was published in the main daily newspapers on 27 March 2004, cannot be set aside in any particular case. As a claim for payment was not received in this case before the deadline a grant cannot be allowed.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

136 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he intends to review the income level limits for the shared ownership and affordable housing schemes in Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12371/04]

Planning Issues.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

137 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if Dúchas will release the files concerning information on a site of land owned by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12377/04]

Information regarding a preservation order affecting this property has already been provided to this person by my Department. No other request for information has been made by the person to my Department. If any specific such request is made, it will be considered.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

138 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; the form in which it was presented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12389/04]

I have not received any specific request from the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates nor have I provided specific briefing material to any party for local election candidates. In response to requests and queries, my Department provides material to members of the public, including public representatives of all parties and no parties, on an ongoing basis across the range of policy areas for which my Department has responsibility.

My Department receives regular requests from all political parties for information relating to its activities to assist their press and research offices in the preparation of speeches and other material for members of their parties. Dealing with these requests generally involves provision of raw material which is already a matter of public record whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Question No. 139 answered with QuestionNo. 72.

Election Management System.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

140 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the proposed electronic voting system has been approved in respect of the accurate recording of voter intentions in a multi-seat proportional representation system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12416/04]

The electronic voting and counting system has undergone rigorous and comprehensive testing by independent internationally accredited agencies and by expert agencies in this country. The national German test institute, PTB, specifically tested the vote recording and storing function of the voting machine for use in Irish elections and certified its operation in its report. In addition, an Irish software testing company, which undertook the architecture and code review of the election management software, examined the source code which dealt with the holding of combined polls under the PR-STV system and concluded that the software was fit for this purpose.

Local Authority Housing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

141 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to meet the housing needs of those on local authority housing lists. [12417/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

144 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his proposals to meet the housing requirements of those on the housing lists. [12420/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

150 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of new houses allocated to local authority tenants in the past year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12426/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141, 144 and 150 together.

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos. 14 and 69 for today.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

142 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the total number of affordable houses allocated to date as a percentage of the total number of persons on local authority housing lists. [12418/04]

The results of the statutory assessment of local authority housing need, which was undertaken by local authorities in March 2002, indicated that a total of 48,413 households were in need of housing. During 2002 the needs of over 12,700 households were met under the range of social and affordable housing measures. Included in this figure are 2,614 affordable housing units acquired or completed by local authorities, which as a percentage of households on the housing list is 5.4%.

Question No. 143 answered with QuestionNo. 43.
Question No. 144 answered with QuestionNo. 141.
Question No. 145 answered with QuestionNo. 10.

Electronic Voting.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

146 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has perfected his plan for electronic voting. [12422/04]

On 30 October 2002 the Government decided to introduce electronic voting and counting for the 2004 European and local elections. Since then my Department has worked closely with returning officers to procure the necessary equipment and provide comprehensive training to all relevant staff on the electronic system.

My Department also commissioned a multi-media public awareness and information campaign to educate voters on the new system and demonstrate its user friendliness, security and reliability. Preparations continue on schedule for its use on 11 June.

Housing Policy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

147 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he commissioned studies on the effect of high density small houses on communities. [12423/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

148 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether the current policy of housing families in high density developments in a cramped space is socially desirable. [12424/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 148 together.

In 1999, under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act, my Department issued guidelines on residential densities for planning authorities. An Bord Pleanála and planning authorities must have regard to the provisions. Consultants prepared a report, entitled "Planning Issues Relating to Residential Density in Urban and Suburban Locations", on behalf of my Department in advance of issuing the final guidelines. The report examined the promotion of higher residential densities and a copy is available in the Oireachtas Library.

The guidelines emphasise that higher residential densities must be coupled with the highest standards of residential environment. In existing residential areas whose character was established by their current density or architectural form, a balance must be struck between the protection of the amenities and privacy of adjoining dwellings, the protection of established character and the need to provide new residential development. It was noted that there was an ongoing trend towards a smaller household size here with the consequent need for a more varied range of dwelling type and size. The guidelines provide that all schemes on sites in excess of one hectare, approximately 2.47 acres, should be required to have a mix of dwelling types. In other words, they must range between small one and two bedroomed units to large family sized dwellings.

