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 16, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 17 to 36, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 37 to 43, inclusive, answered orally.

Court Accommodation.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

44 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform about the planned construction of a new criminal courts complex in Dublin. [16296/04]

The Courts Service has developed proposals for a new purpose built criminal courts complex in Dublin. It would involve the transfer of all existing criminal business transacted in the District, Circuit and Central Criminal Courts from the Four Courts and associated buildings to one purpose built facility. It would address the shortcomings that exist such as insufficient courtrooms and ancillary facilities, security and lack of separate facilities for different court users such as judges, juries, the public and prisoners.

The proposals have been progressed to the stage of an outline business case with the assistance of the Office of Public Works and the National Development Finance Agency. The project would constitute a significant capital and ongoing commitment. It is envisaged that the development will be undertaken by a public private partnership arrangement. Recently my Department received the business case from the Courts Service and my officials are studying it.

I support the proposal in principle and, subject to my Department's examination of it, I shall arrange for the details to be discussed with the Department of Finance as soon as possible.

Presidential Visit.

Joe Costello

Question:

45 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the expected nature and cost of security arrangements required by the planned visit of President Bush. [16278/04]

Joe Sherlock

Question:

66 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the purpose of visits made by members of the Garda Síochána to homes in the Shannon area requesting information on the persons likely to be staying in the houses at the end of June; and the legal basis on which the information is being sought. [16279/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 66 together. I refer the Deputies to my reply to Question No. 38 for today.

Garda Strength.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

46 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of recruits who have graduated from the Garda Training College since 6 June 2002; the number of gardaí that have retired, resigned or left the force since 6 June 2002. [16299/04]

The Garda authorities are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel. They have informed me that the number of recruits who have graduated from the Garda college since 6 June 2002 is 950.

As many as 950 people have completedthe student-probationer education-training programme. The 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. The number of members attested since 6 June 2002 is 1,065.

The corresponding number of all ranks who have resigned, retired or left in the same period is 849. Garda strength as at 28 May was 11,964. The next attestation of members is due to take place on 1 July when approximately 160 members will be attested.

Garda Investigations.

Mary Upton

Question:

47 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he received a report by a senior Garda officer, appointed by the Commissioner, to examine all matters featured in a television programme (details supplied) broadcast on 8 January. [16309/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the report is at an advanced stage and will be finalised shortly.

Allegations of serious wrongdoing by members of the Garda Síochána, such as those broadcast on the "Prime Time" programme, are of serious concern to me. Some of the cases featured on 8 January were previously reported and in the public domain. They have either been or may be dealt with in the courts or by existing complaints and disciplinary mechanisms. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the specific details.

I expect the report to address all of the issues raised and to examine the cases featured in the programme and, where relevant, the Garda systems, practices and procedures. This will be done with a view to assessing whether additional safeguards or changes are necessary.

Existing laws and procedures for dealing with complaints against gardaí are inadequate. We need a mechanism for dealing with such cases that commands the confidence of members of the public and the force. In February the Garda Síochána Bill 2004 was published. One of its key objectives is the establishment of an independent ombudsman commission with powers to investigate complaints made against gardaí. It will also be able to investigate policies and practices that may be a cause of complaint.

Compensation Payments.

Willie Penrose

Question:

48 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount paid in respect of court awards or out of court settlements for claims taken against members of the Garda for assaults, unlawful arrests or other breaches of a citizen’s right in respect of the years 2001 to 2003, inclusive, and to date; the number of cases where awards were made by the courts, the number of cases that were settled out of court and the number of such cases pending. [16286/04]

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the following tabular statement.

As of 31 December 2003 there were approximately 750 civil actions taken against members of the force on hand. A detailed breakdown of them in the form of the number of allegations of assault, unlawful arrest and other breaches of citizens' rights is not readily available. 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 a detailed breakdown is 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, 44 actions have been initiated/received. They include 15 cases of alleged assault and 14 cases of alleged unlawful arrest.

Civil actions may be taken by the general public against members of the force for compensation for alleged wrongs and personal injuries inflicted on them by gardaí in the performance of their duties. The highest percentage of these types of civil actions is for assault and unlawful arrest. The majority of them 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 that 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. He also informed me that the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 1989 are invoked in appropriate cases where the actions of a garda comes into question. One of the principal aims of the Bill is the establishment of a new mechanism for dealing with complaints against gardaí that will secure public confidence and 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)

Awards

11,000 (1)

10,000 (2)

4,870 (2)

€1,276,127.55

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

Awards

15,000 (1)

0

0

of 28/5/04) €433,462.50

Settlements

10,000 (1)

184,007 (5)

27,500(1)

Costs

20,973.95

61,465.15

114,516.40

Total

45,973.95

245,472.15

142,016.40

The number of cases where awards were made by the courts and the number of cases that were settled out of court are shown in brackets.

Garda Radio Communications.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

49 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to improve the Garda radio structure in view of the assertion in the current issue of the Garda Review that it is on the verge of collapse. [16349/04]

I am aware of the article. A pilot digital radio system was implemented in the north central division in Dublin and in the Garda traffic section in Dublin Castle. The pilot was a major project in its own right and was completed last year at a cost of almost €6 million.

Taking into account information and experience gained from the pilot, the Garda have prepared and submitted to my Department a detailed business case in support of a nationwide implementation of a digital radio system. Discussions on various technical and implementation options are ongoing between officials of my Department, the Garda authorities and the Department of Finance. I expect them to conclude in the near future.

I recognise the benefits of digital radio, including the additional security it provides. It is a large and costly project that needs careful evaluation. The pilot in Dublin has helped identify technical solutions and various options for managing and funding such a system.

Notwithstanding the decision to be taken on replacing the radio system, and in recognition that the current system must be maintained, significant expenditure was invested. At the end of last year a sum of €1 million was expended in capital equipment and further expenditure is planned for this year. An enhanced radio system is still required. The expenditure demonstrates my commitment to maintain the existing system until it can be replaced.

Legislative Programme.

David Stanton

Question:

50 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress that was made in drafting the disability Bill; the outstanding issue that must be resolved; and when he will publish the Bill. [16337/04]

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

89 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the disability Bill will be published; and his discussions with disability groups about its terms. [16292/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 89 together.

An Agreed Programme for Government outlines our commitment to complete consultations on disability legislation and to bring an amended Bill through the Oireachtas. The Government has facilitated extensive consultation nationally on disability legislation and gave disability groups an opportunity to present their proposals for a disability Bill.

In April 2002 the Government appointed an expert consultation team to oversee the national consultation process. It met and received the views of the stakeholders, including the Disability Legislation Consultation Group, the social partners, the community and voluntary sector and relevant Departments before completing its task in February 2003.

The group is representative of people with disabilities, their families, carers and service providers. It was established by the National Disability Authority to facilitate dialogue at national level in the sector and with a consultation team. Broad ranging consultations took place in 2002 and early in 2003. The group presented its document Equal Citizens — Proposals for Core Elements of Disability Legislation in February 2003.

The Government is conscious of the complex and cross-cutting nature of the issues involved and, to support ministerial engagement throughout the process, referred an oversight of the Bill and other elements of the framework to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion. The Government and the committee are paying particular attention to any views that arose through the consultation process and the administrative arrangements required to facilitate the effective implementation of the proposed Bill.

Last year the DLCG met a number of Members, including the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Willie O'Dea, and the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Tim O'Malley. Matters discussed included an assessment of needs, standards, service provision, the need to build capacity in key sectors of the public service to allow for the 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 and legislative proposals were outlined. Its views on the proposals were discussed and noted for consideration by the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion. On 12 May the Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, met the group and outlined the developments in Government thinking and issues still under discussion arising from meetings with officials earlier in the year. He reassured them of the Government's continued commitment to publish a Bill at the earliest possible date.

The 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 that has just completed Report Stage in the Dáil and will commence Second Stage in the Seanad shortly; the Comhairle (Amendment) Bill is being prepared in the Department of Social and Family Affairs on the provision of advocacy; six sectoral plans for key public services; and equality legislation, to be updated by the Equality Bill 2004, has just completed Second Stage in the Dáil.

The Bill is being finalised together with elements of the framework due to be publicised on the same date. It will be published as soon as the Government has completed its work.

Juvenile Offenders.

Seán Ryan

Question:

51 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of juvenile liaison officers in the Garda at the latest date for which figures are available; and if he will extend the scheme in view of its proven success. [16304/04]

The Garda authorities are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel. They have informed me that as at 26 May there were 85 gardaí and eight sergeants working as juvenile liaison officers in various divisions. In addition, the national juvenile office is comprised of one superintendent, two inspectors and two sergeants.

In May 2002 the Children Act 2001 was enacted. It effectively placed the Garda juvenile diversion programme on a statutory basis for the first time in its 40 year history. Included in the Act is the introduction into the criminal justice system of the concept of restorative justice and family conferencing. At present the force is implementing the provisions.

Specially trained gardaí deliver the diversion programme. Resource implications are constantly under review and application for additional resources are made on a case by case basis. The programme was extended nationwide.

Communications Technology.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

52 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will allow for the details of crime incidents to be received by e-mail or telephone. [16346/04]

Recently my Department gave its approval to the Garda authorities to prepare an information and communications technology strategy for the period 2004 to 2009, inclusive. I expect that receiving reports on crime incidents by e-mail or telephone will be within the scope of the strategy.

Immunity from Criminal Prosecution.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

53 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to change the immunity from prosecution that can be claimed by Oireachtas Members if they prove they were travelling in the course of their Oireachtas duties. [16353/04]

The immunity Members enjoy, while in the precincts of either House is guaranteed by Article 15.13 of the Constitution. The issue of changing it by legislation does not arise.

Garda Vetting Procedures.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

54 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to ensure that those who employ part-time and voluntary workers in vulnerable sectors, such as transitional housing, obtain Garda clearance for their staff. [16348/04]

The interagency working group established to examine the expansion of the Garda central vetting unit's services, including to the groups identified by the Deputy, recently submitted its report. It will receive full and careful consideration with a view to early implementation, as appropriate.

Garda Training.

John Gormley

Question:

55 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to improve the gymnasium facilities in the Garda Training College, Templemore. [16351/04]

At present the Garda authorities are tendering for the acquisition of equipment to refurbish the gymnasium.

Defamation Law.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

56 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to reform the contempt of court laws, particularly in view of the DPP’s expression of concern about the weaknesses in this area of law and its exploitation by certain sectors of the media here. [16302/04]

The present law on contempt of court is largely judge made. It consists of decisions that give effect to a general principle that the courts have an inherent jurisdiction not dependent on any statute to ensure that the administration of justice is not obstructed and that court orders are obeyed. It draws a distinction between criminal contempt and civil contempt. The former comprises contempt in the face of the court, in facie curiae, scandalising the court, breaches of the sub judice rule and other interferences with the administration of justice, such as threatening a witness. Civil contempt consists of defiance of a court order whether by positive conduct or by the neglect or refusal to obey an injunction or other order.

The main attention, and this has been reflected in the comments of the Director of Public Prosecutions, has naturally concentrated on aspects of the subject where the law is seen as being in potential conflict with freedom of expression, particularly the law on the sub judice rule.

The Law Reform Commission published a comprehensive consultation paper and report on this general area of the law and my Department is examining it. Other legislative priorities must be dealt with first and no legislative proposals have emerged. Any proposals I have will be brought forward in the usual way.

The matter of a Press Council is of particular relevance and I have already expressed my views in the House by way of my reply to Questions Nos. 31 and 145 of 5 May. I am addressing that issue in the scheme of a defamation Bill I shall bring to Government later this year.

Garda Deployment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

57 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the average number of gardaí available for foot or motorised patrol and the staffing of stations on a daily and nightly basis in the Dublin metropolitan division and in the counties immediately adjacent; and if the figure constitutes an adequate response to current crime rates. [16334/04]

The Garda authorities are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel. They have informed me that the personnel strength in the Dublin Metropolitan Region as at 28 May was 3,561 for all ranks and excluded members assigned to the traffic division and the area office.

The three Garda divisions adjacent to the DMR are Louth-Meath, Carlow-Kildare and Wexford-Wicklow. The strength of the three divisions as at 28 May was as follows:

Division

Strength

Louth-Meath

527

Carlow-Kildare

325

Wicklow-Wexford

315

For operational and security reasons it is not Garda policy to issue information on the number of gardaí deployed in an area over a specific period. Local management places a great emphasis on foot patrols. It is Garda policy to ensure that as many personnel as possible are engaged on foot patrols and more are deployed as further personnel resources become available. Dedicated foot patrols are also in place by way of ongoing operations and initiatives.

Mobile and foot patrols are continually reviewed to ensure that they address the policing needs of an area. They focus on targeting areas of high crime and where public order issues frequently arise.

Garda management is satisfied that sufficient personnel are in place to meet the present policing needs of the region.

Sentencing Policy.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

58 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Government policy in regard to persons serving prison sentences arising from the murder of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16293/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

346 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if persons convicted of the murder of a person (details supplied) will serve their full sentence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16586/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 346 together.

The stated position of the Government is that those convicted of the killing of the person in question will serve in full the sentences imposed on them by the courts and that there will be no possibility of their early release. In the event of a definitive ending of the Northern conflict, including an end to all forms of paramilitarism by the IRA, the Government may decide to re-consider the matter but there is little indication, at this point, that such a situation is likely to occur before the normal release date of these prisoners.

Prison Medical Service.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

59 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he intends to take to seek a solution to the industrial dispute involving prison doctors that has led to the virtual withdrawal of medical services for prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16276/04]

The position is that the Irish Prison Service and the Irish Medical Organisation are engaged in separate contacts with the Labour Relations Commission about the possibility of convening further conciliation talks in an effort to resolve the matters in dispute. I have asked the director general of the Irish Prison Service to keep me briefed on the progress of these contacts. My overriding concern is to ensure that means can be found to safeguard the health and wellbeing of prisoners by ensuring the availability of full doctor services at the earliest possible time.

Human Rights Issues.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

60 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the concerns raised by the Irish Human Rights Commission regarding the proposed referendum on citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16347/04]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

85 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the Human Rights Commission’s concerns regarding the future constitutional protection of children if the Government’s citizenship referendum proposal is passed and its concern that the Government has failed to fully consider the best interests of the child as it is so obliged under international human rights law. [16341/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 85 together.

As I remarked in my reply to Deputy Ó Snodaigh's priority question, the Irish Human Rights Commission produced a 32-page document of observations on which it would not be possible in the limited time available for parliamentary questions for me to give a detailed response. I propose instead to concentrate here on the principal points made in those observations.

In summary, the commission asserts that being an Irish citizen makes the enjoyment of human rights in the State certain, whereas not being an Irish citizen means there is legal uncertainty and possible exclusion for the non-citizen from the enjoyment of those rights. I cannot accept the soundness of this assertion, because its logical conclusion is that in order to guarantee the protection of the human rights of a non-national present in the State, the State must confer Irish citizenship on every non-national who is in or comes to the State. This is a patently unacceptable proposition.

In making this assertion, the commission has not identified any respect in which the protections afforded by Irish law for the human rights of a non-national within the State would in fact be diminished, either because that person is a non-national or as a direct or indirect result of the acceptance by the people of the referendum proposal.

The commission asserts that the referendum proposal may be inconsistent with the State's obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Ireland ratified in 1992. The proposal is that the Oireachtas be given power to determine by legislation the future acquisition and loss of Irish citizenship of a class of persons born in the State to parents neither of whom was an Irish citizen or entitled to be an Irish citizen at the time of the child's birth. This proposal, if accepted, will restore in part the position that prevailed at the time of the ratification of that convention, a position whereby the Oireachtas had power to make such legislation in respect of all classes of persons whether born in Ireland or not. If the present proposal were inconsistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, then so would have been the position when we ratified it in 1992 — but that was clearly not the case.

The commission acknowledges that there isan inconsistency between the British-Irish Agreement, at Article 1(vi) and Annex 2, and the wording of Article 2 of the Constitution which was included in the multi-party agreement at Annex 1 to the British-Irish Agreement. The commission's observations do not appear however to take proper account of the joint interpretative declaration made on 21 April last by the two Governments, whereby they acknowledge that it was not their intention in making the British-Irish Agreement that it should impose on either Government any obligation to confer citizenship on persons born in any part of Ireland whose parents do not have a sufficient connection with the island of Ireland and that the proposed constitutional change was not an amendment of the British-Irish Agreement.

I take this opportunity to remind the House that I have asked the Human Rights Commission for its observations on the draft implementing legislation published by the Government in conjunction with the referendum proposal. This is the legislation that will follow in the event of a "Yes" vote in the referendum. I am anxious to ensure that the commission's observations in due course on that draft legislation will inform the debate on the implementing legislation.

Crime Levels

Liz McManus

Question:

61 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he intends to bring proposals to Government to provide for tougher sentences for armed criminals caught in possession of firearms and more effective steps to control their availability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16297/04]

I refer the Deputy to my recent reply to Question No. 30 of 5 May 2004 on this matter. The position remains unchanged.

As regards the issue of the availability of firearms, the Deputy will be aware that the holding of a firearm is strictly governed by the provisions of the Firearms Acts, 1925 to 2000. The Garda Síochána take all appropriate action to ensure that illegally held firearms are seized and that the holders of such firearms are proceeded against.

Drugs in Prisons.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

62 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made in regard to his consideration of the draft proposals for a new prison drugs policy prepared by Irish Prison Service management; if it is intended to publish the proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16308/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 67 of 5 May 2004 in which I indicated that I am considering proposals for a new prison drugs policy and examining whether it would be effective in ridding our prisons of drugs. It is my intention to publish the new policy in due course.

Refugee Status.

Seán Ryan

Question:

63 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; the number of applications upheld by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal; 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 deportations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16303/04]

The information requested is contained in tabular format, a copy of which is being circulated to Deputies.

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

1633

No. of recommendations to grant refugee status

893

345

142

* as at 30/04/04
** It is assumed the reference in the Deputy's 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

1,438

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

1,099

831

300

* as at 30/04/04
** Substantive and accelerated 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

751**

No. of Deportation Orders effected

521

590

275***

* as at 30/04/04
** In addition to the 751 deportation orders signed, there have been 76 Dublin II regulation transfer orders signed.
*** In addition to the 275 deportation orders effected, there have been 8 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

103

* as at 30/04/04
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

31

Dependant of EU Citizen

138

77

10

Humanitarian Grounds

159

83

10

* as at 30/04/04

Defamation Law.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

64 Mr. Rabbitte 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. [16290/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions No. 31 and 145 answered together of 5 May 2004. The position remains unchanged.

Garda Training.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

65 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the membership of the Garda at the latest date for which figures are available; if he has received Cabinet approval for the recruitment of 2,000 additional gardaí; the 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. [16300/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of the Garda Síochána, all ranks, as at 28 May 2004 was 11,964.

In April 2000, the Government agreed, inter alia, to a system of delegated authority under which recruitment is carried out to maintain the strength of the force at an agreed level.

In April 2002, the Government agreed to increase the approved strength of the force by 200 to 12,200. Recruitment was carried out during 2003 with a view to bringing the strength of the force to 12,200 by 31 December 2004.

The programme for Government states that the Government will complete the current expansion of the Garda Síochána and increase recruitment so that numbers will increase by a further 2,000. This commitment remains, and while it will not be possible to increase numbers beyond the approved strength of 12,200 for as long as the cap on public service numbers remains in place, I will ask the Government to look again at how quickly budgetary circumstances will permit progress towards achieving the target of 14,000 to be made.

The Garda College has accommodation on a weekly basis of 400 single rooms. These are utilised on a weekly basis to cater for student and course accommodation. The student garda "living out" programme that has been developed to cater for increased numbers of garda trainees, enables garda students to be accommodated off campus and within the environs of Templemore and can accommodate a further 300 students per week.

The implementation of the Government commitment to increase the strength of the force by a further 2,000 represents a significant challenge for the garda training college. The annual intake required to implement the commitment would require an enhancement of the current capacity of the Garda College, and this will be factored into the recruitment plan.

Question No. 66 answered with QuestionNo. 45.

Garda Organisational Structures.

Jack Wall

Question:

67 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the main findings of the report from the steering group working under the SMI on Garda organisational structures; if it is intended to publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16311/04]

The Garda SMI implementation steering group looked in detail at a range of areas within the Garda Síochána and its report puts forward recommendations for broad based reform of the structure, management and service delivery of the organisation. I am having the report examined in my Department and will give careful consideration to all of the steering group's recommendations and to the question of publication.

Proposed Legislation.

