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 10, inclusive, answered orally.

Witness Security Programme.

Liz McManus

Question:

11 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date in the review of the witness protection programme; if he is considering additional measures to support witnesses who give evidence in court cases involving serious charges who may not wish to enter the protection programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12670/04]

The witness security programme was established in 1997 in response to the activities of organised criminal gangs to facilitate those persons who are prepared to give evidence against alleged offenders. The programme operates under the direct control and administration of the Garda Commissioner.

Following a specific judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal in August 2003, the Garda authorities instituted a review of the procedures of the witness security programme. I am advised by the Garda authorities that this review is ongoing. The review includes consideration of: the relevant judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal; the measures to support witnesses in court cases who may not wish to enter the programme; and current best practice from an international perspective. I assure the Deputy that, when received, the recommendations of the review will be given full and careful consideration.

Court Poor Box.

Mary Upton

Question:

12 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he intends to implement the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission into the court poor box system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12690/04]

As the Deputy is aware, the Law Reform Commission published a consultation paper in March 2004 in relation to this matter. In the paper, the commission put forward a number of provisional recommendations as to how the court poor box system might be reformed. The Law Reform Commission will publish a report containing its final recommendations when the consultation process is complete. I look forward to examining the commission's final recommendations as soon as they become available.

Child Care Services.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

13 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the measures he is taking to ensure that affordable child care is available to all families; the progress made since June 2002 both in terms of the number of child care places created and the percentage of working parents who have access to affordable child care; his views on whether a lack of child care remains an obstacle to women’s participation in the workforce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8021/04]

My Department commissioned the Central Statistics Office to review child care usage among parents as an element of the quarterly national household survey in late 2002 and found that Irish parents with pre-school and school-going children continue to use a variety of arrangements to meet their child care needs. These include parental provision, arrangements paid or unpaid with relatives, the services of childminders and centre based child care. The parents did not express an overwhelming preference for a particular alternative to their present arrangements although the most popular alternative chosen was a centre based service both for the pre-school and the primary school child, and this sector of child care is the focus of much of the investment under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006.

Child care was identified as an investment priority under the National Development Plan 2000-2006 which enabled the Government make a significant commitment to the development of quality child care in Ireland. This was a direct response to the recommendations of the expert working group on child care which was established under Partnership 2000 to develop a strategy for the development and delivery of child care to support parents in employment, education and training.

Key among these recommendations was the designation of my Department as the lead Department with respect to the development of child care to meet the needs of parents in employment, education and training. These recommendations formed the basis of the €436.7 million Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 which is aiming,inter alia, to increase by 50% the supply of centre based child care places by programme end. The programme also has a focus on many of the quality issues which were identified in the child care strategy and aims to ensure that there is a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of child care services throughout the country. The programme is partly funded by the European Social Fund which aims, inter alia, to increase prosperity throughout the European Union by encouraging full employment and female labour force participation.

In the context of the mid-term review of the national development plan, the EOCP has recently received a further small injection of European social funding specifically because of its capacity to support employment, education and training in the Irish work force.

Since June 2002, approximately €110 million has been committed in funding, of which over €89 million has been allocated in capital and staffing grants to child care providers and community groups and €21 million to quality improvement. It is estimated that the funding committed in this period will create 13,032 new child care places and will also support over 8,500 existing places.

The total amount of funding committed since the start of the programme in 2000 exceeds €250 million with much of the remaining funding being required for continuation funding for projects located in areas of significant disadvantage and for the ongoing support of projects and mechanisms which promote quality child care. This amount will create 28,392 new child care places and will support over 26,642 existing child care places. These new places are offering new child care options to parents throughout Ireland as they meet their work and family needs.

The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 has an equal opportunities and social inclusion perspective and facilitates the further development and expansion of child care facilities to address the needs of parents, particularly women, in reconciling their child care needs with their participation in employment, training and education. The programme provides capital grant assistance to create and enhance new and existing child care facilities, staffing grant assistance to community based not-for-profit organisations whose child care services have a strong focus on the support of the child care needs of disadvantaged families and it also offers supports to the national voluntary child care organisations, to the city-county child care committees and to other groups which are working to improve the quality of child care in Ireland.

In addition, my colleague, the Minister for Finance makes available a number of incentives in relation to child care, such as capital allowances for capital expenditure incurred on or after 2 December 1998, on the construction, extension and refurbishment of a building which is used for the purpose of providing a pre-school service or a pre-school service and day care or other service to cater for children other than pre-school children.

With regard to the Deputy's comments on the measures been taken to ensure that affordable child care is available to all families, I would like to draw the Deputy's attention to one of a series of recommendations of the expert working group in relation to the so-called demand side of child care. Government policy in the area of child support aims to provide assistance which will offer real choice to parents and which will benefit all children. In that context, it has been decided that, as a matter of policy, child benefit will be the main fiscal instrument through which support will be provided to parents with dependent children. In addition, unlike tax relief, it provides support to parents irrespective of income status.

Over the period since 1997, the monthly rates of child benefit have increased by €93.51 at the lower rate and €115.78 at the higher rate, increases of 246% and 234% respectively, compared with inflation of 26.9%. This level of increase is unprecedented and delivers on the Government's objective of providing support for children generally while offering real choice to all parents. Child benefit is paid to mothers and is not means-tested.

I should also point out that Government policy in relation to the position of women generally is guided by the provisions of the EU treaties in relation to non-discrimination and equality of opportunity. Furthermore, the Government is committed to facilitating women who wish to avail of education and employment opportunities while allowing them at the same time to reconcile work and family commitments. To this end, legislative provision has been made for maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, carer's leave and part-time work. In addition, a national framework committee on work-life balance at the level of the enterprise has been established under Sustaining Progress.

The booming Irish economy of the latter part of the 1990s facilitated a rapid change in female labour market behaviour. As a result the proportion of mothers in employment has doubled over the last 15 years. To put these changes in context, in 2003 female labour market participants numbered 701,000 — 511,000 in full-time and 190,000 in part-time employment. This compares to 1995 when 483,000 — 372,000 in full-time and 111,000 in part time employment — were in employment. By any standard this represents a considerable increase over the period.

While the resources available to the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 do not permit the programme to meet the full staffing costs of any child care services the programme does make a significant contribution towards the staffing costs of facilities in areas of disadvantage. These three year grants are intended to support disadvantaged families to access valuable employment, educational or training opportunities.

The programme for Government and the progress of my Department's Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 are confirmation of the Government's commitment to developing and reviewing child care services and to keeping child care at the forefront of its social agenda. The outcomes of the present programme will be monitored closely to inform the forward planning process in order to support the twin needs of quality child care provision and labour market supports.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

14 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is considering proposals to tie pub licences into planning permission; the way in which such a system would operate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12684/04]

The position is that in its interim report on off-licensing, the Commission on Liquor Licensing recommended that applicants for new off-licences, apart from a wine only off-licence, be required to obtain planning permission and be in a position to satisfy the court that any conditions attached to such permission had been complied with. The commission felt that this was justified on grounds of good planning and in order to ensure that the layout of licensed premises met the required standards.

In its final report, the commission broadened this recommendation to cover applications for all new on-licences on the ground that local planning authorities, rather than the courts, are the appropriate bodies to assess the suitability and location of premises for the sale of alcohol.

I intend to address these recommendations, which I regard as sensible and justified, in a Bill to codify the licensing laws which I will bring forward in the coming months. Under planning law, planning permission is normally required for a development, unless it is an exempt development, and it has already become the practice in certain areas that a copy of the planning permission is submitted to the court with the licensing application. Linking the licensing and planning codes in future licensing legislation will help to promote good planning practice and prevent the development of licensed premises in unsuitable and inappropriate locations.

Garda Investigations.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

15 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he intends to establish an inquiry into events surrounding the murder of two persons (details supplied) and the subsequent Garda investigation, as sought by relatives of one of the murdered persons; the progress made to date with regard to his consultations with the Attorney General on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12658/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 143 of Thursday, 1 April 2004, in which I indicated that I am in the process of consulting with the Garda authorities and the Office of the Attorney General in order to assist me in making a decision on the request for a new inquiry into the Grangegorman murders. The position is unchanged. I will consider the matter further as soon all the relevant advice is received.

Victim Support Funding.

Willie Penrose

Question:

16 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the allocation from his Department in 2004 for Victim Support; the way in which this compares with 2003; if has plans to increase the funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12675/04]

Victim Support's allocation in 2003 was €1,077,000 and €1,029,000 in 2004. The reduction in the funding was in line with the general reduction applied across Departments. There are no plans at present to increase thelevel of funding. However, in line with a Government commitment in that regard, my Department is keeping existing funding levels under review.

Garda Strength.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

17 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he intends to provide the extra 2,000 gardaí, promised in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12654/04]

I refer the Deputy to my response to Priority Question No. 5 of today posed by Deputy Jim O'Keeffe.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

18 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of recruits who have graduated from the Garda training college as full Garda members since 6 June 2002; the number of gardaí who have retired, resigned or otherwise left the force since 6 June 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12672/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that 833 recruits have graduated from the Garda college since 6 June 2002. This figure of 833 comprises those who have successfully completed the student-probationer education-training programme. This figure does not include those who have been attested to the force upon completion of phase 3 of their training programme and who have yet to complete the fifth and final phase of that programme. The number of members attested to the force since 6 June 2002 is 1,042.

A total of 818 members — all ranks — have resigned, retired or otherwise left the Garda Síochána since 6 June 2002.

Anti-Racism Measures.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

19 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the EU-wide actions that he is instigating, as part of Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union, to combat racism and discrimination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9981/04]

Gay Mitchell

Question:

32 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps being taken by the Government to combat anti-Semitism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9991/04]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

46 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the manner in which the Government marked International Day Against Racism on 21 March 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10015/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19, 32 and 46 together.

As the Deputies are aware, part of my work during the Ireland's Presidency will be to progress the EU anti-discrimination programme. Article 13 of the Amsterdam treaty allows the Community to take action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. In this regard, the Council of the European Union adopted two anti-discrimination directives in 2000, the Race Directive (2000/43/EC) and the Framework Employment Directive (2000/78/EC). A third directive, the Gender Equal Treatment Directive (2002/73/EC), has many provisions in common with the race and framework employment directives.

The overall effect of the three directives is to require member states to prohibit direct discrimination, indirect discrimination and harassment on grounds of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation in relation to employment, self-employment or occupational and vocational training. Victimisation is also prohibited. The current Irish equality legislation is already substantially compliant with these directives and it is my intention to implement all three directives at the same time.

The directives are being transposed into Irish legislation by means of the Equality Bill 2004, which was published in January. The Bill was completed in the Seanad in February and commenced proceedings in the Dáil on 25 March. The Second Stage will be resumed shortly and enactment will take place as soon as practicable thereafter.

Also under Article 13, the EU adopted a Council decision establishing a community action programme to combat discrimination to run from 2001 to 2006. Ireland participates on an ongoing basis in a programme committee which is in place to assist and advise the European Commission on the implementation of the community action programme activities. Last June, in Brussels, the EU Commission launched an EU-wide anti-discrimination awareness campaign as part of its action programme.

As part of Ireland's Presidency of the European Union, my Department will also be involved in organising a number of conferences. On 9 June 2004, my Department in association with the national consultative committee on racism and inter-culturalism, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the EUMC will hold an EU-wide seminar in Dublin entitled, Combating racism through building a more inclusive, inter-cultural Europe. The seminar has the following objectives: to enhance awareness and mutual understanding of discourse, policy and practise in addressing racism and promoting inter-culturalism in an enlarged EU, to identifykey building blocks for building a more inclusive, inter-cultural Europe where racism is effectively challenged, to consider priorities for effective strategies and to consider and monitorprogress.

On 27 and 28 May 2004 in Limerick, my Department will host an equality and diversity conference entitled, Closing the Gap: Systematic approaches to Promoting Equality and Diversity in Europe. The conference will focus on international experience across three selected themes — the role of independent equality bodies in the promotion of equal treatment, best practice in equality and diversity in the workplace and promoting and accommodating diversity in the provision of services. The objective of the conference is to raise awareness and support efforts to combat discrimination across all the six grounds in Article 13 of the Treaty of the European Communities — race, gender, age, disability, religion and sexual orientation. The conference will also provide an opportunity to share the knowledge and experiences of Irish and international colleagues. This approach aims to ensure that existing member states, and new member states following enlargement, have a uniform understanding and approach to implementing European anti-discrimination law and practice.

On a national level, the Deputies will be aware that this country has in place comprehensive structures to combat racism and racial discrimination, including anti-Semitism. Our equality legislation — the Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000 — is supported by national bodies such as, the Equality Authority and the Equality Tribunal. In addition we have the national consultative committee on racism and inter-culturalism which is an independent expert body, primarily funded by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, focusing on racism and inter-culturalism. The NCCRI is a partnership body which brings together government and non-government organisations to develop strategic approaches to combating racism and promoting a more inclusive and inter-cultural society in Ireland.

With regard to the particular issue of anti-Semitism, a report recently published in March 2004 by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, EUMC, Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the EU 2002-2003, stated that there was no discernible evidence of an increase in anti-Semitic violence or rhetoric over the period 2002 to 2003, and no evidence of systematic targeting of the Jewish community in Ireland.

Holocaust memorial day was marked in Ireland in January 2004 in City Hall, Dublin, by a commemoration organised by the Holocaust memorial day committee in association with my Department and addressed by President McAleese. The national anti-racism awareness programme, Know Racism, and my Department provided financial support to the Holocaust memorial day in January 2003 and 2004.

In regard to monitoring incidents in society which are motivated by racism or xenophobia, the gardaí record these events on the PULSE computer system. Personnel at the Garda racial and inter-cultural office monitor all incidents to ensure that the system is accurately recording all such offences and where such incidents occur, the Garda Síochána ensures that an investigation is pursued with reference to the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 and the Prohibition of the Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 which are the relevant legislative instruments pertaining to hate crime.

Statistics on racist incidents are released in the Garda annual reports — the most recent report refers to 2003. The NCCRI also monitors incidents of racism on the basis of reports it receives from victims and the general public. Details of reports received are published every six months. On the basis of information from these and other sources, my Department continues to assess trends and recommends appropriate policy changes where necessary.

The Deputies will also be mindful of the fact that my Department is in the process of finalising Ireland's first ever national action plan against racism. The consultation process for the plan took place between March 2002 and February 2003 and was overseen by a steering group, with representation from both Government and non-government organisations. In July 2003, I published, Diverse Voices, A Summary of the Outcomes of the Consultative Process and a Proposed Framework for the National Action Plan Against Racism, which is available on my Department's website. This document outlines the five main objectives which the framework for the plan will be built around. Briefly these objectives are protection from racism; inclusion in the socio-economic sense; equality of access to the provision of services; participation of minorities in Irish society; decision making; recognition and building respect of cultural diversity and promoting interaction and understanding. The plan is nearing completion and my Department has almost concluded the process of taking on board observations which have been received from other Departments.

This year and in each of the past two years a large number of anti-racist and inter-cultural events were organised throughout the country, North and South, to mark the international day against racism on 21 March and European week against racism in March. The events were co-ordinated by the national consultative committee on racism and inter-culturalism NCCRI, in partnership with Know Racism and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. Details of the events were published in a booklet which was distributed by the NCCRI. Many of the events in local communities were funded in the earlier years by the Know Racism programme through its grant schemes.

The theme for 2004 focused on the full participation of minority ethnic groups in broader society. The 2004 activities included a press conference, Count Me In, organised by the NCCRI where representatives from the main political parties endorsed the anti-racism election protocol for political parties.

Prosecution Rates.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

20 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to concerns expressed by members of the gardaí that there has been a huge drop in prosecution rates for street crime in Dublin since the introduction of a new system under which prosecuting officers are removed from the case and all files are passed instead to a presenting officer; if his attention has further been drawn to this problem; the steps being taken to address it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12674/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997 provides for the admissibility of documentary evidence of arrest, charge and caution and other specified matters, by way of certificate. This provision is regarded as a very positive development in that it eliminated the necessity for large numbers of gardaí having to attend court and thereby freed up gardaí to concentrate on operational policing duties. The Garda authorities have informed me that, since its introduction, there is no evidence to suggest that this development has resulted in a huge drop in prosecution rates for street crime.

Coroner Service.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

21 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress which has been made in implementing the report of the working group on the coroner service published in December 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12685/04]

In line with a commitment I gave when I met representatives of the Coroners Society of Ireland, I intend to bring a proposal to Government this year, for a short Bill to amend the Coroners Act of 1962 so as to deal with a certain number of critical issues that need to be addressed as a priority. These concern the ending of the restriction on the number of medical and other witnesses at an inquest, increased sanctions for those who might refuse to co-operate at an inquest and a more coherent restatement of the scope of the provisions for mandatory inquests, which will include all deaths in custody. I remain conscious that a suitably more comprehensive reform of the coroners service, taking due account of the recommendations of the review group and developments since its report, is required in the medium term.

Legal Costs.

Mary Upton

Question:

22 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals for a new inquiry into the way in which legal costs are calculated and awarded; the person by whom the inquiry will be carried out; when it is expected to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12689/04]

As the Deputy will be aware, I recently announced my intention to establish a group to examine the issue of the taxation of legal costs. The terms of reference and composition of the group are currently being considered, the details of which will be announced shortly.

Anti-Terrorism Measures.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

23 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether Ireland can also be targeted by international terrorists in the wake of the Madrid bombings, particularly during its Presidency of the EU, and on the occasion of President Bush’s visit in June 2004; and the measures being taken to ensure the safety of the State and its citizens in the event of such an attack. [9399/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

149 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he proposes to take steps in conjunction with his EU colleagues to avert or deal with the situation in the event of terrorist attacks; if there will be provision of adequate warning and surveillance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9339/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 149 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Síochána maintains an up to date assessment of the threat of attack against this jurisdiction from international terrorist groupings through analysis of intelligence gathered from domestic and international sources. In the latter regard, I am further informed that the Garda Síochána has developed excellent lines of communication and co-operation with police and security services in the European Union and further afield. I understand that this ongoing sharing of intelligence enables a rapid operational response to be put in place where circumstances so warrant.

Moreover, on 19 March last, I chaired an extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union at which a draft declaration on combating terrorism was agreed. This draft declaration was subsequently approved by the European Council on 25 March. The declaration contains a range of measures aimed at enhancing member states' responses at Union level to the terrorist threat arising from the Madrid bombings.

With regard to the response of the emergency services in the event of a terrorist attack, planning for major emergencies has been ongoing for many years at local level and co-ordinated on a regional basis, in accordance with the Government's major emergency planning framework.

The focus of this emergency planning work continues to be on taking the necessary precautions to, at best, prevent or, at least, minimise the risks from terrorist attacks, ensuring that the protection available to the public is maximised, putting mechanisms in place to support the emergency response agencies and providing co-ordination for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Question No. 24 answered with QuestionNo. 7.

Garda Complaints Procedures.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

25 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount paid out either in respect of court awards or out of court settlements for claims taken against members of the gardaí in respect of assault, unlawful arrest or other breach of a citizen’s right in respect of 2001, 2002, 2003 and to date in 2004; the number of cases in which awards were made by the courts and the number of cases which were settled out of court; the number of such cases pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12678/04]

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to court awards and out-of-court settlements in actions taken against members of the Garda Síochána in respect of assault, unlawful arrest or other breaches of citizens' rights is set out in the table below.

As of 31 December 2003, there were approximately 750 civil actions taken against members of the Garda Síochána on hand. A breakdown of these actions in the form of the number of allegations of assault, unlawful arrest and other breaches of citizens' rights is not readily available. However, a database introduced in 2002 for the purposes of recording civil actions taken against members of the Garda Síochána indicates that in 2003 — the first complete year for which figures are available — of the 142 actions initiated or received in that year by my Department, there were 34 cases of alleged assault recorded and 38 cases of alleged unlawful arrest recorded. The remaining 70 cases recorded included allegations of defamation and harassment. In the year to date, 36 actions have been initiated-received. They include 12 cases of alleged assault and 11 cases of alleged unlawful arrest.

Civil actions may be taken by the general public against members of the Garda Síochána for compensation for alleged wrongs and personal injuries inflicted on them by Garda members in the performance of their duties. The highest percentage of these types of civil actions against the Garda Síochána is in relation to assault and unlawful arrest. The great majority of these cases have been settled for less than €25,500. Settlement of cases takes place on the advice of the Chief State Solicitor, the Attorney General and State Counsel.

The Garda Commissioner has informed me that incidents which result in successful claims against the State in respect of the actions of gardaí are examined with a view to identifying and implementing operational strategies to eliminate or reduce similar claims in the future. The Garda Commissioner has also informed me that the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 1989 are invoked in appropriate cases where the actions of individual Garda members come into question. One of the principal aims of the Garda Síochána Bill 2004 is the establishment of a new mechanism for dealing with complaints against members of the Garda Síochána which will secure public confidence and which will address the acknowledged shortcomings in the existing law and procedures on complaints.

Year (Total Amount)

Assault

Unlawful Arrest

Other

2001 €1,619,746.83

Awards

1,904.61 (1)

20,950.68 (2)

22,220.42 (1)

Settlements

123,164.59 (5)

33,965.49 (3)

162,782.25 (9)

Costs

244,665.35

123,199.41

886,894.03

Total

369,734.55

178,115.58

1,071,896.70

2002 €1,240,388.40

Awards

1,270 (1)

3,809.21 (1)

56,500 (2)

Settlements

166,924.48 (6)

106,835.58 (10)

185,078.82 (11)

Costs

230,769.67

148,714.19

340,486.45

Total

398,964.15

259,358.98

582,065.27

2003 (Provisional) €1,276,127.55

Awards

11,000 (1)

10,000 (2)

4,870 (2)

Settlements

75,000 (4)

303,011 (5)

112,814.84 (4)

Costs

145,561.70

71,794.28

542,075.73

Total

231,561.70

384,805.28

659,760.57

2004 (Provisional) (as of 29/4/04) €206,310.02

Awards

15,000 (1)

0

0

Settlements

10,000 (1)

4,007 (1)

27,500(1)

Costs

19,039.58

61,465.15

69,298.29

Total

44,039.58

65,472.15

96,798.29

The number of cases in which awards were made by the courts and the number of cases which were settled out of court are shown in brackets in each case.

Cory Report.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

26 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the promised tribunal of inquiry arising from the Cory report will be established; the form it will take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12677/04]

Joe Higgins

Question:

60 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Government’s progress to date in implementing the recommendations of Judge Cory’s report. [9100/04]

Joe Costello

Question:

147 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he proposes to set up the public inquiry into the killing of persons (details supplied) as recommended by Judge Cory; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11372/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26, 60 and 147 together.

In accordance with the recommendation of Mr. Justice Peter Cory, I secured Government approval for the establishment of a public inquiry into the murders in 1989 of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Bob Buchanan. The public inquiry will take the form of a tribunal of inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts. My Department is currently drafting specific terms of reference for the tribunal, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, and I intend to secure further Government approval as soon as possible to bring the necessary resolutions before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Garda Investigations.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

27 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date in the Garda investigation into the murder of a prisoner in Mountjoy jail on 27 January 2004; if the Garda investigation has been completed; if a file has been sent to the DPP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12665/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation into the murder of the person concerned is not yet complete. On completion of the investigation, a file will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. As I am sure the Deputy will appreciate, the investigation of this matter is an operational matter for the gardaí and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

Crime Prevention.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

28 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to make a serious impact on all crime, organised or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12653/04]

My commitment to tackling all forms of crime is based on the principle that perpetrators will be brought to justice by the gardaí, their cases dealt with expeditiously by the courts and there will be enough prison spaces to ensure that their sentences are served. This Government has devoted and will continue to devote huge resources to ensuring that where crimes are committed, the criminal law is adequate to deal with them.