The recent Irish national survey of housing quality 2001-2002 involved obtaining detailed information from a representative sample of over 40,000 householders on their dwellings. It indicated that 93% of dwellings have the requisite bedroom accommodation. Only 13% of householders perceive their accommodation to be too small relative to their accommodation needs.

In September 1999 my Department issued comprehensive guidelines to local authorities on the design of social housing schemes. This included recommended space provision and room sizes for dwellings. In May 2002 my Department issued another circular on floor areas and room sizes due to amendments to part M of the building regulations. All new buildings must now be accessible to people with disabilities.

Grant Payments.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

149 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to clear the backlog of disabled persons grant applications. [12425/04]

Question No. 150 answered with QuestionNo. 141.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Noel Grealish

Question:

151 Mr. Grealish asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of the Kilklieran and Carna regional water scheme; and the progress to date. [12432/04]

The scheme was approved for construction under my Department's water services investment programme 2003-2005. Contract documents are under examination and will be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Electronic Voting.

Mary Upton

Question:

152 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the electronic voting road show will go to more Dublin locations than currently provided for, in view of the fact that 11 of the 13 suggested Dublin locations are in constituencies that used the system for either the 2002 general election or the second Nice referendum; if he will arrange for the road show to visit locations (details supplied) in the Dublin South-Central constituency that have never used an electronic voting system and have a great many elderly persons. [12436/04]

On 26 April the planning and logistical arrangements for the electronic voting demonstration tour began and everything has been finalised. During the next four weeks the tour will visit over 120 locations, including 13 locations in Dublin. There is no proposal to visit more venues at this stage.

The tour is one element in a campaign to improve awareness of electronic voting at the forthcoming elections. There will be advertisements on television, radio, in the national and local newspapers and cinemas and on outdoor advertising. Early next month a detailed information leaflet will be delivered to all households and a lo-call information helpline and dedicated website are available.

Local authority offices and public libraries will also have instructional videos and information stands on display for the public to access information. Some local authorities may also arrange for demonstrations of the voting machine to interested groups or through public information sessions. This multi-faceted campaign should ensure that everyone has an opportunity to access information on the new system in advance of polling day.

Election Management System.

Tony Gregory

Question:

153 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether all persons voting in elections should be required to produce identification. [12365/04]

Existing legal provisions governing the right to vote already provide that the returning officer or the presiding officer may, of his own volition, or if so required by a personation agent present in the polling station, request any person at the time of applying to vote to produce a specified identity document. If the person fails to produce such a document or if the returning officer or presiding officer is not satisfied that the person is the person to whom the document relates, they shall not be permitted to vote.

The returning officer or presiding officer may, and if so requested by a personation agent present in the polling station, ask a number of questions or administer an oath or affirmation to an elector on their eligibility to vote. Electoral law also provides that it is an offence, punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both, to attempt to vote using the name of another person.

In further support of the above arrangements, provision is being included in the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2004 to prohibit the taking of or interference with a polling card or the use of a polling card at a polling station that is not addressed to the person presenting it.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

154 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so his response to same; if material was provided; and the form in which it was presented. [12390/04]

I have not received a specific request from the party to supply the information nor have I supplied it to any other party.

My Department provides material to members of the public and all public representatives on a range of policy areas. It receives regular requests from political parties for information on its activities to assist their press and research offices in the preparation of speeches and other material. In general the information is on public record through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

155 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, further to Parliamentary Question No. 400 of 6 April, the reason a person’s rent supplement was reduced when their one-parent family allowance was increased after a second child was born while the allowance relates to the parent and child dependants and rent support should remain constant. [12341/04]

Rent supplements are subject to a means test. In addition to a minimum contribution of €13 that all recipients must pay towards their rent, recipients must contribute additional assessable means over and above the appropriate basic supplementary welfare allowance rate.