Mary Upton

Question:

68 Dr. Upton 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 Joint 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. [16310/04]

When I appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights on 9 December 2003, I addressed in detail, with particular reference to the activities of criminal gangs, the measures I intend bringing forward to enhance the investigation and prosecution of criminal offence. I intend to provide for measures that require legislative provision in the criminal justice Bill, which I expect to publish during the session. I made the heads of the Bill available to the joint committee and the measures 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; 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 circumstance, particularly in regard to points of law; and general provisions, mostly of a technical nature, to improve efficiency in the prosecution of offences.

I informed the joint committee that I was considering a number of further proposals for inclusion in the Bill, which have 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 instrument 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. I will also consider proposals in the context of the forthcoming criminal justice Bill.

I also intend to bring forward proposals to Government to seek approval for 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 regard 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.

I refer to 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 take part in the consultation process. It is my intention to draw up proposals for a databank, which would permit as extensive a databank as possible, having regard to constitutional requirements and the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights. I intend to bring these proposals to Government in due course.

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

Crime Prevention.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

69 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he plans new initiatives to combat organised crime with particular reference to drug dealing, racketeering, extortion and protection; his priorities in this regard with a view to achieving specific targets within a particular time span; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16335/04]

A broad range of strong legislation is available to the Garda to enable serious and organised crime to be confronted effectively. Our criminal legislative framework reflects international developments to respond to the growth of organised crime and specific measures enacted to meet our particular domestic situation.

With regard to initiatives in this area, I draw the Deputy's attention to the criminal justice Bill which, as indicated in the Government legislative programme, I expect to publish this session. The main purpose of the Bill is to improve the efficiency with which criminal offences in general are investigated and prosecuted. In summary the measures I propose to include are a statutory power to preserve a crime scene; a general power in regard to the issue of search warrants; increased detention powers of up to 24 hours for arrestable offences; 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, particularly in regard to points of law; and 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 who retract their original statements.

I also intend to bring forward proposals to Government to seek approval for 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 regard 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.

As the Deputy may be aware, I appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights on 9 December 2003 in regard to its work on the review of the administration of justice. I addressed in detail my proposals on legislative matters, with particular reference to the activities of criminal gangs. The joint committee is expected to publish its report on the administration of justice shortly. I look forward to examining it and I am prepared to take whatever action may be appropriate on foot of the report, including bringing forward further proposals for legislative reform, if necessary.

Another important initiative in combating organised crime is the Criminal Justice (Joint Investigation Teams) Bill, which is awaiting Report and Final Stages in the House. It is expected the legislation will be enacted in June 2004 and commenced soon thereafter. The Bill will enable effect to be given in Irish law to an agreement at European level which attempts to ensure that international boundaries are not used by criminal gangs to their advantage. The Bill will provide a framework for the creation and operation of joint investigation teams between EU member states. The teams will carry out criminal investigations with a cross border dimension in one or more of the member states setting up the team. Although the framework decision is targeted at setting up teams to combat trafficking in drugs and human beings as well as terrorism, the Bill is not confined to these offences. The net result, following implementation of the legislation, will be improved crime detection, investigation and prosecution of offences.

On an operational level, I am informed by the Garda authorities that 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 drugs unit, operating under an assistant commissioner in charge of national support services, has also enabled the Garda to tackle organised crime effectively.

The Garda national drugs unit plays a crucially important role in the efforts to combat drug trafficking. Operations are designed to target the supply of drugs to the Irish market and the transit of drugs through Ireland. The unit co-operates with a wide range of international law enforcement agencies and provides significant levels of support to international agencies and the domestic customs service alike. The success of the unit can be gauged by the increase in the street value of drugs seizures in recent years: €45 million in 2001; €49 million in 2002; and €100 million in 2003. These seizures exceed the targets set in the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008. I am further informed by the Garda authorities that a pro-active integrated approach to the investigation of all serious and organised crime will continue to be pursued by the Garda.

Prison Accommodation.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

70 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps being taken to address the serious deficiencies in conditions identified in the reports of a number of prison visiting committees, particularly the disclosure that six inmates in Cork Prison were sharing a cell with no in-cell sanitation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16277/04]

The issues highlighted by the visiting committees to the various prisons and places of detention are being addressed through the prisons capital building programme. For example, at Limerick Prison, a new block with space for 100 prisoners has recently been opened and a new education and services building will commence construction in the next few months.

I also recently announced that, I am contemplating 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, young 16 to 17 year olds, and female prisoners. I propose to take this step because 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 a 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 will provide adequate prison places for the southern region.

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

Witness Security Programme.

Liz McManus

Question:

71 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 may be giving evidence in court cases involving serious charges, but who may not wish to enter the protection programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16298/04]

Following a judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal, the Garda authorities instituted a review of the procedures of the witness security programme, which operates under the direct control and administration of the Garda Commissioner. 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.

Proposed Legislation.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

72 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he intends to take arising from the recent Supreme Court decision that the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996, under which the Criminal Assets Bureau operates, does not apply to the proceeds of crime committed outside of the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16282/04]

I presume the Deputy is referring to the recent Supreme Court decision of 17 May 2004 in the case of McK and D, which found that the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 has no application where the criminal activity in question has occurred outside the State. An amendment to ensure the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 can be applied to seize and confiscate assets, which are situated in this jurisdiction and which arise out of foreign criminal activity, is one of a number of amendments which have been the subject of consultation between my Department, officers of the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Office of the Attorney General in the context of the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2003, which is awaiting Committee Stage in the House. Drafting of those amendments is being finalised and Committee Stage is expected to resume shortly. Amendments to the Bill will also include measures formerly under contemplation for a proceeds of corruption Bill. In addition, they will include provisions aimed at strengthening the existing mechanisms and providing additional mechanisms for confiscating the proceeds of crime and bolstering the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau generally.

Garda Transport.

Dan Boyle

Question:

73 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans he has to extend the use of mountain bikes by the gardaí in urban areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16356/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda mountain bike unit was introduced on a pilot basis on 5 June 2001 in two districts — Tallaght and Raheny — within the Dublin metropolitan region, DMR. Following an evaluation of the pilot project the mountain bike unit was extended within the DMR and to the Galway and Limerick divisions in 2002. Additional bicycles were allocated to the other regions nation-wide in 2003 and there is now a total of 81 bicycles. Currently, 176 members of the Garda have been trained and equipped to use these.

The mountain bike unit has been successful in tackling anti-social disorderly behaviour in Dublin parks and estates and works well in conjunction with other units. Overall, the unit has proven to be very successful to date due to its commitment, ability to respond quickly and effectively and capacity to provide a high visibility presence. The unit has made a significant and positive contribution to a pro-active approach in tackling crime. Local Garda management received very positive feedback from the community in regard to the work of the unit. I have been further informed that procedures and protocols are in place for the ongoing development of the mountain bike unit within the Garda.

Garda Investigations.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

74 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made to date in regard to his consultations on whether to establish an inquiry into events surrounding the murder of two persons in Grangegorman, Dublin 7, in March 1997 and subsequent Garda investigation, as sought by relatives of one of the murdered persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16307/04]

As I have previously outlined to the House, I am still consulting the Garda authorities and the Office of the Attorney General to assist me in making a decision on the request for an inquiry into the murders in question. I will make a decision on the request as soon as all relevant advice is received and considered.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Willie Penrose

Question:

75 Mr. Penrose 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. [16287/04]

In accordance with the recommendation of Mr. Justice Peter Cory, I secured Government approval in December last for the establishment of a public inquiry into the murders in 1989 of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Bob Buchanan. The Government further approved that the public inquiry will take the form of a tribunal of inquiry pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts, 1921 to 2002. My Department is finalising draft terms of reference for the tribunal, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, and I intend to secure further Government approval in the near future to bring the necessary resolutions before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Citizenship Rights.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

76 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the finding of the Advocate General Tizzano of the European Court of Justice in a case (details supplied), that the case of the person is not an example of abuse of EU law. [16338/04]

The Chen case referred to by the Deputy is one in which the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice is of the opinion that Mrs. Chen, in availing herself of the treaty provisions that grant a right of residence to her daughter and by extension to herself, is circumventing the provisions of United Kingdom law which restrict the right of residence of nationals of non-member states. I assume the Deputy is referring to that part of the Advocate General's opinion which states that the conduct of Mr. and Mrs. Chen in this case cannot be regarded as an abuse of Community law. The Government has made clear, by way of its referendum proposal approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas, that the pre-planned arrangement of the affairs of the applicant so as to give birth in the island of Ireland and, thus, acquire for the child so born an entitlement to Irish citizenship in circumstances where there is no other connection with Ireland is an abuse of Irish citizenship, and that there must be proper legislative regulation in this area.

Legal Aid Service.

Jack Wall

Question:

77 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps being taken to address unacceptably long waiting lists for appointments at legal aid centres; 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. [16318/04]

The Legal Aid Board does not process information relating to the length of waiting lists for free legal aid. However, it records the time the person longest on the waiting list has waited. The following table shows the length of time the person longest on the waiting list has waited as of April 2004 by law centre.

The board operates a procedure whereby priority is accorded for certain categories of cases over other cases, for example, domestic violence, child care and cases where there are time limits. These cases are dealt with immediately. The total number of priority appointments offered by law centres in 2003 was approximately 1500 or almost 22% of the total number of appointments offered to new clients during the year. The board continually monitors the waiting times and is seeking to utilise resources in such a way as to reduce them at centres with particularly long waiting times.

Funding is allocated to the board by way of a grant-in-aid and that funding is not allocated by me to individual law centres. In this regard the Deputy may be interested to note that the grant-in-aid for 2004 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. The grant-in-aid available to the board in 1997 was €10.656 million. The figure for 2004 represents an increase of almost 73% during this period.

Law Centre

Maximum Waiting Time in Months in April, 2004

Athlone

3.00

Castlebar

2.00

Cavan

2.75

Cork, Popes Quay

7.00

Cork, South Mall

12.00

Blanchardstown

9.75

Clondalkin

3.00

Finglas

13.75

Gardiner Street

7.25

Brunswick Street

11.50

Ormond Quay

3.00

Tallaght

10.75

Dundalk

7.50

Ennis

12.25

Galway

7.00

Kilkenny

12.25

Letterkenny

9.50

Limerick

5.00

Longford

0.00

Monaghan

3.50

Navan

11.75

Nenagh

4.50

Newbridge

12.00

Port Laoise

17.00

Sligo

5.00

Tralee

5.00

Tullamore

2.25

Waterford

4.50

Wexford

6.50

Wicklow

10.00

Garda Transport.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

78 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he intends to take arising from the call by the Garda Representative Association for the provision of crush-proof Garda patrol cars, particularly in view of the number of occasions in which Garda cars have been rammed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16295/04]

Safety is an extremely important factor in the purchase of patrol cars for the Garda fleet. I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the commissioner has directed that a working group should be set up under the chairmanship of a chief superintendent with the following terms of reference:

‘‘Examine and make recommendations, taking into account cost factors and value for money, on the most suitable vehicle(s) for use in the Force particularly as Patrol Cars including the feasibility of obtaining ‘Purpose built' or modified vehicles, having regard to the safety of Garda drivers and observers including others being conveyed in Garda vehicles and other road users.''

I look forward to the early recommendations of the working group and the important contribution they will undoubtedly make to the safety of Garda patrol cars.

Coroners Service.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

79 Ms O’Sullivan 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 coroners service published in December 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16284/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 21 of 5 May 2004 on this matter. The position remains unchanged.

Citizenship Referendum.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

80 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the decision of the Children’s Rights Alliance to oppose the Government’s citizenship referendum proposal on the grounds that its passage would be a regressive step for children’s rights and not in the best interests of children. [16340/04]

It is a matter for groups such as the Children's Rights Alliance to determine their own course of action with regard to the forthcoming referendum. I do not share its view that the referendum proposal, to give to the Oireachtas a power to determine in what circumstances a right to Irish citizenship will automatically arise from birth of a person in Ireland to non-national parents, is in any way a step backwards for children's rights or that it is not in the best interests of children. The details of my views are as indicated in my reply to Priority Question No. 39.

Proposed Legislation.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

81 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his view on the recent call made by the SDLP for the establishment of an all-Ireland body to counter organised crime by criminal and paramilitary gangs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16283/04]

I have met the SDLP about this matter and I have noted its proposal. I fully accept the need for the greatest possible level of co-operation between the relevant agencies in both jurisdictions.

Section 5 of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996 sets out the functions of the bureau. This provides for co-operation with police forces and with tax and social security authorities outside the State. However, legal advice from the office of the Attorney General has confirmed that the scope of this provision is not sufficient to cover formal co-operation with an agency such as the UK Assets Recovery Agency, as it is a civil forfeiture agency. Consequently, in the context of the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2003, the Government is bringing forward an amendment to section 5 of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996 to provide for co-operation with an authority with functions related to the recovery of proceeds of crime. This will enable the Criminal Assets Bureau to co-operate formally with the Assets Recovery Agency in Northern Ireland. The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2003 is awaiting Committee Stage in the House.

Road Traffic Offences.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

82 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of other cases affected following the dismissal of a speeding case in the District Court based on the inability of a radar gun to produce a record; if, in supplying and using these radar guns he and his officers have been fully compliant with section 21 of the Road Traffic Act 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16301/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that they have sought the advice of the law officers on the recent decision of Cork District Court on the provisions of section 21 of the Road Traffic Act 2002, which deals with the evidence in regard to speeding. I am further informed that a determination of the number of cases likely to be affected cannot be made pending receipt of such advice. In addition, I understand that as a result of the decision referred to by the Deputy, the Department of Transport has sought and is awaiting legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General. If an amendment to the Road Traffic Acts is required, the Minister for Transport will propose an amendment in his forthcoming road traffic Bill. It would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the matters raised at this time.

UN Conventions.

David Stanton

Question:

83 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress that has been made on the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities; the approach the Government is taking on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16336/04]

In December, 2001, the General Assembly of the United Nations established an ad hoc committee to consider proposals for a UN convention to promote and protect the dignity and rights of persons with disabilities. The first meeting of the ad hoc committee took place in New York from 29 July to 9 August 2002 and was concerned mainly with procedural matters. At the second meeting in June 2003, it was decided that a working group would be established to prepare a draft text of a convention for discussion at the third meeting of the ad hoc committee between 24 May and 4 June 2004. The working group comprises governmental representatives designated by the regional groups, representatives of non-governmental organisations accredited to the committee and representatives from national human rights institutions. Ireland was selected to participate in the working group representing the western European group.

The current meeting of the ad hoc committee in New York is being attended by representatives of my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs. A representative of the non-governmental organisation, People with Disabilities in Ireland Ltd., PwDI, is also attending as a member of the Irish delegation. PwDI provides a representative structure at national and local levels to individuals with disabilities, their families, carers and advocates.

In response to a request from UN Secretary General Annan to all UN member states, for views on proposals for inclusion in his report to the ad hoc committee, Ireland, along with its EU partners submitted a paper setting out a common EU position. As part of the process for advancing the drafting of a convention, member states of the EU continue to work together to prepare a common EU position at ad hoc committee meetings. As the current holder of the EU Presidency, Ireland will present the common EU position to the UN during the current proceedings. In addition, the European Commission will participate in discussions in the areas in which it exercises competency.

Ireland believes the guiding principle of a new legal instrument in the area of disability should be to ensure persons with disabilities can better enjoy their human rights. Ireland along with its EU partners will aim to ensure the processes and outcomes of the ad hoc committee meet this principle.

Citizenship Referendum.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

84 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way in which his Department has responded to the finding by the national consultative committee on racism and interculturalism that racist incidents have significantly increased in the months since the Government announced its citizenship referendum proposal and that specific targeting of pregnant non-national women for racist abuse has increased. [16339/04]

As I stated in my reply to the Deputy on this issue last Tuesday, the claim that the national consultative committee on racism and interculturalism has made such a finding emanated from recent newspaper reports which, according to the NCCRI, are exaggerated. The Garda racial and intercultural office, which monitors racist incidents reported to Garda, informed me there has not been a sharp increase in the number of racist incidents reported to the Garda since the announcement of the proposed referendum.

Question No. 85 answered with QuestionNo. 60.

Garda Training.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

86 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans he has to improve and extend Garda inservice training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16355/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the continuous professional development programme of Garda personnel is a core activity of Garda training. Training and development programmes are delivered on an ongoing basis to enhance the competency of members in various specialties. These programmes are reviewed and evaluated to ensure they meet current and emerging needs. The structure to deliver inservice training for the general membership includes a training school headed by a qualified training sergeant in each division with the exception of Cork north division, whose training is provided for in Cork City.

To provide and achieve a more consistent delivery of continuous professional development in the Dublin metropolitan region, decentralisation of inservice training from Harcourt Square to each division within the region took place in January 2003. Six new inservice training schools were established and staffed. The total number of inservice training schools is 35. Ongoing training needs are assessed on a continuous basis to determine the core continuous professional development programmes to be delivered in each divisional training school.

Proposed Legislation.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

87 Mr. Rabbitte 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. [16291/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 2 on 5 May last, tabled by Deputy Jim O'Keeffe. I expect to seek Government approval to publish a Bill on judicial conduct and ethics in the current year. Heads of the Bill have not been approved by the Government.

Garda Investigations.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

88 Mr. Quinn 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. [16288/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation into the murder of the person concerned is still ongoing. On completion of the investigation, a file will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Deputy will appreciate that the investigation of this matter is an operational matter for the Garda and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

Question No. 89 answered with QuestionNo. 50.

Proposed Legislation.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

90 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has plans to examine the effects of changes in the UK’s drug laws in 2003 in which cannabis was reclassified from a category B to a category C drug; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16352/04]

I have no plans to carry out an examination as suggested by the Deputy.

Citizenship Applications.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

91 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in regard to the implications of the preliminary opinion of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice in a case of a person (details supplied), as a stateless child, this person will be entitled to Irish citizenship under the terms of the Government’s proposed Irish nationality and citizenship Bill; if this will not be altered by the proposed amendment to the Constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16294/04]

The question concerned relates to the Chen case. The Chen baby is an Irish citizen and not a stateless child as the question suggests. The question of statelessness, therefore, does not arise nor will the citizenship of the child in question be affected by the Government's proposals.

This case arose as a result of the referral of certain questions by the UK immigration appellate authority to the European Court of Justice. However, the immigration appellate authority found as a fact that the child lost her claim to Chinese nationality as a result of her acquisition of Irish nationality.

Under section 6(3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2001, a person born in the island of Ireland is an Irish citizen from birth if he or she is not entitled to citizenship of any other country. The Government's proposals will not alter this position.

Legal Costs.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

92 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the membership and terms of reference of the group to inquire into the way in which legal costs are calculated and awarded has been established; when the work of the group is likely to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16285/04]

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. I hope to be in a position to announce the details shortly.

Decentralisation Programme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

93 Mr. Quinn 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. [16289/04]

The position in relation to the matters raised by the Deputy was set out in my reply to Question No. 29 of 5 May, 2004. Since then, the central application facility, CAF, has been launched by the Civil Service Commission and civil servants have been invited to indicate their preferred decentralisation locations by 12 July 2004. When information is to hand on the initial CAF interest in decentralisation options, it is intended to conduct a survey in which the relevant prison service staff will be asked to indicate definitively whether they wish to remain with the Irish Prison Service and transfer to Longford.

Legal Aid Service.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

94 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the benefits that a move will bring to clients of law centres in regard to his recent reply to a parliamentary question in which it was stated that the Legal Aid Board was considering the possible benefits of relocating some or all of its suburban law centres in Dublin to locations in the city centre; if his attention has been drawn to the serious difficulties that can be created for clients by such a move; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16319/04]

As the Deputy is aware, the Legal Aid Board is examining the possible benefits of relocating some or all of its suburban law centres in Dublin to locations in the city centre, to bring them closer to the courts. In accordance with good public service management practice, the Legal Aid Board keeps the operation of its law centre network under constant review. About 90% of the board's caseload falls in the area of family law. The legal remedy available in such cases is provided through the courts. When time spent at court consulting with barristers, adjournments, interim applications etc. is taken into account, a situation arises where a significant portion of the time taken to resolve a case, by both client and solicitor, is actually spent at court and not in the law centre.

Where a law centre is remote from the court, a solicitor can spend quite a large portion of his or her time travelling to and from the court and the amount of time involved can be quite considerable. Whereas, if the law centre is close to the court, the solicitor would spend less time travelling and should have more time to deal with a greater number of clients. This would particularly be the case when the court adjourns a case to a later time or date. The time saved would enable the solicitor to deal with other work in the law centre and this should contribute to an improved throughput of cases, and reduce the amount of time that applicants to the law centre have to wait for legal services. The client has to travel to court for hearings, consultations with barristers etc. in any event.