I have ensured that the gardaí have unprecedented resources. This year the Garda Vote is over €1 billion for the first time ever, representing an increase of 9.5% on 2003. The increase in the Garda budget will permit an increase in the size of the force this year to 12,200, a historic high.

The Garda Síochána has a number of specialist operations in place together with prevention strategies and investigation processes whereby members of the national specialist units provide support to local units to combat and tackle all types of crime.

I am committed to ensuring that the legislative framework within which the criminal justice system must operate is kept under review. In that context if a need is identified at any stage to amend the law to deal with any particular crime problem or as a result of any initiatives arising from our international commitments, I will not hesitate to bring forward proposals for such reform.

In this regard, I draw the Deputy's attention to the Criminal Justice Bill which, as indicated in the Government's legislative programme, I expect to publish this session. The main purpose of that Bill is to improve the efficiency with which criminal offences are investigated and prosecuted. The measures I propose include: statutory power to preserve a crime scene; a general power in relation to the issue of search warrants; increased detention powers of up to 24 hours for arrestable offences; some amendments to the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence) Act 1990, in particular to reclassify saliva as a non-intimate sample; extending the power of the prosecution to appeal in limited circumstances in particular in relation to points of law; general provisions mostly of a technical nature to improve the efficiency of the prosecution of offences and; provision on the admissibility of statements by witnesses, who subsequently refuse to testify or retract their original statements.

I intend to bring forward proposals to Government to seek approval to the inclusion, whether on publication or on Committee Stage, of firearms control provisions in the Bill. I am also examining the issues surrounding sentencing in relation to drug trafficking offences and firearms offences and if I consider it appropriate I will also bring forward proposals to strengthen the law in this respect. In addition, I understand that the joint Oireachtas committee is expected to publish its report on the administration of justice shortly. I look forward to examining it and I will be prepared to take whatever action may be appropriate on foot of the report, including bringing forward further proposals for legislative reform, if necessary.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the policy of tackling organised criminal groups through targeted intelligence-led operations has yielded excellent results. This has covered several areas of criminal activities, including armed robberies and trafficking in illicit drugs. The establishment of specialist Garda units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Garda National Drug Unit, operating under an Assistant Commissioner in charge of national support services, has enabled the Garda Síochána to tackle organised crime, effectively. Other smaller units, including the money laundering investigation unit and a unit dealing with the theft of computer parts, have also had successes in combating the activities of organised criminals.

This Government has also provided the gardaí with significant additional powers to deal with all manner of criminal activity. Stringent sanctions have been introduced to deal with anti-social behaviour and street crime. The crime figures show that the number of assaults causing harm recorded in the first quarter of this year has reduced by over 17% over the same period last year. This is the fifth quarter in succession that this offence has shown a reduction. Serious crime is down 6%. This trend is a concrete indicator that crime is being firmly tackled.

While I am currently undertaking a review of the adequacy of legislative provisions, our legislative package for tackling crime is one of the toughest in Europe. The Garda Síochána has available to it a broad range of legislation to enable crime to be tackled. The Criminal Assets Bureau Act and the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996, which have been successfully used to deprive those in criminal activity of their assets, continue to be one of the most significant legislative tools.

Decentralisation Programme.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

29 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in regard to his recent announcement of the transfer of the headquarters of the Irish Prison Service from Dublin to Longford, a survey has been undertaken to establish the number of staff willing to transfer; the breakdown by grade of the number who have so indicated their willingness to transfer; the plans there are for staff who are not willing to relocate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12664/04]

There has been no definitive survey undertaken to establish the numbers and grades of the staff at Irish Prison Service headquarters who wish to transfer to Longford. Soundings taken last year indicated a relatively low level of interest at that time. It is intended, in conjunction with the issue of the central application facility, CAF, by the Civil Service Commission, to conduct a survey in which headquarters staff will be asked to indicate definitively whether or not they wish to remain with the Irish Prison Service.

Staff who do not wish to transfer to Longford or another decentralised office will be reassigned to other positions in the Civil Service in accordance with any agreement made with the staff associations in this regard. While, to date, only a small number of staff have formally indicated their intention to transfer to the new headquarters in Longford, there are indications that the numbers interested in a possible transfer to Longford is increasing. The Deputy may be interested to know that, at present, the Irish Prison Service has received unsolicited applications from 72 persons in other Civil Service bodies who wish to transfer to Longford.

Crime Levels.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

30 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps being taken to reduce the access to and use by criminals of firearms, in view of the increasing number of murders involving the use of such weapons and recent crime figures showing a 54% increase in the discharging of firearms for the first three months of 2004; the position in regard to his review of the firearms control policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12667/04]

I assure the Deputy that I share her concern in relation to the issues of access to and use of firearms by criminals. I have discussed this matter with the Garda Commissioner and I am confident that every effort is made by the Garda Síochána to bring those engaged in crime to justice and that appropriate action is taken where sufficient evidence is available.

As I have stated in previous responses to parliamentary questions, my Department has almost finalised a review of the firearms control policy with the intention of comprehensively updating the legislation in this area. However, given the recent increase in violent crime involving firearms, I intend to bring forward proposals to Government to seek approval for the inclusion of firearms control provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which I expect to publish during the current session. I also propose, in the context of introducing such provisions into that Bill, to examine the options in relation to penalties for firearms related offences.

Defamation Law.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

31 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding his consideration of the recommendations of the legal advisory group on the defamation law, particularly in regard to the proposals for the establishment of a statutory press council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12686/04]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

145 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will publish the Bill reforming libel law and providing for the regulation of the press; if he has abandoned his proposals for a statutory, Government appointed press council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12873/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 145 together.

I indicated in my answer to Parliamentary Question No. 48 of 29 January 2004 that I intended to study carefully the responses received during the public consultation process, which I had initiated after the publication of the report of the legal advisory group on defamation in June 2003. That consultation period ended on 31 January and my Department received over 30 responses from concerned organisations and private individuals. These are posted on my Department's website.

As well as inviting written submissions on the report, I held a major conference on 1 December 2003 to facilitate an exchange of views from a cross-section of interested parties. The conference was well attended and thought-provoking. I had made it clear when I brought the report to Government in June 2003 that it was the group's report; it is not a report by me to Government or indeed a report of the Government and the Government has made no decision in respect of the substance of the contents of the report.

Aside from the recommendations on a press council, there were other important recommendations in the report on defamation which will require consideration. For example, the proposed new defence of reasonable publication; the suggested re-balancing of the role which judge and jury have at present in defamation actions which are commenced in the High Court; the Circuit Court to have jurisdiction in all defamation cases where the amount of the damages claimed does not exceed €50,000; a suggested one year limitation period for defamation actions; and the enshrinement in legislation of a defence to be known as the "defence of innocent publication" which would be available, among others, to broadcasters, distributors, printers and Internet service providers.

However, it would be fair to say that a majority of the responses received during the public consultation process addressed the recommendation put forward by the legal advisory group with regard to the establishment of a statutory press council. This recommendation came on foot of one of the more specific of the legal advisory group's terms of reference, which was to consider the nature and extent of any statutory intervention which might attach to the establishment of any entity concerned with the regulation of the press. This is a subject where there is some divergence of views as to the optimum approach to be followed.

On the one hand, there is a need to achieve a form of regulation which is effective and in which the public can have confidence. On the other hand, care must be had to ensure that any regulatory framework does not trespass needlessly upon the traditional freedoms which the press enjoys in all democratic societies. The group, having carefully weighed up the options, recommended the establishment of a statutory press council with functions which would include the preparation of a press code of conduct and the investigation of complaints concerning alleged breaches of that code. The report set out, in some detail, the main features of such a council, including matters pertaining to its operation and structure. The draft general scheme for a new Defamation Bill, set out in the group's report, contains a template for the legislative intervention which would be required were such an entity to be established.

At their request, I met representatives of the steering committee of the press industry on 26 April to receive their draft proposals for a press ombudsman and a press council. The broad content of these proposals have been subsequently reported in the media. I promised the steering committee that I would give careful consideration to their proposals, which I understand may be further developed. I will also be giving the same consideration to the comments submitted by others on the issue of a press council.

I have expressed the view on a number of occasions that the particular model examined by the advisory group is by no means the only, or, for that matter, the most obvious model for a press council. There could be a body chaired by, say a judge and composed of nominees of a variety of groups to reflect the different interests involved. Appropriate statutory recognition could be given to such a press council. Other models have been suggested during the consultation process as to how a press council could be composed and these will be given careful consideration by me before bringing a proposal to Government.

I am satisfied that the public consultation process that I have engaged in is assisting towards the formation of a reasonable consensus on this issue. I look forward to bringing proposals to Government later this year.

Question No. 32 answered with QuestionNo. 19.

Judicial Conduct and Ethics Bill.

Joe Costello

Question:

33 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects to publish the long promised Judicial Conduct and Ethics Bill; if the heads of the Bill have been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12656/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Deputy Jim O'Keeffe's Priority Question No. 2 answered today. Heads of the Bill have not yet been approved by Government.

Legal Aid Service.

Seán Ryan

Question:

34 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the average waiting time for an appointment with a solicitor at the legal aid centres; the longest waiting time at any particular centre; his views on whether such waiting times are acceptable; the additional funding which has been provided to reduce waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12682/04]

The Legal Aid Board does not routinely collect information relating to an average waiting time for people seeking services. However, it does record the length of time the person longest on the waiting list has waited. The following table includes the length of time the person longest on the waiting list has waited for legal services as of March 2004 by law centre.

In relation to persons waiting to see a solicitor, the board operates a procedure whereby priority is accorded for certain categories of cases, for example, domestic violence, child care, child abduction and other cases where there are time limits. These cases are dealt with immediately and such applicants are not placed on a waiting list. Such a system for priorities is necessary to ensure that, for example, persons who are subjected to domestic violence and cases involving the care of children are provided with speedy service. In 2003 priority appointments were offered by law centres to over 22% of applicants for the board's services.

In addition, managing solicitors at law centres have authority to give priority to any case on the waiting list at their centre. For example, if an applicant is gravely ill, or in cases where an applicant is in danger of losing assets or of losing title to a legal remedy if legal services are delayed, the managing solicitor can accord such cases priority status.

The board continuously monitors the operation of its law centre network to ensure that its resources are used to maximum effect in making its services available to the greatest possible number of eligible persons. I can further inform the Deputy that the additional management posts which were made available in recent years are enabling the board to develop a more structured change management approach to the provision of civil legal aid throughout the State. This approach is geared to examine the throughput of cases at law centres and where waiting times, for whatever reason, become excessive the position is examined by the board with a view to taking remedial action.

The Deputy will be aware that the grant-in-aid to the legal aid board for this year is €18.388 million, an increase of almost 5% over the 2003 provision of €17.539 million. The level of resources provided to the Legal Aid Board in recent years has increased significantly. In 1997 the grant-in-aid available to the board was €10.656 million. The figure for 2004 represents an increase of almost 73% during this period. During this period also sanction to employ additional staff was conveyed to the board. Since 1997 sanctioned posts in the board's law centre network increased from 191 to 215, of which 89 are solicitor posts, an increase of eight solicitor posts.

Law Centre

Waiting Time (Months)

Cavan

1.75

Clare

12.5

Cork

—Pope’s Quay

11

—South Mall

11

Donegal

10.5

Dublin

—Blanchardstown

8.75

—Brunswick Street

10.75

—Clondalkin

4.5

—Finglas

12.75

—Gardiner Street

11

—Ormond Quay

2.75

—Tallaght

10.25

Galway

12.25

Kerry

6

Kildare

11

Kilkenny

12

Laois

16

Limerick

4.75

Longford

0

Louth

6.75

Mayo

1.75

Meath

13

Monaghan

2.5

Offaly

2.25

Sligo

4.75

Tipperary

6.75

Waterford

5

Westmeath

2

Wexford

5.75

Wicklow

11

Mandatory Sentencing.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

35 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on whether there is international evidence that mandatory sentencing effectively reduces gun crime or organised crime including drug dealing. [12739/04]

It is the duty of Government to legislate for effective and proportionate penalties and punishments for all crime and particularly for serious crime. Drug dealing and its associated violence, increasingly involving the use of firearms, are among the most heinous of offences causing untold misery for communities in all parts of the State.

At present, mandatory sentencing in relation to such crimes in this jurisdiction is confined to the provisions of Part II of the Criminal Justice Act 1999 which came into effect on 26 May 1999. Section 4 provides for the creation of a new offence related to the possession of drugs with a value of €12,697 or more for the purpose of sale or supply, which is punishable by up to life imprisonment. It further provides in section 5 that the court shall, in imposing sentence, specify a minimum period of imprisonment to be served of not less than ten years upon conviction for the offence. Section 5 also provides, however, that a court is entitled to depart from the imposition of the minimum sentence where there are exceptional and specific circumstances relating to the offence or the person convicted of the offence which would make it unjust in all the circumstances to impose the minimum ten year sentence. Factors to which the court may have regard in this respect include whether the person pleaded guilty, and, if so, the stage at which the person indicated the intention to plead guilty and the circumstances in which the indication was given, and whether the person materially assisted the investigation of the offence.

The information available to me would suggest that the provision has resulted in some drug traffickers pleading guilty to serious drug trafficking offences and in some cases to the imposition of substantial sentences for such offences including the imposition of the minimum mandatory sentence of at least ten years. However, I am keeping its operation under review.

In particular, I am awaiting the results of a study which my Department has commissioned into convictions for the new drug trafficking offence created by section 4. Preliminary indications from the study suggest that the main factors taken into account by the courts in situations where a sentence of less than ten years has been imposed are where the accused pleads guilty to the offence, co-operates with the prosecuting authorities, and materially assists the Garda Síochána with its investigations.

I have also asked that the range of penalties applicable to firearms offences be urgently and critically examined. In all of these reviews, evidence and research available internationally is taken into account and, where appropriate, presented to Government to inform its decisions.

Drug Use.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

36 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the results of the first drug prevalence survey which showed that almost one in five young adults had taken an illegal drug, with cocaine becoming widely used; the steps he intends to take to reduce the drug supply in view of these figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12688/04]

I am aware of the findings referred to by the Deputy which were contained in the 2002-03 all-Ireland drug prevalence survey which is a general population survey examining drug use in the whole island of Ireland. It was undertaken jointly by the national advisory committee on drugs, NACD, on which my Department is represented, and the drug and alcohol information and research unit, DAIRU, in Northern Ireland. The survey found that in Ireland, 19% of the respondents had used illegal drugs in their lifetime, 5.6% within the last year of their interview and 3% within the last month of their interview. These figures place Ireland broadly in line with European averages when compared to similar surveys undertaken across Europe.

This study gathered substantial further information which will be analysed over the coming months by the NACD, DAIRU and the drug misuse division of the health research board. The report containing these figures is the first in a series of bulletins which will be published as the analysis is completed on over 150 questions relating to tobacco, alcohol and illegal drug use, as well as findings relating to specific drugs, attitudes, perceived availability of illegal drugs and attempts to modify behaviour by quitting drug use. A second bulletin from the survey, which broke the data down into health board areas, was released recently.

The Government's strategy to combat the use of illicit drugs is contained in Building on Experience — National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008. In that strategy, one of the key performance indicators is to increase drug seizures by 25% by 2004 and by 50% by 2008, using the 2000 seizures figures as a baseline. The Garda Síochána and the Customs and Excise Service are achieving considerable success in relation to this target to date. Data on street value of drug seizures are as follows: Garda seizures: 2000 — €20 million; 2001 — €45 million; 2002 — €49 million; and 2003 — €100 million; and Customs and Excise seizures: 2000 — €11 million; 2001 — €60 million; 2002 — €34 million; and 2003 — €21 million.

The Government recognises that drugs seizures, while very welcome, must only be one part of our overall strategy in fighting the drugs problem which remains one of the great social ills of our times. While there is a strong legislative framework in place to tackle drug dealing and continuing efforts on the drug supply control side show positive results, we need to constantly continue to develop our range of responses, addressing both the causes and consequences of the problem.

In relation to cocaine use in particular, the survey shows that slightly over 3% of those surveyed had tried cocaine during their lifetime. The survey also provides information on both recent usage, that is, within the 12 months prior to the survey and current usage, that is, within thirty days of the survey. These figures are particularly informative in that they provide an insight into regular usage patterns. The figures for recent and current usage within Ireland are 1.1% and 0.3%, respectively. The survey shows that cocaine usage is increasing among the general population albeit from a very low base.

These findings are in line with statistics in the Garda Síochána annual crime reports which show an increase in the number of offences involving cocaine over the past four years as shown below.

Cocaine Offences

Total Offences

1990

169

7,173

2000

180

8,395

2001

297

8,529

2002

478

7,137

The Garda Síochána addresses the issue of the supply of illegal drugs, including cocaine, in a number of ways namely: the conducting of intelligence driven operations against criminal networks engaged in drug distribution; co-operating with other national law enforcement agencies in reducing the supply of illegal drugs into the State; undermining the structures and systems which support drug distribution networks through the concerted efforts of national units, including the Garda National Drugs Unit, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation; maintaining ongoing liaison with divisional and district drug units who are focused on addressing drug supply at a community level; and the conducting of proactive operations such as Cleanstreet and Nightcap designed to address drug supply within communities and places of entertainment.

As well as enforcing the legislation regarding drug misuse, the Garda Síochána is involved in a number of initiatives designed to reduce the demand for drugs. These include: the Garda schools programme aimed at primary level students which addresses a number of issues including substance misuse; the Garda special projects which engage young people and are focused on the prevention of anti-social behaviour including substance misuse; participation on the national drugs strategy team as well as the 14 local drugs task forces and the recently established regional drug task forces.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that they consider that these initiatives have resulted in considerable success in counteracting the activities of criminal networks involved in the sale and supply of illegal drugs. The Garda Síochána in collaboration with other agencies continually monitor changes in the pattern of illegal drug supply and undertake a variety of initiatives aimed at addressing emerging trends including cocaine usage.

Disability Bill.

Finian McGrath

Question:

37 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in the publication of the Disability Bill; if this is in breach of the programme for Government and Sustaining Progress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9569/04]

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

40 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects that the promised Disability Bill will be published; the discussions he has had with disability groups regarding the terms of the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12691/04]

David Stanton

Question:

172 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the role the European Commission has in the drafting or otherwise of the forthcoming Disability Bill; if a European agency or body has been consulted or is in the process of being consulted or will be consulted in relation to the Disability Bill; when he expects to publish the Bill; the groups that are taking part in consultations regarding the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12949/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 37, 40 and 172 together.

The Agreed Programme for Government established the Government's commitment to complete consultations on the disability legislation and to bring an amended Bill through the Oireachtas. Sustaining Progress outlined the Government's aim to publish and enact the Bill before the end of 2003 following the enactment of the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill 2003.

The Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill 2003 is awaiting Committee Stage in the Dáil and work is on schedule to publish the proposed Disability Bill either following, or in advance of, enactment of that legislation. Deputies will be aware that the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill did not complete its passage through the Oireachtas in the time frame envisaged when Sustaining Progress was being published.

Where national legislation transposes an EU directive, there is a requirement on the State to communicate information to the Commission within specified time frames. Such is the case in relation to the Equality Bill 2004 which transposes Council Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC, adopted under Article 13 of the EC Treaty, and Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, adopted under Article 141 of the treaty. The Bill will amend the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000 to meet Ireland's obligations as a member of the European Union in implementing the directives and make further and better provision in relation to equality of treatment in the workplace and elsewhere. The Disability Bill does not involve the transposition of a directive so this procedure has not applied.

The Government has facilitated extensive consultation nationally in relation to disability legislation. The Government appointed an expert consultation team to oversee the national consultation process. This comprised experts in legal, economic and social affairs. The team met and received the views of the stakeholders, including the disability legislation consultation group, DLCG, the social partners, the community and voluntary sector and relevant Departments before completing its task in February 2003.

Many Deputies will know that the DLCG is a group representative of people with disabilities, their families, carers and service providers which was brought together by the National Disability Authority, NDA, to facilitate dialogue at national level, both within the sector and with the consultation team. Broad ranging consultations took place in 2002 and early 2003 following which the DLCG presented the document, Equal Citizens — Proposals for Core Elements of Disability Legislation, in February 2003.

Last year, the DLCG had meetings with a number of members of the Government, including the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, and the Minister of State, Deputy Tim O'Malley. The discussions at these meetings covered such matters as assessment of need; standards; service provision; the need to build capacity in key sectors of the public service so as to allow provision of disability accessible services in a cost effective way; and workable redress mechanisms.

Earlier this year, meetings took place between officials and the DLCG at which it was given an outline of the proposals for legislation. Its views about these proposals were discussed and noted for consideration by the Cabinet sub-committee on social inclusion. At present, contact is continuing between the group and the Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea.

The Disability Bill is a key part of the framework being put in place by the Government to underpin the equal participation by people with disabilities in Irish society. The framework includes: the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill 2003, which is awaiting Report Stage in the Dáil; the Comhairle (Amendment) Bill which is being prepared in the Department of Social and Family Affairs in relation to the provision of advocacy; sectoral plans for key public services; and equality legislation, to be updated by the Equality Bill 2004, which is currently awaiting Second Stage in the Dáil.

The Government is conscious of the complexity and cross-cutting nature of the issues involved and, to support ministerial engagement throughout the process, referred oversight of the Bill and other elements of the framework to the Cabinet sub-committee on social inclusion. The Government and the Cabinet sub-committee on social inclusion are giving particular attention to the Bill and to the views emerging through the consultation process. The Bill is at an advanced stage of preparation and will be published as soon as the Government has completed its work.

Constitutional Referendum.

Enda Kenny

Question:

38 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he plans to hold a constitutional referendum on the issue of Irish citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8583/04]

John Gormley

Question:

56 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether the reference to partnership, equality and mutual respect contained in the Good Friday Agreement is being honoured in his treatment of the citizenship referendum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12733/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 38 and 56 together.

Deputies will by now be aware of the decision to hold the referendum on citizenship on 11 June next. I am satisfied that the reference to partnership, equality and mutual respect contained in the Good Friday Agreement is being fully honoured in the context of the forthcoming referendum. I refer in particular to the joint interpretative declaration published by both the Irish and British Governments on 20 April last. It was never the intention of those engaged in the multi-party talks that an absolute right of Irish citizenship would be conferred on persons born to parents with little or no connection with Ireland. There is no conflict accordingly between the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement and the forthcoming referendum on citizenship.

Juvenile Liaison Officers.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

39 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of juvenile liaison officers in the gardaí at the latest date for which figures are available; if he has plans to extend the scheme in view of the proven success of it in dealing with juvenile offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12680/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that as at 29 April 2004, there were 85 JLO gardaí and eight JLO sergeants working in the various divisions throughout the country. In addition to this, the National Juvenile Office has a staff of one superintendent, two inspectors and two sergeants.

The Children Act 2001 came into law in May, 2002 and it was at this point that the Garda diversion programme began operating on a statutory basis. Included in this Act is the introduction into the criminal justice system of the concept of restorative justice and family conferencing, whose provisions are currently being put into effect by the Garda Síochána. The diversion programme is delivered throughout the country by specially trained gardaí. Resource implications are constantly under review and applications for additional resources are made on a case by case basis when and where necessary.