The person concerned has two children, the youngest of whom was born recently. After her second child was born her rent supplement was reviewed but she had not received the increase of €19.30 per week in her one-parent family payment for her second child. As a result a higher rent supplement was awarded than is ordinarily paid to a lone parent with two children. This continued until she received the full amount of the one-parent family payment to which she was entitled. The review also took into account that she had an earlier overpayment that resulted in a reduction of €20 per week. Her rent supplement was reduced by €3.20 per month.

Recently the person concerned was awarded a small increase in the one-parent family payment due to the arrival of her second child following a review of her means. A higher rent supplement was no longer required because she has received her full entitlement of the one-parent family payment. She now receives a rent supplement ordinarily paid to a lone parent with two children, less €20 per week to recover the overpayment.

Michael Ring

Question:

156 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs whether a person who works under 20 hours a week is entitled to claim part unemployment assistance and if their work can be carried out over a five day period instead of three days. [12343/04]

The Deputy is referring to a person who is employed as a home help for five days per week.

Social welfare legislation provides that all unemployed persons must satisfy the conditions of being available for full-time employment and genuinely seeking work in order to be entitled to unemployment assistance. Any person who fails to satisfy these conditions on an ongoing basis is not entitled to an the payment.

A person who engages in part-time work for three days or less per week may qualify for unemployment assistance in respect of the remaining days of the week provided he or she continues to be available for full-time employment. They must also satisfy all of the statutory conditions connected to the payment.

Persons employed as home helps are eligible to apply for unemployment assistance for any days or weeks during which they are not engaged in home help duties provided they are otherwise available for full-time employment and genuinely seeking work. Any income deriving from participation in the home help service is not, in general, taken into account as means for the purposes of determining entitlement to unemployment assistance.

To qualify for payment, however, they must be fully unemployed for at least three days in any period of six consecutive days. A person who works for a period during each of five days in a week does not qualify for unemployment assistance in that week even if the total number of hours of work is less than 20.

Question No. 157 withdrawn.

Bernard Allen

Question:

158 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has been refused a rent subsidy for rented accommodation in view of the fact that they cannot obtain local authority housing. [12372/04]

Health boards administer the supplementary welfare allowance scheme subject to conditions. A weekly or monthly rent supplement is paid to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation needs and who do not have accommodation available from another source.

The Southern Health Board was contacted about this case. It advised that the person concerned was refused a rent supplement because she was deemed to be adequately housed in local authority accommodation.

Departmental Correspondence.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

159 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she was asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to supply briefing material for local election candidates; if so her response to same; if material was provided; and the form in which it was presented. [12391/04]

I have not received a specific request from the Fianna Fáil Party to supply the information nor have I provided it to any other party.

My Department responds to requests for material on its policies from members of the public, including all public representatives. It regularly receives requests from all political parties for information on its activities to assist their press and research offices in the preparation of speeches and other material. In general the raw material is already a matter of public record through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

160 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if funding will be made available to the Cill Dara Resource Centre, Bride Street, County Kildare or it faces closure. [12430/04]

The family and community services resource centre programme is administered by the Family Support Agency. It provides financial assistance to projects and assists with the staffing and equipping of local family resource centres that provide a focal point for community development activities.

The emphasis in the projects is on the involvement of local communities in developing approaches to tackle the problems they face and on creating successful partnerships between the voluntary and statutory agencies in the areas concerned. Family resource centres involve people from marginalised groups and areas of disadvantage at all levels in the project.

The services provided and activities supported by the resource centres are designed to meet the needs of the local community. They include: the provision of information, advice and support to target groups and families in the area; practical assistance to community groups such as training, information, advice and photocopying facilities; the provision of education courses and training opportunities; the provision of child care facilities for those attending courses provided by the project; and the running of after school clubs.

The Cill Dara centre does not operate under the FRC funded programme.