Under the terms of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995, an applicant for legal services may apply to any law centre in the State, regardless of his or her home address. In this regard, applicants from the greater Dublin area may apply for legal services at any of the Dublin law centres most convenient to them.

I have not yet received any concrete proposals on this matter and I expect that any such proposals would take into account proposals by the Courts Service on the location of family law court sittings.

Equality Issues.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

95 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the recent annual report of the Equality Authority; the steps it is proposed to take to address the issues raised in the report, particularly the level of complaints against public bodies and the high number of complaints regarding racial discrimination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16321/04]

I was pleased to launch the annual report of the Equality Authority for 2003 on 19 May 2004 and to congratulate the authority on its continued work in successfully promoting equality of opportunity and the elimination of discrimination across the nine discriminatory grounds covered by the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000. As I stated on that occasion, the 2003 report illustrates the authority's impressive range of activity in anti-discrimination casework and its developmental work to promote a more equality conscious society. In particular, it was notable from casework reported that discrimination on the race and Traveller grounds featured strongly in the case files of the authority under both the Employment Equality and Equal Status Acts, and that a range of cases were taken on the basis of pregnancy related discrimination during this period.

While the authority has a role and power in regard to enforcement and initiatives to counteract cases of discrimination, its broader role in promoting equality in society is also one of its key strengths. In addition to providing information and advice to the public, the promotion of a wider understanding of key concepts such as reasonable accommodation of people with disabilities is a necessary and complementary component of its work. The authority also uses, to great effect, a partnership approach between trade unions, employers in both the public and private sectors, Departments and other relevant organisations and this is to be welcomed as a part of its consensus building approach to equality.

The Equality Authority has also been helpful in its input to the Equality Bill 2004, which amends the Employment Equality and Equal Status Acts, to give effect to EU equality directives and a number of procedural amendments. In this context, the 2003 report highlighted the incidence of discrimination against migrant workers employed in private households, and noted that section 37(5) of the Employment Equality Act excludes such employment from the scope of the Act. As a result of amendments to that Act proposed in the equality Bill, this exclusion is being replaced by a new provision which will be considerably more limited in scope and, importantly, will be confined to access to employment. As a result, persons in employment in private households will be brought within the protection of the Employment Equality Act.

With regard to other issues raised by the report, the level of complaints against public bodies is an issue of concern. However, public bodies are subject to the provisions of both the Employment Equality and Equal Status Acts. The authority, recognising the centrality of many public services to people's quality of life and given the significant engagement by the public sector with customers from across the nine grounds, focused on initiatives within this area and, in particular, on the provision of education and of health services. The focus of the work in the education area was on school practice at primary and post primary level with a number of initiatives taken, including the joint publication with the Department of Education and Science of a booklet entitled "Schools and the Equal Status Act". The strategy in the health sector emphasises the development of an equality infrastructure within health institutions. The equality infrastructure involves equality reviews, equality impact assessments, equality policies and equality training. A partnership was developed between the North Western Health Board and my Department to carry out an equal status review of a range of health board services. Initial work preparing a template for the review has been completed. The partnership approach taken with the Departments of Health and Science and Education in providing co-ordinated action to legal, developmental, research and communication areas in relation to equal status is building experience which can be further developed and applied to other areas of the public service.

The Sustaining Progress national agreement contained a new commitment to equality proofing. It committed to proofing of policies and services in the public sector to avoid unanticipated negative impact on any of the groups protected under the equality legislation, to ensure policy coherence and best use of resources. I am pleased to say that the authority has participated in the working group on equality proofing and has helped develop a range of projects to assist the working group. One initiative, currently being carried out under the aegis of the working group, is a research project into placing a statutory duty on public bodies to promote equality of opportunity, on the same basis as it exists in Northern Ireland. I await the outcome of this research with interest.

I have also noted the high number of complaints regarding racial discrimination which, in 2003, represented some 30% of the complaints received by the authority. Clearly, the increased racial diversity of our population in recent years is one factor behind this caseload. There is also some ground for optimism in that people are aware of, and confident to exercise, their right to equal treatment in the workplace and in the provision of goods and services. Tackling racism is very much on the Government's agenda. In March 2002, the consultative phase of the preparation of a national action plan against racism was launched. A steering group representative of Government, specialist bodies, other bodies and civil society was formed to assist in the development of the plan. I am pleased the authority was one of the specialist bodies represented on the steering group and brought to it the benefit of its wide experience in the area of racism. The consultative process, which consisted of a national consultative conference, written submissions and regional and thematic seminars, was completed in 2002. The report on the consultative process and a framework structure for the plan, "Diverse Voices", was published in 2003 and widely distributed. I expect the national plan will be put to Government for approval and publication in the coming months and will present an opportunity to both build upon and enhance existing policies and strategies to address racism in Ireland, and to identify new priorities, aspirations and areas of work that can be drawn together into an overall cohesive plan. I look forward to ongoing co-operation between my Department and the authority in the continuing fight against discrimination and the promotion of equality and diversity.

EU Trade.

Willie Penrose

Question:

96 Mr. Penrose asked the Taoiseach if the low turnover limit of €150,000 will be increased to small businesses which complete Intrastat forms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16213/04]

Intrastat is the system used for collecting statistics on the physical trade in goods, that is, the actual movement of goods, between member states of the EU. It has two distinct components — specific information captured as part of the VAT system and a survey known as Intrastat.

Under the VAT system, all registered traders must complete boxes E, exports, and E2, imports, on their periodic VAT returns to the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, the VAT3 form. Under the Intrastat system, detailed monthly returns are required from traders whose annual import or export values exceed a threshold, the assimilation threshold. At present, traders with imports from other EU member states exceeding €191,000 annually, and-or exports exceeding €635,000 annually, are obliged to complete the detailed monthly return in respect of the relevant flow.

The thresholds are set so that a minimum of 97% of annual trade by value is reported at the detailed level. This quality requirement is determined and supported by EU law. This is important in order to have available robust detailed intra-EU statistics on external merchandise trade, a major economic indicator, while at the same time managing the burden being placed on respondents to the survey. At the end of each year, the thresholds are reviewed and revised as appropriate, while remaining consistent with the above quality criterion and the national requirement for good statistics.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

97 Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach the number of internal audit reports completed within his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16456/04]

Five reports have been finalised by the internal audit unit in my Department since January 200. Details of these reports are listed as follows:

Number

Title

Date Finalised

1

The Service Provision of Advertising

October 2002

2

Training and Development

October 2002

3

Computer Equipment 2002

June 2003

4

State Entertainment 2002

August 2003

5

Courier Services: Value For Money Exercise

September 2003

A sixth report is currently being finalised.

The internal audit unit is directly accountable to the Department's accounting officer. All reports are considered by the audit committee and are subsequently forwarded to the accounting officer. The work of the internal audit unit is governed by a charter, which sets out its responsibilities and objectives.

Health Service Personnel.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

98 Mr. Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of assaults on health service personnel that have been notified to the Health and Safety Authority since 1 January 2000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16485/04]

The number of assaults on health service personnel that have been notified to the Health and Safety Authority from January 2000 to end 2003 are as follows:

2000

2001

2002

2003

Total

64

97

78

88

327

FÁS Training Programmes.

Pat Breen

Question:

99 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if islanders are treated differently in relation to the eligibility of FÁS schemes, details supplied; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16124/04]

As part of the Government's decision in 1999 to restructure community employment, CE, future participation in CE by an individual was capped at three years, effective from April 2000. Offshore island residents are exempt from this change . Aughinish is not an offshore island and participants in projects such as the one at Aughinish are subject to the general CE eligibility criteria.

The three year cap was amended in August 2001 to allow particularly disadvantaged persons to remain on the programme for a further period. Participants are considered for such an extension if, on reaching the end of their normal entitlements on CE, they are likely to experience difficulty in getting employment. In general, approximately 20% of participants on CE may benefit from an additional year on the programme under the current flexibility guidelines. The eligibility of individual participants for extensions under these rules is a matter for FÁS.

Work Permits.

Denis Naughten

Question:

100 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when a renewal work permit was issued for a person, details supplied, in County Roscommon; when a duplicate permit was issued; the permit number in each case; if it is unusual for two permits to be lost in the post; the procedure which the applicant must now employ to receive a work permit renewal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16190/04]

Denis Naughten

Question:

101 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason work permits are not issued by registered post; the number of permits which have to be issued annually due to the fact they are not received by the applicant; the number of duplicate permits which are not received by the applicants on an annual basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16191/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 and 101 together.

I am informed that a work permit, permit number 0057502, was issued by post to the employer at the relevant address on 18 February 2004. I am also informed, following receipt of statement of loss and confirmation from the employer that the address is correct, that a duplicate permit, permit number 0045579, was issued on 10 May 2004. Given the circumstances, and the fact that two permits have already been issued, the Department cannot consider the issuing of a third permit in this case. However, the work permit section will provide the employer with a sealed copy of the cover letter, which should suffice for immigration purposes.

Approximately 48,000 work permits were issued in 2003 and one can appreciate the high cost implications if they were to be issued by registered post. While a note is taken when a duplicate permit is issued, there are no statistics available. However, the work permit section is satisfied that the number of duplicate permits issued is relatively small.

Denis Naughten

Question:

102 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the new regulations for the prioritisation of work permits for spouses of specific categories of workers have been implemented; the date on which they were implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16192/04]

Paddy McHugh

Question:

104 Mr. McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of spouses of foreign nationals on work permits who accompany their partners to this country in terms of their ability to take up employment here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16261/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 104 together.

Spouses of nationals from outside the European economic area, EEA, are not prohibited from working in the State. However, they require an employment permit in their own right. In light of difficulties experienced by some spouses, I recently announced new arrangements designed to give greater ease of access to employment for the spouses of certain non-EEA nationals working in the State under specified schemes and facilities. These arrangements have been in operation for some weeks now.

A detailed set of guidelines, outlining the eligibility criteria and procedures relating to these arrangements, have been available on my Department's website since April. They have also been circulated to a range of Departments, health bodies and other relevant organisations, including employer organisations, to promote as wide a circulation of this information as possible. Some 112 work permits have already been granted to eligible spouses.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

103 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if new work permits will be issued to foreign nationals whose current employers decide to replace them with workers from the EU accession countries in order to save the €500 work permit renewal fee; if termination of employment under these circumstances qualifies as unfair dismissal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16194/04]

My Department can only consider the issue of a work permit when it has a specific application from an employer. In the buoyant labour market of recent years my Department has been able to adopt a very flexible approach towards meeting the needs of work permit personnel who lose an existing job and who find a prospective new employer. My Department is generally sympathetically disposed to applications where the proposed employee previously worked legally for another employer and lost that employment through no fault of his own. I also assure the Deputy that my Department will keep developments in this area of the labour market under review over coming months.

Allegations of unfair dismissal have to be considered in the circumstances of each case and there already are procedures for handling complaints in this area.

Question No. 104 answered with QuestionNo. 102.

Employment Schemes.

Seán Ryan

Question:

105 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when and by whom a decision was taken and confirmed in writing to the effect that claimants on deserted wife’s benefit either before or after August 1992 were not eligible for community employment or job initiative schemes while claiming this benefit. [16314/04]

Persons in receipt of the deserted wife's benefit for one year or longer, and who are 25 years of age or older, are currently eligible to participate in community employment, CE.

Eligibility for job initiative, JI, is confined to unemployed persons 35 years of age or older, in receipt of an unemployment payment or one parent family payment for a minimum of five years. Spouses of unemployed persons may also qualify. Persons in receipt of the deserted wife's benefit may change over to the one parent family payment in order to become eligible to participate in this programme.

Any long-term unemployed person who wishes to apply for a place on CE or JI should contact their local FÁS office as it is a matter for FÁS to determine the eligibility of individuals who wish to participate in these programmes. The future structure of the JI and CE programmes is currently under review by a group of senior officials and FÁS, and this group will report to Ministers on the outcome of their deliberations shortly. Decisions on any future adjustments in the structure and the terms and conditions of participation on these programmes will be taken when the review process has been brought to a conclusion.

Working Hours.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

106 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the maximum number of hours per week an employee can work under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997; and the other main issues of criteria under this legislation. [16401/04]

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 provides that an employee shall not work more than an average of 48 hours a week, averaged generally over four months. For employees whose work is subject to seasonality or a foreseeable surge in activity, or where employees are directly involved in ensuring continuity of service or production, the averaging period is six months. The averaging period can be extended to up to 12 months for employees who have entered into a collective agreement providing for such a reference period and provided the collective agreement is approved by the Labour Court. Night workers shall not work more than an average of 48 hours a week averaged over two months and such employees whose work involves special hazards or heavy physical or mental strain shall not work more than a total of 48 hours a week.

The Act provides that an employee is entitled to a break of 15 minutes after working more than four and a half hours and a further break of 15 minutes after working more than six hours. If a break is not taken after more than four and a half hours work, a 30 minute break may be taken after more than six hours work.

The Act provides that an employee is entitled to 11 consecutive hours rest in a 24 hour period and 35 consecutive hours rest in a seven day period. If an employee does not receive the 35 hour rest period in seven days, he or she is entitled to a rest period of 59 consecutive hours in 14 days.

The above maximum working hours and rest provisions do not apply to members of the Defence Forces, the Garda Síochána, a junior hospital doctor, a transport employee, any employees who can control their own working hours and family employees working on a farm or in a private house.

The Act also provides for a premium for Sunday work and for compensation for employees working on zero hours contracts. In addition, the Act provides for annual leave as follows: four working weeks in a leave year in which the employee works at least 1365 hours, unless it is a leave year in which he or she changes employment; or one third of a working week per calendar month that the employee works at least 117 hours; or 8% of the hours an employee works in a leave year, but subject to a maximum of four working weeks). Finally, the Act provides for nine public holidays a year.

Job Creation.

Enda Kenny

Question:

107 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will report on the efforts being made to provide industrial employment in Ballinrobe, County Mayo; the number of potential industrialists contacted; the likelihood of employment being located there; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16417/04]

Support for investment and job creation is a day to day operational matter for the industrial development agencies: IDA Ireland, which is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of industry; Enterprise Ireland, which has responsibility for developing indigenous industry and Mayo County Enterprise Board, CEB, which has responsibility for the promotion of indigenous industry in the micro-enterprise sector. These agencies, through their network of local and overseas offices are actively promoting the county for new investment and jobs on an ongoing basis. Ultimately however, decisions regarding where to locate are taken by investors.

A major factor in attracting industrial development to any location is the availability of a suitable property solution. In this regard Ballinrobe has a 22,000 sq. ft. unit available. In the past 13 months, three preliminary site visits were undertaken to Ballinrobe by overseas investors. IDA Ireland is still in contact with some of these companies.

Enterprise Ireland has preferential funding available for client companies, with detailed export plans, who are expanding or establishing a business in the county as part of the Border, Midlands and West, BMW Region. This support can enable companies to fund their plans for innovation and new product development. Since the beginning of 2003, I understand Enterprise Ireland has approved funding of almost €2.5 million for projects for client companies in County Mayo.

During the period of the current National Development Plan 2000-2006, Mayo County Enterprise Board has approved €90,250 in grant-aid to 10 projects in the Ballinrobe area. Between them these projects have the potential to create 18 jobs.

As well as capital and employment grants, the board operates a comprehensive range of development and support programmes designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently to ensure survival and growth. To date, the board has spent approximately €1.3 million on the delivery of business advice and training to micro-enterprises throughout the county. From 1993 to 2003, 1,780 participants have availed of this training.

I am confident the strategies and policies being pursued by the industrial development agencies, together with the ongoing commitment of Government to regional development, will bear fruit in terms of additional sustainable investment and jobs for the people of the Ballinrobe region.

Production Costs.

John Bruton

Question:

108 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Question No. 125 on 18 May 2004, if she has considered following France’s lead and calling on the European Commission to consider measures including a temporary suspension of its anti-dumping duties on steel to stem rising production costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16436/04]

The European Commission has competence in this area. In relation to the possibility of a temporary suspension of anti-dumping measures on steel, anti-dumping measures are currently in force in relation to a range of steel products, for example, steel wire, cables, pipes and tubes etc. The basic anti-dumping regulations provide for temporary suspension, initially for nine months, of measures by the Commission on the grounds that market conditions have temporarily changed to the extent that injury to the community industry would be unlikely to resume as a result of the suspension. In the event of suspension being proposed, community industry is given the opportunity to comment and any comments are taken into account in considering the matter.

Recently, restrictions on supplies of Chinese coke, a raw material ingredient in the production of steel, have been of serious concern to the European steel industry. However, agreement has just been reached between the EU Commission and the Chinese authorities to provide necessary supplies during 2004. Negotiations are continuing between the two sides on future trade.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

109 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of internal audit reports completed within her Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16457/04]

There have been 10 internal audit reports completed in my Department since January 2001. These reports are as follows: departmental payment procedures; appropriations in aid; procedures for funds transfer to FÁS; patents office receipts; work permits; local enterprise section; follow up audit, on the adequacy of the implementation of past audit recommendations; asset register; industrial development operational programme and small business operational programme.

Company Registration.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

110 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has satisfied herself with the regulatory regime for the registration of companies in view of the fact that a company, details supplied, which is long registered has discovered that another company in the same line of business is operating under almost exactly the same business title and is not registered; if she has further satisfied herself that the powers of the Companies Registration Office is adequate in preventing such practice; and the plans she has to strengthen the regulatory controls in this area. [16552/04]

Unlike under the statutory provisions for the registration of a company name, there is nothing to prevent a business using the same or a similar business name to one already registered. Thus, for example, there are a large number of business names, quite legally, registered as the "Central Hotel" or the "Village Inn".

The purpose of the statutory requirement to register a business name is to disclose to the public the identity of the person or persons, legal or natural, who are trading under that name. It is not intended to, nor does it, confer any rights as to the use of the name registered.

Where a business is of the view that another business is using its company name in a manner which would damage its business, for example, by stealing clients, it can take civil legal action against that business under the general law of "passing off". Neither my office nor the Companies Registration Office has any functions in this regard. I have no proposals to change the law in this regard.

A person carrying on a business under a business name which is not registered is in breach of the Registration of Business Names Act 1963 and may be subject to prosecution. The maximum fine for an offence under this Act is €126.97, which I believe should be substantially increased and I will do so at an appropriate opportunity.

Hazardous Substances.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

111 Mr. McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason pipelines and pumping stations within establishments are excluded from the scope of SI 476/2000, which was implemented by her Department on 21 December 2000, in view of the potential of such pipelines and pumping stations involving dangerous substances to create major accidents as recognised under Council Directive 96/82/EC, which does not exclude pipelines and pumping stations within establishments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16618/04]

Statutory Instrument SI 476/2000 of the European Communities (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2000 transposed into Irish law Article 4(d) of Council Directive 96/82/EC of 9 December 1996 on the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances. Neither SI 476 of 2000 nor Directive 96/82/EC exclude pipelines and pumping stations within establishments covered by the directive and the regulations. For purposes of the directive and the SI, an establishment is considered to be the site within the overall landholding of an undertaking where dangerous substances are present in one or more installations.

Industrial Development.

Michael Noonan

Question:

112 Mr. Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of companies which have been grant aided by the IDA in 2004, 2003 and 2002; the identity of these companies which are located in the mid-west region; the number of persons employed in each of these companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16630/04]

IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment, FDI, to Ireland and its regions. The agency is actively marketing the mid-west region on an ongoing basis as a location for FDI through its network of overseas offices. However the attraction of FDI to the Shannon free zone is a matter for Shannon Development.

Responsibility for provision of property solutions within the mid-west region lies with Shannon Development. IDA works closely with Shannon Development in the promotion and marketing of these tailored property solutions throughout the mid-west and this includes, for example, the Askeaton Business Park in Limerick and the Tipperary Technology Park in Thurles.

Data on the name and number of companies grant-aided by IDA Ireland, in the mid-west region for the years 2003 and 2004 will not be available until the IDA publishes its annual reports for 2003 and 2004. The annual report for 2003 will be published at the end of June 2004. I have arranged that IDA Ireland will forward the relevant data for 2003 to the Deputy when it becomes available.

In 2002, a total of 139 companies were grant aided by IDA Ireland. These included 12 companies in the mid-west region. These companies are listed in the following table.

The total number of employees in IDA grant-aided companies in the mid-west region in 2002 was 3,804, as given in the Forfás employment survey for 2002. Individual employment figures for each company are submitted to Forfás on a confidential basis. These figures are not published, but are collated by Forfás to produce their annual employment survey.