Question No. 40 answered with QuestionNo. 37.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

41 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way he proposes to extend the use of CCTV cameras and to grant aid local communities to provide them as promised in his Department’s statement of strategy. [7679/04]

Garda CCTV systems are currently in operation as aids to policing in the following areas: Dublin city — north central; Dublin city — south central; Cork city; and Tralee. In addition, 17 locations are also set to receive new Garda town centre CCTV systems, subject to the availability of funds. These locations are: Athlone, Ballyfermot, Bray, Carlow, Castlebar, Clondalkin, Clonmel, Dundalk, Dun Laoghaire, Ennis, Finglas, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Sligo, Tallaght and Waterford.

Phase 1 of the scheme comprises Bray, Dundalk, Dun Laoghaire, Finglas, Galway and Limerick and the installation of these systems is ongoing. Phase 2 of the programme of CCTV implementation will consist of Athlone, Clondalkin, Tallaght and Waterford. I am informed by the Garda authorities that in order to implement and deliver these systems in the most efficient and cost effective manner, careful consideration must be given to the planning of the project as a whole. Consideration is currently being given to a restructuring of the manner in which these systems go to tender with a view to delivering the implementation of these CCTV systems within a shorter timeframe. Phase 3 comprises Ballyfermot, Carlow, Castlebar, Clonmel, Ennis, Kilkenny and Sligo. The planning for the installation of these systems is scheduled to commence later this year.

A grant-aid scheme has been launched to facilitate community based groups who wish to install their own local CCTV system. Grant assistance of up to €100,000 will, subject to the availability of funds, be obtainable from my Department towards the cost of such schemes. It will be up to the community groups, in conjunction with the relevant local authority, to install, maintain and monitor the community based CCTV schemes. To qualify for grant aid, certain minimum standards will have to be met and the gardaí will have to be allowed access to the system when and as they require it.

The Department has received a significant number of expressions of interest — in excess of 200 — in the community based CCTV scheme. An application prospectus has been prepared by the Department which provides information on how to apply for grant-aid funding, outlines the application process and identifies the main issues that applicants will need to consider. Copies of this prospectus are available on request from my Department's Garda administration division.

A code of practice, drawn up in co-operation with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, and detailed technical specifications, drawn up by the Garda Síochána, are almost complete. When both the code of practice and the technical specifications have been finalised my Department will issue copies of same to all communities which expressed an interest in the community based CCTV scheme and any applications subsequently received will be evaluated and processed.

Asylum Applications.

Seán Ryan

Question:

42 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of applications for asylum received during 2002, 2003 and to date in 2004; the number of applications upheld by the refugee appeals commission; the number of appeals submitted to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the number of such appeals upheld; the number of applications for leave to remain and the number of such applications granted; the number of deportation orders made and the number of such deportations carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12681/04]

The information requested is contained in tabular form below.

Table 1: Number of asylum applications received and the number of recommendations by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner to grant refugee status — at first instance — in 2002, 2003 and 2004*.

2002

2003

2004*

No. of applications received

11,634

7,900

1,256

No. of recommendations to grant refugee status

893

345

107

* as at 31/03/04

** It is assumed that the reference in the Deputy's parliamentary question to refugee appeals commission refers to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner.

Table 2: Number of appeals submitted to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the number upheld — at appeal stage — in 2002, 2003 and 2004*.

2002

2003

2004*

No. of appeals received

5,159

5,014

1,274

No. of appeals upheld (granted refugee status)**

1,099

831

207

* as at 31/03/04

** Substantive cases

Table 3: Number of deportation orders signed and number effected in 2002, 2003 and 2004*.

2002

2003

2004*

No. of Deportation Orders signed

2,430

2,411

**745

No. of Deportation Orders effected

521

590

***217

* as at 31/03/04

** In addition to the 745 deportation orders signed, there have also been 43 Dublin II regulation transfer orders signed.

*** In addition to the 217 deportation orders effected, there have also been six Dublin II regulation transfers effected.

Table 4: Number of applications for leave to remain received from current or former asylum applicants.

2002

2003

2004*

No. of applications received

6,887

1,272

88

* as at 31/03/04

Table 5: Number of applications granted for leave to remain by category.

2002

2003

2004*

Parentage of Irish Born Child

3,113

172

0

Marriage to an Irish National

86

132

25

Dependant of EU Citizen

138

77

9

Humanitarian Grounds

159

83

10

* as at 31/03/04

Voter Registration.

Martin Ferris

Question:

43 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has investigated reports of incidences of gardaí in Tralee, Galway, Dundalk, Kildare and Clare refusing to accept Garda National Immigration Bureau cards as valid identification for the purposes of voter registration of eligible asylum seekers who fled without passports or other forms of identification; and the action which has been taken by the Government to resolve this situation and to ensure that no eligible voter is disenfranchised as a result. [12740/04]

Garda National Immigration Bureau cards are not issued to asylum-seekers but to non-nationals who have been granted permission to remain in the State. Asylum-seekers are issued with a temporary residence certificate by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner.

There are two circumstances relevant to the parliamentary question where persons wishing to vote may need identification. One is where a person who is not on the electoral register applies to be included in a supplement to the register which is published prior to polling day. The application form must be signed and certified at a Garda station, and the person may be requested to produce photographic or other supporting identification. Up to recently, gardaí have not been in a position to certify applications by asylum-seekers where the only form of identification available was a temporary residence certificate, as it is expressed not to be an identity card but rather a statement that an individual claiming to be the person named in the certificate has applied to be recognised as a refugee in the State. However, the application form was recently amended to enable temporary residence certificates to be accepted for this purpose.

The other circumstance is where a voter is required to produce one of a number of specified documents at a polling station for identification purposes. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government recently signed the Electoral (Amendment) Regulation 2004, specifying temporary residence certificates, among other documents, for this purpose.

Prisons Building Programme.

Joan Burton

Question:

44 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has made a decision on the expressions of interest in the construction of a new prison in a greenfield site close to Dublin to replace Mountjoy, which he informed Dáil Éireann he expected to make by the end of March 2004; when he will announce a decision on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12659/04]

The examination and rating of the expressions of interest received is still being carried out on my behalf by the Office of Public Works. When the OPW report is to hand, I will be asking the Irish Prison Service to carry out a security evaluation of the shortlisted sites. I hope to be in a position to bring a recommendation on this matter before Government in advance of the Dáil recess.

Departmental Papers.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

45 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an investigation has been held into the circumstances in which Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform papers were found in an illegal dump in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12687/04]

I refer the Deputy to my previous answer to Parliamentary Question No. 255 of Wednesday 3 March 2004 in relation to this matter. I am informed by the Garda authorities that this investigation is still ongoing. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that, in the circumstances, it would not be appropriate for me to comment any further on the matter at this stage.

Question No. 46 answered with QuestionNo. 19.

Garda Deployment.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

47 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the detailed estimated costs of, and numbers of gardaí involved in policing the May Day celebrations and the proposed visit to Ireland by United States President George W. Bush; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12736/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the estimated number of gardaí involved in policing the May Day celebrations was 5,000 but that estimates of the associated costs are not yet available. I am further informed that in relation to the proposed visit of President George W. Bush to Ireland, policing plans have not yet been finalised. Accordingly, it is not yet possible to estimate the number of gardaí and associated costs involved.

Irish Sign Language.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

48 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will seek constitutional recognition for Irish sign language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12737/04]

Two forms of sign language are commonly in use in this country. The Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities received a broad range of submissions from the different disability organisations and from individuals, including proposals for the recognition of Irish sign language as the language of deaf citizens and for education to be provided to deaf children through Irish sign language. The commission pointed to the need for sign language to be recognised but did not recommend inclusion as an official language or specify a particular form of sign language.

Arising from its deliberations the commission made proposals relating to the education of deaf children and access to further education options through sign language. In this regard, the Education Act 1998 has made provision for support services in respect of students learning through Irish sign language or any other sign language, including interpreting services. The Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill 2003, which is currently before the Oireachtas, addresses the provision of services for children in education, focusing on the assessment of the needs of the individual child and this may include the consideration of appropriate sign language services. While I support appropriate measures to further social inclusiveness for people with disabilities, there are no current proposals to give recognition to Irish sign language as a third official language.

Garda Investigations.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

49 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received the report of the senior Garda officer who was requested by the Garda Commissioner to examine all matters featured in a television programme (details supplied) of 8 January 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12666/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation regarding all matters featured in the television programme of 8 January 2004 is ongoing and it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

50 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he intends investigating the discovery of unknown remains at the sites of former Magdalene laundries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12734/04]

As the Deputy will be no doubt aware, I have no role in the investigation of criminal offences. However, I have requested a report from the gardaí on the matter to which he refers and I am awaiting further material. I will revert to the Deputy as soon as the information is available to me.

Comment Cards.

Dan Boyle

Question:

51 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide the results of any analysis of the standard comment cards that are available at Garda stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12726/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the comment cards which were received in the Garda national quality service bureau for the second six months of 2003 have been analysed and the results are as follows: 58% of respondents were very positive-positive on their first impressions of the Garda station; 64% were happy with the area for dealing with queries; 67% were satisfied with the way the query was dealt with; 70% were happy with the time taken to deal with the query; 71% were very clear-clear about the course of action; 67% were satisfied with the information that was supplied on this visit; 66% were satisfied with the overall quality of service provided; and 77% thought that the access to stations was good; 63% are very satisfied-satisfied with the overall quality of services offered by the Garda Síochána.

Garda Strength.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

52 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the membership of the gardaí at the latest date for which figures are available; if, in regard to his recent comments, he has sought and received Cabinet approval for the recruitment of the 2,000 additional gardaí promised prior to the general election 2002; the current annual capacity of the Garda training college at Templemore; if he has plans to extend the college or otherwise increase training capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12671/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength of the Garda Síochána as at 29 April 2004 was 11,993 — all ranks. In relation to the commitment to recruit 2,000 additional gardaí, I refer the Deputy to my response to Priority Question No. 5 of today posed by Deputy Jim O'Keeffe.

Victim Liaison Units.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

53 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is considering measures to ensure that the victims of crime and the families of victims are treated in a more sensitive way by the legal system; if he will consider the establishment by the gardaí and the Courts Service of victim liaison units, which would be responsible for ensuring that victims and their families are kept up to date with developments in their cases and that their practical needs are given attention during same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12657/04]

I refer the Deputy to Priority Question No. 3 of today posed by Deputy Costello.

Strategic Management Initiative.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

54 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received the report from the steering group working under the SMI on Garda organisational structures; the main findings of the report; if it is intended to publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12679/04]

The Garda SMI implementation steering group has finalised its report following a major review of the Garda organisation structures under the strategic management initiative programme of modernisation. The review looked in detail at a range of areas within the organisation and the steering group report makes recommendations with a view to ensuring the Garda organisation has appropriate and effective structures and management processes to best meet the needs of the public and the Garda Síochána. I have received the report which I am having examined in my Department and I will give careful consideration to all of the steering group's recommendations, and the question of publication.

Constitutional Provisions.

John Bruton

Question:

55 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has satisfied himself that the provisions of Article 15(6)(1) and (2) of the Constitution are being respected. [11623/04]

The Government and I are committed to ensuring that the provisions of Article 15(6)(1) and (2) of the Constitution are respected and will take all available steps in that regard. The existence in the State of a paramilitary organisation is contrary to law and contrary to the Constitution. Support for or tolerance of any such paramilitary force is inconsistent with the citizen's fundamental political duty of loyalty to the State. Membership of Dáil Éireann is confined to citizens who owe the State that duty of loyalty. Any member of the Dáil who condones or supports any paramilitary body in the State holds office under false pretences.

Question No. 56 answered with QuestionNo. 38.

Crime Levels.

Liz McManus

Question:

57 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the measures he intends to bring forward to deal with the activities of criminal gangs in regard to his address to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights on 9 December 2003; when he expects that the legislation will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12669/04]

When I appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights on 9 December 2003, I addressed in some detail, with particular reference to the activities of criminal gangs, the measures which I intend bringing forward to enhance the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences.

I intend to provide for those measures which require legislative provision in the Criminal Justice Bill, which I expect to publish during the current session. For the information of the Deputy the measures, the heads of which I have already made available to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, will include: a statutory power to preserve a crime scene; a general power in relation to the issue of search warrants; increased detention powers of up to 24 hours for arrestable offences; some amendments to the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence) Act 1990, in particular to reclassify saliva as a non-intimate sample; extending the power of the prosecution to appeal in limited circumstances, in particular in relation to points of law; and general provisions, mostly of a technical nature, to improve efficiency in the prosecution of offences.

I informed the committee that I was considering a number of further proposals for inclusion in the Bill which have now been referred for drafting. These include a provision on the admissibility of statements made by witnesses, who subsequently refuse to testify or retract their original statements. I also informed the committee that while I see serious practical evidential difficulties in creating an offence of membership of a criminal gang, I am examining the issue in conjunction with the European Union joint action on participation in a criminal organisation adopted in December 1998 and the 2000 UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime, in the context of giving effect to these instruments in Irish law. Each of these instruments contains provisions on contributing to or participating in the activities of a criminal organisation. I am also examining relevant legislative provisions in other jurisdictions aimed at the activities of criminal gangs. Any proposals I have in this matter, I will also consider in the context of the forthcoming Criminal Justice Bill.

I also intend to bring forward proposals to Government to seek approval to the inclusion, whether on publication or on Committee Stage, of firearms control provisions in the Bill. In addition I am examining the issues surrounding sentencing in relation to drug trafficking offences and firearms offences and if I consider it appropriate I will bring forward proposals to strengthen the law in this respect.

One further area I will briefly mention is the question of a DNA databank. As the Deputy may be aware, the Law Reform Commission recently published a consultation paper on the establishment of a DNA database. I am examining the issues highlighted by the commission in its paper and look forward to hearing the views and opinions of those who will take part in the consultation process. As I have said previously, it is my intention to draw up proposals for a databank which would, having regard to constitutional requirements and the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, permit as extensive a databank as possible. I intend to bring these proposals to Government in due course.

I understand that the Joint Oireachtas committee is expected to publish its report on the administration of justice shortly. I look forward to examining it and I will be prepared to take whatever action may be appropriate on foot of the report, including bringing forward further proposals for legislative reform, if necessary.

Constitutional Provisions.

John Bruton

Question:

58 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Government is taking steps to give effect to Article 41.2.2° of the Constitution. [11625/04]

The Government has instituted a number of measures that support the right of women to work in the home. These include the home carer's tax credit, child benefit and the homemakers scheme. The home carer's tax allowance, now a tax credit, was introduced in the Finance Act 2000 in respect of those spouses of married one income families, jointly assessed, who work in the home caring for certain dependent persons, including children. The maximum home carer's tax credit for the current tax year is €770.

Over the period since 1997, the monthly rates of child benefit have increased by €93.51 at the lower rate and €115.78 at the higher rate, increases of 246% and 234%, respectively, compared with inflation of 26.9%. This level of increase is unprecedented and delivers on the Government's objective of providing support for children generally while offering real choice to all parents. Child benefit is paid to mothers and is not means-tested.

The homemakers scheme, introduced in 1994, is intended to protect the pension entitlements of those who take time out of the paid workforce for caring duties. My Department has allocated a grant of €7,260 to the organisation, Women In The Home, WITH, for development activities. The aims of WITH are to provide support and a forum for women working in the home through which they can have a voice and influence society.

Government policy in relation to the position of women generally is guided by the provisions of the EU treaties in relation to non-discrimination and equality of opportunity. Furthermore, the Government is committed to facilitating women who wish to avail of education and employment opportunities while allowing them at the same time to reconcile work and family commitments. To this end, legislative provision has been made for maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, carer's leave and part-time work. In addition, a national framework committee on work-life balance at the level of the enterprise has been established under Sustaining Progress.

The Government has also supported a number of initiatives aimed at assisting women who wish to return to the workforce after their children have been reared. My Department is supporting the FÁS, Gateways for Women, initiative which is specifically targeted at these women.

In conclusion, the Government is providing significant resources to support mothers who wish to care for their children in the home, while also supporting the significant number of women who wish to work in either a full-time or part-time basis.

Search Warrants.

Joe Costello

Question:

59 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of search warrants issued to members of the gardaí in each of the past five years; the number of such warrants which were found by the courts to have been invalid or used after expiry; if new guidelines have been issued to members of the gardaí regarding the timeframe for execution of such warrants in view of the outcome of a recent court case (details supplied) in Tralee, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12655/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the statistical information requested is not readily available and could only be obtained by the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of staff time and resources. As the Deputy will be aware, provisions concerning search warrants are contained in a number of statutes which set out different criteria as to who may execute the warrant and the time limits which apply. I am also informed that the Garda Commissioner is currently circulating a directive to the force instructing all gardaí to take cognisance of the recent court ruling when executing search warrants.

Question No. 60 answered with QuestionNo. 26.

Disability Support Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

61 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the findings of the recent report, Disability and Labour Market Participation, which found that Irish people with disabilities or chronic illnesses have one of the poorest educational records and are more likely to be unemployed than their disabled European counterparts; the steps being taken to deal with this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12693/04]

My Department provides a focal point for disability equality policy and legislative development generally. It does not have main responsibility for sectoral policies. Since the introduction of the policy of mainstreaming in June 2000, responsibility for sectoral policies as they relate to people with disabilities rests with the Department or agency with responsibility for the development and delivery of the policy concerned. As such, the Deputy is advised to address questions which he may have in relation to employment policy for people with disabilities to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Similarly, the Deputy is advised to direct questions relating to education policy to the Minister for Education and Science.

Equality Issues.

Jack Wall

Question:

62 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the call made at the recent conference in Dublin Castle on gender mainstreaming that all Government policy decisions should be scrutinised to assess their impact on gender equality; the role of the gender equality unit in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12694/04]

The Gender Mainstreaming — Partnership in Practice conference, which took place on 15 April, was organised by the NDP gender equality unit in my Department and was opened by the Minister of State with responsibility for equality matters, Deputy O'Dea.

Gender mainstreaming is the key strategy adopted at European Union level to advance gender equality, and under the EU Structural Fund regulations, member states are required to use the funds,inter alia, to promote equality of opportunity between women and men. This requires policy makers to take into account the gender impact of policies and programmes at the planning, design and implementation stages across the Structural Funds.

At the time the national development plan was being finalised, the Government decided that even though EU Structural Funds account for just 7% of the expenditure in the NDP, the gender mainstreaming principles would be applied to the entire plan, with the exception of some infrastructural measures. This means that most expenditure programmes in the €50 billion national development plan are being gender mainstreamed.

The NDP gender equality unit was established in 2000 to assist Departments and implementing bodies with this work, through the provision of advice, training and support. The unit also provides assistance to Departments in carrying out gender impact assessments of policy proposals drawn up in the context of the national development plan. Funding of €5.36 million over the period 2000 to 2006 has been allocated from the national development plan for this purpose. The unit also has a key role in the development of gender disaggregated statistics and indicators to support gender mainstreaming in the national development plan. A gender equality unit has also been established in the Department of Education and Science to deal with gender issues in relation to education policy.

In addition to the gender mainstreaming of the NDP, all memoranda for Government are gender proofed and must identify the impact, if any, on women, of proposals coming before Government. There is also a number of other areas of policy beyond my remit, where Departments are taking account of the gender impacts of policy, such as health, social inclusion, development aid, etc. Taken together, these activities demonstrate this Government's commitment to gender mainstreaming and to the achievement of equality of opportunity for women and men in Ireland.

Prisons Building Programme.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

63 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals for a new prison on Spike Island; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12661/04]

I recently announced that I am considering the building of a new prison on Spike Island. This new facility would augment the existing Fort Mitchell detention centre on the island as well as replacing the existing Cork Prison. It would be a significant prison complex with separate sections devoted to male adult prisoners, 16 to 17 year old prisoners, and female prisoners. I am proposing to take this step because the existing Cork Prison suffers from chronic overcrowding and extending this prison on its existing site is not possible due to its location in a densely populated area of Cork city. Cork Prison needs to be replaced with a new, modern facility with the full range of work, training, educational and medical services for inmates as well as predominantly single-cell accommodation with proper in-cell sanitation facilities. The proposed facility would provide adequate prison places for the southern region.

As a first step in the planning for the new facility, I have instructed the director general of the Prison Service to engage with the Office of Public Works and Cork County Council in the development of a plan for the construction of a bridge across to Spike Island from the mainland. The existing arrangement whereby prisoners, staff and contractors engaged in the maintenance of Fort Mitchell are brought to the island by boat is uneconomic and the bridge will enable the existing prison and the proposed new complex to operate effectively and efficiently.

US Security Personnel.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

64 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if it is proposed to accord immunity from prosecution to US presidential security personnel, in respect of certain unspecified eventualities, on the occasion of the forthcoming visit of the US President George W. Bush; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12589/04]

There are no proposals to accord immunity from prosecution to US security personnel on the occasion of the forthcoming visit of President George W. Bush.

Equality Issues.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

65 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the Law Reform Commission report on the rights of unmarried couples; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12692/04]

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

66 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he intends granting additional rights to cohabiting and unmarried couples; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12729/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 65 and 66 together.

The consultation paper on rights and duties of cohabitees published by the Law Reform Commission on 27 April 2004 makes substantial recommendations for the reform of the law in this area. However, the purpose of the paper is to enable those who wish to make submissions to the commission to do so before 30 September 2004. The Law Reform Commission will publish a report containing its final recommendations when the consultation process is complete. I look forward to examining the commission's final recommendations as soon as they become available.

Drugs in Prisons.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

67 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the proposals he is considering to reduce drug use in prisons; if his attention has been drawn to the comments made by a person (details supplied) questioning whether the proposals advocated by him will achieve their stated purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12662/04]

I am aware that many differing views have been expressed on how to tackle the long standing problem of drug abuse in our prisons. The programme for Government commits me to creating a drug free prison system. This includes treatment and rehabilitation, elimination of supply and the introduction of compulsory drug testing for prisoners.

A group consisting of Irish Prison Service management, prison governors, health board staff together with relevant clinicians has drafted proposals for a new prison drugs policy. This policy would, in so far as practical, seek to apply consistent regulation and operational structure to the provision of drug treatment services both in the general community and in prison. I am currently considering this draft policy and examining whether it would be effective in ridding our prisons of drugs.

I also expect to receive shortly from the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel a new set of prison rules which will make provision for, among other things, mandatory drug testing. Such drug testing can, at an individual level, identify those persons engaged in the use of intravenous drugs within the prison environment, and can, at an institutional level, provide prison management with important information on the presence of drugs in prisons. I am satisfied that mandatory drug testing has a valuable contribution to make to the overall strategy for tackling drug misuse among prisoners.

Unaccompanied Minors.

John Gormley

Question:

68 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the response he has made to the serious concerns raised in writing to him on 3 March 2004 by the principals of ten second level schools in Dun Laoghaire regarding the difficulties faced by the 30 leaving certificate students transferred to Kilmallock House from the Old School House in Eblana Avenue, Dún Laoghaire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12731/04]

The care of unaccompanied minors is the statutory responsibility of the health boards and my Department has no role whatsoever in this regard. In the Eastern Regional Health Authority Area, the East Coast Area Health Board, ECAHB, carries out this function for the three local area health boards.

The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2003, which was commenced on 27 May 2003, restricts the awarding of a rent supplement to asylum-seekers. Guidance issued to health boards by the Department of Social and Family Affairs — SWA Circular No. 02/03 — stipulates that, where unaccompanied minor asylum-seekers reach 18 years of age and are discharged from the care of a health board, they should be offered placement in adult direct provision accommodation.