Companies Grant Aided by IDA Ireland in the Mid-West Region in 2002

Company Name

Town

County

Adhesives Research, Ireland, Ltd.

Limerick City

Limerick

Amann Industries Corporation

Tralee

Kerry North

Beru Manufacturing GmbH

Tralee

Kerry North

Cook Ireland Limited

Limerick

Limerick

Essidev SA

Ennis

Clare

Filtertek BV

Newcastlewest

Limerick

Fleet Street Travel Limited

Tralee

Kerry North

Martin Dawes Systems

Limerick

Limerick

NETg Ireland Limited

Limerick

Limerick

Teleca Ireland Limited

Ennis

Clare

TFX Medical

Limerick

Limerick

Wilo Pumps Limited

Limerick

Limerick.

Air Corps Strength.

John Perry

Question:

113 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Defence when funding for Air Corps services in Sligo will be sanctioned in view of the fact that, due to inadequate funding, the level of service is being jeopardised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16161/04]

The Irish Coastguard has overall responsibility for the provision of maritime Search and Rescue Service within the Irish search and rescue region. The Air Corps provides the Search and Rescue Service off the north west coast while CHCI, a private operator, provides the service from Dublin, Shannon and Waterford.

Late last year, I announced my decision to withdraw the Air Corps from the Search and Rescue Service. This decision was only made following a considered assessment of the capacity of the Air Corps to return to and maintain a full 24 hour service in the north west. As the Deputy may recall, the service had been restricted following on from an unusually high incidence of sick leave among the winchcrews. There is no plan to reconsider the decision to withdraw the Air Corps from the Search and Rescue Service and, as such, the question of extra funding for the Air Corps does not arise in this regard. The Air Corps will continue to provide its current limited service, while the Irish Coastguard makes alternative arrangements for the return of a full Search and Rescue Service in the north west. I have been informed by my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, that the proposals are still under assessment and a final decision in this regard is expected shortly.

Army Barracks.

Mary Wallace

Question:

114 Ms M. Wallace asked the Minister for Defence the present and future plans for the army camp at Gormanston, County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16211/04]

On 1 July 2003, the Government agreed that Gormanston Camp, County Meath, would be among the State lands released under the Sustaining Progress affordable housing initiative. The intention is that this initiative will be targeted at those who in the past would have expected to purchase a house from their own resources but find that they are unable to do so in the current market.

The modalities regarding the transfer of Gormanston Camp are under active consideration in consultation with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, which is the lead Department for the development of the affordable housing initiative. It is understood that Meath County Council is carrying out an infrastructural feasibility study of the site, which will determine the appropriate scale of future development at Gormanston.

Defence Forces Pensions.

Seán Power

Question:

115 Mr. S. Power asked the Minister for Defence if he will give further consideration to the inclusion of military service allowance in the calculation of the pensions of Defence Forces’ personnel who retired prior to August 1990; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16245/04]

Arising from a recommendation made in 1990 by the Commission on Remuneration and Conditions of Service in the Defence Forces, the Gleeson commission, military service allowance, MSA, was made pensionable in the case of personnel retiring on or after 1 August 1990. This approach was fully consistent with settled public service pensions policy which provides that the benefit of an allowance being made pensionable for serving personnel does not extend to existing pensioners.

More recently, the Commission on Public Service Pensions specifically addressed the issue of the pensionability of allowances, including MSA, and the consequences for public service pensioners generally in its final report, which was published in January 2001. However, having considered the arguments advanced by the groups affected, together with longstanding public service pensions policy in that context and the substantial cost implications involved, the commission did not recommend any increase for the pensioners concerned. No change in existing policy on this matter has been authorised or is contemplated.

Defence Forces Property.

Michael Ring

Question:

116 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Defence the plans for an Army building in County Mayo; if the building is to be sold, if it will be sold by public auction and when the sale will take place. [16434/04]

There are no proposals at present to change the status of Castlebar military barracks, which is mainly a reserve Defence Forces facility.

Departmental Internal Audit.

Enda Kenny

Question:

117 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Defence the number of internal audit reports completed within his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16458/04]

In the period from 1 January 2001 to 31 May 2004, approximately 560 internal audit reports have been completed in my Department. I have arranged for the compilation of a list of the titles of each such report and I will furnish this list to the Deputy as soon as it is finalised.

Grant Payments.

Martin Ferris

Question:

118 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will make a statement on the non-payment of a sheep premia grant to a person (details supplied) in County Cork for the year 2003; and if it will be possible to pay it now. [16120/04]

This decision has been appealed to the agriculture appeals office. Appeals require individual examination and are dealt with in the order in which they are received. This appeal was received on 21 May 2004 and has been assigned to an appeals officer for examination. The appeals office will contact the appellant shortly to arrange the oral hearing that he requested. It is not expected that there will be any undue delay in dealing with this case.

Milk Quota.

John Perry

Question:

119 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will intervene on a person’s behalf (details supplied) and have a refund of the levy issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16147/04]

EU and national regulations on the milk quota system specify that, where the national quota is exceeded, the overrun must be shared between those producers who contributed to the excess. The regulations do not provide for exceptions in individual cases and therefore it is not open to me to intervene in this case. The amount of levy payable in individual cases can, of course, be reduced by the distribution of unused quota (flexi milk) resulting from other producers not filling their individual quotas. This distribution is done on the basis of objective criteria.

My Department on a regular basis throughout the year publishes estimates of milk deliveries and the extent to which these are under or over the national quota and advises producers to keep in close touch with their co-operatives-dairies in this matter.

Forestry Industry.

John Gormley

Question:

120 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the rights and obligations of the felling licence at Derrybrien, issued to Coillte in May 2003, have now transferred to Saorgus Energy, which is the current landowner as of June 2003; the public tender process by which the sale of the public land in question took place; the price the State, through Coillte, received for that land; and if he will request the forest service to reopen the licence process, and ensure that the legal requirements as regards the EIS are properly and completely fulfilled, including a proper public consultation process. [16177/04]

In accordance with the Forestry Act 1946, the authority conferred by a felling licence shall be exercisable by the licensee and his successors in title to the land to which the licence relates. A replanting condition can relate to land, other than felled area, owned by the licensee at the date of grant of limited felling licence. In the case of felling licence referred to, the licensee is Coillte Teoranta and the replanting condition on the licence is binding on that company.

Coillte Teoranta is a private commercial company and day-to-day operations including land sales are a matter for the company. I am satisfied that the company is conducting its business in accordance with the code of practice for the governance of State bodies. With respect to the EIS, local authorities, in this case Galway County Council, are the planning authorities in respect of deforestation.

Veterinary Inspection Service.

Dan Neville

Question:

121 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when the Department’s veterinary laboratories will be moving from County Limerick; and the reason for this move. [16188/04]

Following a review by my Department of the laboratory services for the southern region and the local office service for Cork in the context of decentralisation implementation programme and the decision to allocate land at Model Farm Road in Cork for the affordable housing initiative, it was decided to relocate the Department's local office from Cork City to Macroom and also relocate the laboratories in Cork and Limerick to Macroom.

The timescale for the move to Macroom will be affected by the CAF results and the availability of suitable accommodation. Given the scale of the move and the necessity to design technically suitable laboratories, I am not in a position at present to say precisely when the relocation of the laboratories will be completed.

Grant Payments.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

122 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position in relation to a forestry grant application for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16222/04]

The application form for a forestry premium for the person in question was returned to the applicant as all relevant details were not included. The forestry premium can only be paid on receipt of the fully completed application form.

EU Directives.

Liam Twomey

Question:

123 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food his views on whether it is the IFA’s considered view that the recommendations of the draft nitrates directive action programme are unnecessary, unworkable and unaffordable for farming here. [16262/04]

The implementation of the nitrates directive is in the first instance, a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Ireland is legally obliged to put into effect an action programme for the further implementation of the nitrates directive. The European Court of Justice, in its judgment on 11 March 2004, held that Ireland had not fulfilled its obligations under the nitrates directive by reason of its failure to establish and implement an action programme in accordance with Article 5 of the directive. It is open to the court, on the application of the European Commission, to impose substantial fines against Ireland if early action is not taken to give full effect to the directive. Furthermore the terms of the action programme need to be finalised at an early date given that EU co-funding of schemes such as REPS, disadvantaged areas compensatory allowance, early retirement and forestry is conditional on satisfactory implementation of the nitrates directive. Compliance with the directive has also been specified as one of the conditions for farmers' participation in the single payment scheme following the decoupling of farm supports from production.

My Department has had ongoing contact with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on the development of a draft action programme giving further effect to the directive. This draft action programme was presented in December 2003 to representatives of the main farming organisations and other stakeholders, who were invited to submit their comments. Written submissions on the draft action programme have been received from some 70 stakeholders, including all the main farming organisations, and a revised draft is being prepared by officials of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government together with officials from my Department. Direct discussions have also taken place between officials of the two Departments and the farming pillar under Sustaining Progress.

Under Sustaining Progress, the Government is committed to using the flexibility of the nitrates directive to seek European Commission approval for a derogation allowing organic nitrogen limits of up to 250 kg. per hectare per annum. After the draft action programme is finalised and submitted to the European Commission, a derogation proposal designed to take account of the unique characteristics of Irish agriculture will also be submitted. In the context of finalising the derogation proposal, the objective is to achieve approval for appropriate derogation arrangements in a manner that underpins the future of our commercial agriculture sector.

A number of significant steps have been taken to address the costs at farm level of the implementation of the draft action programme. The Government, in Sustaining Progress, stated, "recognising the importance of the Nitrates Directive and its impact on certain farmers, a number of initiatives shall be taken in the context of optimising the use of available EU and national budgetary resources." These initiatives included a review of REPS with higher payment rates and changes to the terms and conditions of the farm waste management scheme and dairy hygiene scheme including, in particular, increasing the income and eligible investment ceilings.

The improvements in the farm waste management schemes and the dairy hygiene schemes are already in place, and today I have launched an amended REP scheme which will deliver an average increase of 28% in payments to farmers. The scheme of capital allowances for expenditure on farm pollution control has been extended to the end of 2006, and a committee is currently examining issues associated with the possible introduction of low cost wintering facilities such as earthen bank tanks for the storage of livestock manures.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

124 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when he will meet with the IFA in regard to the proposed cuts in payments in commonage and SAC areas under the REP scheme; the measures he will take to resolve this problem for hill farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16271/04]

Payment entitlements under the new single payment scheme to be introduced with effect from 1 January 2005 will is to be based on the average amount received by farmers in direct payments during the reference period 2000 to 2002. EU regulations governing the single payment scheme provides that where a farmer was under agri-environmental commitments during the reference period, that is, where stock numbers were reduced because of agri-environmental commitments, the member State shall calculate the single payment on the basis of the amounts paid during the period 1997 to 1999. However, the regulations also state that in these cases care must be taken to avoid "double compensation" through both the single payment and agri-environmental measures.

To meet the Commission's concerns regarding double compensation, my intention in introducing the single payment scheme is that those farmers in REPS who had reduced sheep during the reference period is to calculate their entitlement on the basis of those reduced numbers. However these farmers, if they have entered into REPS contracts by January 2005, will be entitled to keep the existing payment under measure A of REPS for the duration of those contracts. Individual farmers in this category will of course be able to apply to exercise the option of either getting the single payment based on a reference period when no stock reduction was in place and at the same time getting a reduced agri-environmental payment or getting the single payment based on the reference period 2000 to 2002 and getting an agri-environmental payment which includes an element of compensation for destocking. Therefore the farmers concerned will not suffer any loss.

Farm Valuation.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

125 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason for the delay in a case (details supplied) being brought before the Court of Arbitration. [16398/04]

Under the procedural arrangements in place for the arbitration process under the on-farm market valuation scheme and based on the date the appeal valuation was completed, it was not possible to include the appeal of the person concerned with other cases heard at the most recent arbitration hearings held on 12 and 13 January 2004. At this stage, it is intended to have further arbitration hearings in late June-early July and his appeal is scheduled for inclusion in these hearings. In this regard, the arbitrator will be writing to the person concerned. Pending completion of the arbitration process on 5 April 2004, my Department paid the person concerned an amount, which was calculated by reference to the full value of the existing valuation.

Grant Payments.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

126 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when payment under the REP scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [16399/04]

The application for payment from the person named was received in my Department on 29 April 2004 and is being processed in accordance with the targets set out in the protocol on direct payments to farmers.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

127 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when payment of the special beef premium for 2003 will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [16400/04]

Four applications were submitted under the 2003 special beef premium scheme for the above mentioned herd number. One application was submitted by the late husband of the person named on 27 January 2003, in respect of five animals. The remaining three applications were submitted by the person named — the wife of the deceased — one on 30 October 2003 in respect of 29 animals, one on 25 November 2003 in respect of six animals and one on 18 December 2003 in respect of four animals. Full payments in respect of these latter three applications submitted by the person named have issued.

With regard to the application submitted by the late husband of the person named on 27 January 2003, the 80% advance payment in respect of five animals issued on 16 October 2003. The remaining 20% balance can only issue when grant of probate is available. The district livestock office of my Department contacted the legal personal representatives of the person named on 28 May 2004. They have been informed of the situation and requested to forward copy of probate with instruction as to whom the payment should issue.

During 2003, 37 animals eligible for the slaughter premium scheme were slaughtered under the above mentioned herd number. Outstanding payments in respect of the slaughter premium and national envelope schemes will issue immediately the position regarding the grant of probate is resolved.

Martin Ferris

Question:

128 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will make a statement on the non-payment of a sheep premia grant to a person (details supplied) in County Cork for the year 2003; and if it is possible to pay it now. [16433/04]

This decision has been appealed to the agriculture appeals office. Appeals require individual examination and are dealt with in the order in which they are received. This appeal was received on 21 May 2004 and has been assigned to an appeals officer for examination. The appeals office will contact the appellant shortly to arrange the oral hearing that he requested. It is not expected that there will be any undue delay in dealing with this case.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

129 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of internal audit reports completed within his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16459/04]

Internal audits completed by my Department since January 2001 are as follows.

Year

Number

Internal Audit Report Titles

2001

17

Food Industry Marketing and Promotion

Payment Procedures in DAFRD

Follow-up procedures for processing Area Aid applications

EAGGF Recoupment Claim

Processed Products Export Refunds Scheme

Brief review of Foot & Mouth compensation payments

Research Stimulus fund

Cattle Headage Scheme

National Agricultural & Eventing Exhibition & International Show & Competition Centre

Follow-up audit on Leader II

Suckler Cow Scheme

Research in Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development

Review of the new Accounting system for DAFRD

Compliance with Accreditation Inspections in the Ewe Premia Scheme

Engagement and Payment of Temporary Veterinary Inspectors

Income supplement Hardship Grant Cow monitoring

Review of Euro project

2002

18

Western Development Commission

Follow up on Early Retirement Scheme

Purchase for Destruction Scheme- Meat & Bonemeal storage

National Sheep Identification Scheme

Review of Accounts System Funds Management Module

Irish Horse Board Co-Operative Society

Cavan Monaghan Rural Development Co-operative

Purchase for destruction scheme reconciliation

Renderers Subsidy Scheme

BSE testing

West Cork Leader Co-op Society

Slaughter Premium Scheme

The Organic Centre

Comhar Iorrais (Leader) Teoranta

Follow up audit of the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme

Area Based Compensatory Allowance

Special Purchase Scheme

Collection and destruction of ear tags

2003

17

Follow-up audit on New Accounts system

Email/Internet policy reviews

Unix review

Beef Export Refunds

Local Office Accreditation reviews (4 offices)

Corporate Customer IT system

IMap IT system

Shipping Inspectors Overtime

Renderers Subsidy Scheme

On Farm Investment Measures

Grants to Producers Organisations

Structural Funds Paying Agency Review

Procurement processes

Pre-implementation review SAP Phase II

Accreditation Review of DAF Local Office

Review of the implementation of the Mullarkey Report

Special Beef Premium

2004

7

Receipts, sugar levies

Receipts, pesticides

Mobile Phones

CMMS

Procedures for On Farm Valuations

Implementation of Mullarkey recommendations

Database Administration Review

EU Directives.

Johnny Brady

Question:

130 Mr. J. Brady asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the measures he has taken to assist farmers financially in providing facilities to comply with the nitrates directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16471/04]

A number of significant steps have been taken to address the costs at farm level of the implementation of the nitrates directive. The Government, in Sustaining Progress, stated, "recognising the importance of the Nitrates Directive and its impact on certain farmers, a number of initiatives shall be taken in the context of optimising the use of available EU and national budgetary resources." These initiatives included a review of REPS with higher payment rates, and changes to the terms and conditions of the farm waste management scheme and dairy hygiene scheme, in particular increasing the income and eligible investment ceilings. The income unit ceiling under these two schemes has been increased to 450, which means that most Irish farmers can now apply for grant-aid. The investment ceiling for farm waste management works has been raised to €75,000 and that for dairy hygiene investments to €50,000, increases of about 50% in each case.

The improvements in the farm waste management schemes and the dairy hygiene schemes are already in place, and I have launched an amended REP scheme which will deliver an average increase of 28% in payments to farmers. The scheme of capital allowances for expenditure on farm pollution control has been extended to end-2006, and a committee is currently examining issues associated with the possible introduction of low cost wintering facilities such as earthen bank tanks for the storage of livestock manures.

Grant Payments.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

131 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if all moneys owed to a person (details supplied) in County Cork will issue. [16559/04]

The person named was found to be ineligible for 2002 extensification premium as his stocking density exceeded the limit of 1.8 livestock units per hectare necessary for qualification. Extensification premium payments for 2003 are not due until later this month and it is not possible to indicate at this stage if the person named will be eligible.

He was paid his full entitlement under the 2003 area-based compensatory allowance scheme on the maximum of 45 hectares on 19 September 2003.

The person named submitted one application under the 2002 special beef premium scheme on 24 September 2002, in respect of 45 animals. Payment in respect of all 45 animals has issued in full. The person named submitted one application under the 2003 special beef premium scheme on 31 July 2003, in respect of 51 animals Payment in respect of all 51 animals has issued in full. To date the person named has submitted one application under the 2004 special beef premium scheme on 1 April 2004, in respect of 56 animals. Under the EU regulations governing the scheme, advance payment of 60% of estimated entitlement cannot be made until on or after 16 October 2004.

During 2002, 19 animals eligible for the slaughter premium scheme were slaughtered under the herd number of the person named. Payment in respect of all 19 animals has issued in full. The person named applied for premium on 81 animals and 60 animals respectively under the 2002 and 2003 suckler cow premium scheme. He has been paid in full in respect of the animals applied on under both years' applications.

Milk Quota.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

132 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if a person (details supplied) in County Cork satisfies the criteria required to obtain additional milk quota; if the milk quota appeal board has met; and when a decision will be made. [16560/04]

Allocations of milk quota from the national reserve are granted on the basis of recommendations from the milk quota appeals tribunal. The tribunal is a body established to consider and advise on applications for additional quota from individual producers who have suffered severe hardship in the context of the milk quota system.

The person named submitted an application for additional quota on the grounds of hardship in the 2003/2004 milk quota year. The tribunal examined his application in January and recommended an allocation of additional quota on that occasion. The person and his co-operative have been notified of this allocation.

Animal Diseases.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

133 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when the results of a blood test taken at a farm over four weeks ago (details supplied) will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16594/04]

The flock referred to was restricted from 2 April 2004 under the Diseases of Animals (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies in Sheep and Goats) Order 2001 following a positive scrapie result on an animal from this flock.

Ninety-nine sheep from the flock were blood sampled on 21 April 2004. The results of tests on these animals were received in the district veterinary office on 17 May 2004 and the flock owner was immediately informed by telephone. The following day, 18 May 2004, the genotype results for all animals tested and national genotype certificates for the most scrapie-resistant animals were sent to the flock owner by registered post.

An additional 187 sheep were sampled on 6 May 2004. The results of the tests were received on 27 May 2004 and the flock owner was immediately informed of the results by telephone. They were then sent to the flock owner by registered post, along with national genotype certificates for the most scrapie-resistant animals. A further 214 sheep from this flock were sampled on 10 May 2004. The flock owner will be immediately informed of the results of this sampling as soon as they become available.