Arising from this, when unaccompanied minors reach 18 years of age and are discharged by the health boards from their care, they are provided with direct provision accommodation by the Reception and Integration Agency, RIA, which operates under the aegis of my Department.

It should be noted, however, that a health board, in line with the provisions of social welfare legislation, may exercise discretion and retain persons in its accommodation who have attained 18 years of age where there is a determination that the individual is vulnerable or does not have a sufficient level of maturity to be accommodated in an adult facility.

To date, the RIA has arranged placements for approximately 150 former unaccompanied minors in direct provision accommodation at the request of the ECAHB. In addition, the RIA has also arranged a small number of placements in such accommodation in the Cork city area at the request of the Southern Health Board.

The RIA, in consultation with the dedicated social work team of the ECAHB working with unaccompanied minors, has made a major effort to ensure that former unaccompanied minors who are second level students are facilitated in continuing to attend school by effecting placements close to their previous health board accommodation.

During the February mid-term break, a senior official from the RIA attended meetings with former unaccompanied minors who had been relocated to direct provision accommodation to discuss what further initiatives could be put in place to facilitate their continuance in education. Arising from this, the RIA has facilitated the establishment of a group comprising representatives of VECs, partnership groups, refugee support groups, health boards and my Department. This group has met on a number of occasions and has agreed on the provision of enhanced transitional supports for unaccompanied minors who are subsequently relocated to direct provision.

In addition, study facilities are being enhanced in direct provision centres. It is also intended to improve tutor supports for leaving certificate students where former unaccompanied minors are placed. In the context of transitional supports, the Northern Area Health Board which has responsibility for the administration of supplementary welfare allowance payments to all asylum-seekers in the eastern region, will ensure that all leaving certificate students in direct provision receive appropriate SWA payments. In addition, every full-time student is being advised to avail of their entitlement to child benefit until they reach 19 years of age.

Further referrals of former unaccompanied minors are due to take place over the coming months and I am informed by the RIA that they have agreed with the ECAHB to defer referrals of examination students until the State examinations have been completed in late June 2004.

Northern Ireland Issues.

Willie Penrose

Question:

69 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action which has been taken to implement the recommendations of the Nally report regarding the keeping of better records of North and South contacts and exchanges in intelligence matters and a written code of instructions and guidelines on intelligence gathering and agent handling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12676/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that appropriate action has been taken in line with the recommendations of the Nally report.

Penalty Points System.

Denis Naughten

Question:

70 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current delays in issuing penalty points; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6726/04]

Denis Naughten

Question:

71 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on the delays in issuing penalty points; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11016/04]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 70 and 71 together. Section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 deals with the notification to licence holders of the endorsement of penalty points. This aspect of the system is a matter for the Minister for Transport rather than the Garda Síochána. The main objective of the penalty points system, and all Garda activity in the area of road safety, is to change road user behaviour through enforcement and surveillance ultimately resulting in a reduction of the numbers killed and injured on our roads. While there is no room for complacency, particularly given the number of tragedies this year, there was a reduction of 36 in the number of road deaths in 2003 compared with 2002.

I am aware that some people have experienced delays. However, as the Deputy will appreciate, the penalty points system is currently operating on a semi-manual basis. This will change later this year when the fixed charge processing system becomes operational. The Deputy will agree that the benefits of the considerable advances in road safety achieved in the period since the introduction of penalty points outweigh the regrettable delays resulting from the operation of the interim manual system. I am satisfied that the role played by the Garda Síochána to date in the introduction and ongoing enforcement of the penalty points has been vital in the progress made.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

72 Mr. Perry asked the Taoiseach if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12798/04]

The following reports have been prepared by my Department since 1 July 2003. Internal audit reports: value for money audit report on courier services; and report on the winding up of the millennium fund. It is not normal practice to publish internal audit reports; Sustaining Progress, first progress report — laid before the House in July 2003; Sustaining Progress, second progress report — laid before the House in October 2003; Sustaining Progress, third progress report — laid before the House in January 2004; and Sustaining Progress, fourth progress report — laid before the House in April 2004.

My Department submitted six monthly reports to the Oireachtas on 24 September 2003 and 23 March 2004. These are in accordance with section 2(5) of the European Union (Scrutiny) Act 2002, whereby all Departments are required to submit six monthly reports to the Oireachtas on measures, proposed measures and other developments in relation to the European Communities and the European Union. These reports provided an overview of draft legislative measures for which the Department is responsible, which have been submitted to the Oireachtas for scrutiny. The reports also included a brief summary of significant European events and developments for which the Department was responsible during the specified six month periods. These reports are prepared internally at marginal cost. Reports are laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and copies are available for viewing from the Oireachtas Library.

The cross-departmental team to the Cabinet sub-committee on housing, infrastructure and PPPs, public private partnerships, laid its annual fifth progress report 2003 in the Oireachtas Library on 22 April 2004. The progress report is also available on the Department of the Taoiseach website.

In keeping with the phased approach outlined in general council report 1398 on the introduction of upward feedback within the Civil Service performance management and development system, the Department commissioned Watson Wyatt to undertake a web-based employee opinion survey, following a tender process. The initial results of the survey have been presented to all staff, with some further analysis due to be undertaken by end May 2004. The overall project costs are approximately €34,000.

A report on assessments of display screen equipment workstations in the Department was completed by the health and safety unit of IBEC for the Department in 2004. This report was compiled in compliance with health and safety legislation at a cost of €8,000. The report will not be published but is the basis for improving working conditions for staff to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

In 2003, an internal report was prepared to analyse the results of a survey of 400 departmental customers as part of the process of preparing a customer charter for the Department. The charter has been published and copies are available from my Department or on the Department website. Customer Charters — Guidelines for Preparation was published in September 2003. Our Commitments to our colleagues — Internal Customer Service in the Civil Service was published in January 2004.

The action plan and progress report drawn up by the anti-inflation group, comprising representatives from the Departments of the Taoiseach, Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Employment, together with representatives from IBEC and ICTU, was prepared by officials of my Department at no additional cost. The report was published in November 2003. Regulating Better, a Government White Paper setting out six principles of better regulation was published in January 2004. The Department's report on the implementation of the strategy statement for 2003 is currently being prepared and, as for previous reports, will be available in both Irish and English on the Department's website. The Department's reports to the Civil Service performance verification group are available, along with the reports of other Departments, on the Department of Finance website.

The Information Society Commission has published the following reports since 1 July 2003: Modernising Public Procurement, September 2003; eGovernment, October 2003; eInclusion — expanding the Information Society in Ireland, October 2003; Ireland's Broadband Future, December 2003; and Current Perspectives on the Information Society, April 2004. The ESRI has been commissioned to prepare a report into trends arising from ISC surveys since 1996. The report is expected to be published in June 2004.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

73 Ms Enright asked the Taoiseach if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12833/04]

Staff are not so engaged. In performing my functions as Taoiseach, I am always mindful of the requirements in the code of conduct for office holders, including the requirement that official facilities should be used only for official purposes. I expect all Ministers and Ministers of State to be equally mindful of this requirement and I recently wrote to them to remind them of this in the context of the forthcoming European Parliament and local elections.

Child Care Allowance.

Seán Crowe

Question:

74 Mr. Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will withdraw the proposal to cut back the child care allowance for parents participating in the back to education scheme (details supplied). [12769/04]

FÁS provide a child care allowance on a sliding scale to participants on a range of training programmes. The aim of the allowance is to support people actively seeking to re-enter the labour market. FÁS funds this allowance from its training and integration supports budget and is responsible as part of its day to day activities for decisions relating to actual annual breakdowns between schemes and for payments to individual participants. I am advised by FÁS that there is no decision to cut back the child care allowance allocation in 2004 which amounts to almost €6 million. The back to education allowance scheme is a separate initiative for which the Department of Education and Science has responsibility.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

75 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by her Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12799/04]

Since July 2003, my Department has prepared a total of 29 reports. These reports include only those which are published by my Department, or which provide formal statements of information on activities of the Department, and do not include reports or minutes of meetings, etc.

Expenditure review of the property portfolio of IDA Ireland: As part of an expenditure review of the property portfolio of IDA Ireland currently being carried out by my Department, DTZ Pieda Consulting was commissioned, at a total cost of €60,500, inclusive of VAT, to provide an analysis of the role of property in attracting foreign direct investment in an agreed sample of overseas jurisdictions. Work on the expenditure review is now at an advanced stage and the final report will be made available in accordance with the Government's expenditure review initiative. Before completion, the report will be examined by an independent consultant at an additional cost of €1,500.

Expenditure review of the overseas office network of Enterprise Ireland: My Department is finalising an expenditure review of Enterprise Ireland's overseas office network. The review will be made available as part of the expenditure review initiative. The report will shortly be examined by an independent consultant at a cost of €1,500.

eBusiness monitoring report: Forfás, on behalf of the Department, with funding from the information society action plan fund, commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an eBusiness monitoring report in August 2002. The final eBusiness monitoring report was published in December 2003. The total cost for the two years was €126,000.

Review of industrial policy and performance 2003: This review was prepared internally and published in September 2003. The review is a detailed review of enterprise performance and policy for the three year period to 2003. It is a statutory requirement that such a review be produced by the Minister every third year. The only costs associated are printing costs.

City and county enterprise boards: Since 1 July 2003, my Department published two reports on the city and county enterprise boards, CEBs. A review of the role of county and city enterprise boards, CEBs, in the development of micro-enterprises was published in February 2003. The report, jointly commissioned by my Department and Forfás, was carried out by Fitzpatricks Associates. The cost of the report was €69,878. The report is published on the Department's website. Local enterprise, a decade of support, a review of the city and county enterprise boards was published in February 2004. The report was prepared internally by my Department in conjunction with the CEBs. The cost of the report was €6,813. The reports is published on the Department's website.

Mid-term evaluation of productive sector operational programme 2000-2006: This report was prepared externally by Indecon Consultants at a total cost of €173,358. Funding for this report was provided through the technical assistance priority of the productive sector operational programme. This was circulated to all members of the programme's monitoring committee, which is composed of representatives of implementing Departments and agencies, sectoral interests and the social partners. This was published in October 2003.

Reports on the productive sector operational programme, PSOP: Each year the Department prepares a progress report on the PSOP covering the first six months of the year and an annual implementation report covering the full year. These reports are prepared internally and circulated to members of the monitoring committee. The only associated costs are of having these reports copied.

Science and technology in Ireland: This report was published February 2004 by Forfás in conjunction with my Department. The total cost of publishing was €13,285.80.

Phase II of the review of the operation of Ireland's export controls system: The report of phase II of the review of the operation of Ireland's export controls system, which the Department requested Forfás to have carried out, is nearing completion and should be submitted shortly to Minister with responsibility for trade and commerce, Deputy Michael Ahern. The Minister of State had previously stated that it is his intention to make the report publicly available. The cost is estimated at €30,000.

National statement of trade policy: The Department is currently preparing a revised national statement of trade policy. It is expected to publish this statement shortly. Companies report 2002 and the companies report 2003: These reports are produced in accordance with section 392 of the Companies Act 1963, which provides that "The Minister shall cause a general annual report of matters within this Act to be prepared and laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas." Company law review group: The company law review group, which is the statutory advisory body on the reform and modernisation of company law, has produced a report covering its work programme for the period 2002 to 2003. This report, detailing its analysis and recommendations on a number of sectoral areas of company law and accompanying recommendations for reform is now complete and is being published. I expect shortly to lay copies of the report before the Houses of the Oireachtas, to circulate it to interested parties, and to place it on my Department's website. A restricted tender process for publication is underway.

The consumer strategy group: The consumer strategy group was established in March 2004 to advise and make recommendations for the development of a national consumer policy strategy. The group is to produce a final report to the by end of 2004. Any decision regarding publication will be taken closer to the date of the report's completion and submission to the relevant Minister.

Preliminary report the non-life insurance market: In 2002, the Competition Authority, in conjunction with my Department commenced a study on competition issues in the non-life insurance market, with particular reference to motor insurance, employer's liability and public liability. As part of this study, the authority released a preliminary report and consultation document on 18 February 2004 for comments by interested parties.

Study of proposed EU directive on unfair commercial practices: The study is due to be submitted in May 2004 to consumer and competition policy section of my Department. No decision has yet been taken on publication. The estimated cost of the study is €7,500.

National employment action plan: The Department is responsible for the preparation and co-ordination of the national employment action plan, which is Ireland's response to the European employment guidelines. The plan for 2003 to 2005 was prepared in consultation with the social partners and takes into account existing policies and strategies. The plan was submitted to the European Commission on 1 October 2003 and published on the Department's website

A review of the functions of the employment rights bodies: As part of the programme for Government 2002-07, a review of the functions of the employment rights bodies was undertaken, commencing in September 2003. An inter-departmental group comprising my Department and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform undertook the review and a report is nearing completion. The report will be made available on the website of both Departments in due course.

The review of the Employment Agency Act 1971: Under paragraph 18.5 of Sustaining Progress, the Government made a commitment for a review to be undertaken, in consultation with the social partners and others, of the need to adapt the Employment Agency Act 1971, or the necessity for new legislation.

A discussion document addressing the various options that might be considered for the regulation of employment agencies and their recruitment and placement activities in this country is currently being finalised by my Department. This discussion document will be circulated to all interested parties for their views shortly and will also be published on the Department's website. This will be followed by meetings aimed at seeking a consensus on the most appropriate approach to adopt.

Report published by Employment Appeals Tribunal in October 2003: The Employment Appeals Tribunal is required to submit an annual report to me. This report must be published. The most recent report was published in October 2003 and reviews the activities of the tribunal for the year 2002. The Employment Appeals Tribunal was established under the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 for the purpose of resolving disputes concerning employees' entitlements to statutory redundancy payments. The tribunal's remit was subsequently extended to include responsibility for the settlement of disputes under various Acts.

A review of reception facilities in Kildare Street, Davitt House, Earlsfort Centre and Parnell House: The review sought to outline the effectiveness and quality of customer service being provided in each of the reception areas under review, to identify areas for improvement, and to make recommendations for enhancing the reception facilities in the offices concerned. The final report issued to information and organisation resources unit on 26 August 2003. The report is for internal Departmental use only, and had no financial costs.

A review of the ministerial representation system: This review aimed identify any difficulties with the current procedures and practices in dealing with ministerial representations and to make recommendations for enhancing the efficiency of the ministerial representation system overall. The final report issued on 24 November 2003. The report is for internal Departmental use only, and had no financial costs.

Internal review of support staff to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment: The review provided recommendations for optimising the level of service being provided to me by support staff in the Minister's private office, the secretariat, the press office and the constituency office. The final report issued on 8 April 2004. The report is for internal Departmental use only, and had no financial costs.

Business continuity-disaster recovery plan: The plan provides a business continuity-disaster recovery plan for the Department. This plan will provide a strategy and structure to respond to disaster, loss or damage and to reinstate critical units-sections of the Department on a phased basis according to a pre-determined, prioritised plan. The final report is to issue at end May 2004. It was externally commissioned but for Departmental use only. The cost including, consultants costs, software licence and training was €92,624.94.

Feasibility study into on-line filing: The study evaluates the feasibility of the Patents Office providing on-line filing facilities for trade mark, patent and industrial design applications. The final report issued in September 2003. The report is for internal Departmental use only, and had no financial costs.

Annual report 2003: My Department has recently published its annual report in respect of activities set out in the statement of strategy 2003 to 2005 which were undertaken during 2003. The report was published on-line on the Department's website,www.entemp.ie, and will be made available in hard copy shortly.

Sustaining Progress action plan progress reports: My Department compiled an action plan under the Sustaining Progress social partnership agreement in which it outlined a number of modernisation initiatives to be implemented over the course of the agreement. The Department has compiled two progress reports to date, the first of which is published on-line, the second of which is expected to made available shortly.

Freedom of information sections 15-16: The Department's freedom of information sections 15 and 16 reference book is compiled in accordance with the Freedom of Information Acts. The reference book is a guide to the functions, records, rules and practices of the Department. The report was published on the Department's website,www.entemp.ie.

Management information reports: My Department prepares management information reports on a monthly basis for the information of the Department's management board. The report contains details of activities undertaken within the divisions. My Department has recently decided that these reports will be made available to the public. This process will commence shortly.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

76 Ms Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if staff at her Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12834/04]

No officials at my Department are engaged in work for use by a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections. My Department provides briefing material and information for Oireachtas Members, when requested, irrespective of party allegiance and will continue to do so in an impartial and even-handed way.

Company Closures.

Billy Timmins

Question:

77 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the situation with respect to the liquidation of IFI at Arklow, County Wicklow; if all the creditors have been paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13008/04]

I understand the liquidation is progressing in an orderly and efficient manner and that considerable progress has been made in the realisation of the company's assets. However, while the company's principle properties at Arklow and Marino Point have been placed on the market, I am advised that it may take some time to sell them.

I also understand that the company's obligations to secured creditors have now been settled in full while payments to preferred creditors, which would include some amounts due to former employees, have been or are in the course of being made. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that any payments will be made to unsecured creditors until the main property assets are sold, which I understand could take some time.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

78 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Defence if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they have been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12800/04]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following table:

Report

If Published

Confidential Report to Government on Emergency Planning 2002-2003

Not intended for publication

Feasibility study on possible relocation of military archives to National Museum of Ireland

No plans to publish

Department of Defence Annual Report 2002

Published August 2003

Department of Defence Annual Report 2003

Due June 2004

Defence Forces Annual Report 2003

Due June 2004

Expenditure Review of the Maintenance of Aircraft in the Air Corps

Will be published later this year

Defence Forces Financial Report 2003

Due May 2004

Report on the Rotary Wing Requirements of the Air Corps

No plans to publish

Defence Forces Human Resource Management Annual Report 2002

Published October 2003

The only externally commissioned report was the feasibility study on possible relocation of military archives to National Museum of Ireland, at a cost of €19,360.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

79 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Defence if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12835/04]

Staff at my Department are not so engaged nor have they been so engaged. None of the items mentioned by the Deputy has been disseminated from the Department.

It might be noted, however, that my Department receives regular requests from all political parties for information relating to the activities of the 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 whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

80 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12801/04]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following schedule. It does not include routine internal reports.

Schedule

Internally Prepared Reports

Title of Report

Date of Publication

Expected Date of Publication

2002 Consumer Liaison Panel Annual Report

August 2003

Annual Review and Outlook 2003/4

May 2004

First Interim Report to the Civil Service Performance Verification Group

November 2003

Second Interim Report to the Civil Service Performance Verification Group

May 2004

Expenditure Review of the Beef Carcase Classification Scheme

Summer 2004

Expenditure Review on Overseas Development Aid

End 2004

The Report of the Inter Departmental-Agency Committee on Disposal Options for Meat and Bonemeal (MBM)

6 January 2004

The CMMS (Cattle Movement Monitoring System) statistics report for 2002

August 2003

The Agriculture Appeals Office Annual Report 2002

9 October 2003

The Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Food (2002)

August 2003

Expenditure Review of the Potato Sector

May 2004

Report of Mushroom Task Force

May 2004

Expenditure Review of: (1) Purchase for Destruction (2) Installation Aid (3) Farm Waste Management

July/August 2004

Externally Commissioned Reports

Title of Report

Date of Publication

Expected Date of Publication

Cost (If not Published)

Food Labelling Research

December 2003

The Luxembourg CAP reform Agreement: Analysis of the impact on EU and Irish Agriculture

October 2003

ICT Strategy 2004

March 2004

Review of Implementation of the 2000 IT Strategy

10,164

Scoping study for SAP upgrade

58,625

Review of 1996 Forestry Strategy: “Growing for the Future”.

September 2004

Report of the Certifying body on the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) Guarantee Account for 2003 (*)

216,368

Annual IT Security Reports

20,010

(*) Report is not intended for publication. Summary details of FEOGA guarantee expenditure are included in the Department's annual report.

Grant Payments.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

81 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will be awarded the balance due on their suckler cow and other premiums payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12824/04]

The person named applied on 32 animals under the 2003 suckler cow premium scheme. An advance payment amounting to €5738.24 issued on 17 October 2003 with the balancing payment for €1434.56 issuing on 14 April 2004. These represent payment in full for the 32 animals applied on.

The person named submitted two applications under the 2003 special beef premium scheme, one on 20 June 2003, in respect of 16 animals, and a second on 31 December 2003 in respect of one animal. The 80% advance in respect of the first application issued on 17 October 2003, while the balancing payment issued on 8 April 2004. The full payment in respect of the second application also issued on 8 April 2004. These represent payment in full for the 17 animals in question.

During 2003 ten animals eligible for the slaughter premium scheme were slaughtered under the herd number of the person named. Advance payments in respect of four of these animals issued on 21 October 2003 and in respect of six animals on 26 January 2004. The balancing payments in respect of all ten animals issued on 14 April 2004.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

82 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason payment under the 2002 slaughter premium scheme has not been made to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12825/04]

Under the 2002 slaughter premium scheme, all bovine animals which,inter alia, were aged eight months and over on the date of slaughter and were slaughtered in licensed meat export premises-local abattoirs within the EU, were eligible under the scheme. Forty-seven animals were slaughtered under the herd number of the person named. Payment in full has issued in respect of 27 eligible animals. However, no payment will issue on the remaining 20 animals as they were slaughtered before they reached eight months of age.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

83 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason a forestry grant has not been awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12826/04]

The 2004 forestry premium payment will be made to the person in question shortly.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

84 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if staff at his Department is engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12836/04]

My Department receives regular requests from public representatives for information relating to its activities. This generally involves the provision of raw material which is already a matter of public record, whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches, publications or existing briefing material.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

85 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Finance if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12837/04]

The staff of my Department are not involved in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of any specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections. My Department does, from time to time, provide publicly available information, on request, to members of the public, the media and the Oireachtas. Where such requests come from any political party and the information is available it is provided.

Garda Stations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

86 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the stage of negotiation or proposals in respect of the provision of the long since promised new Garda station at Leixlip, County Kildare; the next required step; if the project can proceed with all possible speed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12926/04]

A revised brief for Leixlip Garda station was received from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on 30 March, 2004. On foot of that brief, the Office of Public Works is preparing a revised architectural sketch scheme which will be submitted to the Department for approval by July 2004. When the revised sketch scheme receives the Department's approval the project can proceed to the planning stage.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

87 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if an order has been made bringing into force the provisions of section 43 of the Finance Act 2002 in respect of wind farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13006/04]

Section 43 of Finance Act 2002 provided for an extension of the qualifying period for tax relief for corporate investment in certain renewable energy projects from 17 March 2002 to 31 December 2004. EU state aid clearance for this measure was necessary. A commencement order cannot bring the tax provision into effect until state aid clearance is confirmed. The Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources is responsible for obtaining State aid clearance for this measure. A formal notification to extend the period of the tax relief for corporate investment in renewable energy generation was subsequently notified to the EU Commission after market interest in the measure was confirmed. The Budget Statement in 2004 provided for a further extension of the qualifying period from 31 December 2004 to 31 December 2006. The initial notification was subsequently amended to take into account the new termination date. A response from the EU Commission is awaited.

Colombia Three.

Richard Bruton

Question:

88 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make arrangements to ensure the safety of the persons released by the Colombian authorities following the recent court decision. [13065/04]

Tony Gregory

Question:

90 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the action he has taken following the court verdict in Colombia on the three Irish citizens; if he has impressed on the Colombian Government the need to ensure the safety of the three persons; if he has requested their urgent repatriation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12830/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 90 together.

Following the decision of the court to acquit the three Irish citizens in Colombia on the charge of training terrorists and to convict them on the charge of travelling on false passports, my Department has remained in continuous contact with the Colombian authorities, as well as with the men's defence team.

In all our contacts, we have strongly emphasised the importance of ensuring the men's safety and that of their representatives and facilitating their quick return to Ireland. The Colombian authorities, in response, said they share our concerns to ensure the safety and well-being of the men, and are willing to provide them with appropriate security for any time they may spend between leaving the prison and returning to Ireland. This latter issue has been the subject of ongoing discussion between the Colombian authorities and the men's representatives.

Furthermore, we believe that the most effective way of guaranteeing the men's safety is to ensure their rapid departure from Colombia. In this regard, the Irish ambassador to Mexico, who is also accredited to Colombia, has conveyed to the Colombian authorities our wish to see the men's early return to Ireland, and expressed our hope that, given the court's decision, this will be facilitated.

In addition, as part of the consular service offered by my Department to Irish citizens abroad, we have agreed to advance funds to cover the bond which must be paid to secure their release from prison, in accordance with the terms of the court decision, on the basis of a firm undertaking to repay this money at an early date.

The Deputies may be assured that, as from the start of this case, my Department will provide all possible consular assistance to the men and their families and supporters, and do its utmost to ensure the men's safety and well-being.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

89 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12803/04]

I understand that the Deputy is seeking details of reports compiled by external consultants since 1 July 2003. The Department of Foreign Affairs is responsible for two Votes — Vote 28, foreign affairs, and Vote 29, international co-operation.

Vote 28: as part of preparations for Ireland's EU Presidency, two separate internal papers, in the area of conflict prevention, were commissioned from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, and from International Alert-Saferworld, non-governmental organisations operating in the area of conflict prevention. Publication of these papers is not foreseen. SIPRI and International Alert-Saferworld received funding from my Department to the value of €5,000 and €10,000, respectively, for their work in preparing the papers in question.

The Department engaged Indecon Consultants, at a cost of €9,090, to review a background document on Ireland's possible future engagement with the Arab world. It is not envisaged that this report will be published.

Vote 29: at appendix A are details of consultancies commissioned by the development co-operation directorate of this Department under Vote 29, international co-operation. These consultancies deal with a broad range of topics, with particular emphasis on appraisal and evaluation of development programmes, some of which are undertaken on behalf of partner Governments and partner organisations. The ensuing reports, with the exception of those specifically listed, are not generally published but are available from the development co-operation directorate on request.

Appendix A

Consultancy Reports published by Development Co-operation Directorate — from July 2003.

Consultant

Report Title

Mokoro

Evaluation of the Uganda Country Programme 2000-2003 (published November 2003)

ODI

Preparation of Strategy on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (published December 2003)

Cosgrave, John

Public Expenditure Review — Support to Afghanistan (due for publication July-August 2004)

ECORYS-NEI

Evaluation of Phase 3 of the Debt Sustainability Capacity Building Programme for Highly Indebted Poor Countries (due for publication December 2004)

Woods, Eric

Desk Study for Development Co-operation Ireland of Support to the Education Sector in Zambia and Uganda 2000-2003 (due for publication August 2004)

Agulhas

An Assessment of the Lesotho Country Programme 1999-2004 (due for publication August 2004)

Mokoro

Evaluation of Ethiopia Country Programme Modalities 2002-2004 (due for publication August 2004)

Consultancies commissioned by Development Co-operation Directorate from July 2003 to December 2003.

Consultant

Grindle, John

Tanga Coastal Zone Conservation & Development Programme, Tanzania, Nov-Dec 2003

€7,572.00

Mulkeen, Aidan

Information and Communication Technologies in Education Study in Uganda, August-Sept 03

€11,760.34

O’Sullivan, Margo

Teacher Development & Management Systems — Evaluation of Centre Co-ordinating Tutor (CCT) Performance, Uganda, June-Aug 03

€17,585.77

Heneveld, Ward

Education Quality Review, Uganda, September -December 2003

€34,244.49

DECO — Wirak, Anders

Education Joint Review Mission 2003, Ethiopia, Oct-Nov 2003

€21,625.69

Moore, Kevin

Briefing for the Office of the President on promoting Private Sector Development in Timor-Leste, July-Aug 2003

€10,241.15

Uwakwe, Pamela

Review and Update of Financial Policies, Guidelines and Procedures, Sept 2003-March 2004

€7,921.24 (€18,698.76 due)

Carr, Bronagh

Malawi — Evaluate Emergency Response (2002-03), Oct-Nov 2003

€21,457.76

Hall, Nick

Review the Financial Procedures in non-governmental organisation Partners during the 2002 to 2003 Emergency Response in Malawi, November 2003

€14,909.77

Salephera Consulting Ltd.

Team Member to Evaluate the 2002 to 2003 Emergency Response in Malawi, November 2003

(€6,000.00 due)

BDO Simpson Xavier

Financial Management Systems Review of GOAL under Multi-annual Programme Scheme Funding, Dublin, November 2003

€18,634.00

Mokoro

Evaluation of the Uganda Country Programme 2000-2003, Aug-Sept 03

€95,339.26

Grindle, John

Evaluation of Development Co-operation Ireland (Balkans and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)) Desk Top Study 2003-04, Dec 2003 to March 2004

€8,000.00 (€2,000 due)

ODI

Preparation of a Strategy on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, June-Sept 03

€24,980.12

Brugha, Ruairí (LSHTM)

Attendance at a Confidential Briefing on the Results of the Mema Kwa Vijana Project Meeting, July 2003

€1,573.00

Peberdy, Max

Facilitator for a three day Workshop on the Technical Section’s Strategic Plan, Dublin

€3,834.49

Kinsella, Jim (UCD)

Attendance at Development Assistance Committee PovertyNet meeting, Florence, Oct 03

€3,568.94

O’Dwyer, Jerry

Support to Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Oct-Dec 03

€12,868.02

Jennings, Mary

Goal Strategy Planning/Multi-annual Programme Scheme Development

€750.00

Grindle, John

Evaluation of Bóthar Projects (2003-04), Nov 2003- Jan 2004

€2,100.00 (€4,900.00 due)

Honan, Annette

Development Education Grants Committee Member

€7,000.00

Mollaghan, Mary

Production of a Guide to Teaching Resources for Development Education

€9,450.00

Horgan, Geraldine

The completion of a Project Funding Proposal for the implementation stage of the Primary Pre-service Teacher Education Project, July-August 2003

€1,000.00

Hayes, Mahon

Constitutional Expert for the Palestinian Authority, June-July 2003

€5,876.29

Scott, Mike

Ireland Aid-AMSCO (African Management Services Company) Partnership Review, June-Dec 2003

€2,987.39 (€6,160.00 due)

Carr, Bronagh

Identify most appropriate funding strategies for Ethiopia (Nov-Dec 2002)

€5,152.03

Smillie, Ian

Background Paper on and Mission to Sierra Leone, Sept-Oct 2003

€23,882.52

Godden, Kate

Independent Consultants for the Emergency Humanitarian Assistance Fund — Emergency Preparedness and Post-Emergency Rehabilitation Fund (EHAF-EPPR) Funding Committee (2003)

€1,210.00

CDP

Review of Development Co-operation Ireland Supported District Development Programmes, Tanzania, October to November 2003

€42,624.96

Mulkeen, Aidan

Information and Communication Technologies in Education Study in Uganda, Follow Up, December 2003

(€4,800.00 due)

Shine, Tara

Support on Climate Change, Nov 2003-June 2004

€20,002.51 (€10,602.51 due)

Kinsella, Jim (UCD)

Attendance at Development Assistance Committee PovertyNet Meeting, Paris, Dec 03

€1,416.00

Consultancies commissioned by Development Co-operation Directorate from January 2004 to 30 April 2004.

Consultant

Mokoro

Preparation of Country Strategy for Palestine 2004-2007, January-April 04

€9,384.00 (€34,932 due)

Madsen, Camilla

Independent Consultants for the Emergency Humanitarian Assistance Fund-Emergency Preparedness and Post- Emergency Rehabilitation Fund (EHAF-EPPR) Funding Committee (2004)

€813.12

Heneveld, Ward

Education Quality Review Phase II, Jan-April 2004

€12,425.26 (€11,211.99 due)

HSLP Group

Finalise a Strategic Framework for Uganda AIDS Commission Secretariat, Uganda

(€61.002.00)

Santos Marinho, G

Participation in Evaluation of Adventist Development and Relief Agency Projects, Brazil, Feb-April 04

€1,993.83 (€4,099.48 due)

Alves Maia, Maria L

Participation in Evaluation of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency Projects, Brazil, Feb-April 04

€1,993.83 (€4,099.48 due)

Jennings, Mary

Participation in Evaluation of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency Projects, Brazil, Feb-April 04

(€10,000.00 due)

Cosgrave, J

Public Expenditure Review — Support to Afghanistan, Jan-May 2004

€8,739.24 (€6,500 due)

O’Dwyer, Jerry

Support to Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Jan -Dec 04

€7,935.82 (€15,400 due)

Annesley Resource Partnership

Real-Time Evaluation of Institute of Public Administration Training Programme for Russian Private Sector Managers, January-February 2004

€3,267.00 (€5,733.00 due)

Deloitte & Touche

Completion of Risk Management Rollout in Development Co-operation Ireland, Dublin, January to March 2004

€3,847.00 (€8,978.00 due)

McClean, Diarmuid

Development of a Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS for 2004-2006, Tanzania, February 2004

€15,672.56

William O’Brien

The Private Sector and Agriculture Study, Dublin, February 2004

(€6,000.00 due)

Jeremy Ockelford

Evaluation of Northern Province Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme 2000-2002, Zambia, March to April 2004

€9.199.93 (€13,000 due)

Johnny O’Regan

Provision of Audit Management Support to the Evaluation and Audit Unit, February to May 2004

€8,000.00 (€8,000.00 due)

James F. Phelan

Task Force No. 3 on Agricultural Services Agricultural Sector Development Programme, Preparation Mission, Tanzania, February 2004

(€13,000.00 due)

Gaynor, Cathy

Strengthening Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in the Development Co-operation Ireland Programme, Mozambique, January to March 2004

(€9,100.00 due)

Jennings, Mary

Strengthening Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in the Development Co-operation Ireland Programme, Mozambique, January to March 2004

(€9,100.00 due)

Scott, Mike

Private Sector Resource Specialist, April to December 2004

(€20,250.00 due)

Conroy, Anne

Monitoring of Development Co-operation Ireland Recovery Programme, Malawi, March to December 2004

(€10,648.00 due)

Fell, Arthur

Participation in the Projects Appraisal and Evaluation Group Meetings, May 2004 to December 2005

(€17,968.50 due)

Grindle, John

External Evaluator for Development Co-operation Ireland Project Proposals for the Balkans and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), January to December 2004

(€12,500.00 due)

Grindle, John

Preparation for and Attendance at a Forum on Global Bio-technology, Chile, December 2003 to May 2004

(€7,500.00 due)

Hockley, Tom

Relief to Development in Ethiopia, March-April 2004

(€14,520 due)

Kinsella, Jim

Technical Support for follow up of Poverty Net Working Group on Agriculture, March to December 2004

(€6,000.00 due)

Leen, Maura

Participation in the Projects Appraisal and Evaluation Group meetings, May 2004 to December 2005

(€13,500.00 due)

McKeown, Mary

Participation in the Projects Appraisal and Evaluation Group meetings, May 2004 to December 2005

(€13,500.00 due)

Meenan, Nahor

Attendance at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) International Policy Dialogue in Konigswinter, Germany, 25-26 February 2004

(€1,950.00 due)

Ngunyi, Mutahi

Monitoring of Development Co-operation Ireland Recovery Programme, Kenya, March to December 2004

(€10,648.00 due)

ECORYS-NEI

Evaluation of Phase 3 of the Debt Sustainability Capacity Building Programme for Highly Indebted Poor Countries, March to November 2004

(€241,637.00 due)

Enterplan

Limited Review of Projects Supported by the African Management Services Company — Stichting, April-July 2004

(€30,957.85 due)

ETC East Africa

An Independent Evaluation of the Kilosa District Programme and a Community Level Evaluation of the Kilosa District Programme, Tanzania, May to June 2004

(€58,110.25 due)

Farrell, Deirdre

Member of the Development Education Grants Committee, March to September 2004

(€5,000.00 due)

Jackson, John

Attendance at and Participation in the Ten Year Review of the International Conference on Population and Development, New York, March 2004

(€5,000.00 due)

Woods, Eric

Desk Study for Development Co-operation Ireland of Support to the Education Sector in Zambia and Uganda 2000-2003, April to June 2004

(€16,637.5 due)

Agulhas

An Assessment of the Lesotho Country Programme 1999-2004, April-June 2004

(€57,523.40 due)

Brugha, Ruairí

Attendance at Combating Diseases associated with Poverty: Financing Strategies for Product Development and the Potential Role of Public-Private Partnerships, London, 15 to 16 April 2004

(€3,932.50 due)

Grindle, John

Preparation for and Attendance at Crime Commission and IDB meetings on the Rule of Law and Development, Vienna, 10 to 27 May

(€7,500.00 due)

McClean, Diarmuid

Participation in Consultative Meeting on Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS in Montreux, Switzerland, 3-4 May 2004

(€2,500.00 due)

Mokoro

Evaluation of Ethiopia Country Programme Modalities 2002-2004 (April-June 2004)

(€61,692 due)

Question No. 90 answered with QuestionNo. 88.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

91 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12838/04]

Staff in my Department are not engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections. 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. 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.

Passport Applications.

John Gormley

Question:

92 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a person (details supplied) obtained an Irish passport from the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the name of another person; if it subsequently emerged that this person was not entitled to an Irish passport; if this person succeeded a second time in obtaining an Irish passport under a false name; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12883/04]

I confirm that the person about whom the Deputy has supplied details fraudulently obtained an Irish passport from the Irish embassy in Kuala Lumpur in November 1996. Irish passport facilities had previously been afforded to him using the same fraudulent identity. It was only after his death in 1998 that it came to light that the identity used by him to obtain those passports was false and that he was not an Irish citizen entitled to an Irish passport. The rigorous checking procedures to detect fraudulent passport applications have been reviewed in the light of this case and are continually updated.

Diplomatic Representation.

John Gormley

Question:

93 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the time of the last visit to a person (details supplied) from Irish embassy personnel; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the person must buy all their own food, toiletries and clothing; if the Irish embassy can help with such costs as is the practise with embassies of other countries such as Britain, Germany and France. [12884/04]

As I informed the Deputy on 4 March 2004, the Irish embassy in Malaysia, which is also accredited to Thailand, and the honorary consulate in Bangkok have been in regular contact with the person to whom the Deputy refers since his imprisonment. The last consular visit by a diplomatic officer of the Irish embassy in Kuala Lumpur took place on 29 August 2003. Another visit is scheduled in the coming weeks. The honorary consul remains in regular written contact which takes place, on average, every three weeks with the person concerned. The consul delivers parcels to him from Ireland about three or four times a year. The honorary consulate staff regularly purchase items for him at his request and ensure that money sent to him from Ireland is paid into the prison account for him. I regret that there is no provision for the funds available in my Department's Vote to be used for the purchase of personal supplies for Irish prisoners overseas.

The honorary consulate has also written on behalf of the person concerned to both the Thai department of corrections and the prison in which he is detained and arranged numerous visits to him by his family and friends. The person in question is currently applying for parole, an application to which my Department through the embassy in Kuala Lumpur has lent its support.

Pension Provisions.

Dan Neville

Question:

94 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science the situation with regard to the proposed changes to pension terms for new entrants to the public service. [12756/04]

The position is that the Public Service Superannuation Act was passed into law on 25 March. It provides that the minimum age at which pension will be paid to the generality of new entrants to the public service, including teachers, will be 65. It also abolishes compulsory retirement on grounds of age in the case of new entrants. The Act defines the term "new entrant". While the definition is complex, broadly-speaking, a new entrant is a person who takes up employment in the public service on or after 1 April 2004 and whose last employment in the public service, if any, terminated more than 26 weeks earlier. Going forward, a person who is not a new entrant but whose employment in the public service terminates and who does not return to employment in the public service within a period of 26 weeks will, on such return, become a new entrant.

The Act provides that employees in certain sectors of the public service must continue to retire before age 65. These are sectors where, unlike the provision for the majority of public servants including teachers retirement before 65 has always been required for operational reasons. The sectors in question comprise the Defence Forces, the Garda, the prison service and the fire service. The reforms which have been enacted arose from consideration by Government of the recommendations of the commission on public service pensions. Apart from the reforms enacted, the Minister for Finance also announced in his Budget Statement that the Government had decided to implement the bulk of the commission's recommendations. A joint management-union group, which includes representatives of the INTO, has been established as a forum within which practical aspects of the implementation of the commission's recommendations can be discussed. The group has already met on a number of occasions and further meetings are planned.

Schools Recognition.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

95 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science if permanent recognition will be granted to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12757/04]

The school referred to by the Deputy is operating with provisional recognition from my Department since September 2002. An application for permanent recognition was recently received in the school planning section of my Department and is currently being considered. Officials will advise the school authority of the outcome of the application as soon as it has been fully examined.

Disadvantaged Status.

Michael Noonan

Question:

96 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has received a request from a school (details supplied) for disadvantaged status; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that it is the only school in the parish or in the adjoining parish which has not been granted disadvantaged status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12768/04]

Any decision to expand or extend any of the initiatives aimed at tackling educational disadvantage will be made on foot the broad review of all such initiatives which is currently nearing completion.

Schools Refurbishment.

John Bruton

Question:

97 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the categories under which Culmullen national school, Drumree, County Meath, failed to have the necessary works required in the school, to improve the quality of the drinking water in the school, to provide insulation in the school building to provide the installation of a trip switch in the electrical mains in the school, to allow the roof to be repaired and the ceiling replaced, carried out in the summer works project 2004; the reason the school was not successful to have the works carried out in 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12770/04]

The management authority of Culmullen national school prioritised the water treatment system as its most urgent project in its application under the summer works scheme. The application was not approved for grant aid as it is deemed to be a maintenance issue which should be dealt with by the school itself under the annual devolved grant scheme for minor works. The roof repairs and general internal upgrading of the school should also be dealt with from this grant scheme.

School Accommodation.

Pat Carey

Question:

98 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Education and Science if and when his Department is going to sanction the provision of a pre-fabricated building in a school (details supplied) in Dublin 11 to accommodate an extra teacher due to rising pupil numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12771/04]

Officials in the school planning section of my Department are currently assessing and prioritising all applications for temporary accommodation. I will shortly publish details of all temporary accommodation projects which will proceed in 2004.

Special Educational Needs.

Denis Naughten

Question:

99 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 263 of 16 December 2003 if a decision has been made in relation to same; if he has satisfied himself that the delay in making a decision on this matter is acceptable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12791/04]

My Department is continuing its deliberations on the matter referred to by the Deputy and expects to be in a position to advise the relevant service providers of its decision shortly.

School Accommodation.

Seán Ryan

Question:

100 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will sanction the provision of one additional classroom for Donabate girls’ national school to facilitate the increased number of pupils for September 2004. [12792/04]

Officials in the school planning section of my Department are currently assessing and prioritising all applications for temporary accommodation. I will shortly publish details of all temporary accommodation projects that will proceed in 2004.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

101 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12804/04]

The tabular statement below details information on the reports internally prepared or externally commissioned by my Department since 1 July 2003. It has not been possible to isolate costs in respect of internal reports or in respect of those reports which are not yet finalised.

Department of Education and Science reports internally prepared or externally commissioned since 1 July 2003.

Report Name

Published

Cost

Tuarascáil Athbhreithnithe ar an Scrúdú le hAghaidh Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge

Published — February 2004.

Internal Review of the School Transport Scheme

Being finalised.

Review of the Minor Works Grant for National Schools

Being finalised.

Independent Review of the processes and procedures operated by the Department of Education and Science in making discovery to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

No decision has been made on publication.

111,358.73

Review of the operation of the Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre

Being finalised.

An Inspection of St. Joseph’s School, Clonmel pursuant to the Children Act, 1908

Report to published on completion of review.

A more Integrated and Effective Delivery of School-Based Educational Inclusion Measures

Published December 2003.

Priority Areas for Action within the Adult and Community Education sector

Report completed. No decision has been made on publication.

Supporting Equity in Higher Education — A Report to the Minister for Education and Science

Published August 2003.

13,899

2001/2002 Tuarascáil Staitistiúil (Annual Statistical Report)

Published February 2004.

16,874.70

Special Educational Needs.

Joan Burton

Question:

102 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will make a statement in relation to the application of a person (details supplied) with Down’s syndrome who is hoping to attend St. Francis Xavier junior national school from September 2004 provided that the school is supplied with adequate special needs teaching and support assistance; if he will make a statement as to whether he has received an application from the school in respect of the applicant; and if he will state if the appropriate special needs teaching resource and assistance will be provided to allow this child to attend the national school of their parents choice. [12827/04]

I confirm that my Department has received an application for special educational resources, SER, for the pupil referred to by the Deputy. SER applications received between 15 February and 31 August 2003 are being considered currently. In all, more than 5,000 such applications were received. Priority was given to cases involving children starting school last September and all these cases were responded to at or before the commencement of the current school year. The balance of more than 4,000 applications has been reviewed by a dedicated team comprising members of my Department's inspectorate and the National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS. These applications are being further considered in the context of the outcome of surveys of SER provision conducted over the past year and the data submitted by schools as part of a nationwide census of SER provision.

The processing of the applications is a complex and time-consuming operation. However, my Department is endeavouring to have this completed as quickly as possible and my officials will then respond to all applicant schools. Pending a response, schools are advised to refer to circular 24/03 which issued in September 2003. This circular contains practical advice on how to achieve the most effective deployment of resources already allocated for special educational needs within the school. In the case of teacher resources, the outcome for each applicant school will be based on a new weighted system of allocation which I announced recently. This system, as part of which an additional 350 teaching posts will be allocated, will involve two main elements. These are making a staffing allocation to schools based on a predicted incidence of pupils with special educational needs and making individual allocations in the case of children with more acute lower-prevalence special educational needs.

It is expected that the change to a weighted system will bring with it a number of benefits. The new system will reduce the need for individualised educational psychological assessment, reduce the volume of applications to my Department for additional resources for individual pupils and provide greater flexibility to schools, which will facilitate the development and implementation of improved systems and procedures in schools to meet the needs of pupils with low achievement and pupils with special educational needs. The detailed arrangements for processing applications for resources, including those for special needs assistants and those received after 31 August last, will be set out in a circular to be issued to schools before the end of the current school year. It is intended also that schools due to receive the additional posts will be notified within this timeframe.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

103 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the deplorable state of affairs concerning children with special needs at schools (details supplied); if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that under the new review for special educational needs that any child unfortunate enough to have been assessed in the past 18 months or to have their sanction withdrawn or reviewed that such pupils are now caught in a state of educational limbo; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that vital years are being lost to those children; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that some children are now old enough to leave the primary school system without their right to extra help having been fulfilled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12828/04]

My Department is reviewing existing arrangements for the allocation of special educational supports to primary schools. In that context, my officials have been involved in ongoing discussions on a weighted system of allocation with representative interests. At this stage it would be premature to anticipate the outcome for the schools in question. I can confirm, however, that the basic purpose of that review is to ensure that each school has the level of resources required to cater for its pupils with special educational needs.