EU Directives.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

134 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will liaise with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government to ensure that the organic nitrogen application limits to be included in the Government’s nitrates action programme be set at 250 kg N per hectare thereby recognising that Irish farming is grass based livestock farming unlike other EU member states which have highly concentrated arable and livestock production systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16615/04]

The implementation of the nitrates directive is a matter, in the first instance, for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

My Department has had ongoing contact with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on the development of a draft action programme giving further effect to the directive. This draft action programme was presented in December 2003 to representatives of the main farming organisations and other stakeholders, who were invited to submit their comments. Written submissions on the draft action programme have been received from some 70 stakeholders, including all the main farming organisations, and a revised draft is being prepared by officials of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government together with officials from my Department. Direct discussions have also taken place between officials of the two Departments and the farming pillar under Sustaining Progress.

Under Sustaining Progress, the Government is committed to using the flexibility of the nitrates directive to seek European Commission approval for a derogation allowing organic nitrogen limits of up to 250 kg per hectare per annum. After the draft action programme is finalised and submitted to the European Commission, a derogation proposal designed to take account of the unique characteristics of Irish agriculture will also be submitted. In the context of finalising the derogation proposal, the objective is to achieve approval for appropriate derogation arrangements in a manner that underpins the future of our commercial agriculture sector.

Remedial Works.

Paul McGrath

Question:

135 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the schools in County Westmeath in which remedial works are planned to eliminate asbestos; and when these works will be carried out. [16375/04]

Asbestos removal works are scheduled to commence on Wednesday 2 June 2004 at St. Finian's College, Mullingar. They will take approximately six weeks to complete.

Works have already been undertaken in 18 other schools in County Westmeath. The remaining schools in the county will be surveyed over the coming months and any works found necessary as a result will be put in hand as soon as possible thereafter.

Mobile Telephony.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

136 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance when the contract between the Garda Síochána and the mobile phone company for the mast at the Garda station in Clogherhead is due to come to an end; if his attention has been drawn to the county council’s policy of not placing mobile phone masts in close proximity to schools; and if he will adhere to this policy in any renegotiation of this specific mast location. [16127/04]

The existing contract in respect of mobile telecommunications equipment installed at Garda stations, including Clogherhead, is due to expire at the end of June 2007. The terms and conditions of a standard agreement, which will govern any such future installation at Garda stations is under consideration at present. Under the terms of the agreement, any company that is given a licence to install equipment on any State property will be required to strictly comply with all relevant legislation, e.g. planning, health and safety.

Flood Relief.

Joe Costello

Question:

137 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Finance when the decision was taken to drain the Bonnet River in County Leitrim; the reason half the river and none of the tributaries were ever drained; when funding will be made available to complete the works so that flooding which is damaging the livelihoods of local farmers can be ended once and for all; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16157/04]

The Bonnet River catchment drainage scheme, which included work to some of the main tributaries, was confirmed and work on the scheme was commenced in 1982. The extent of the works undertaken was determined having regard to cost-benefit and environmental considerations. The scheme was terminated in 1992 and is now being maintained. No further works are proposed.

Tax Collection.

Tony Gregory

Question:

138 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Finance if the income tax deducted from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10 will be reviewed in view of the special circumstances concerned. [16178/04]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer in question telephoned his local tax office in January 2003 and stated that he was separated from his wife for 20 years. Based on this information provided by the taxpayer, his credits and standard rate band cut-off point were adjusted. In general, separated couples are treated as if unmarried, with their own tax credits, reliefs and standard rate bands except where there is a legally enforceable maintenance agreement in place. Where there is a legally enforceable maintenance arrangement in place the married band applies only to separated couples where both parties elect to be assessed jointly for income tax. In order to qualify for a married person's credit as a separated spouse, the taxpayer would have to be "wholly or mainly" maintaining his wife. Based on the information he provided, the taxpayer received the basic personal tax credit rather than the married person's credit. He may, however, be entitled to additional tax credits in respect of his dependant son, in full or in part, depending on his circumstances. A leaflet outlining the circumstances whereby the incapacitated child tax credit can be claimed, issued to the taxpayer on 28 May 2004. If he has any further queries on these matters he should contact his local tax office.

Non-Resident Accounts.

John Deasy

Question:

139 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners advised financial institutions to notify the holders of bogus non-resident accounts in writing prior to the November 2001 amnesty in the same manner as they did to holders of off shore accounts. [16202/04]

In relation to the matter of bogus non-resident accounts, the Revenue Commissioners conducted on site look-back audits on 37 financial institutions during 1999 and 2000 and reported on the outcomes to the Committee of Public Accounts. In the course of reporting on the action taken in relation to the financial institutions, Revenue also reported, in particular during the course of the hearing of 30 November 2000, that follow-up action would be taken in respect of bogus non-resident holders who had evaded tax. In May 2001, a statement of practice, SP-Gen 1/01, was issued and this set out the basis on which Revenue proposed to deal with taxpayers who held bogus non-resident accounts. It outlined a voluntary disclosure incentive scheme for taxpayers who held bogus non-resident deposit accounts and who wished to disclose and pay all their outstanding tax liabilities by 15 November 2001. In the period between May 2001 and 15 November 2001, this scheme was extensively publicised and it was made very clear that after November 2001, Revenue would be seeking High Court orders to identify all of those who did not avail of the incentive. Many taxpayers took the opportunity that was offered and payments of €227 million were made under the disclosure scheme.

I understand that enquiry work commenced on 16 November 2001 to identify taxpayers who chose not to avail of the 15 November 2001 incentive scheme. Eighteen applications for High Court orders under section 908, Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, TCA, were applied for and have been granted. These High Court orders required the financial institutions on which they are made to supply names, addresses and other relevant information concerning the identities of account holders who held non-resident deposit accounts. As the relevant information was received from the financial institutions, enquiry letters were issued by Revenue to the taxpayers concerned. The enquiry letters asked the taxpayers to whom they were addressed to disclose and pay all their outstanding tax liabilities within 60 days of the date of issue. Since 15 November 2001, payments of around €290 million have been made to Revenue by taxpayers who had held undeclared funds in bogus non-resident deposit accounts and did not come forward before then.

In respect of the current investigation into offshore accounts, I understand the Revenue Commissioners advised the financial institutions that they would commence an investigation from a specified date. After the specified date the account holders of that financial institution would no longer be able to make a qualifying disclosure to Revenue and benefit from reduced penalties, non-publication and non-prosecution. The financial institutions wrote to their account holders advising them of the forthcoming investigation and of the benefits of making a qualifying disclosure.

John Deasy

Question:

140 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Finance if persons who are unable to pay the penalties resulting from the non-disclosure of bogus non-resident accounts will have their names published; and if this will result in the Revenue placing a lean on the person’s dwelling house. [16203/04]

As the Deputy is aware the tax code provides for the imposition of penalties where taxpayers have fraudulently or negligently failed to disclose their full income, profits or gains. Consequently, taxpayers who held undeclared taxable funds in bogus non-resident accounts, did not make a voluntary disclosure by 15 November 2001 and subsequently agree or have already agreed settlements for amounts in excess of €12,700 will have their names published in accordance with section 1086 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

There are a number of remedies available to the Revenue Commissioners to enforce payment in the case of taxpayers who are unwilling to pay their full liabilities. One remedy, which is infrequently used, is that of placing a lien on a person's dwelling house. In circumstances in which a taxpayer has a genuine inability to meet the full liability, the Revenue Commissioners suggest that he or she should contact the local Revenue district to discuss the matter.

Drainage Schemes.

Willie Penrose

Question:

141 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if he will take steps to ensure that a drain which circles an area (details supplied) will be cleaned out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16214/04]

I understand the drain in question forms part of the River Boyne catchment drainage scheme for which the Commissioners of Public Works have a maintenance responsibility. Work which was being undertaken on tributaries in the Marlinstown area of the scheme is being suspended pending the commencement of work on the Deel river which can only be carried out during the months of May and October due to the Fisheries Board's requirements regarding the fish spawning season. Works in the Marlinstown area will be completed before the end of theyear.

Decentralisation Programme.

Seán Crowe

Question:

142 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Finance if the furniture division of the Office of Public Works located at Mountshannon Road, Dublin 8, is to be decentralised to Trim; if so, if purpose built workshops and stores will be built there even though all the furniture division’s work will be done in Dublin in State Departments, Leinster House, and so on; if the current lease of the premises in Mountshannon Drive will be given back to its owner; if the staff of the division are to be kept employed in Dublin, if it will be at the current level of employment; and at which location. [16237/04]

The Office of Public Works furniture branch is being decentralised to Trim. All necessary facilities will be provided for the furniture branch to carry out its functions. The future of the premises at Mountshannon Road will be considered in the context of the Office of Public Works property strategy within the greater Dublin area. The staffing levels in the furniture division will be determined by the Office of Public Works ongoing strategy for providing the furniture and other requirements to Government Departments.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

143 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has drawn to the fact that persons who were in receipt of bereavement credit during the nine month tax year 2001, received credit only in respect of four years and nine months; and if arrangements will be made in order that credit for the three months which was lost be credited against the income of a subsequent year. [16257/04]

As a general principle in the change-over to the calendar tax year, tax reliefs were scaled back for the short tax year to 74% of their annual equivalent. This approach was consistent with the fact that only 74% of annual profits-earnings were charged to tax for that "short" year. However, in the case of the bereavement credit, it was decided not to scale back the credit available in the short tax year. This meant that persons entitled to it in that year received 100% of the relief they would have been entitled to had that year been a full 12 months tax year. Accordingly, there was no loss of credit as suggested by the Deputy.

State Property.

Paul McGrath

Question:

144 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason the razor wire that was installed on the perimeter wall of Farmleigh House as a temporary measure has not been removed despite his commitment given in Seanad Éireann on 5 May 2004. [16258/04]

Part of the temporary razor wire installed at Farmleigh for the 1 May accession event has already been removed. The firm engaged to take down the wire is working on removing the rest of the temporary wire and expects to have the work completed in the week ending 4 June 2004.

Paul McGrath

Question:

145 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason the military style fencing that was erected to protect a temporary heliport in the Phoenix Park for the May Day 2004 celebrations has not been removed; and if a tendering process was used for the provision of such fencing. [16259/04]

The fencing referred to was erected at the request of the Garda to provide a high level of security for the temporary helipad in use during the 1 May EU accession celebrations. It was provided at less than the usual cost by the company staging a concert on the same site in the park on 12 June. By allowing the fencing to remain in place between the accession day celebrations and the concert, the cost to the OPW for its use on the accession day was significantly less that it might otherwise have been. It will be removed immediately after the 12 June event.

The supply of the fencing was done under a negotiated procedure to take advantage of the economically beneficial opportunity outlined above. That cost is below the threshold for which EU tendering procedures apply.

Outdoor Events.

Paul McGrath

Question:

146 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if a licence has been granted for a concert (details supplied) in the Phoenix Park on 12 June 2004; the other events which have been approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16260/04]

A licence for MCD Productions to stage a major concert in the Phoenix Park on 12 June is in the final stages of preparation. An application has also been received from Aiken Promotions for a licence to stage a free concert on 4 September. Both concerts will entail the partial closure of the park for up to 24 hours. The park was also closed on 1 May this year as part of the security measure for the EU accession ceremonies. Under section 4(1) of the Phoenix Park Act 1925, the approval of the Oireachtas is being sought for the closure of the park for a period or periods in excess of three days in any one year.

Decentralisation Programme.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

147 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the proposed decentralisation policy, persons on the panel for the Dublin area will automatically be considered for employment in the chosen decentralised areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16370/04]

It has been the long-standing practice in the Civil Service that when applying for competitions candidates may express a preference for appointment to a particular location as outlined in the regulations governing the competitions. Candidates on the relevant sub-panels for particular locations may be offered positions in accordance with their preference. Should a candidate on such a sub-panel refuse an offer of a post in that location, he or she retains his or her position on the main panel but will not be made a further offer for that sub-panel location. This will remain the practice for the immediate future.

It has been agreed with Civil Service unions that detailed discussions on the arrangements regarding recruitment, promotion and other human resource management issues that will have to put in place in a decentralised civil and public service will begin in the autumn. Changes to existing practices regarding appointments from panels, in particular, will be considered in that context.

Tax Code.

Paul McGrath

Question:

148 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason child dependant allowances are considered as income for taxation purposes; and if child allowances awarded to civil servants are similarly treated under the tax code (details supplied). [16422/04]

A child dependant allowance can arise from a number of sources such as social welfare legislation, employments and occupational pension schemes. As regards the child dependant allowance payable by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the 1998 Supreme Court case of Ó Síocháin v. Neenan held, on interpretation of the relevant social welfare legislation, that the widow’s pension, including the child dependant element, is the beneficial entitlement of the widow. The reason, therefore, that the child dependant allowances are taxable is that they form part of payments to parents which are treated as income for tax purposes. However, by virtue of specific statutory tax exemption, the child dependant allowance paid to individuals in receipt of either unemployment benefit or disability benefit is not taxable. A further statutory tax exemption relieves child benefit from tax.

As regards child allowances payable to certain civil servants, these allowances, payable in respect of dependent children, were introduced as part of an agreement with staff interests to eliminate marriage differentiation from Civil Service pay scales. In general, to be eligible for the allowance an officer must have been serving on 31 December 1978 in former marriage differentiated grades. The allowances are taxable.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

149 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the number of internal audit reports completed within his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16460/04]

Five internal audit reports have been completed by the internal audit unit in the Department of Finance since 2001. These are listed in the following table.

Number

Title

Date

1

Preliminary Review of the Controls in the Corepay System in the Department of Finance

December 2001

2

Report on Audit of IT Vote Control Section

June 2002

3

Report on Audit of Accounts Branch

December 2002

4

Report on Audit of the Corepay System and Review of the 1995 Audit Findings and Recommendations

February 2004

5

Evaluation of the Systems of Internal Financial Control in the Department of Finance

May 2004

During 2003, the internal audit unit was tasked with closure of the ERDF 1994-99 round of funding.

Decentralisation Programme.

David Stanton

Question:

150 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Finance the number of posts decentralised in the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources forestry section to Waterford; if he will state in each case the number of the posts that were filled on promotion and the number that were filled by staff maintaining their current grade; the total number who decentralised in the Department, the number of those who were already serving staff in the decentralised Department and the number of those in each case who were transferred from other Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16549/04]

David Stanton

Question:

151 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Finance if, with regard to decentralisation of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, he will give details of the period which elapsed between the initial announcement of decentralisation plans and the date on which decentralisation was completed. [16550/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 and 151 together.

My colleagues, the Ministers for Education and Science and Social and Family Affairs, will give replies in respect of their Departments. In the case of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, the forestry section has since been transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Food. This section transferred to Wexford. The information sought will be supplied to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Tax Code.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

152 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the recent increases in the cost of fuel, he will reduce excise duty on fuel by the five cent increase imposed in budget 2004 to help alleviate some of the difficulties faced by hauliers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16621/04]

I have no plans to reduce excise duty in the manner suggested by the Deputy. Changes in taxation are made in the context of the annual budget and, accordingly, any requests made regarding changes in tax rates are properly for consideration in the period leading up to the budget. It is neither practical nor prudent to adjust tax rates between budgets, especially in response to what may prove to be a short-term problem. It should be noted that Ireland's current excise duties on petrol and diesel remain below those of many of our established EU trading partners.

The Deputy will appreciate that excise duties are but one element in the composition of motor fuel prices. The value of the US dollar, in which oil prices are set, and the level of competition between fuel suppliers are two vitally important factors in determining the price to the consumer. Given the variation in retail motor fuel prices throughout the State, it is essential that consumers shop around to further encourage competition and minimise price increases.

Human Rights Issues.

Enda Kenny

Question:

153 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will advise on the political situation in western Sudan; if his attention has been drawn to the considerable concern at human rights abuses in the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16128/04]

Over the course of the Irish Presidency, the EU has been to the forefront of the international community in trying to address the appalling humanitarian and human rights situation in Darfur. At its meetings in April and May, the General Affairs and External Relations Council declared its serious concern at the humanitarian and human rights violations in Darfur and called on the Government of Sudan to provide unhindered and safe humanitarian access to the region. The actions of the Janjaweed in Darfur are to be utterly condemned and the Government of Sudan must take action now to adequately protect civilians against these violent militias. This is a message that the EU has consistently conveyed to the Government of Sudan.

In response to such pressure, the Government of Sudan has established a commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Darfur. We expect the commission to confirm the human rights violations reported by the acting UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and we will seek a swift response by the Government of Sudan to its findings.

Action by the EU was instrumental in bringing together the Government of Sudan and the two Darfur rebel groups for peace talks in Chad, which resulted on 8 April in a humanitarian ceasefire. The ceasefire has contributed to a relative improvement in general security, which has allowed greater access to internally displaced persons for humanitarian organisations. For the past year, the EU has continually applied pressure to the Government of Sudan to provide greater access to Darfur for humanitarian organisations and I welcome the announcement last week by that Government that special permits will no longer be required for agencies wishing to travel to Darfur. It is imperative that this decision by the Government of Sudan is implemented on the ground. We will also press for the immediate lifting of other restrictions which impede humanitarian access.

The Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, will co-chair the upcoming donors' co-ordination meeting on Darfur, to be held in Geneva on 3 June. The occasion will be used to send a further strong political message to the Government of Sudan that its inadequate response to the situation in Darfur cannot continue. EC humanitarian assistance to Darfur is likely to be in excess of €10 million for 2004, with a further €4 million for Sudanese refugees in Chad. My Department is in the process of releasing €1 million in emergency funding for Darfur, of which €750,000 will be channelled through the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The EU and the UN will continue to work closely together on the situation in Darfur. As the current President, we have asked EU member states who are also members of the UN Security Council to continue to push for a greater level of engagement by the Security Council on the issue of Darfur. In this regard, I welcome the presidential statement issued by the Security Council on 25 May in which the Council expressed its deep concern at the continuing reports of large-scale violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur and its clear call upon the Sudanese Government to respect its commitments as regards both neutralising and disarming the Janjaweed militias.

The EU is also working closely with the African Union to establish an African Union ceasefire monitoring mechanism for the Darfur region. The African Union is ready to meet with the parties to the conflict in order to establish a ceasefire commission and we have sent a strong message to the Government in Sudan and the Darfur rebels that such a commission must be established as a matter of urgency. When established, the monitoring mechanism should help strengthen the ceasefire currently in place and contribute to overall security for local populations. The African Union has sought assistance from the EU African peace facility to meet the costs of the monitoring mechanism and, as the current President, we will encourage prompt and favourable consideration of this application.

I welcome the agreement reached between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Naivasha, Kenya, last week which should signal the end to the civil war between north and south Sudan, the longest running conflict in Africa's history. It is imperative that the Government of Sudan now turns its attention to resolving the conflict in Darfur if peace is to be enjoyed by all the peoples of Sudan.

Illegal Immigrants.

Michael Ring

Question:

154 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position with the temporary worker programme detailed by the President of the United States, Mr. George Bush. [16179/04]

As the Deputy is aware, President Bush announced on 7 January 2004 a proposal to introduce a new form of temporary work permit which would be available to both undocumented foreign nationals currently in the United States and those seeking to enter with a job already arranged. Shortly afterwards, Senator Tom Daschle and Senator Chuck Hagel announced a bipartisan Bill for immigration reform that would enable undocumented foreign nationals in the US to legalise their status if they fulfilled certain conditions. Earlier this month, Senator Edward Kennedy introduced a new immigration reform Bill entitled the Safe, Orderly Legal Visas and Enforcement Act — the SOLVE Act. This Bill goes further than other recent immigration initiatives in providing opportunities for undocumented immigrants to regularise their status.

These proposals will have to be approved by the US Congress and it is too early to say what changes or amendments may be made in the course of their consideration by Congress. I will continue to closely monitor the progress of these initiatives through the US Congress in the coming months.

During a visit to Washington earlier this year, I discussed the position and status of Irish immigrants in the US with a number of prominent US politicians. I was pleased to have this further opportunity to flag at senior political level our concerns about the position of Irish immigrants in the US. I assure the Deputy that, through our embassy in Washington and my contacts with political leaders in the US, I will continue to strongly encourage and support measures that would benefit Irish citizens in the US.

Passport Applications.

Paul McGrath

Question:

155 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of Irish passports issued to non-Irish residents in each of the past five years who claimed entitlement to such passports by virtue of having Irish grandparents; and the country of residency of those applicants. [16418/04]

The information sought cannot be obtained from the existing database of passport holders which does not record the basis on which entitlement to Irish citizenship is claimed by passport applicants. Compiling the information sought from paper records manually could not be done without the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of time and resources. The new automated passport issuing system, which is being developed and will be operational later this year, will have a much greater capacity to produce management information reports.

Paul McGrath

Question:

156 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of Irish passports issued in each of the past 20 years to non-EU nationals under the passport for sale scheme. [16419/04]

In the case of persons who apply for citizenship through naturalisation, it is the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform who makes the decision in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts. Once a person has acquired a certificate of naturalisation signed on behalf of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, he or she is treated for the purposes of passport issuance in exactly the same manner as any other Irish citizen. The certificate itself does not distinguish between persons naturalised under the investment based scheme and persons otherwise naturalised.

My understanding from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform is that a total of 107 investors were naturalised under the now defunct scheme. In addition, 76 dependants were naturalised. These 183 persons are not separately classified for passport issuance purposes for the reasons outlined.

Paul McGrath

Question:

157 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of Irish passports issued to new applicants in each of the past five years. [16420/04]

The following are the figures sought by the Deputy:

Year

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

Total number of passports issued

430,662

463,055

468,625

536,823

552,047

First-time passport applicants [estimate]

185,000

204,000

202,000

225,000

232,000

The Passport Office records system contains details of first time applicants resident in Ireland. However, similar information is not readily available in respect of passports issued by overseas missions which comprise approximately 15% of all passports issued annually. Accordingly, the annual percentages of first-time applicants in Ireland have been used to estimate the numbers of first-time applicants abroad and these combined are shown in the table above.

The percentage of first-time applicants relative to the total number of applicants in Ireland over the past five years has been in the region of 42% to 44% annually.

Paul McGrath

Question:

158 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of Irish passports issued in each of the past five years. [16421/04]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Year

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

Total

430,662

463,055

468,625

536,823

552,047

Paul McGrath

Question:

159 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of Irish passports issued in each of the past five years to children born here of non-EU nationals. [16423/04]

The information requested is not available as parents of an Irish born child are not required to indicate their country of citizenship on the passport application form.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

160 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of internal audit reports completed within his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16461/04]

Twenty-eight internal audit reports have been completed within my Department since January 2001. The title of each completed audit report is detailed on the following appendix. The internal audit function of the Department consists of a separate unit for each of the two Votes, namely Vote 28, Foreign Affairs, and Vote 29, International Co-operation.

Appendix

Audit

Annually

3

Ireland Aid Ethiopia Consolidated Receipts and Payments Statement and Management Letter Ethiopia

Annually

3

Ireland Aid — DCO Annual Financial Statements and Management Letter Lesotho

Annually

3

Report of the Independent Ireland Aid, Mozambique Development Co-operation Office, DCO, Maputo and Management Letter Mozambique

Annually

3

Financial audit of Ireland Aid Republic of South Africa Programme Offices and Management Letter South Africa

Annually

3

Development Co-operation Office Report and Accounts and Management Letter Tanzania

Annually

3

Independent Audit Report on Ireland Aid Programme and Management Letter Uganda

Annually

3

Development Co-operation Office Statement of Source and Utilisation of Funds and Management Letter Zambia

2001

Strategic and Operational Review of Ireland Aid E & A Unit

2001

Study to develop a Formal Risk Management Process in Ireland Aid

2002

Audit of the Development Co-operation Ireland Programme Timor year ended 31 December 2002

Audit of Tasks and Resources at Headquarters

Audit of the grant -awarding procedures from the Reconciliation Fund — Subhead F1.

2003

Audit of the cost and usage of mobile phones in the Department during the period January 2001 to December 2002

2004

Audit of Financial Procedures, Embassy Moscow

Human Rights Issues.

Seán Haughey

Question:

161 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position of the Government in relation to the torture of Iraqi prisoners by the US military in Iraq; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16481/04]

The position of the Government on this issue was set out comprehensively by the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, in his statement to the Dáil of 20 May 2004 and in his statement on the situation in the Middle East to the Seanad on 26 May 2004.

Foreign Conflicts.

Seán Haughey

Question:

162 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position of the Government on the future governance of Iraq; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16482/04]

The position of the Government on Iraq was set out comprehensively by the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, in his statement to the Dáil of 20 May 2004 and in his statement on the situation in the Middle East to the Seanad on 26 May 2004.

International Agreements.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

163 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his Department reported to the Government conclusions on its study of the implications of the Government making a declaration under Article 36(2) of the Statute of the International Court for Justice; if so, if he will make the findings of the study available in the public domain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16622/04]

Ireland became a party to the statute of the International Court of Justice upon joining the United Nations in 1955, an act fully consistent with Ireland's commitment, under Article 29.2 of the Constitution, to the peaceful settlement of international disputes. In view of the possible implications of doing so at the time, Ireland did not then make a declaration under Article 36(2) of the statute accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the court.

In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement outlined an agreed position, based on the principles of self-determination and consent, in regard to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. The Agreement was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people of Ireland, North and South, in referendums on 22 May 1998. Since an international agreement, the British-Irish Agreement, now gives effect to the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, including on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, the Government is favourably disposed to accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. The full implications of making such a declaration and the question of what, if any, conditions or reservations should attach to it, are nevertheless complex matters which require careful study.

It should be borne in mind that, pending the making of such a declaration, the court may nevertheless exercise jurisdiction in disputes where there is a specific agreement between the parties that the court should do so or where specific treaties so provide. It should also be borne in mind that other forms of dispute settlement may be more suitable in certain cases.

Decentralisation Programme.

David Stanton

Question:

164 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of posts decentralised in the Department of Department of Education and Science to Athlone; if he will state in each case the number of the posts that were filled on promotion and the number that were filled by staff maintaining their current grade; the total number of those who decentralised in his Department, the number of those who were already serving staff in the decentralised Department and the number of those in each case who were transferred from other Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16549/04]

David Stanton

Question:

207 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of posts decentralised to Athlone by his Department; the number of the posts that were filled on promotion; the number of posts that were filled by staff maintaining their current grade; the number of posts that were filled internally by serving members of the Department; the number of posts that were filled from outside his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16474/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 207 together.

My Department has approximately 335 staff in Athlone following previous decentralisations which took place since 1977. Some of those staff would have decentralised from the Dublin offices of my Department or from other Departments, some would have been promoted and some would have been recruited to Athlone. My Department does not keep personnel statistics in a format which would indicate the number of staff in each of these categories.

David Stanton

Question:

165 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science if, in relation to decentralisation of the Department of Education and Science, he will give details of the period of time which elapsed between the initial announcement of decentralisation plans; and the date on which decentralisation was completed. [16550/04]

David Stanton

Question:

208 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the period of time which elapsed between the initial announcement of decentralisation plans for his Department and the date on which decentralisation to Athlone was completed. [16475/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 208 together.

The initial decision to proceed with the first phase of the decentralisation of my Department to Athlone was made in November 1967. This phase was completed in August 1977. A further decision was made in November 1980 to proceed with a second phase of decentralisation and this was completed in September 1991.

Schools Building Projects.

Seán Crowe

Question:

166 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science when funding for the redevelopment of St. Peter’s school in Phibsboro, which was promised five years ago, will finally be made available. [16121/04]

The large-scale building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is listed in section 8 of the 2004 school building programme which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie. This project is at stage 3, developed sketch scheme, of architectural planning. It has been assigned a band 1 rating by my Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects.

It is planned to progress this project to advanced architectural planning during 2004. Indicative timescales have been included for large-scale projects proceeding to tender in 2004. The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, which in turn will give greater clarity regarding projects which are not progressing to tender in this year's programme, including St. Peter's national school. I will make a further announcement in that regard during the year.

Special Educational Needs.

John Perry

Question:

167 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science when the autism unit will be set up in a school (details supplied) in County Sligo as the only other applied behaviour unit available is in Donegal or Swinford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16122/04]

I am most anxious that all children, including children with autistic spectrum disorders, receive education appropriate to their needs. My Department is actively considering an application to establish an autistic class in the school referred to by the Deputy. This process involves liaison with my Department's inspectorate, the National Educational Psychological Service — NEPS — and the relevant school authorities. This process is ongoing and my officials are maintaining ongoing contact with the school. A response to the application will issue as quickly as possible.

John Perry

Question:

168 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will intervene on behalf of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo who has autism to ensure that when the person starts transition and beyond in rehabilitation that the person’s needs will be specifically catered for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16125/04]

I confirm that my Department has received correspondence concerning a transition programme for the person referred to by the Deputy. My officials are liaising with the relevant health board and school authorities with a view to facilitating the transition.

Departmental Expenditure.

John Perry

Question:

169 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science when he plans to redress the funding gap between secondary and community schools; if he will give a firm commitment that the anomalies will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16162/04]

The funding arrangements for voluntary secondary schools reflect the sectoral division of our second level system and is structured mainly on the basis of capitation grants, with additional grants for secretarial and caretaking services. There have been significant improvements in the level of funding for voluntary secondary schools. With effect from January last, the standard per capita grant now amounts to €274 per pupil as against the rate of €224.74 that applied in 1997. For disadvantaged schools, the increase has brought the per capita grant to €312 per pupil.

In addition, secondary schools have benefited under the school services support initiative. The initial grant of €25 per pupil, introduced for second level schools in September 2000, was increased to €89 per pupil from September 2002 and was further increased by €10 per pupil from January 2003 to €99 per pupil. In the case of voluntary secondary schools, the grant has been increased by a further €32, bringing the grant for such schools to €131 from January last. This per capita grant is in addition to a range of equalisation grants of up to some €15,500 per school per annum that were also approved for voluntary secondary schools. For a secondary school with 500 pupils, this amounts to additional equalisation funding of more than €30,000 per annum and overall additional support services funding of more than €80,000 per annum. A measure of the increase in overall funding for secondary schools is that by comparison with 1997, a secondary school with 500 pupils now receives extra annual funding of more than €105,000 per annum.

I am committed to improving further the funding position of voluntary secondary schools in light of available resources and to addressing the issue of equity raised by voluntary secondary schools. At a time of increased financial constraints, the further significant increases in the funding of voluntary secondary schools is a clear demonstration of my commitment to prioritise available resources to address the needs of schools.

Áiseanna Scoile.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

170 D’fhiafraigh Mr. O’Shea den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta an bhfuair sé litir ó bhord bainistíochta Ghaelscoil Philib Barúin ag achomharc chinneadh na Roinne iarratas an bhoird ar bhreis seomraí réamhdhéanta a dhiúltú agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [16163/04]

Fuair mo Roinnse litir ó bhord bainistíochta Ghaelscoil Philib Barúin ag achomharc chinneadh na Roinne iarratas an bhord ar breis seomra réamhdhéanta a dhiúltú. Déanfaidh an rannóg pleanála i mo Roinnse an gnó sin a mheas agus déanfaidh siad teagmháil leis an mbord bainistíochta gan mhoill.

Physical Education Facilities.

Seán Crowe

Question:

171 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will address the need for an indoor physical exercise facility at Ballycragh national school in Tallaght, where the number of children enrolling is rising continually; and if funding will be made available to provide such a facility. [16169/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

187 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if and when provision will be made for a school hall and physical education area for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16361/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 171 and 187 together.

A large-scale building project for the school in question, which includes provision for a physical education hall, is listed in section 9 of the 2004 school building programme which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie. This project is at the early stages of architectural planning and has been assigned a band 2 rating by my Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects. It is planned to progress this project to the next stage of architectural planning during 2004.

The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, which in turn will give greater clarity regarding projects that are not progressing to tender in this year's programme. I will make a further announcement in that regard during the year.

School Accommodation.

Seán Power

Question:

172 Mr. S. Power asked the Minister for Education and Science if Scoil Bhríde, Kilcullen have applied for an extension to the school; and the stage their application is at. [16171/04]

An application for major capital improvement works has been received from the management authorities of Scoil Bhríde, Kilcullen. The 2004 school building programme has been published and full details on individual projects are available on my Department's website at www.education.ie. On the basis of the funding allocation and the competing priorities for that funding, it was not possible to include the project at the school in question this year. However, a key strategy for building projects will be grounded on the budget day announcement of multi-annual allocations for capital investment in education projects. All projects that are not going to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme will be re-evaluated with a view to including them as part of the multi-annual building programme from 2005 onwards. I expect to be in a position to make a further announcement on this matter during 2004.

Special Educational Needs.

Seán Ryan

Question:

173 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science the services available for teenagers and third level students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia. [16193/04]

The fund for students with disabilities provides funding for students with disabilities, including dyslexia, who are attending courses in third level institutions and in post-leaving certificate centres. The purpose of the fund is to provide students with disabilities with grant assistance towards the cost of special equipment, special materials and technological aids, targeted transport services, personal assistants and sign language interpreters. The fund operates on a discretionary basis and expenditure under it amounted to €532,300 in 2003, with a total of 104 beneficiaries.

Applications, together with relevant supporting documentation, are submitted by the institutions for consideration for funding in each academic year. Decisions on those applications are taken by an ad hoc advisory group, which in 2003 consisted of representatives of my Department, a representative from the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability — AHEAD — and a representative from the recently established national office for equity of access to higher education within the Higher Education Authority.

The Deputy will no doubt be aware that one of the key recommendations of the report of the action group on access to third level education has now been implemented with the establishment of the national office for equity of access to higher education within the Higher Education Authority. The national office is now operational, taking over the administration of a number of access measures from the Department, including the fund for students with disabilities.

At second level each school in the free education scheme or block grant scheme with an enrolment of less than 600 recognised pupils, excluding pupils on PLC programmes, receives an allocation of 0.5 of a learning support post. Schools with an enrolment of 600 such pupils and more receive a full learning support post. My Department also allocates resource teacher posts and special needs assistant posts to second level schools and vocational education committees to cater for pupils with special needs, including pupils with dyslexia.

Applications for such support are made to my Department by the relevant school authorities. Each case is considered on its merits and the nature and level of support provided is based on the professionally assessed needs of the individual pupil.

Students in secondary schools in Ireland with special needs may have special arrangements made for them while sitting State examinations, namely, leaving certificate and junior certificate examinations. Candidates with disabilities can apply through their school for reasonable accommodation during examinations. Full details in respect of this can be obtained from the State Examination Commission.

John Deasy

Question:

174 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science if a special needs assistant will be appointed for a child (details supplied) in County Waterford who suffers from Down’s syndrome and will be unable to start school in September 2004 without this aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16200/04]

I confirm that my Department has received an application for five hours resource teaching support and full-time special needs assistant support for the pupil referred to by the Deputy, who is due to commence school on 1 September 2004. The position is that SER applications received between 15 February and 31 August 2003 are being considered at present. 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: 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 give 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.

Transitional arrangements for the introduction of the weighted system are being developed in consultation with representative interests. As soon as those consultations have been completed, 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.

School Accommodation.

John Deasy

Question:

175 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for the refusal of temporary accommodation to a school (details supplied) in County Waterford in view of the fact that all other accommodation in the school is fully occupied and due to enrolment numbers a fifth teacher will be employed in September 2004 with no available accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16201/04]

My Department received an application for an additional prefab for September 2004 from the school referred to by the Deputy to cater for the appointment of a fifth mainstream teacher. In the context of the available funding for temporary accommodation and the number of applications for that funding, it was not possible to approve all applications received and only those with an absolute and demonstrated need for additional accommodation were approved.

The application from the school in question was not successful because it was considered that it has adequate accommodation available to cater for the additional teacher. My Department has subsequently received further correspondence from the school authorities in this matter which is under consideration. A response will issue to the school authority as soon as possible.

School Services.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

176 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science if there have been changes to the conditions of cleaning hours allocated to a school (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16208/04]

Responsibility for maintenance and cleaning services in the school referred to by the Deputy is a matter for the principal and the board of management. In addition to the approved staffing maintenance complement, the school in question has also benefited from further significant increases under the school services support initiative. The initial grant of €25 per pupil that was introduced in September 2000 was increased to €89 per pupil from September 2002 and was further increased by €10 per pupil from January 2003, bringing the grant in the case of this school to €99 per pupil per annum.

While provision for secretarial and maintenance, including cleaning support, is a particular focus of this initiative, schools have discretion as to how this additional funding is best utilised in the interests of their pupils.

Decentralisation Programme.

Willie Penrose

Question:

177 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science if a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath who has done the Civil Service recruitment selection panel, will be offered employment in the decentralised offices of his Department proposed for Mullingar; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16212/04]

Under the programme of decentralisation announced by the Minister for Finance in his budget speech, it is proposed to transfer 300 posts from my Department's offices in Dublin to Mullingar. Posts in the Mullingar office will be filled initially under the central applications facility which has been established under the Civil Service Commission for the purpose of streamlining the transfer of existing officers to the new locations announced under the decentralisation programme.

In the medium to longer-term, it will be necessary to consider the development of regional recruitment systems building on the regional arrangements for the filling of vacancies in existing decentralised offices. In accordance with the agreement in Sustaining Progress, the Minister for Finance will, in conjunction with the Civil Service Commission, put forward proposals for the development of such structures. It will be open to any individual to apply for any such competition for which he or she is eligible.

I have made inquiries with the Civil Service Commission regarding the person referred to by the Deputy. In May 2001 the Civil Service Commission held a competition, confined to former civil servants, for posts at clerical officer level in departmental offices in Dublin and certain regional offices. The person in question was placed on the panel. However, the panel closed in May 2003 before this person was reached and the commission wrote to her to inform her of this.

Educational Welfare Service.

Finian McGrath

Question:

178 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the schools in a town (details supplied) are extremely concerned regarding the lack of educational welfare service and the threat to pupils in the area; and if a service for all of the pupils in the town will be provided. [16229/04]

The Education (Welfare) Act was fully commenced on 5 July 2002. Under the Act, the National Educational Welfare Board was established to ensure that every child attends school regularly or otherwise receives an education. To discharge its responsibilities, the board is developing a nationwide service to provide welfare focused services to children, families and schools. It has appointed a chief executive officer, directors of corporate services and educational welfare services and a management team of eight staff. To date, 62 educational welfare staff have been appointed, of which 53 are educational welfare officers and nine are senior educational officers. This cohort includes 29 former school attendance officers who transferred to the board from the pre-existing service.

At this stage of its development, the aim of the board is to provide a service to the most disadvantaged areas and most at-risk groups. Five regional teams have now been established with bases in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford and staff have been deployed since early December in areas of greatest disadvantage and in areas designated under the Government's RAPID programme. Thirteen towns with significant school going populations, 12 of which are designated under the Government's RAPID programme, now also have an educational welfare officer allocated to them. These towns are Dundalk, Drogheda, Navan, Athlone, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Bray, Clonmel, Tralee, Ennis, Sligo and Letterkenny. In addition, the board will follow up on urgent cases nationally where children are not currently receiving an education.

The board has also moved to provide a service to families who decide to have their children educated in places other than in recognised schools. A small number of people with the appropriate skills have been allocated to this work and assessments will commence shortly. My Department has recently issued guidelines to assist the board in meeting its responsibilities in this area. An information leaflet and application form have issued to families who are educating their children at home. Work is also proceeding on the establishment of the register for 16 and 17 year olds who leave school to enter employment.

Guidelines are being prepared for schools on the reporting of student absences and a protocol outlining the interaction between schools and educational welfare staff is being developed with the assistance of the school implementation group recently established by the board. Decisions relating to the assignment of educational welfare officers to specific areas are a matter for the board which is an independent statutory authority.

Schools Building Projects.

Paul McGrath

Question:

179 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress with regard to the building programme of a school (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16241/04]

When publishing the 2004 school building programme, I outlined that my strategy will be grounded in capital investment based on multi-annual allocations. My officials are reviewing all projects which 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 onwards and I expect to be in a position to make further announcements on this matter in the course of the year. This multi-annual building programme, when published, will provide a comprehensive picture detailing all planned building projects in the Louth area, including the school to which the Deputy refers.

School Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

180 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if a bus service can be provided for children living in the Killeenmore, Sherlockstown and Rahandown areas of Sallins, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16316/04]

A report on this case has been requested from Bus Éireann. The Deputy will be advised of the position as soon as the report has been received and assessed.

School Accommodation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

181 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science when he intends to provide funding for an extension to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6 to avoid paying rent for outside premises together with funding for a fire escape; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16328/04]

A large-scale building project for Gaelscoil Lios Na nÓg national school is listed in section 9 of the 2004 school building programme which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie. This project includes the provision of an escape stairs and is at early stages of architectural planning. It has been assigned a band 2 rating by my Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects. It is planned to progress this project to the next stage of architectural planning during 2004.

The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, which in turn will give greater clarity regarding projects that are not progressing to tender in this year's programme. I will make a further announcement in that regard during the year.

School Staffing.

Seán Crowe

Question:

182 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will investigate the staff shortages and oversized classes at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [16329/04]

The staffing of a primary school is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous year. The number of mainstream posts sanctioned is determined by reference to a staffing schedule and is finalised for a particular year following discussions with the education partners.