The processing of applications for special needs supports is a complex and time-consuming operation. However, my Department is endeavouring to have this completed as quickly as possible and my officials will then respond to all applicant schools. Pending a response, schools are advised to refer to circular 24/03 which issued in September 2003. This circular contains practical advice on how to achieve the most effective deployment of resources already allocated for special educational needs within the school. In the case of teacher resources, the outcome for each applicant school will be based on a new weighted system of allocation which I announced recently. This system, as part of which an additional 350 teaching posts will be allocated, will involve two main elements. These are making a staffing allocation to schools based on a predicted incidence of pupils with special educational needs and making individual allocations in the case of children with more acute lower-prevalence special educational needs.

It is expected that the change to a weighted system will bring with it a number of benefits. The new system will reduce the need for individualised educational psychological assessment, reduce the volume of applications to my Department for additional resources for individual pupils and provide greater flexibility to schools, which will facilitate the development and implementation of improved systems and procedures in schools to meet the needs of pupils with low achievement and pupils with special educational needs. The detailed arrangements for processing applications for resources, including those for special needs assistants and those received after 31 August last, will be set out in a circular to be issued to schools before the end of the current school year. Schools due to receive the additional posts will be notified within this timeframe also.

Higher Education Grants.

Joan Burton

Question:

104 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he can examine the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 who has been refused a grant in respect of her PhD programme in sociology and ethnic studies at NUI Maynooth; when her grant will become payable and the problems that exist in relation to the payment of this grant. [12829/04]

Under the terms of my Department's higher education grant schemes, grants are not payable to candidates who already hold a post-graduate qualification and subsequently pursue another post-graduate course at the same level, irrespective of whether or not funding was previously awarded. The schemes, however, provide for progression at postgraduate level. The schemes provide that candidates who already hold a post-graduate qualification, or qualifications, and are progressing to a further post-graduate course at a higher level — which represents progression from the level at which the previous post-graduate qualification or qualifications were attained — may be deemed eligible for grant aid.

My Department understands that the student to whom the Deputy refers already holds a master's degree and that in the current academic year she commenced a PhD programme in sociology and ethnic studies at NUI, Maynooth. My Department understands that the general practice at the college, as with a number of others, is initially to register students at MLitt level and, subsequently, transfer them to PhD level once a progress review has established satisfactory performance in their studies. The student in question had been advised that she was ineligible for grant assistance under the prescribed terms and conditions of the higher education grants scheme on the basis that she already held a masters degree and was again registered at the same level — MLitt — in the current academic year.

Additional details have recently been submitted to my Department which indicate that the student was transferred to the PhD degree register at the college in March 2004. My Department has requested additional clarification in relation to the additional material received. The case will be re-examined by my Department on receipt of same.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

105 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12839/04]

No staff at my Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections. However, it has always been the policy of my Department to provide the maximum amount of information to all political parties. I have done so and will continue to do so. I see this as an important part of the work of the Department.

Schools Recognition.

John Curran

Question:

106 Mr. Curran asked the Minister for Education and Science the grounds on which the advisory committee has refused recognition of a new gaelscoil in Lucan, in view of the fact that this new Gaelscoil has 48 students enrolled, that future potential development at Gaelscoil Naomh Pádraig is limited, that the population of Lucan continues to grow with a significant increased demand for primary school places and that Gaelscoil Cois Life will have capacity for a significant number of Irish speaking second level students for the foreseeable future; if he will review this decision and grant recognition to this school. [12851/04]

An appeal of the decision not to grant recognition to the proposed new gaelscoil in Lucan was recently received in my Department. The independent appeals committee will assess the appeal and issue its decision to the patron within 15 working days.

It would be inappropriate for me to comment any further in this matter while the appeal process is ongoing.

Educational Disadvantage.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

107 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that applications for disadvantaged status, Breaking the Cycle, Early Start and other such initiatives have been closed since 2000; if his attention has further been drawn to fact that the same schools that have the socio-economic statistics to qualify for such schemes are excluded; the plans he has to expand progress to address educational disadvantage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12852/04]

Any decision to expand or extend any of the initiatives aimed at tackling educational disadvantage is being considered in the context of a broad review of all such initiatives, which is currently nearing completion.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

108 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will grant disadvantaged status to Gaelscoil Shaoirse Clancy, Southill, Limerick in view of the fact that it clearly qualifies and is the only excluded school in Southill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12853/04]

Any decision to expand or extend any of the initiatives aimed at tackling educational disadvantage is being considered in the context of a broad review of all such initiatives, which is currently nearing completion.

Departmental Schemes.

David Stanton

Question:

109 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science if EU citizens are eligible for qualification for the mature student grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12946/04]

Under the terms of my Department's four student maintenance grant schemes, grants are payable to candidates pursuing approved full-time courses who meet prescribed conditions, including those pertaining to nationality, residency, means, age and previous academic attainment. All EU nationals are included in the categories eligible to be considered under the nationality clause of the schemes.

Under the residency requirement a candidate's parents, or in the case of an independent mature candidate, the candidate herself or himself, must have been resident in the State from 1 October of the year prior to entry on an approved course. Under the means test requirements, other than in the case of independent mature candidates, the candidate's means and those of his or her parents or guardians must be below a prescribed limit. This provision requires that the parents' income be taken into account, irrespective of the individual circumstances in any case where the student is not an independent mature student.

Mature students are categorised as either independent mature students or mature students dependent on parents. An independent mature student is defined as a mature student who was not ordinarily resident at home with his or her parents or guardians from 1 October preceding his or her entry to an approved course. Independent mature students are assessed without reference to either their parents or guardians income or address.

Under the terms of the scheme, all maintenance grants are payable at either the adjacent or the non-adjacent rate. The adjacent rate of maintenance grant is payable where the grant holder's normal residence is 15 miles or less from the college which he or she is attending. The non-adjacent rate of maintenance grant is payable in all other cases, including all eligible mature students who, with effect from the 1999-2000 academic year, qualify for the higher non-adjacent rate of grant.

Special Educational Needs.

David Stanton

Question:

110 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review rule 46 of the rules and programmes for secondary schools in relation to exemption from Irish to take into account up to date research and modern understanding of dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD and autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12947/04]

Guidelines in regard to an exemption from Irish at post-primary level are outlined at rule 46 of the rules and programmes for secondary schools and in circular letter M10/94. This circular was drafted as a result of an expansion of the criteria under which pupils may seek an exemption from the study of Irish. Previously, exemptions were only granted to pupils whose primary education up to the age of 11 years was obtained outside Ireland and this remained the criterion for granting exemption at primary level until 1996 when the criteria changed to take account of second level conditions.

Irish as a subject is offered at three different levels, foundation, ordinary and higher, in the post-primary curriculum. There is an aural examination in both the junior and leaving certificates with an oral component in the leaving certificate. Irish language as a subject should be accessible to the vast majority of students, irrespective of many learning difficulties. The National Educational Psychological Service has advised my Department that it is satisfied that the current criteria in relation to tenth percentile is still acceptable as a guideline in the case of specific learning disability and that, although the conditions or syndromes referred to by the Deputy are not specifically mentioned in the circular, such students are broadly catered for in principle.

Schools Recognition.

Seán Crowe

Question:

111 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department will allocate and purchase a permanent site for Donabate-Portrane Educate Together national school. [13007/04]

Donabate-Portrane Educate Together national school received permanent recognition from my Department with effect from 1 February 2004. Since that date the school has been eligible for consideration for the provision of permanent accommodation. A number of factors including competing demands for the capital allocation will determine the rate of progress on the delivery of such accommodation for the school.

On being granted provisional recognition, the school was made aware that it would remain the patron's responsibility to provide interim accommodation until my Department is in a position to provide a permanent solution.

Schools Building Projects.

Billy Timmins

Question:

112 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the situation with respect to the proposed new primary schools for Blessington and Lackan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13009/04]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the school building project for Lacken national school is listed for proceeding to tender and construction as part of the 2004 school building programme. The school authorities will be kept advised of developments for the delivery of this project.

When publishing the 2004 school building programme, I outlined that my strategy going forward will be grounded in capital investment based on multi-annual allocations. My officials are reviewing all projects that were not authorised to proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual school building programme from 2005.

I expect to be in a position to make further announcements in the course of the year to update schools in the context of the multi-annual programme of works including public private partnerships. The application for a new primary school for Blessington will be considered in this regard.

Harbours and Piers.

Martin Ferris

Question:

113 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when work on the new Killybegs Fishery Harbour Centre will be completed and the centre opened; the number of new jobs that will be created at this new centre by his Department; and the recruiting procedures that are in place. [12795/04]

I will shortly perform the official opening of the new Killybegs harbour development.

A review is currently under way to identify the revised staffing complement required for the effective and efficient operation of the new facility. Once this has been completed, recruitment will commence in accordance with standard procedures.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

114 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12805/04]

The information sought by the Deputy is contained in the following list of reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned since 1 July 2003.

Reports internally prepared or externally commissioned by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources since 1 July 2003

Communications Sector.

Reports

Published/Not Published

External Reports

Review of Cost Savings as stipulated by the An Post ESOP Term Sheet commissioned from Ernst and Young Consultants

Decision yet to be taken on publication cost €25,171

Review of Radio Licensing by OX Consultants

Will be published shortly

Review of RTE licence fee application by PricewaterhouseCoopers 2003

Published

Internal Reports

Report in response to the Public Consultation Process on the EU Electronic Communications Regulatory Package 26 July 2003

Published on the Department’s website

Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Report on Internet access by satellite

Published

Netsecure Report on safer use of computers and the Internet

Published

Guide to Telecommunications Networks from an Emergency Planning perspective

Report for use by Government Departments only

Report on Public Service Broadcasting Charter Consultation

Will be published shortly

Review of ban on Religious Advertising

Published

Marine Sector.

Reports

Published/Not Published

External Reports

Assessment of Irish Commercial Seaport Capacity commissioned from Baxter Eadie Limited

Not for publication as it contains commercially sensitive information — cost €17,500

Review of Inland Fisheries sector in Ireland commissioned from a Consortium comprising of Farrell Grant Sparks Consulting (FGS) the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA)

Not finalised. Intended for publication in due course

Report on salmon mortalities in Donegal Bay commissioned from the Marine Institute

Published

Investigations of Salmon Mortalities at Inver Bay and McSwynes Bay Fish Farm, summer 2003. Commissioned from Kirk McClure Morton, Consulting Engineers, Belfast, NI

To be published summer 2004

Study to assess the Status of Ireland’s Tide Gauge Infrastructure and outline current and future requirements. Commissioned from Hydraulics and Marine Research Centre, University College, Cork

To be published shortly

Internal Reports

Review of monitoring and control of aquaculture

Intended for publication

Natural Resources Sector.

Reports

Published/Not Published

External Reports

Assessment of the Fuel Diversity options for the Irish Power Generation System jointly commissioned by the Department and the Commission for Energy Regulation from DKM Economic Consultants the ESRI and Electronic Ireland Limited

Decision not yet taken on publication of the report which will be finalised shortly — cost €83,000

Consultancy to examine certain aspects of a planning application for an extension by Tara Mines Ltd. to the South West of its Navan Mine, Co. Meath (SWEX-B). Commissioned from Cantab Consulting Kent

Not for publication — cost €21,060

Review of the Environmental Impact Statement for the development of an underground Gypsum mine at Drummond, Co. Monaghan commissioned from SRK Consulting Cardiff

Published

Silvermines Area Review of Mogul Proposal for Remedial Work required under Clause K of the State Mining Lease commissioned from SRK Consulting Cardiff

Published

Internal Reports

Report entitled, New Exploration Opportunities Offshore Ireland

Published on Department’s website

Report in accordance with section 77 and section 8 of the Minerals Development Acts 1940 and 1979, respectively.

Published

Geological Survey of Ireland.

Report

Published/Not Published

2003 GSI Annual Report

Published

Corporate Sector.

Reports

Published/Not Published

External Reports

Information Communications Technology Strategy (2003-2005)

Published on Department’s website

Review of Internal Financial Controls

Internal Management Report — not for publication

Annual Audit of the EAGGF Fisheries and Forestry Expenditure for 2002/3 EAGGF financial year

Not published — cost €45,213

Institute of Public Administration This project which commenced in November 2003 is a review of the existing performance indicator framework within the Department within the context of MIF implementation

Not intended for publication — internal

Internal Reports

Statement of Strategy 2003-2005

Published

Annual Report 2002

Published

First Progress Report to the Civil Service Performance Verification Group on the Department’s Sustaining Progress Action Plan

Published on Department’s website

Proposed Legislation.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

115 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the progress that has been made to place responsibility for safety of domestic gas installation with an independent body; when this body will be established; the powers it will have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12815/04]

Over the past year my Department has engaged in significant consultations with the Commission for Energy Regulation and the gas sector on natural gas safety, including the specific area of regulation of natural gas installers. The details of the proposed arrangements are currently being finalised and will form part of the forthcoming gas regulation Bill. It is my intention to seek Government approval before the summer to draft this Bill and to bring it before the Oireachtas during 2004.

Telecommunications Services.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

116 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of areas of west Cork that currently have access to broadband; and when it is envisaged that those towns without access at present will have access to same, specifically Dunmanway. [12816/04]

The provision of and investment in telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter in the first instance for the private sector companies operating in a fully liberalised marketplace, regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg.

I am aware that DSL services are available from the private sector in Bandon, Clonakilty and Macroom. Recognising, however, that the market has been slow to respond to demand for broadband, an indicative €200 million in Government and ERDF funding was set aside under the National Development Plan 2000-2006 for regional broadband investment. Currently, my Department is grant aiding the construction of 19 fibre optic metropolitan area networks, in conjunction with local authorities, in key regional towns and cities. This investment of €65 million will enable the delivery of competitive, open access, broadband services in these towns. The biggest network, in Cork, was recently completed is already being used to provide broadband services to a number of companies.

On 12 December last I announced a broadband action plan. This plan aims to roll out open access broadband infrastructure to more than 90 towns with a population of over 1,500, including Dunmanway, Bantry and Skibbereen in west Cork.

I have secured a commitment of €35 million each year from now until 2007 for the broadband action plan. The additional networks are due to commence in early 2005 and will be completed on a phased basis over the following three years. In addition, a group broadband scheme will enable smaller communities to pool their broadband demand and secure high-speed connectivity from a range of service providers. This group scheme will be supported by grant-aid of up to €50,000 from the Government.

Applications are being received, by my Department, on an ongoing basis for this scheme. Further information on the scheme and the call for proposals is available on my Departments website atwww.dcmnr.ie/gbs or from gbs@dcmnr.ie. In addition, my Department has set-up a broadband information website, www.broadband.gov.ie where potential broadband customers can access information regarding the availability and pricing of broadband services in their area. If broadband is unavailable they can vote for broadband, the aggregate votes are passed to service providers to encourage the roll-out of further services.

The communication regulator, ComReg, is currently issuing licenses for wireless broadband service. Three of these licenses are for Cork city and surrounding area. ComReg is continuing to issue the remaining licenses and these may be used to provide broadband access to rural areas.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

117 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12840/04]

My Department receives regular requests from all political parties for information relating to its activities and 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.

Sports Capital Programme.

Dan Neville

Question:

118 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when it is planned to decide on the 2003 Sports Capital Grant Programme. [12755/04]

I assume the Deputy intended to inquire about decisions on the 2004 sport capital programme. The 2004 sports capital programme was advertised in the national newspapers on 30 November and 1 December 2003. The closing date for receipt of applications was, 16 January 2004. A total of 1,304 applications were received before the closing date and these are being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after this evaluation process has been completed.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

119 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12806/04]

I have listed details of reports internally prepared or externally commissioned by my Department since 1 July 2003 as requested by the Deputy. A review of section 481 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 was commissioned in June 2003. The report was published in December 2003. The education subgroup of the Council of National Cultural Institutions commissioned arts consultants to draft a policy framework for education community outreach which I launched on 6 April last. A consultancy study on the framing of a new international arts and culture policy was commissioned in July 2003. The report, which is not intended for publication, is currently at the drafting stage and the contract fee for the study is €18,000.

A report relating to controls in respect of certain arts-culture expenditure under the Operational Programme for Tourism 1994-1999 was commissioned in January 2004. The report, which is currently being prepared, is not intended for publication. The final cost of the report will be dependent on the amount of work involved but is likely to be in the region of €45,000. My Department has commissioned consultants to carry out a review of the Irish Manuscripts Commission. The review is not yet completed but the intention is to publish the report at the appropriate time.

An expenditure review of the sports capital programme, conducted under the Department's expenditure review programme, is currently being finalised and will be published on its completion. As the review was prepared within the Department, the costs involved were met from within existing resources. As part of this expenditure review, an external evaluation report was commissioned, in line with Department of Finance guidelines, at a cost of approximately €5,000. It is not intended to publish this report.

A review of proposals for the provision of an outdoor athletics training facility at Morton Athletic Stadium, Santry, commissioned by my Department was completed in December 2003. The cost of the report, which is not intended for publication, was €10,100. A major review of tourism policy and performance was carried out by a review group appointed by me and their report, under the title New Horizons for Irish Tourism: An Agenda for Action, was published on 30 September 2003. My Department's first annual report for 2002-03 is currently being finalised and will be published shortly.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

120 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12841/04]

Staff of my Department are not engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, material or information of any kind for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections. 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, whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Departmental Schemes.

Seán Crowe

Question:

121 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on the introduction of cost of disability payment scheme. [12782/04]

The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness contains a commitment that "The Department of Health and Children, the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs and the Department of Finance will set up and participate in a Working Group which will consult with the social partners to examine the feasibility of introducing a Cost of Disability Payment."

Arising from this commitment, a working group was established comprising representatives from: Department of Health and Children, chair; Department of Social and Family Affairs; Department of Finance; Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; National Disability Authority; and Eastern Regional Health Authority. The Agreed Programme for Government 2002 further states "we will complete the work of the group examining the introduction of a Cost of Disability Payment".

In undertaking its task, the working group sought to address a number of key questions. Do people with disabilities incur additional costs associated with having a disability? If so, is it possible to measure the additional costs of disability? Do these additional costs vary according to the type of disability, severity of disability, etc.? What State supports are available towards these costs? To what extent are costs of disability catered-not catered for? To what extent do the current supports act as a barrier to moving from welfare dependency into employment?

The working group noted that no international consensus existed on how best to calculate the additional costs of disability or, indeed, on what constitutes a cost of disability. While a number of previous reports and submissions have highlighted that there are additional costs associated with having a disability, the working group found that there had been no significant research or analysis undertaken in Ireland to substantiate these contentions or to try and measure these costs.

In the circumstances, the working group requested the National Disability Authority to commission research, as part of its research remit, with a view to assisting the group in answering these questions. The work was undertaken by an independent consultant and a final report was presented to the working group at the beginning of March. The position paper of the working group and the report of the consultant has been forwarded to the Department of the Taoiseach.

The working group has arrived at the following position. The working group understands the term" additional costs of disability" to mean the extra costs incurred by people with disabilities that are directly related to their disability and that are over and above the ordinary living costs that are incurred by the population generally. Notwithstanding the limitations in the data available, the working group accepts the conclusions arising from the consultant's report that there are additional costs associated with having a disability in Ireland and that these costs can vary by disability type and by severity of disability. In addition, the working group considers that age and social circumstances can also have an impact on the costs of disability.

While the consultant's report contains useful research in terms of attempting to measure the additional costs of disability in Ireland, the working group nevertheless considers that, due to the data limitations, this research does not provide a robust basis on which the group can adequately assess the feasibility of a cost of disability payment. It is the view of the working group that a national system of individual needs assessment is a prerequisite for any cost of disability payment system based on severity of disability. No such system exists at present.

The working group noted that such a system has also been recommended by the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities. In considering the introduction of a cost of disability payment, the impact of the requisite needs assessment procedures on present administrative structures, together with the implications of such a payment for the continued operation of the current range of disability supports and benefits, would need careful consideration.

In view of the significant limitations in the available data and in the absence of a national system of individual needs assessment it has not been possible for the working group to make a determination on the feasibility or otherwise of an equitable and well targeted cost of disability payment. In line with the recommendations contained in the consultant's report and the report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities, the working group considers that there are a number of existing supports which go some way towards meeting the additional costs of disability. The group considers that there is considerable scope for rationalising and streamlining these existing support measures, particularly in terms of mitigating the additional costs of disability for a greater number of people with disabilities and removing disincentives to move from welfare dependency to employment.

Suicide Incidence.

Dan Neville

Question:

122 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the new services to be provided by the South Eastern Health Board in view of increased spending on suicide prevention and research of €400,000 in the area. [12855/04]

Responsibility for the matter referred to by the Deputy rests with the South Eastern Health Board . My Department has therefore asked the chief executive officer to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply to him directly.

Health Board Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

123 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children when orthodontic treatment will be made available to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [12758/04]

Responsibility for the provision of orthodontic treatment to eligible persons in County Limerick rests with the Mid Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to him directly.

Child Care Allowance.

Pat Carey

Question:

124 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has received a request from the Eastern Regional Health Authority for funding for the nursery services affected by the withdrawal of the crèche supplements payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12772/04]

The Eastern Regional Health Authority has written to my Department outlining the cost implications for the area health boards of the withdrawal of the payment of supplementary welfare allowances to supplement the cost of crèche fees. As the Deputy will be aware, health board services have been funded for this year on an existing level of service basis and my Department is not in a position to make additional funding available to the authority to meet the shortfall created by the withdrawal of this payment.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Bernard Allen

Question:

125 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on the appointment of a permanent general practitioner under the GMS scheme by the Southern Health Board as the Coachford-Donoughmore area is presently being served by a locum. [12785/04]

Arrangements for the provision of services for medical card holders, including the selection and recruitment process for general practitioners in the GMS scheme, are matters for the chief executive officer of the relevant health board-authority. Accordingly, this parliamentary question has been referred to the chief executive officer of the Southern Health Board for investigation and direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

126 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will give increased funding for Tralee General Hospital to open a day ward and high dependency unit which has been built and equipped but lies empty and unused due to lack of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12787/04]

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

127 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps he intends to take to increase funding for Tralee General Hospital which has been under-funded by €2.5 million in 2003 and at least €1.5 million in 2004 which is resulting in the closing of a ward for three months in the summer, due to lack of funds to replace staff on holidays with staff locums; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12788/04]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 126 and 127 together. My Department allocates funding on an annual basis to the Southern Health Board for the provision of health services. Distribution of this funding to individual hospitals in the region is a matter for the board. Therefore, my Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to the level of funding provided for Tralee General Hospital.

Health Board Services.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

128 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will arrange for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7 to urgently obtain orthodontic treatment; if he will state if this young person would qualify for the national purchase scheme if they are unable to obtain treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12789/04]

Responsibility for the provision of orthodontic treatment to eligible persons in Dublin 7 rests with 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 him directly.

Dan Neville

Question:

129 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children when orthodontic treatment will be made available to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [12790/04]

Responsibility for the provision of orthodontic treatment to eligible persons in County Limerick rests with the Mid Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to him directly.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

130 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12807/04]

The information requested is being collated by my Department and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as possible .

Genetically Modified Organisms.

Martin Ferris

Question:

131 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will provide a list of the food products that are currently being tested by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland for GM content. [12813/04]

Martin Ferris

Question:

133 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will state, in line with the recommendation of the report of the inter-departmental group on biotechnology on the declaration of personal or business interests in GM, if any of the current members of the GMO and novel foods sub-committee have at present, or in the past, been employed by a company with a commercial interest in the development and sale of GM products. [12819/04]

Martin Ferris

Question:

134 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children if any product that contains less than 0.9% GM content will then be authorised to label itself as GM free. [12831/04]

Martin Ferris

Question:

135 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children the measures that were taken against the producers of food items that were misleadingly labelled as GM free or organic but which were found by the 2002 Food Safety Authority of Ireland food survey to contain a GM presence. [12832/04]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 131 and 133 to 135, inclusive, together. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland, FSAI, is a science based consumer protection agency independent of sectoral interests and is the competent authority in Ireland for enforcing EU legislation on the genetic modification of foodstuffs. The FSAI checks on compliance with GM legislation and advises my Department on food safety issues relating to GM foods.

The FSAI's scientific committee established a GMO and novel foods sub-committee which advises my Department on these issues and also provides a forum for the exchange of expert scientific opinion and independent advice on this technology and its application to food. In accordance with section 41 of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act 1998, declarations of interests are sought and received from members of this sub-committee. No such interests have been declared by any member up to May 2003. Declarations are sought annually and those for 2003 to 2004 will be requested this month. Additionally, at sub-committee meetings, members are routinely asked if they have a conflict of interest on any item which is for discussion and there is no record of any such interests being declared.

The FSAI is currently finalising its surveillance plans for testing GM food in the retail market for 2004. The 2004 survey is likely to focus on soy and maize based food products carrying labels such as GM free which indicate that the food contains no GM material. Previous surveys have examined breakfast cereals, baby foods, snack foods, dried soy products, soy substitutes for dairy products, soya and maize flours and bakery products.

The FSAI's advice regarding products containing GM ingredients which are present at less than 0.9% of that total product is that they cannot be labelled as GM free as they contain a GM ingredient even though the GM ingredient content is below the threshold requiring it to be labelled as containing GM. To label such a product as GM free would tend to mislead the consumer and would be in breach of the general labelling Directive 2000/13/EC.

Where possible, the FSAI has corresponded with operators associated with foods that were found to be inaccurately labelled in the 2002 survey. These operators were notified of the possible breaches of EU legislation identified due to such inaccurate labelling and responses were sought. This notification resulted in one company agreeing to cease placing GM free type labelling on their products. It is worth noting that the products surveyed which contained GM ingredients did not have GM content in excess of the labelling threshold, nor did any product contain non-authorised GM ingredients. The organic unit of the Department of Agriculture and Food, as the competent authority for organic farming, was notified of any organic products found to have levels of GM ingredients.

Hospital Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

132 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the circumstances under which medical card holders may be charged for stays in long-term care where they are receiving treatment; the way his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 402 of 3 February 2004, and in particular paragraph 2 of that reply, tallies with the case of a person (details supplied) who was charged by the hospital on the basis that it is his Department’s advice that it is at the discretion of the hospital to do so; if he will ascertain under what statutory instrument this charge is being applied by the hospital; if he will ascertain if the hospital is correct in its policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12818/04]

In respect of people availing of public long-stay care, charges can be made under two regulations. They can be made under the Health (Charges for In-Patient Services) Regulations, 1976, as amended by the Health (Charges for In-Patient Services) (Amendment) Regulations 1987. These regulations enable charges to be made towards the cost of providing hospital in-patient services for persons with income who have been in receipt of such services for more than 30 days or for periods totalling more than 30 days within the previous 12 months. The regulations provide that a charge is made at a rate not exceeding the person's income. Medical card holders and persons with dependants are exempt from these charges.

Charges may also be made under the Institutional Assistance Regulations 1965 where the patient receives shelter and maintenance rather than treatment. These charges apply from the date of admission and are payable by all patients who are in receipt of incomes, including medical card holders and persons with dependants.

The health strategy, Quality and Fairness — A Health System for You, acknowledges the need to clarify and simplify eligibility arrangements and sets down a commitment to introduce new legislation to provide for the introduction of clear statutory provisions on entitlement and eligibility. A review of all existing legislation in this area has been carried out in my Department which will inform the approach to the drafting of the new legislation in this area.

As part of the overall clarification of entitlements as promised in the health strategy, taking account of other work relating to this area such as the work of the working group on the nursing home subvention scheme, my Department will be attempting to resolve the current differences in approach between the consideration of individuals' ability to pay under various regulations in this area.

With regard to the particular case referred to by the Deputy, I will make inquiries to the Eastern Regional Health Authority and reply further to the Deputy once the relevant details have been received.

Questions Nos. 133 to 135, inclusive, answered with Question No. 131.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

136 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; and if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information have already been disseminated from the Department. [12842/04]

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 whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Medical Cards.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

137 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of outstanding applications for medical cards in the Southern Health Board area; and the number of successful applicants there are as a percentage of those that have applied within the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12882/04]

Responsibility for the provision of medical cards is, by legislation, a matter for the chief executive officer of the relevant health board or authority. Accordingly, this question has been referred to the chief executive officer of the Southern Health Board for investigation and direct reply to the Deputy.

Traffic Management.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

138 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the measures that are in place to control the parking of three tonne trucks in residential areas; if the introduction of by-laws by a local authority to control such parking require the designation of truck parking areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12794/04]

Responsibility for traffic management measures, including parking matters, is vested in local authorities under the Road Traffic Act 1994 in respect of public roads in their charge. The Road (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 enable local authorities to restrict parking of large vehicles in specified places or areas. Decisions in relation to the locations where such prohibitions are to be applied and the size or weight of vehicles to be banned from parking at such locations are matters for determination by local authorities. The application of such restrictions is a matter for each local authority. Such restrictions are imposed through the provision of the applicable road traffic signs and the making of by-laws is not required.

Rail Network.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

139 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport the procedures which have been put in place to secure the preservation of the existing Navan to Kingscourt railway line pending the reopening of the line in conjunction with the opening of rail services from Navan to Dublin. [12773/04]

I am informed by Irish Rail that the Navan to Kingscourt line is presently disused, and that the infrastructure is life expired and no longer suitable for rail traffic. The strategic rail review examined the future potential of the line for both passenger and freight and concluded that there was no economic case for restoration of services on this line. The line is in CIE ownership and the company has no plans to abandon or dispose of any part of this line.

Environmental Policy.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

140 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport the reason he is reluctant to promote the wider use of a low emission fuel such as LPG as a cheaper, cleaner and more environmentally friendly alternative to petrol in view of Ireland’s obligations to reduce carbon emissions as set out in the Kyoto Protocol; and the details of emissions and by-products, both in production and consumption of different fuels, which support his Department’s stance on the issue. [12774/04]

Eamon Ryan

Question:

141 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport the reason no measures are being planned within his Department to encourage petrol vehicle users to convert their vehicles to run on LPG fuel; and if he has current environmental and comparative cost data outlining the advantages versus disadvantages in addressing the cost of conversion, maintenance, servicing and upkeep, and cost of fuel which supports his Department’s reluctance to promote LPG vehicle conversion at present. [12775/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 140 and 141 together.

As indicated in the reply to Question No. 201 of 31 March 2004, I have no plans for measures to encourage the wider use of LPG in motor vehicles. The national climate change strategy sets out the measures which will be applied across the various economic sectors, including the transport sector, to enable Ireland's climate change commitment arising from the Kyoto Protocol agreement to be met. Lead responsibility for air quality and climate change issues is a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

142 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Transport if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12808/04]

Key internally produced reports are published on My Department's website. These include my Department's statement of strategy, annual report and reports prepared by the air accident investigation unit. Details of externally commissioned reports are contained in the table below:

Consultant

Nature of report

Date Commissioned

Publication Date

Total Cost (€)

Aer Lingus Affairs

Richard Hooper Corporate Finance Consultant

Examination of Investment options for Aer Lingus

2003

Not intended for publication

18,150

Airports

Prof. Helen O’Neill

Quality Assessment of DKM Report of Expenditure Review of Air Services Supported by the Public Service Obligation Programme

5th March 2004

Not for publication

1,000

Public Transport (Planning)

Booz Allen Hamilton in association with Taylor Lightfoot Transport Consultants and the TAS Partnership

Study on Accessible Public Transport

July 2002

December 2003

61,159

Public Transport Partnership Forum

Second Report of the Public Transport Partnership Forum — July 2002-December 2003

N/A

April 2004

N/A

Public Transport Partnership Forum

Report of Sub-Committee of the Public Transport Partnership Forum on Public Transport Access to Cork Airport

N/A

September 2003

N/A

Interdepartmental Committee on Rural Public Transport

Availability Access and Choice — Rural Transport

September 2001

July 2003

81,680

Public Transport (Bus Licensing)

The Report of the Working Group on the Review of Speed Limits

The Report of the Working Group on the Review of Speed Limits

N/A

Published on Department’s Website:7 October 2003

N/A

CIE Restructuring

Watson Wyatt (Actuaries & Benefit Consultants) and O'Donnell Sweeney (Solicitors)

Exercise on CIE pension arrangements in the context of the restructuring of the CIE Group

February 2004

Ongoing

90,000(Estimate)

Public Transport (Regulatory Reform)

NERA

Public Transport Study

February 2004

Not intended for publication

16,495

Booz Allen Hamilton

Public Transport Study

September 2003

Not intended for publication

24,800

Public Transport (Corporate Affairs)

Booz Allen Hamilton

Operational Review of Public Transport Investment Monitoring Unit

2004 (March)

Not intended for publication

9,084

Public Transport (Rail PPP)

O’Connor Sutton Cronin & Associates

Review of the engineering feasibility of providing a grade separated crossing of the M50 Motorway and Red Cow interchange for the Luas light rail system Line A Tallaght to Abbey Street Line.

Early 2003

August 2003

30,250

Roads

Goodbody Economic Consultants

Study to update the Cost Benefit Analysis Parameter Values and application rules for transportation projects

February 2004

Will be published on completion

47,295

Atkins

Review on Dublin Port Tunnel Height

2003

Consideration will be given to publication of this report when final decisions have been reached

57,669

Chartered Institute of Arbitrators

Assessment scheme for acquisition of land for national road projects

2003

Yes

23,046

Indecon Consultants

ESIOP Mid-term Review Report

2003

Yes

263,769

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

143 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Transport if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12843/04]

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 whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Question No. 144 answered with QuestionNo. 7.
Question No. 145 answered with QuestionNo. 31.

Garda Operations.

Jack Wall

Question:

146 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether there were sufficient gardaí in the city centre to police the crowds on St. Patrick’s Day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10644/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources including personnel that local management are satisfied that there were sufficient gardaí on duty in Dublin city centre to police the St. Patrick's Day Parade. There were some public order incidents after the parade which were dealt with by gardaí on duty in the city centre.

Question No. 147 answered with QuestionNo. 26.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

148 D’fhiafraigh Mr. O’Shea den Aire Dlí agus Cirt, Comhionannais agus Athchóirithe Dlí céard a tharlóidh faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, má bhíonn duine á cheistiú ag na gardaí agus go n-éilíonn sé nó sí go ndéanfar an ceistiúchán trí mheán na Gaeilge in áit nach bhfuil garda le Gaeilge ar fáil; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [11891/04]

De réir na rialacháin fán Acht um Cheartas Coiriúil (An Bhail a chuirfear ar Dhaoine faoi Choimeád i Stáisiúin an Gharda Síochána) 1987, tá sé de dhualgas ar chomhaltaí den Gharda Síochána gníomhú le hurraim chuí do chearta pearsanta an duine faoi choimeád agus dínit an duine sin mar dhuine daonna. Áit nach bhfuil aon gharda ar fáil chun duine faoi choimeád a cheistiú trí mheán na Gaeilge agus sin éilithe ag an duine, cuirfear ateangaire ar fáil.

Residency Permits.

Pat Breen

Question:

150 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if permission will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Clare to remain here with their parents (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12759/04]

The person in question has permission to remain in the State until 26 July 2004. The immigration division of my Department has recently been in contact with her outlining the options available to her if she wishes to extend her permission to remain in the State beyond that date.

Child Care Programme.

John Perry

Question:

151 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made on the application for capital grant from a facility (details supplied) in County Sligo for the provision of a quality affordable flexible child care for all sections of the local community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12760/04]

: The day to day administration of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 is undertaken by Area Development Management Limited, which has been engaged by my Department to carry out thorough assessments of all applications for grant assistance under the programme, on my behalf. All large scale capital projects are referred by ADM Limited to an independent external building specialist to assess the suitability of the proposal and its value for money. I am aware that there has been significant ongoing dialogue between the group and ADM Limited with regard to this application. On completion of the assessment process this application will be considered by the programme appraisal committee, chaired by my Department, which will make a funding recommendation to me before I make a final decision on the matter.

The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 is a seven year development programme. The progress of the programme was commented upon very favourably by the mid-term evaluators of both the regional operational programmes and the National Development Plan 2000-2006. Expenditure under the programme must take place in a planned manner and covers the period to end 2007. Accordingly, grant approvals must take place in a carefully planned manner to ensure that the programme can meet its financial commitments at all times.

I would advise the Deputy that there has been considerable demand from community based groups for capital grant assistance under the programme and every county has benefited from significant grant commitments to provide new and enhanced community based child care facilities. ADM on behalf of my Department is currently carrying out an extensive review of the programme's capital commitments to date to ensure that those grant commitments previously entered into will in fact be realised by the groups on the ground. The Deputy will appreciate that over 1,100 capital grants have been allocated already totalling over €114 million. Many of these projects are either awaiting planning permission or the completion of tender processes before reasonable assurance can be taken that they will proceed. In the event that a project does not proceed, the funding can be decommitted and made available to another project.

The Department has recently reviewed the different budget lines under the EOCP in general and the capital programme in particular to ensure that the most effective use is made of all remaining funding including the capital measure in accordance with the objectives of the programme. This will involve some transfers between measures and the approval of the regional assemblies is needed. I expect that this technical process will be completed shortly and that it will bring to about €157 million the total allocation for the capital development of child care under the present Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006. This amount includes an element for the administration by ADM Limited of the capital programme. At the same time, an extensive review of child care provision on the ground has taken place to identify obvious service gaps, the filling of which will be a priority using the remaining capital funding which currently amounts to about €35 million. The careful analysis of this information is essential if the best use is to be made of the significant capital funding being provided by the Government to support the child care needs of parents who may be in employment, education or training.

The Deputy will appreciate that all counties have benefited from new projects and additional child care places under the programme. I intend to use the remaining capital funding under this strand of child care development to address the most immediate service gaps. As a result, all the projects in the pipeline will be reviewed to ensure that those projects which best meet the programme criteria and which can be completed by the end of the present programme will receive priority. The ability to bring a project to fruition before the end of the present programme is an important criterion at this stage as I am aware that it can frequently take time to complete a project and there are constraints to ensure that we maximise our EU funding.

I do not doubt but that the success of the present strand of the EOCP and the need to continue to make child care available to support the child care needs of our still growing work force will support my case for ongoing capital and current funding from Government for this key sector. Indeed should any additional funding become available before the end of the present national development plan, I would expect that the programme would again benefit from transfers.

Residency Permits.

Michael Noonan

Question:

152 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received an application from a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; if further information is required to process the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12767/04]

I can confirm that an application for permission to remain in the State was received by my Department in June 2003 on behalf of the person concerned. Applications of the type referred to by the Deputy are dealt with in strict chronological order and are currently taking approximately 12 months to process.

Child Care Programme.

Tom Hayes

Question:

153 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on an application for a staffing grant for a pre-school facility in County Tipperary (details provided). [12797/04]

The group, to which the Deputy refers, received a staffing grant under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 in July 2002. The grant was awarded over one year to enable the group deliver a child care service and to prepare and submit a development plan, which would show that the service has a clear focus on disadvantage.

I have been advised that the group submitted an application for further funding on 22 December 2003. The application was forwarded to Area Development Management Limited, which carries out a thorough assessment of each project proposal on behalf of my Department. On completion of the assessment process, the application will be considered by the programme appraisal committee, chaired by my Department, which makes a funding recommendation to me. I understand that the assessment process can involve lengthy dialogue with the applicant group and that, in this instance, the assessment is almost complete.

I would like to advise the Deputy that support towards staffing costs under the programme is only available to community based child care projects which meet the programme criteria, show that they are addressing disadvantage and are supporting the child care needs of disadvantaged parents who are in employment, education or training. In the interim, it would be premature of me to comment further on this application for staffing grant application.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

154 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12844/04]

My Department receives 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 whether through answer to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches, reports and other publications.

Garda Recruitment.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

155 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a garda will be replaced in a station (details supplied); if procedures are in place to have both gardaí and sergeants coming up to retirement replaced as soon as that retirement day arrives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12850/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources including personnel that the personnel strength of Malin Garda station is two — one sergeant and one garda. The sergeant assigned to Malin Garda station has submitted a notice of intention to retire with effect from 15 May, 2004.

The question of a replacement sergeant for Malin Garda station will be considered during future allocations of newly promoted sergeants. Garda personnel assigned to the Donegal division together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy are constantly monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

Penalty Points System.

Denis Naughten

Question:

156 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of fixed charge notifications which have been issued under the penalty points system, since the introduction of the system; the number of such notifications which have been paid in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12854/04]

I regret very much that it has not been possible, within the time allowed, to compile the information necessary to answer this question. I will convey the information to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available.

Communications Technology.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

157 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to bring Garda communications technology up to international standards with particular reference to eliminating the need for the Garda to resort to the use of personal mobile phone technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12904/04]

In 1999, Government approval was obtained for the replacement of the existing Garda radio network with a new integrated, digital trunked radio network, which has been specifically developed for emergency service use. It was also decided that a pilot project be implemented in the first instance.

The pilot scheme commenced in 2001 in two Garda divisions, Dublin north central division and DMR traffic department Dublin Castle. The emergency services, fire, ambulance, prisons service, also participated in the pilot project. The pilot was a large project in its own right and was completed at a cost of just under €6 million.

Following the completion of the pilot, and in the light of the experience gained, the Garda Síochána prepared a business case for the implementation of a nationwide system. This was submitted to my Department at the end of last year. The business case identifies a number of options for implementation including possible funding options. It is currently under consideration in consultation with the relevant parties, including the Department of Finance.

Notwithstanding the decision to be taken on digital radio, and in recognition that the existing Garda radio systems must be maintained, significant expenditure has been invested in the existing radio systems. In the order of €1 million was expended in capital equipment at the end of last year, with further expenditure planned this year.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

158 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of criminal gangs operating in the greater Dublin area; the number so involved a year ago; the action taken in the interim to combat the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12905/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

169 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which he has taken action to bring justice persons or groups involved in racketeering, money laundering or other forms of organised crime, having particular regard to information he has himself put in the public arena; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12920/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

170 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to bring to an end the growth in organised crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12922/04]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 158, 169 and 170 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the majority of groups of the kind referred to by the Deputy in Dublin tend to be made up of criminals who are not affiliated to a particular gang but operate on anad hoc basis committing criminal offences, with others who may be associated with one or more groupings, as the opportunity of acquiring cash-property arises. Given the fluidity of this situation there are inherent difficulties in providing statistical information of the kind sought.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that a dedicated operation, Operation Lance, has been established under the direction of a detective superintendent to deal with serious crime in the Dublin metropolitan region. Since the establishment of this operation 27 persons have been arrested in relation to serious criminal activity and €6 million worth of stolen property has been recovered.

The establishment of specialist Garda units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Garda National Drug Unit, operating under an assistant commissioner in charge of national support services, has enabled the Garda Síochána to tackle organised crime involving drugs, fraud, money laundering, racketeering and firearms in a structured and co-ordinated fashion.

While I am currently undertaking a review of the adequacy of legislative provisions, our legislative package for tackling organised crime is one of the toughest in Europe. The Garda Síochána has available to it a broad range of legislation, including proceeds of crime legislation, to enable serious or organised crime to be tackled and the Garda continue to follow a proactive and integrated approach to the investigation of organised crime.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

159 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to his comments in the context of citizenship and the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution, the number of non-national mothers who have given birth in maternity hospitals here and have not subsequently remained resident in this jurisdiction in each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12907/04]

Some 3,153 non-EEA national parents were given permission to reside in the State on the basis of an Irish born citizen child in 2001. Some 4,056 non-EEA national parents were given permission to reside in the State on the basis of an Irish born citizen child in 2002. Some 183 non-EEA national parents were given permission to reside in the State on the basis of an Irish born citizen child in 2003. There are no figures available on the breakdown between mothers and fathers.

The figure of 183 for 2003 is as a result of the abolition of the separate residency application process for the parents of Irish born children in February 2003 in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in the cases of L and O. The fact that the separate residency application process was abolished however did not mean that the issue of Irish born citizen children did not continue to arise in the context of a ministerial proposal to deport.

At present there are over 9,000 non-EEA national parents who have asked to remain in Ireland because they have Irish born citizen children. This will require to be considered carefully in the context of a ministerial determination as to whether or not a deportation order should be made in respect of the parents.

There are no figures available to me on the number of non-EEA national parents who have not applied to me for residency on that basis or who have not sought to invoke their Irish born citizen child as a reason for not being deported.

There are no systematic exit controls in operation in this jurisdiction which are designed to provide figures on the number of mothers travelling with their children from the State — whether or not the children are Irish citizens. There is no immigration registration requirement for non-national children under the age of 16 years. Irish citizen children are not required to register their presence in the State.

Legislative Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

160 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his schedule of law reform proposals for the next three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12908/04]

I can inform the Deputy that my Department's legislative proposals are as contained in the Government's legislative programme announced by the Chief Whip on 26 April 2004. The programme will continue to be updated in the normal way by each Department at the beginning of each Dáil session.

The programme is, of course, without prejudice to any further proposals for legislation which I might bring forward for Government approval, details of which would be announced in the usual way.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

161 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he proposes to introduce legislation which might speed up the passage of family law cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12909/04]

It is not clear to me how legislation might expedite the passage of family law cases in the courts. If such a case is made to me, I will consider it.

As the Deputy will recall from my reply to a previous parliamentary question tabled by him in relation to family law, the Courts Service is responsible for the day to day management of the courts while I am responsible for ensuring that the service is adequately funded and, in this regard, €97.49 million has been provided in 2004. The resources provided allow the Courts Service to progress the implementation of its strategic plans and policies and to maintain appropriate levels of service. In so far as overall judicial resources are concerned, the matter is the subject of review.

Drug Trafficking.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

162 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to make a serious impact on the drugs distribution network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12910/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Síochána engages in a number of activities to address the issue of drug distribution and criminal networks involved in this activity. These actions concentrate on both the supply and demand for drugs as well as the national and international aspects of drug trafficking. Initiatives undertaken by the Garda Síochána operate along a number of underlying principles including: targeting criminal networks operating at both a national and international level involved in the sale and distribution of illegal drugs; focusing on combating all aspects of the illegal drug trade to include not only the distribution of drugs but also the structures and systems which support this activity; maintaining an intelligence oriented approach in the targeting and dismantling of drug distribution networks; and depriving criminal networks of the financial proceeds emanating from drug trafficking.

Responsibility for co-ordinating the Garda Síochána's activities in this area is vested with Assistant Commissioner, national support services, who is responsible for a number of national units including the Garda national drugs unit, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. These units have direct responsibility for addressing organised crime within the State.

The Garda Síochána work in close co-operation with the Revenue authorities and engage in joint investigations which, in many instances, have resulted in the apprehension of individuals and the seizure of substantial quantities of drugs. At a local level, divisional and district units are established with the specific remit of addressing the activities of individuals involved in the sale and distribution of drugs within local communities. In addition, the Garda Síochána regularly undertake specific operations targeting drug distribution at a street level and in places of entertainment. These operations — Cleanstreet and Nightcap — have been extremely successful in targeting individuals involved in drug distribution. I have been assured by the Garda authorities that they will continue, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies and in co-operation with their international partners, to pursue initiatives aimed at having a significant impact on drug distribution networks.