The mainstream staffing of the school referred to by the Deputy for the current school year is a principal and nine mainstream class teachers based on the enrolment of 242 pupils on 30 September 2002. Based on an enrolment of 248 pupils on 30 September 2003, the mainsteam staffing for the school year 2004-05 will remain as principal and nine mainstream class teachers.

Schools Building Projects.

Mary Upton

Question:

183 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the purchase of land adjacent to a school, (details supplied) in Dublin 8 and the drafting of plans for development of the school. [16330/04]

The acquisition of a portion of land adjacent to the school in question is at an advanced stage. Negotiations have been completed and the matter is at conveyancing stage. A large-scale building project for the school is listed in section 8 of the 2004 school building programme which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie. It has been assigned a band 2 rating by my Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects. It is planned to progress this project to advanced architectural planning during 2004.

Indicative timescales have been included for large-scale projects proceeding to tender in 2004. The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, which in turn will give greater clarity regarding projects that are not progressing to tender in this year's programme, including the school in question. I will make a further announcement in that regard during the year.

Schools Refurbishment.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

184 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason an application under the summer works scheme 2004 from a school (details supplied) in County Wexford has been unsuccessful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16331/04]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

185 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the serious problem with the roof at a school (details supplied) in County Wexford; the measures he intends to take to have the necessary work carried out at this school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16332/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 184 and 185 together.

All applications under the summer works scheme were categorised and assessed in accordance with published criteria. In the context of the available funding and the number of applications for that funding, it was only possible to fund projects in categories A, B and C this year. Applications attracting lower category ratings did not succeed for this reason. It will be open to all unsuccessful applicants to re-apply for funding under the summer works scheme 2005, details of which will be announced later this year.

Schools Building Projects.

Seán Ryan

Question:

186 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will report on the much needed extension for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and the position regarding this project. [16360/04]

The large-scale building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is listed in section 8 of the 2004 school building programme which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie. This project is at stage 3, developed sketch scheme, of architectural planning. It has been assigned a band 2 rating by my Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects. It is planned to progress this project to advanced architectural planning during 2004.

Indicative timescales have been included for large-scale projects proceeding to tender in 2004. The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, which in turn will give greater clarity regarding projects that are not progressing to tender in this year's programme including the school referred to by the Deputy. I will make a further announcement in that regard during the year.

Question No. 187 answered with QuestionNo. 171.

School Accommodation.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

188 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if there are plans to provide prefabricated classrooms at school (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16362/04]

The school planning section of my Department has considered all applications for temporary accommodation and details of successful applicants are available on my Department's website at www.education.ie. In the context of the available funding and the number of applications for that funding, it was not possible to approve all applications received and only those with an absolute and demonstrated need for additional accommodation were approved.

The application from the school referred to by the Deputy was unsuccessful on this occasion because the provision of additional accommodation to meet shortfalls was given a higher priority than the replacement of existing accommodation. An application form for grant-aid for major capital improvement works has issued to the school authority for completion. On return of this form, the school will be included in a review of all projects that did not proceed 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 onwards. I expect to be in a position to make a further announcement in this matter later this year.

Schools Refurbishment.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

189 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if there are plans to provide funds for the refurbishment of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16363/04]

A large-scale building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is listed in section 9 of the 2004 school building programme which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie. This project is at early stages of architectural planning. It has been assigned a band 3 rating by my Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects.

The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, which in turn will give greater clarity regarding projects that are not progressing to tender in this year's programme including the school referred to by the Deputy. I will make a further announcement in that regard during the year.

Schools Building Projects.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

190 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide finance for the works to be carried out at a school (details supplied) in County Offaly while they are awaiting the building of a new school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16366/04]

The school referred to by the Deputy made an application for a range of works under the summer works scheme 2004, including some of those mentioned by the Deputy.

Each application received under this scheme was categorised and assessed by reference to published criteria. In the context of available funding and the number of applications for that funding, it was only possible to consider the priority one project, as determined by each individual school.

The available funding was distributed on a top-down basis to these projects in accordance with the published categorisation hierarchy. It was only possible to fund projects in categories A, B and C this year. The highest priority works as identified by the school in question fell into category E. It will be open to the school authority to re-apply under the summer works scheme for 2005, details of which will be announced later this year.

Site Acquisitions.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

191 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount of money which his Department set aside in 2004 for site acquisition for primary and post-primary schools; the amount which has been spent to date; the amount remaining to be spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16367/04]

The sum of €32 million has been allocated for the acquisition of sites for primary and post-primary schools during 2004. The Office of Public Works manages site acquisitions on behalf of my Department and, to date, a total of €7.6 million has been transferred to the OPW account. This leaves a balance of €24.4 million for further site acquisitions during the remainder of the year.

School Accommodation.

Pat Breen

Question:

192 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science if a pre-fab building for a school (details supplied) in County Clare will be erected to cater for the extra teacher in September 2004; if he will reconsider his Department’s decision and permit the erection of a pre-fab building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16371/04]

All applications for temporary accommodation have been considered in the school planning section of my Department. In the context of available funding and the number of applications received for that funding it was not possible to approve all applications received and only those with an absolute and demonstrated need for additional accommodation were approved.

The application from the school to which the Deputy refers was not successful on this occasion. The school's need for accommodation will be considered in the context of a review which is being undertaken of all projects that did not proceed as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including it as part of a multi-annual school building programme from 2005, details of which will be announced later in the year.

Seán Crowe

Question:

193 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of school secretaries, special needs teachers and school principals who are operating in rooms that are converted pantry and broom cupboards in schools throughout the State; and the county and location of each school. [16373/04]

The information in the format requested by the Deputy is not available in my Department. In most cases the works required to convert areas within the existing school premises to accommodate ancillary staff and ex-quota teachers is completed under the grant scheme for minor works to national school properties which is a devolved grant scheme which was introduced in 1997. Schools are not required to communicate with my Department in respect of minor works being undertaken under that scheme.

Radon Gas Levels.

Paul McGrath

Question:

194 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the schools in County Westmeath in which works are yet to be undertaken to eliminate the presence of radon gas; and the timeframe for these works. [16374/04]

In the order of 500 schools have not yet been tested for radon. Arrangements for the testing of these schools are currently in hand. This includes ten schools in County Westmeath. The tests are being carried out by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland on behalf of my Department. It is expected that the results will be available in September and remediation, if required, will be carried out as soon as possible thereafter.

Teachers’ Remuneration.

Paul McGrath

Question:

195 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the rates of pay available to special needs assistants in primary schools and second level schools. [16376/04]

A table outlining the salary scale applicable to special needs assistants from 1 January 2004 following. The scale applies to both the primary and second level sector. The circulars outlining the details of the scales may also be accessed on the website of my Department www.education.ie. The circulars may be obtained by accessing the website, entering “education personnel” and then entering “payroll”.

Grade

Scale 1/10/02

Revised Scale 1/1/04

Special Needs (Child Care) Assistants

18,394

19,733

19,257

20,660

20,117

21,584

20,983

22,511

21,845

23,438

22,708

24,364

23,572

25,289

24,430

26,211

25,297

27,139

26,155

28,062

27,022

28,992

28,649

30,738

Long service increment w.e.f. 1/4/2000

29,809

31,981

Schools Building Projects.

Jack Wall

Question:

196 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16377/04]

Jack Wall

Question:

197 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans for school extensions which his Department is processing for the Newbridge area; the status of such applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16378/04]

Jack Wall

Question:

198 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans his Department has to deal with the overflow of children unable to obtain places in the Newbridge area (details supplied) for 2004-2005; the way in which parents can obtain places for their children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16379/04]

Jack Wall

Question:

199 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the provision of a new primary school (details supplied) in Newbridge that will meet the needs of the fast expanding population of the town; if his Department has evaluated the statistics and concerns of the town; the progress which has been made since the specially convened meeting of his Department and concerned representatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16380/04]

Jack Wall

Question:

200 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the meetings his Department has had with relevant local authorities in regard to the development plans of same; if his Department has made submissions to Kildare County Council in regard to its projected needs for the Newbridge area in future years; if his Department has statistics in regard to the Newbridge area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16381/04]

Jack Wall

Question:

201 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the meetings he or his Department has had or proposes to have with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government in regard to the projected needs of areas of primary growth development such as the Newbridge, Naas and Kildare triangle for educational purposes; the results of such meetings and the progress which has been made with or contact which has resulted from the local authority in regard to such decisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16382/04]

Jack Wall

Question:

218 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the position of his Department in regard to a submission (details supplied); if the contents of the submission will be agreed to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16601/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 to 201, inclusive, and 218 together.

The school planning section is responsible for planning the provision of suitable cost-effective accommodation to underpin the delivery of first and second level education. Key functions of the section are ensuring there are sufficient pupil places available at first and second level schools and that the use of existing accommodation is optimised.

Assessing the need for new or additional educational facilities involves a detailed appraisal of enrolment patterns in all existing schools in an area, an analysis of demographic trends in an area, a review of housing developments and, crucially, a determination regarding the capacity of existing schools to meet demands for new places that may be identified. The Minister for Education and Science is included among the prescribed authorities to whom local authorities are statutorily obliged to send draft development plans or proposed variations to development plans. These plans are monitored and, where necessary, meetings with local authorities are arranged to establish the location, scale and pace of major housing developments and their possible implications for school provision. Where appropriate, the local authority may be requested to reserve a site for educational purposes. In this way, every effort is made to ensure that there is adequate existing provision or that timely arrangements are made to extend capacity where necessary. Liaison with existing schools is an important part of the process also, as the school authorities would usually alert my Department where, in their view, the need for additional accommodation is anticipated.

Officials from the school planning section of my Department recently met with officials from Kildare County Council with regard to monitoring demographic changes and assessing the likely impact of planned new developments in County Kildare. While my officials have no evidence to support a claim of an accommodation crisis in Newbridge, they will keep in close contact with the council to monitor ongoing developments in the area.

With regard to details of current school building projects in Newbridge, the capital programme for 2004 has been published and full details for all counties, including Kildare, are available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

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 which 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 onwards. I expect to be in a position to make further announcements on this matter in the course of the year. This multi-annual building programme, when published, will provide a comprehensive picture detailing all planned building projects in the Kildare area, including Newbridge.

Special Educational Needs.

Michael Ring

Question:

202 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if extra hours from a resource teacher or classroom assistant will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [16383/04]

My Department sanctioned ten hours special needs assistant support and two and a half hours resource teaching support per week for the pupil in question, in August 2003. I can confirm that my Department recently received an application for full-time special needs assistant support for this pupil from the school referred to by the Deputy. This application will be considered by my Department and a decision will be conveyed to the school authorities as quickly as possible.

Schools Building Projects.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

203 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education and Science if there are plans to provide a new national school to replace St. Columba’s national school, Kilmacrennan, County Donegal; the stage the said new school is at; when it is likely that a contract will be placed and building will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16384/04]

A large-scale building project for Scoil Naomh Colmcille, Kilmacrennan, County Donegal, is listed in section 9 of the 2004 school building programme which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie. This project is at early stages of architectural planning. It has been assigned a band 2 rating by my Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects. It is planned to progress this project to the next stage of architectural planning during 2004.

The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, which in turn will give greater clarity regarding projects that are not progressing to tender in this year's programme. I will make a further announcement in that regard during the year.

Physical Education Facilities.

Enda Kenny

Question:

204 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding allocation of moneys for the provision of a sports hall at Davitt College, Castlebar, County Mayo; when he expects work to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16428/04]

The PE hall for Davitt College, Castlebar, is listed in section 8 of the 2004 school building programme which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie. This project is at stage 4/5, the detailed design and bill of quantities stage of architectural planning.

Indicative timescales have been included for large-scale projects proceeding to tender in 2004. The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, which in turn will give greater clarity regarding projects that are not progressing to tender in this year's programme, including Davitt College. I will make a further announcement in that regard during the year.

Schools Building Projects.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

205 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of the application by a school (details supplied) in County Cavan for the building of a permanent school, in view of the fact that the present temporary accommodation is most unsatisfactory. [16435/04]

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 which were not authorised to proceed 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 on this matter later in the year. The application from Gaelscoil Bhreifne will be considered in this regard.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

206 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of internal audit reports completed within his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16462/04]

The number of internal audit reports completed in my Department since 1 January 2001 is 36. The following tabular statement details the title and date of issue of these reports.

Department of Education & Science, Internal Audit Unit: Reports completed since January 2001.

Report Title

Issued

Mayo Education Centre

04/01/01

Tralee Education Centre

13/02/01

Birr Community School

13/02/01

Ballyhaunis Community School

13/03/01

Boherbue Comprehensive School

23/05/01

Crescent College Comprehensive

26/06/01

Kildare Education Centre

11/07/01

Shannon Comprehensive School

31/07/01

Cork Youth Encounter Project

18/09/01

Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre

26/10/01

Blackrock Education Centre

16/11/01

Carndonagh Community School

30/11/01

Audit Evaluation of Euro Changeover

01/12/01

Clare Education Centre

03/12/01

Commission on School Accommodation

14/12/01

St. Joseph’s School Clonmel

19/12/01

St. Clare’s Comp School, Manorhamilton

15/01/02

EU Audit of Apprenticeship

15/02/02

EU Audit of MLT/HTBS

15/02/02

EU Audit of ATS

15/02/02

EU Audit of VTOS

09/04/02

Dunmore Community School

11/09/02

Ionad Oideachais Chorca Dhuibhne

11/09/02

Athlone Institute of Technology

27/09/02

Kilkenny Education Centre

18/11/02

Audit & Risk Management Evaluation of the ICT in Education Programme

04/02/03

Audit of Maintenance Grants For Primary Schools

10/04/03

School Completion Initiative

07/07/03

Certification, National Qualifications Framework

04/11/03

National Adult Literacy Strategy

07/11/03

St. Bridgets Secondary School, Goresbridge, County Kilkenny

24/11/03

Ashton Comprehensive School

23/01/04

Royal & Prior Comprehensive, Raphoe

26/01/04

Third Level Access

10/02/04

St. Wolstan’s Community School, Celbridge

11/02/04

Ballinrobe Community School

06/05/04

Total

36

Question No. 207 answered with QuestionNo. 164.
Question No. 208 answered with QuestionNo. 165.

Higher Education Grants.

Marian Harkin

Question:

209 Ms Harkin asked the Minister for Education and Science if a person (details supplied) will be considered for a higher education maintenance grant under the exceptional circumstances category. [16476/04]

Under the terms of my Department's third level student support schemes, maintenance grants are not generally payable in respect of a repeat period of study at the same level. However, clause 7.6 of the higher education grant, scheme states: "A Local Authority shall have discretion to waive this provision in exceptional circumstances, such as certified serious illness." There is a similar provision attaching to the free fees initiative under which my Department meets the tuition fees of eligible candidates who are attending approved undergraduate courses for the first time.

It is a matter for the relevant officials in the higher education grants section of the local authority to decide, at their discretion, whether a candidate should receive funding towards maintenance in respect of a repeat period of study at the same level. A decision in this regard would be made under the exceptional circumstances clause of the higher education grant scheme on the basis of the evidence supplied to the local authority.

Separately, it is a matter for the fees office of the institution to decide, at its discretion, whether a candidate should receive tuition fees in respect of a repeat period of study at the same level. A decision in this regard would be made under the exceptional circumstances clause of the free fees initiative on the basis of the evidence supplied to the college.

In exceptional cases, under the terms of the maintenance grant scheme, where funding has been awarded for a repeat year at the same level, it has generally been where the student is repeating a year or period of study on the same course.

I understand the candidate referred to by the Deputy has already pursued two years of a degree programme and is a first year student on a second degree programme. My Department has considered the evidence submitted to the local authority in support of the candidate's application for financial assistance on the second degree course but considers that it is not sufficient to justify funding a repeat period of study on a different undergraduate course. The candidate may be considered for grant assistance, subject to the usual terms and conditions, once he has completed two years of study on the current course and progresses, for the first time, to year three of the undergraduate course.

Section 7.6 of the higher education grants scheme is quite clear in that a candidate who has previously pursued an undergraduate course approved for the purposes of the scheme is not eligible to be considered for grant assistance until he or she has completed an equivalent period of study at undergraduate level.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

210 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason parents participating in a home study of applied behavioural analysis are not assisted through subsidising the fees (details supplied); if he will include parents in the categories for which subsidies will be awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16477/04]

The role of my Department, through its teacher education section, does not extend to the provision of training for parents in the circumstances referred to in this question. The teacher education section does provide additional training for teachers involved in the special provision, which my Department makes for children diagnosed with particular special educational needs. However, before a final decision is made in this case, officials in my Department's special education section will arrange to contact the person referred to by the Deputy for additional information about the training course in question.

Early Childhood Education.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

211 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if he intends to assist Montessori schools with pre-school education grants to assist them with ongoing costs and developmental costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16478/04]

There are no plans to assist Montessori schools with pre-school education grants.

Special Educational Needs.

Richard Bruton

Question:

212 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has given consideration to a proposal to require his Department appointing special needs assistants to various schools in the country, as against the current situation which requires his Department to appoint special needs assistants to designated children in the primary school sector; if he has given further consideration to this policy position; the implications of such a shift in policy; if, in the context of the recent announcement to extend and increase the number of special needs assistants in national schools, he will make a statement concerning when such assistants will become available and the schools that are likely to benefit from such an announcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16479/04]

I wish to advise the Deputy that my recent announcement concerning an increase in staffing resources in the special needs sector related to 350 additional teaching posts. The transitional arrangements for the introduction of a new weighted model of allocation of such posts are being finalised and all schools will be notified of the revised arrangements as soon as possible.

My Department allocates special needs assistant, SNA, support on the basis of the assessed care needs of individual pupils. There are no proposals to depart from this arrangement for the present. However, the process for the allocation of SNAs will be kept under review.

Schools Recognition.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

213 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science when permanent status will be sanctioned for Gaelscoil Choladh an Treoigh, Castletroy, County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16563/04]

Gaelscoil Choladh an Treoigh commenced operation with provisional recognition from my Department in 2001. Newly established schools are generally required to undergo a period of provisional recognition during which the operation of the school and the growth of pupil numbers are monitored.

An application for permanent recognition has been received and is under consideration in the school planning section of my Department. As part of the examination, factors such as the long-term viability of the school, current and projected enrolments and suitability of accommodation will be considered. A decision on the school's application will be made as soon as possible.

Site Acquisitions.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

214 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will sanction the purchase of a school building site for Monkstown Educate Together school. [16564/04]

The school is currently accommodated in prefabricated classrooms on a site adjoining Monkstown community centre. The cost of site and portacabin rental is grant aided by the Department at the rate of 95%.

The property management section of the Office of Public Works, which purchases sites for schools on behalf of my Department, is actively pursuing the identification and acquisition of a suitable site for the Monkstown Educate Together national school. My Department intends to secure a site for the school as soon as possible. When this has been done, the question of the architectural planning of a new school building will be examined as a matter of urgency. In the meantime, however, my Department will continue to grant aid the use of temporary accommodation by the school at a rate of 95% of the cost pending the delivery of permanent accommodation.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Seán Crowe

Question:

215 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will give a report on the committee established to look at issues affecting the deaf community; the remit of the committee and the timescale set for its report to be issued. [16574/04]

The advisory committee on the education of the deaf and hard of hearing was established with the following terms of reference:- to review the adequacy of the current range of educational support services available to students who are deaf or hard of hearing; to identify; and prioritise areas of service provision which require development or adjustment, and to bring forward such proposals as are considered appropriate to ensure the development and delivery of an appropriate, effective and efficient education support service for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The committee has not yet concluded its deliberations but the group is aware that I am anxious to have its report at the earliest possible date.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

216 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress that has been made in the verification process of additional institutions to be added to the Schedule to the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002; when a list of additional institutions will be brought before Dáil Éireann for approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16593/04]

Section 4 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 provides for the addition to the Schedule of institutions that are identified as reformatory schools, industrial schools, orphanages, children's homes and special schools, in which children were placed and resident and in respect of which a public body had a regulatory or inspection function.

My Department has received correspondence from both individuals and survivor groups identifying a number of additional institutions that may be eligible for inclusion in the Schedule. Discussions have taken place between my Department and other Departments that may have provided a regulatory or inspection function in the operation of these facilities to ascertain whether these institutions are eligible for inclusion. A number of institutions have been identified for inclusion and I intend bringing this matter to Government for its consideration shortly.

School Accommodation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

217 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if, under the small schools initiative, he would consider granting funding for additional space for a third teacher in a school (details supplied) in County Donegal. [16596/04]

The school referred to by the Deputy was recently approved for grant aid towards the rental of temporary accommodation.