Sexual Offences.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

163 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to combat the increased incidence of rape; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12911/04]

As the Deputy is aware, the provisional statistics for the first quarter of 2004 show a notable increase in some of the sexual offences categories, including rape of a female — up by 41 cases to 181 — and rape section 4 — up three cases to 21. As I noted at the time, this figure is disturbingly high and the commissioner has informed me that this increase results from the recent reporting of approximately 60 historical offences dating from the 1960s. It should be noted that these statistics refer to raw data and are subject to change in the course of the validation process.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Síochána thoroughly investigates all complaints of rapes and take every possible measure to ensure that the victims are dealt with in a professional and sensitive manner. There is close co-operation between gardaí and other organisations involved in this area.

The gardaí continue to make efforts to combat sexual offences by means of education, increased awareness and enforcement of the relevant legislation. The Garda authorities have informed me that the Sex Offenders Act 2001 is an effective tool in managing convicted sex offenders in the community as it places requirements on the convicted sex offenders to notify the Garda Síochána of their current place of residence. This legislation also creates an offence for failure of convicted sex offenders to inform employers of a sexual offence or conviction when seeking employment for work which consist mainly of unsupervised access to children or mentally impaired persons.

I can inform the Deputy that, in recent years, my Department has funded a number of awareness campaigns in relation to rape and sexual assault which were conducted by the national steering committee on violence against women. In addition, my Department has provided funding to a number of rape crisis centres to deliver a training programme in schools in their locality.

The Deputy may also be interested to know that my Department has recently provided joint funding for comprehensive research into attrition rates in rape cases. The research which is entitled, The Understanding of Attrition, Early Withdrawal, the Trial Process and Identifying Possible Changes to Support Complainants in Rape Cases, is being carried out by the department of law at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Rape Crisis Network Ireland.

Child Pornography.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

164 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps which can be taken to combat child pornography through the Internet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12913/04]

The Internet is an international phenomenon. It has no borders and there is no single organisation controlling it. Measures to combat child pornography on the Internet are therefore hampered by a multiplicity of jurisdictions, differing legal systems, and indeed differing societal norms. Furthermore, developments in new communications technologies allow for Internet access from many means other than the traditional personal computer.

For the above reasons, combating the production and availability of child pornography requires a combination of responses, and the co-operation of all the stakeholders, at both national and international level — legislators, law enforcement, schools, child protection practitioners and, most important of all, parents and guardians.

In terms of legislation, in the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998, Ireland has one of the most robust pieces of legislation anywhere. Under the Act, the possession, distribution, importation and exportation or sale of all forms of child pornography — films, videos, or material in written or auditory form including material produced or transmitted via the Internet are offences, with penalties of up to 14 years' imprisonment. Mere possession of child pornography can be punishable by imprisonment for up to five years. Using a child or allowing a child to be used for the production of child pornography is also punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment.

The Garda Síochána is committed to the investigation of all cases of child pornography and the importance of investigating the child protection issues involved in such cases. The paedophile investigation unit, which is located within the domestic violence and sexual assault unit of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, is in existence since November 2002. This unit is tasked with the investigation and co-ordination of cases relating to the possession, production and distribution of child pornography, and any alleged sexual abuse pertaining to same.

Computer forensics are carried out by the paedophile investigation unit and also the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation using up to date forensics. As suspected criminal cases are complex, members of the Garda Síochána are continuously updating their skills in the investigation of child pornography on the Internet. Given the international dimension of these offences, there is continuous co-operation and liaison with other police forces in an effort to investigate and combat these crimes.

On the structural side, the Government established a working group in 1997 to examine and report on the whole question of the illegal and harmful use of the Internet with particular reference to child pornography. The report of the working group on the illegal and harmful use of the Internet was published in July 1998. The main recommendation of the report was for a system of self-regulation by the Internet service provider industry. The components of such a system were to include the following: an Internet Advisory Board, IAB, established in February 2000, which promotes awareness of Internet downside issues, co-ordinates efforts to combat child pornography on the Internet and monitors the progress of self-regulation by the Internet service provider industry; a public hotline for reporting child pornography, established 1999 and funded by the industry; and an industry code of practice setting out the duties and responsibilities of each Internet service provider, agreed in February 2002.

The Internet Advisory Board oversees and monitors progress on child pornography measures, and supervises a self-regulatory regime for the Irish Internet service providers. Its brief also extends to general downside issues on the Internet including general safety for children. The hotline,www.hotline.ie, funded by the Internet Service Providers’ Association of Ireland with support from the EU safer Internet action plan, was launched in November 1999 and has been operating since that time. Special protocols operate between the Garda and the hotline which maximise co-operation on law enforcement issues so that offences in the area of child pornography can be detected and prosecuted. The hotline works closely with, and is a founding member of the international INHOPE association, www.inhope.org, a network of European hotlines which is expanding to all parts of the world. The INHOPE association develops procedures and shares information on the best practices for the tracing and tracking of illegal child pornography.

The self-regulation approach to Internet regulation has been adopted world-wide and the board helps and supports the Irish Internet service provider industry to deliver an effective self-regulation environment, in accordance with an agreed code of practice and ethics for the industry. That code of practice and ethics is recognised throughout Europe as a model of its type. International co-operation is a vital part of the fight against child pornography on the Internet, and Ireland is fully committed to playing its part.

In September 2001, the Council of Europe Ministers' deputies approved the first international convention on cybercrime. Ireland signed up to the convention in June 2002. The main objective of the convention is to foster international co-operation in protecting society against cybercrime. The convention deals specifically with the distribution of child pornography on the Internet, infringements of copyright, computer related fraud and violations of network security.

The European Union has take a strong line on combating child pornography on the Internet. Under the safer Internet action plan, the EU is providing financial and other supports for measures in the member states to combat illegal and harmful uses of the Internet, with particular emphasis on protecting children. A proposal for a new EU action plan, Safer Internet Plus, covering the period 2005 to 2008, with a budget of €50 million, is being progressed under the Irish Presidency. A new Framework Decision on Combating the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography was adopted by the EU Council on 22 December 2003, and my Department is currently examining its requirements in order to determine whether or not new legislation will be required in order to comply with its provisions.

Missing Persons.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

165 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons recorded as missing over the past five years; the number subsequently found; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12914/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of persons recorded as missing for the years 1998 to 2002 inclusive is 10,081 and that the number of people subsequently found is 9,990. All files on missing persons remain open and under continuous review until the person is located, or, in the case of a missing person who is presumed drowned, a verdict to that effect by the coroner.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

166 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which crime levels by category as reported have increased or decreased throughout County Kildare in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12915/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that statistics are not available in the county format requested by the Deputy. They have, however, furnished the headline crime statistics for the years 2000 to 2003 for the Garda division of Carlow-Kildare. Comparable statistics for the previous years are unavailable and I am informed that the compilation of such information would involve a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources which could not be justified in the circumstances. It should be noted that the statistics furnished for 2003 are provisional and are, therefore, subject to change.

Headline Crime Statistics: Carlow-Kildare division

Homicide

Assault

Sexual Offences

Arson

Drugs

Larceny

Burglary

Robbery

Fraud

Other

Total Rec.

2000

6

72

41

51

77

1,196

1,385

58

216

10

3,112

2001

4

119

80

50

83

1,661

1,434

79

203

38

3,751

2002

1

282

123

55

87

2,049

1,672

80

205

85

4,639

2003*

0

218

168

63

93

2,290

1,605

74

212

51

4,772

Prison Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

167 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans for the provision of custodial places; if sufficient places exist in view of recent closures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12917/04]

The provision of approximately 1,300 new prison spaces in recent years, at considerable cost, has put the Prison Service in a much better position to accommodate prisoners for the duration of their sentences than was the case during the revolving door era of the 1990s. However, with most of our prisons operating at or near full capacity, some accommodation difficulties occur from time to time. It should also be noted that this issue is not simply one of matching the global prisoner population to a global figure for beds or cells. A number of factors have to be taken into account including the prisoner's age, gender, the nature of the offence, location, security and whether they are on remand or sentenced.

I recently announced that I am contemplating the building of two major prison developments, one on a greenfield site in the greater Dublin area and the other on Spike Island, County Cork. It is intended that these new facilities will address the overcrowding difficulties that arise from time to time and they will offer significant improvements in the areas of work, training, educational and medical services for inmates as well as predominantly single cell accommodation with proper in-cell sanitation facilities.

I would like to point out that any shortage of prison spaces is not as a direct result of the forced mothballing of the places of detention at Fort Mitchell and the Curragh. Overall, these two institutions had a capacity of 204 spaces — 102 each. The recent opening of a new wing in Limerick Prison has fully offset the loss of Fort Mitchell. The lost capacity in the case of the Curragh place of detention, has been approximately 80% offset by the bringing into operation of previously unused spaces in the Midlands Prison. In fact, there are more prisoners in custody today than there were immediately prior to closure of the two sites.

Prisoner Releases.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

168 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prisoners who have received early release without serving their full sentence in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12918/04]

Figures for the year 2003 are being compiled by the Prison Service. While subject to final verification, these statistics indicate that just under 2,500 prisoners received early release in the calendar year. Typically, the releases in these cases would be of short duration, sometimes as little as one to two days, when the prisoner is close to completion of sentence. From time to time, consideration may be given to a somewhat longer period of release for the purposes of residential addiction counselling or for other constructive programmes, for example, work training. The aim of this latter form of temporary release is to help the prisoner with employment prospects on the outside which will have the effect of reducing the risk of reoffending. Temporary release, which is always conditional on the prisoners behaviour, is recognised as being a useful instrument in preparing a prisoner for reintegration with society.

At present, the number of persons on temporary release is in the region of 8% to 9% of the prison population. This compares with figures approaching 20% during the 1990s. This reduction is largely due to the construction of some 1,300 new prison spaces during this period.

Questions Nos. 169 and 170 answered with Question No. 158.

Departmental Reports.

David Stanton

Question:

171 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reports that have been commissioned by his Department since June 2002; the reports that have been completed and received by his Department; the reports that have been published; the body or agency in each case that was commissioned to produce the report; the cost or estimated cost of each report; the expected date of publication of unpublished reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12948/04]

In the time available for answering parliamentary questions it has not been possible to compile the detailed information requested by the Deputy. The information sought is being compiled at present and I will forward it to the Deputy shortly.

Garda Deployment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

173 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí available for street or motorised patrol over a 24 hour basis in the greater Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12950/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the current total strength of the Garda Síochána in the Dublin metropolitan region as at 30 April 2004 was 3,801 — all ranks. For operational reasons, it is not Garda policy to release the number of personnel working over any particular period of time.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

174 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí available for duty in County Kildare over any 24 hour period with particular reference to street or motorised patrols; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12951/04]

I have been informed by Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that County Kildare forms part of the Carlow-Kildare division. The personnel strength, all ranks, of Carlow-Kildare division as at 30 April 2004 was 327 — all ranks.

For security and operational reasons, it is not Garda policy to disclose the number of Garda personnel on duty at any given time. The situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next becomes available, the needs of Garda stations in County Kildare will be fully considered within the overall context of the needs of Garda stations throughout the country.

Garda Strength.

Billy Timmins

Question:

175 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the situation with respect to the appointment of a member of the gardaí to a full-time position in Dunlavin, County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12952/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that a full-time member of Garda rank was allocated to Dunlavin, County Wicklow, on 13 August 2003.

Garda Operations.

Billy Timmins

Question:

176 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider the possibility of local communities locating defibrillators in local Garda stations to assist in their case of availability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12953/04]

I have not received any proposal on this matter to date. I expect that in the first instance this is a public health issue which would be a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children. If such an issue were to arise, I would have to consider the appropriateness of Garda stations as locations for such equipment in consultation with the Garda Commissioner and the Department of Health and Children.

Tony Gregory

Question:

177 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will request a report from the Garda authorities detailing the Garda response to the serious tensions between local residents and some construction workers at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 7; if the gardaí can assist in this matter; if the gardaí have a role in ensuring that construction work is confined to the restricted times set down by regulations; if illegal parking by trucks on footpaths blocking residents’ driveways is being dealt with at this location; if trucks leaving the site comply in full with traffic laws; if threats against residents have been followed up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12965/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that a number of complaints made by residents are being followed up and investigated, and that the gardaí have issued a number of fines on the spot for offences committed at this location. I am assured that the gardaí will continue to take appropriate action when reports of illegal activity are made. I have had inquiries made and I am informed that local Garda management are aware of tensions that exist between local residents and construction workers at this location. Gardaí have met both the local residents and construction workers in an effort to resolve the issues raised by the Deputy.

The enforcement of the planning regulations with regard to construction work is a matter for the relevant local authority, Dublin City Council in this case.

Planning Regulations.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

178 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position in respect of the taking in charge of estates built prior to the planning Acts in 1963; if legislation requiring local authorities to take them in charge is envisaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12793/04]

Estates built prior to the commencement of planning legislation in 1964 may be taken in charge in accordance with the provisions set out in section 11 of the Roads Act 1993. Section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides for an updated framework in relation to the taking in charge of housing estates for which permission has been granted under the 2000 Act or the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act 1963. There is no proposal to amend these provisions.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

179 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12810/04]

The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy shortly.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

180 Ms Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12845/04]

I wish to point out that 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 whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Local Authority Information.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

181 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the length of time a Deputy is expected to wait for information to be sent in response to a written query to any given local authority post-the ending of the dual mandate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12849/04]

Local authorities are committed to the delivery of a quality service to all customers and their customer action-service plans set out specific standards, including target response times to correspondence. It is a matter for each local authority to keep under review their own systems and procedures with a view to improving standards of service and addressing any deficiencies which may come to light at local level.

In the context of the ending of the dual mandate, local authorities were required to put in place arrangements as regards their dealings with Oireachtas Members so as to provide reasonable customer service and facilitate such members in carrying out their work on behalf of local communities, and regulations were made in this connection. A feature of the system is that managers are required to meet at least annually with local Oireachtas Members and thus provide an opportunity for an update on developments and for any difficulties to be raised and addressed. This is additional to normal and regular contacts between local authority officials and public representatives regarding particular problems or issues.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

182 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by his Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12811/04]

The Deputy will appreciate that a wide range of reports are routinely prepared in my Department for the purposes of administration, management of schemes, financial management, internal audit, personnel, etc. I take it that these are not the subject of the Deputy's inquiry, as it would simply not be feasible to identify every such note prepared for management purposes since July 2003. I also take it that small-scale technical evaluations or analyses carried out by consultants, that is, less than €5,000, are excluded.

Within the framework of the foregoing, I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliament Question No. 497 of 17 February 2004. Further to the material in that reply, information in relation to substantive reports internally prepared or externally commissioned by my Department since 1 July 2003 is set out in the appendix below.

Appendix

Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Annual Report 2002. Prepared internally. Published September 2003 also available on website; IT Strategy Report. Prepared by Deloitte & Touche. Completed March 2004 at a cost of €102,000, including VAT. Not intended for publication;

Access to Waymarked Ways. Prepared internally. Published January 2004; A Review of Support for Enterprise in Rural Areas. Commissioned from Fitzpatrick Associates in September 2003 at a cost of €76,000, including VAT. This is likely to be published July 2004; Decentralisation — Information on towns in the west. Internally prepared. Contains information on 17 towns in the area surrounding Knock Airport as well as Na Forbacha and Clifden. Report is also on the website. It will also be published in book form; Review of the Work of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, NACD. Commissioned from Talbot Associates February 2004. Expected to be completed by end May 2004 at a cost of €39,125, excluding VAT. No decision has been made on publication at this stage; Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the Gaeltacht. Contract awarded to Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, University of Ireland, Galway, in conjunction with the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, University of Ireland, Maynooth, in January 2004. Study scheduled for completion September 2006 and the estimated cost is €550,223, including VAT. The report is expected to be published on completion; The effectiveness and value for money of the subsidised transport services to a number of islands. Commissioned from Malachy Walsh & Partners, in association with Posford Haskoning, Raymond Burke Consulting, McCaig Watson and Seosamh Mac Donnacha, at a cost of €95,642, including VAT. Published April 2004; Mid-Term Evaluation of LEADER. Phase 1 commissioned from Fitzpatrick Associates, in association with Brendan Kearney & Associates, at cost of €100,370, including VAT. It has not been published but has been circulated to all interested parties, including the EU Commission, the LEADER+ monitoring committee and all the LEADER+ groups; Review of department's Internal Audit Function. Carried out by IPA at cost of €9,000, excluding VAT. Completed in October 2003. Not intended for publication; The National Advisory Committee on Drugs, NACD, in pursuit of its agreed drugs research programme, has commissioned research as set out below. Decisions on publication, as appropriate, will be made by the NACD upon completion of the research. Drug Issues and the Homeless Study was commissioned from Merchants Quay Project Limited in July 2003. It is due for completion in August 2004 at cost of €62,643, excluding VAT; Drug Issues and the Travellers Study was commissioned from Vision 21 in July 2003. It is due for completion in September 2004 at cost of €49,445, excluding VAT. Evaluation of National Drug Awareness Campaign was commissioned from NUI Galway in September 2003. It is due for completion in December 2005 at cost of €60,000, excluding VAT.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

183 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if staff at his Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12846/04]

The staff of my Department are not engaged in the preparation, production or dissemination of particular material for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European elections. 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.

I also point out that my Department receives regular requests from 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 whether through answers to parliamentary questions, press releases, speeches or existing briefing material.

Social Welfare Code.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

184 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Carlow is entitled to any of the free schemes when they turn 60 in June 2004; if not, the reason therefor; and the number of widows between the ages of 60 and 66 who are in a similar situation to this person. [12776/04]

The person concerned is in receipt of a widow's contributory pension. This is not a qualifying payment for household benefit purposes for persons aged under 66, except in the case of widowers aged between 60 and 65 where their spouses were in receipt of these benefits before they died. As the late spouse of the person concerned had not been in receipt of household benefits, she is not eligible for these benefits until she is 66 years of age.

According to the records of my Department, there are nearly 16,000 people aged between 60 and 65 in receipt of a widow-er's pension who are not in receipt of the household benefits. An extension of household benefits entitlement to all of this group would have significant cost implications which could only be considered in a budgetary context.

Bernard Allen

Question:

185 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reasons persons (details supplied) in County Cork had rent subsidy allowance discontinued without notification; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12777/04]

The Southern Health Board was contacted regarding this case and has advised that the reason rent supplement was discontinued in this case is because the amount of rent sought by the landlord is above the maximum limit allowable for rent supplement purposes and the health board advises that suitable accommodation is available within the maximum rent limits that currently apply.

The board has advised that payment of the rent supplement ceased without the normal prior notification being issued to the person concerned. When the lack of prior notification came to light the payment of the rent supplement, including arrears, was restored on a temporary basis.

The person concerned was formally notified that the limited period for which the rent supplement was to be paid had expired and that payment of the supplement was to terminate after a further 21 days. He was also advised of his right to appeal against this decision.

The board has further advised that the person concerned exercised his right to appeal against this decision. The health board's appeals officer found no grounds on which to overturn the decision and accordingly payment of the rent supplement has ceased in this case. The person concerned was advised by the health board on 24 April that if he is dissatisfied with the decision of the health board's appeals officer, he may appeal to the social welfare appeals office.

Michael Ring

Question:

186 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her views on whether it is fair or equitable that a person who has worked and paid PRSI all their working lives should, on being made redundant, be penalised by having the payment of unemployment benefit curtailed for a number of weeks depending on the amount of redundancy payment they received; when this penny pinching measure was introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12780/04]

Unemployment benefit claimants who receive a redundancy lump sum payment in accordance with the terms of the Redundancy Payment Acts which is in excess of €19,046.07 may be disqualified from receiving payment for up to nine weeks. Certain payments are disregarded in determining the duration of the disqualification, for example, encashment of independent pension entitlements, moneys paid in lieu of notice or accrued holiday entitlements.

Guidelines issued to deciding officers advise that, in considering a UB claim made by a person who has just been made redundant, they should also take account of a range of factors which could include, for example, such as the claimant's age, family difficulties, etc. In addition, in cases where the customer intends to use some of the redundancy payment to clear or reduce debts which have accrued, deciding officers may offset these debts against the amount received before determining an appropriate period of disqualification, for example, arrears of mortgage or rent, arrears of telephone-electricity-gas bills and particularly debts to moneylenders. Regard may similarly be had to costs related to any exceptional needs, for example, the cost of converting the customer's home to facilitate wheelchair access by a family member.

To ensure consistency in the application of the legislation, the following schedule is used as a guide to what might be considered to be an appropriate period of disqualification, having regard to the gross amount of redundancy received:

Amount of Redundancy Payment: Period of Disqualification

19,046.07 — 25,400

1 Week

25,401 — 31,750

2 Weeks

31,751 — 38,100

3 Weeks

38,101 — 44,450

4 Weeks

44,451 — 50,800

5 Weeks

50,801 — 57,150

6 Weeks

57,151 — 63,500

7 Weeks

63,501 — 69,850

8 Weeks

69,851 and over

9 Weeks

This measure was introduced in 1992 and was designed to counter situations where the social insurance fund was, in effect, being used as a top-up to substantial redundancy packages which also, in some cases, offered fixed period seasonal work. It is important to achieve a balance between the need to ensure that the integrity of the social insurance fund is protected with the need to ensure that the legitimate expectations of insured workers are met. In that context the arrangements in respect of people who receive redundancy payments, as I have outlined them, are not unreasonable.

Departmental Reports.

John Perry

Question:

187 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will detail reports that have been internally prepared or externally commissioned by her Department since 1 July 2003, indicating in all cases if they had been published; when they will be published; and if they are not intended for publication in relation to externally commissioned reports, the costs of the reports. [12812/04]

It is assumed that the Deputy's question refers to reports relating to the schemes and services administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and not to routine management reports or reports about operational matters to do with the day to day running of the Department. The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Reports initiated since July 2003 for publication:

Making Work Pay: Exploring the Interaction between Social Protection and Work — Framework Paper for the Informal Council meeting of Employment and Social Policy Ministers. Initiated July 2003. Published on EU Presidency website January 2004. Cost €7,986; Report of the Working Group on Fully Inclusive Social Insurance. Initiated July 2003 following establishment of social partnership group under the Sustaining Progress Publication. Publication summer 2004; A Review of Customer Survey methods in the Department of Social, and Family Affairs. Initiated June 2003. Published October 2003. Cost €15,000.

Reports for internal use in policy development not for publication:

Report on Retirement Annuity Contracts. Initiated November 2003. Cost: €1,500; Report on Borrowing Power of Occupational Pension Schemes. Initiated January 2004. Cost: €1,200; Report on Unisex Insurance and Annuity Rates. Initiated January 2004. Cost €2,400. Report on Default Investment Strategies under PRSAs. Initiated April 2004. Cost €1,750. Report updating cost of Social Housing Report 1995. Initiated September 2003. Cost €11,000.

Departmental Documentation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

188 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if staff at her Department are engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections; if such documentation, briefing notes, information, booklets, statistics or other information has already been disseminated from the Department. [12847/04]

Staff at my Department are not engaged in the preparation or production of documentation, briefing materials, information, booklets, statistics or other information for the use of a specific political party or individual candidates in the local or European Parliament elections and that no such material has been disseminated from my Department for such purposes. 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 the 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.