The school's need for permanent accommodation will be considered in the context of a review which is being undertaken of all projects that did not proceed as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including it as part of a multi-annual school building programme from 2005, details of which will be announced later in the year.

Question No. 218 answered with QuestionNo. 196.

School Transport.

John McGuinness

Question:

219 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress in establishing a new bus route for Piltown national school, County Kilkenny; the outcome of a meeting between the local community and his Department regarding the issue; and if a resolution will be expedited. [16628/04]

The position in this case is that an appeal against my Department's decision not to allow transport under the terms of the school transport scheme was upheld by the school transport appeals board in November 2003. The board was satisfied that the terms of the school transport scheme had been fairly applied, and the decision of the appeals board is final.

School Placement.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

220 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of the application by a school (details supplied); and if funding can be expedited to meet the vastly expanded demand for school places in the area. [16629/04]

The large-scale building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is listed in section 8 of the 2004 school building programme which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie. This project is at stage 3, developed sketch scheme, of architectural planning. It has been assigned a band 2 rating by my Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects. It is planned to progress this project to advanced architectural planning during 2004.

Indicative timescales have been included for large-scale projects proceeding to tender in 2004. The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, which in turn will give greater clarity regarding projects that are not progressing to tender in this year's programme including the school in question. I will make a further announcement in that regard during the year.

Harbours and Piers.

Beverley Flynn

Question:

221 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when approval will be given by his Department for the investment of €1 million for the development of a marina for Westport as promised in 2002 and again recently by a spokesman for the Government in February 2004. [16266/04]

In March 2002, Mayo County Council in association with Westport Town Council and Westport Harbour Commissioners submitted an application for funding under the marine tourism grant scheme of the national development plan, for the proposed marina, 46 berths. However, as the applicants had not obtained the necessary statutory permissions, that is, planning permission and foreshore lease, as required under the conditions for the scheme, their application could not be considered further. The applicants were informed of this and that they could apply for funding under a future call having obtained the required permissions. However, in December 2002, the grant scheme was suspended and the applicants were formally notified.

No funding was available for the grant scheme in 2003 or in 2004. In light of the findings of the mid-term review of the regional operational programmes completed by the ESRI which recommended reallocation of funds to other priorities, it is unlikely that the scheme will be reactivated within the term of the national development plan. I am not aware of nor do I have at my disposal any other source of funds to support this project.

Aquaculture Licences.

Martin Ferris

Question:

222 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the concerns being highlighted by an association (details supplied) in County Donegal; and the action he intends to take to alleviate this national scandal. [16275/04]

Following the granting of two aquaculture licences for the bottom cultivation of mussels in Lough Swilly, local oyster fishermen claimed that parts of the licensed areas overlapped with wild oyster beds in the lough.

In light of these complaints, the aquaculture initiative was asked to carry out a survey of the lough. This examined the location and size of the oyster beds and sought to ascertain if there was any overlap between these areas and the sites licensed for mussel cultivation. The results of the survey confirmed that there was an element of overlap.

Following consultation with the persons to whom the aquaculture licences had been granted, it was agreed that they would surrender the parts of their areas that had been found to contain oysters. Arrangements were made also to have mussels removed from the areas concerned, and any oysters retrieved during this process were relaid. Since then, the oyster fishermen have applied for an aquaculture licence in respect of oyster beds in the lough. This application is being considered by my Department.

Lighthouse Service.

Martin Ferris

Question:

223 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will make a statement on the upkeep and cost of lighthouses here; and the person responsible for funding this service. [16439/04]

The Commissioners of Irish Lights, CIL, provide a service of lighthouses throughout the whole island of Ireland. CIL have vested in them under section 634 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 the responsibility of superintendence and management of all lighthouses and other aids to navigation in respect of the State and the adjacent seas and island. The UK Merchant Shipping Act 1995, section 195(1), empowers the commissioners with the same functions for Northern Ireland and adjacent seas and islands. In addition, there is an obligation on CIL to inspect and approve the aids to navigation systems and to audit the subsequent management of aids to navigation provided by ports and local authorities.

CIL is one of three general lighthouse authorities serving Great Britain and Ireland. The Commissioners of Irish Lights is a user pays service, the primary source of revenue coming from light dues levied on commercial shipping, which relies for its safety on these aids to navigation. All light dues collected in Britain and Ireland are pooled into a central fund called the general lighthouse fund which is administered by the UK Department of Transport. This fund meets the costs of the three general lighthouse authorities. Light dues collected at ports in the State are not sufficient to meet the full cost of the service and are supplemented by an annual Exchequer contribution to the general lighthouse fund.

The cost of running the Irish lighthouse service for 2002-03 was €23.4 million for the whole island of Ireland. Light dues income was €5.3 million and the Irish Exchequer contribution was €2.8 million.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

224 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of internal audit reports completed within his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16463/04]

A list of internal audit reports completed since January 2001 follows. Sixty-two reports have been completed in this period. All internal audit reports are made available to the Comptroller and Auditor General, who is the constitutional officer of the Oireachtas for audit issues as per Article 33.1 of Bunreacht na hÉireann.

2001

1. Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry

Sub-Programme 2; Forestry, Measure No.1: Second Instalment Grants

Forestry Operational Programme 1989 to 1993

Reconstitution of Woodland

Woodland Improvement Scheme

Private Recreational Forestry

Western Package Forestry Planting Scheme

Co-funded by the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guidance)

Review of the implementation of the recommendations set out in the Audit Report dated April 2000 — January 2001

2. Operational Programme for Fisheries, 1994 to 1999

Measure 7: Human Resources Sub-Measure 7.1 Training

Co-funded by European Social Fund, January 2001

3. Operational Programme for Fisheries

Measure 2: Restructuring-Renewal of the Fishing Fleet

Sub-Measure 2.1: Fleet Renewal

Sub-Measure 2.2: Vessel Modernisation: including safety

Co-funded by the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance, FIFG February 2001

4. Ireland/Wales Maritime INTERREG II Programme 1994-99

Sub-Programme 1, Measure: 1 Transport (Ports)

Co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, February 2001

5. European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guarantee), Fish Withdrawal Compensation Scheme, Council Regulation (EEC) No. 3759/92, February 2001

6. External Report by Arthur Andersen

Risk Consulting Information Technology,

Report on Internal Audit of Information Systems,

Initial Draft — 2 February 2001

7. Audit Review Operational Programme for Fisheries

Marine and Land-based Aquaculture, Measure: 3

Co-funded by Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance

Review of the implementation of the recommendations of the Audit Report dated February 2000 — March 2001

8. Ports and Technical Measures, Co-funded by Cohesion Fund, March 2001

9. Operational Programme for Agriculture Rural Development and Forestry

Sub-Programme 2: Forestry, Measure: Forestry Development

Sub Measure D: Downstream Development March 2001

10. Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry

Sub-Programme 2: Forestry Woodland Improvement Scheme

Co-funded by the European Agricultural Guidelines and Guarantee Fund (Guidance) May 2001

11. Audit of Accreditation Guidelines for Paying Agencies, May 2001

12. Operational Programme for Fisheries, Measure 5: Processing

Co-funded by Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance, FIFG June 2001

13. Operational Programme for Fisheries, Measure 6: Promotion of Fish Products

Co-funded by Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance, FIFG June 2001

14. Operational Programme for Transport

Sub-Programme: Supporting Sub-Regional Economic Development

Measure: S4: Regional Ports, Co-funded from ERDF June 2001

15. Ireland and Northern Ireland: Joint Audit of the Loughs Agency June 2001

16. Operational Programme Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry

Sub-Programme 2: Forestry, Measure 2: Forestry Development

Sub-Measure (b): Reconstitution of Woodland, including formative shaping of broadleaves

Co-funded by European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guidance) July 2001

17. Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry 1994-99

Sub-Programme 2: Forestry, Measure 2: Forestry Development

Sub-Measure (g) — Forest Roads,

Co-funded by European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guidance) July 2001

18. Operational Programme for Fisheries, Measure 3: Marine and Land-Based Aquaculture

Co-funded by Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) July 2001

19. Suspense Account July 2001

20. PESCA COMMUNITY INITIATIVE

Co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund

Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance, FIFG August 2001

21. AUDIT REVIEW Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry

Sub-Programme 2 — Forestry, Measure No.1: Second Instalment Grants

Forestry Operational Programme (1989 to 1993)

Reconstitution of Woodland

Woodland Improvement Scheme

Private Recreational Forestry

Western Package Forestry Planting Scheme

Co-funded by the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guidance) November 2001

22. Operational Programme for Fisheries

Measure: 9: Technical Assistance Programme, TAP

Co-funded by: Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance November 2001

23. Central Fisheries Board, Operational Programme for Tourism 1994-1999

Sub-Programme 2: Product Development: Measure 3: Tourism Angling

Co-funded by: European Regional Development Fund, ERDF November 2001

2002

24. European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guarantee)

Fishery Market Support Framework

Council Regulations (EEC) No. 3759/92 and 104/2000, which superseded 3759/92 with effect from 1 January 2001

January 2002

25. European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guarantee)

Afforestation Grants Scheme, Maintenance Grant Scheme,

CAP Farmer Premium Scheme, CAP Non-Farmer Premium Scheme

Council Regulation (EU) No. 2080/92 January 2002

26. Ireland/Northern Ireland Interreg II Programme

Sub Programme 4: Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Measure 4: Forestry

Co-funded by European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guidance) February 2002

27. Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry

Measure 2: Forestry Development, Sub-Measure (c) Publicity /Awareness

Co-funded by European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guidance) February 2002

28. Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry

Sub-Programme 2 — Forestry, Measure 2 — Forestry Development

Sub-Measure (h) — Research and Development

Co-Funded by the European Regional Development Fund February 2002

29. Mercantile Marine Office, Eden Quay, Dublin 2 March 2002

30. Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development & Forestry, 1994 — 1999

Sub-Programme No. 2 — Forestry, Measure No. 2: Forestry Development, Sub-Measure F: Technical Assistance

Co-funded by European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guidance) March 2002

31. Suspense Accounts April 2002

32. Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland, 1995 to 1999

Sub-Programme 3: Cross Border Development (1999)

Measure 3(D): Co-operation between Public Bodies (FIFG)

Co-funded by Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) June 2002

33. Operational Programme for Agriculture Rural Development and Forestry (1994–2000)

Co-funded by European Agricultural Guidance & Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)—(Guidance), Sub-Programme 2: Forestry

Measure 1: Second Instalment Grants, Measure 2: Forestry Development

Audit of Final Claim covering the expenditure in the period 2000-2001 (to closure) June 2002

34. Operational Programme for Fisheries

Measure 2: Restructuring / Renewal of the Fishing Fleet

Sub-Measure 2.1: Fleet Renewal, Sub-Measure 2.2: Vessel Modernisation: (including Safety)

Co-funded by the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) July 2002

35. Audit of Fisheries Harbours: Expenditure under G1 Development of Fishery Harbours and G2 Fishery Harbours Centres Fund July 2002

36. Operational Programme for Fisheries (1994-2000)

Co-funded by the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG)

Measure 1: Adjustment of Fishing Fleet Effort

Measure 2: Renewal and Modernisation of Fishing Fleet

Measure 3: Marine and Land Based Aquaculture

Measure 5: Processing

Measure 6: Marketing of Produce

Measure 9: Technical Assistance Programme

Audit of Final Claim covering the expenditure in the period 2000-2001 (to closure) July 2002

37. European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guarantee)

Afforestation Grants Scheme

Maintenance Grant Scheme

CAP Farmer Premium Scheme

CAP Non-Farmer Premium Scheme September 2002

38. Report on the Verification of 2001 Expenditure

Co-Funded by the European Commission

Carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers

Dated September 2002

39. Audit of Accreditation Guidelines for Paying Agencies

European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guarantee)

EU Regulation 1663/95

In relation to:

· Forestry;

· Afforestation

· CAP Maintenance

· CAP Premium

September 2002

40. The Border, Midland and Western Regional Operational Programme 2000-2006

Forestry, Woodland Improvement — Sub Measure

Co-funded by European Agriculture Guarantee and Guidance Fund (EAGGF) October 2002

41. European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (Guarantee)

Fishery Market Support Framework

Council Regulations (EEC) 104/2000, which superseded 3759/92 with effect from 1 January 2001-October 2002

42. Interreg II Programme Ireland and Northern Ireland

Sub-Programme 4: Agriculture/Fisheries/Forestry, Measure 2:

Fisheries 1, FIFG

Co-funded by Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance, FIFG October 2002

43. Border, Midland and Western Regional Operational Programme 2000-2006

Local Enterprise Priority Measure: 5 Fishery Harbours

Sub-Measure 1: Port Infrastructure Improvement Programme

Co-funded by European Regional Development Fund, ERDF December 2002

44. Economic Infrastructure Operational Programme for 1994-1999

Measure: Telecommunications

Co-funded by ERDF December 2002

45. Purchase of Office Machinery and Equipment Subhead A5 (2001)

Purchases of Computer Equipment and provision of Services

Information Services Division and Services Division December 2002

Audits conducted by the old Department of Public Enterprise on Divisions for which this Department now has responsibility in 2002;

46. Audit of Telecommunication Measure with Eircom

December 2002

47. Review of E-Commerce Corporate Infrastructure Measure Report December 2002

48. Energy Efficiency Measure December 2002

2003

49. Fish Withdrawal Compensation Scheme 1 October 2001 — 31 March 2002

January 2003

50. Audit of the Petroleum Affairs Division 2003

May 2003

51. 5% Verification Checks: Údarás na Gaeltachta 2000-2002

May 2003

52. Review of the Fisheries Harbours Audit:

G1: Development & G2: Fisheries Harbours Centres Fund.

June 2003

53. Salaries: The system and procedure relating to Management and Control of the payment of Salaries, Overtime and allowances to staff within DCMNR.

June 2003

54. Audit Supporting Measures for Sea Fisheries Development:

Innovation and Sustainability June 2003

55 Loughs Agency July 2003

56. Review of Suspense Account Audit August 2003

57. Audit of the Coastal Zone Administration Division

Foreshore October 2003

58. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Structural Funding for the year ended 31/12/2002 (Conran and Company) November 2003

2004

59. EIOP: Sustainable Energy Sub-Programme: Energy Priority February 2004

60. Audit Review of Debtors Control System February 2004

61. Audit of the Geological Survey of Ireland, GSI February 2004

62. Audit of the Coastal Zone Administration Division Management /Aquaculture. March 2004

Decentralisation Programme.

David Stanton

Question:

225 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of posts decentralised to Wexford by the then Department of Forestry; the number of posts that were filled on promotion; the number of posts that were filled by staff maintaining their current grade; the number of posts that were filled internally by serving members of the Department; the number of posts that were filled from outside his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16472/04]

I do not have responsibility for the forestry function which was transferred to my colleague the Minister for Agriculture and Food on 1 January 2004.

David Stanton

Question:

226 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the period of time which elapsed between the initial announcement of decentralisation plans for the then Department of Forestry and the date on which decentralisation to Wexford was completed. [16473/04]

I do not have responsibility for the forestry function which was transferred to my colleague the Minister for Agriculture and Food on 1 January 2004.

Fisheries Protection.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

227 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the way in which the tagging system for salmon fishing is operated, in particular the way in which the number of tags each fisherman receives is decided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16565/04]

The tagging system to which the Deputy refers is operated under the wild salmon and sea trout tagging scheme regulations which, inter alia, limit the total allowable commercial catch, TAC, of salmon each year for all fishery districts throughout the country. The allocation of the fishing quotas within each district, and the distribution of the tags to the commercial fishermen, are matters for the chief executive officers of the relevant regional fisheries board to decide in accordance with the power vested in them under the regulations following consultation with the relevant fishery district committees which are representative of all the commercial fishermen in the particular district.

Fuel Prices.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

228 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in view of the recent costs increases, the plans the Government have while holding the EU Presidency to bring forward proposals to give more certainty to fuel prices and to regulate oil companies, so as to alleviate some of the difficulties faced by hauliers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16616/04]

Paddy McHugh

Question:

229 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in view of the recent cost increase, the plans the Government is pursuing with its EU partners to source alternative sources of fuel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16617/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 228 and 229 together.

The price of oil is set by the international oil market, with supply into that market being influenced by OPEC policies. The current high price reflects a complex interaction of unanticipated strong demand, tight capacities, geopolitical uncertainties and the influence of speculators on the markets. There is however no disruption to oil supplies.

The Irish oil market is an open and private sector one. Retail prices take account of factors such as international market price, importation and distribution costs, and euro-dollar fluctuations. The relative weak performance of the US dollar against the euro softened the impact for Ireland of increasing prices for some time. I appreciate that current high prices impact more severely on certain sectors, including hauliers.

It is clear that economic recovery worldwide, and especially in developing countries, would benefit from stable oil prices at a reasonable level. In this context, continued volatility in international oil prices is on the agendas of the G7 countries, the European Union, OPEC, the International Energy Agency, IEA, and the International Energy Forum, IEF.

I attended the recent ninth IEF held in Amsterdam on 22 to 24 May. While it is not possible for the EU Presidency to bring forward proposals regarding the operation of the oil industry in the context that the sole right of initiative in the EU rests with the Commission, the situation is being closely monitored at EU level through the working group on oil supply which met most recently on 26 May to review the current price situation and also to review emergency supply arrangements in place in member states to ensure an efficient, timely and co-ordinated response in the event of an oil supply disruption. The matter is also to be discussed by EU Finance Ministers this week.

I have no function in regard to the sourcing of alternative fuels in the context of cost increases.

Arts Funding.

Tom Hayes

Question:

230 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if a decision will be reviewed to allow a grant to a band (details supplied) in County Tipperary which applied for assistance for participation in the International Youth Festival of Wind Orchestras in the Czech Republic in July 2004. [16152/04]

Requests for financial assistance from Irish artists who wish to perform abroad are considered by the cultural relations committee, CRC, an independent body under my Department's aegis which then makes recommendations to me as Minister. The CRC has not recommended assistance in this instance and there do not appear to be any grounds for a review of its decision.

Sports Capital Programme.

Beverley Flynn

Question:

231 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will provide a league table based on points acquired under the sports capital programme 2004 for all the applicants from County Mayo; and the identity of the applicants that were invalid or disqualified. [16263/04]

The national lottery-funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, allocates funding to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level.

A total of 1,304 applications were received under the 2004 sports capital programme, including 50 from County Mayo. All applications under the programme were evaluated by my Department in accordance with the assessment criteria for the programme published in the guidelines, terms and conditions document which accompanied the application form for the programme. Following completion of the evaluation of the applications received by my Department under the programme, on 7 May last, I announced provisional grant allocations totalling €50.8 million to 717 projects, including €1.594 million to 23 projects in County Mayo. In due course, I will make further announcements under the programme in respect of funding for projects of major significance which, while meeting local needs, will also add considerably to the national and regional sporting infrastructure which is required both for increasing levels of participation and improving standards of performance.

Details of how individual applicants fared in the assessment process are a matter for that applicant. Letters are being issued to all applicants under the programme. Those awarded provisional grant allocations are being informed of the requirements to be fulfilled to enable them to have the allocations approved and drawn down and those applicants which were unsuccessful in this year's programme are being given the reasons for this and a copy of the assessment of their application. It is open to these organisations to take cognisance of the assessment and to prepare and submit an application to the 2005 sports capital programme when that scheme is publicly advertised.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

232 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the state of progress in regard to the reconstruction of Monaghan swimming pool; the proposed timescale for the completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16264/04]

The contract documents for the provision of a replacement swimming pool in Monaghan town were submitted to my Department on 17 May 2004. This documentation is now being examined by my Department's technical advisers, the Office of Public Works. The proposal will be considered further when its report is received.

David Stanton

Question:

233 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, further to Question No. 34 of 25 May 2004, the amount available in 2004 for the local authority swimming pool programme; the amount of this funding spent or committed to date and the projects involved, including the amount made available to each project; the amount not yet expended or committed; the plans he has to increase the amount available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16424/04]

Further to my reply of 25 May 2004 referred to by the Deputy, a provision of €15 million has been made in my Department's Estimates to meet costs associated with the local authority swimming pool programme for 2004. The likely drawdown this year arising from grant commitments carried forward from earlier years and from the projects approved this year is estimated at €12 million which would, therefore, leave some €3 million available for possible drawdown this year against other projects yet to be approved.

The rate of drawdown in respect of each project varies in accordance with the speed at which the project proceeds. The normal timescale for pool construction is in the region of 18 months. Arising from the need for the assembly of properly documented claims by the project promoter and scrutiny of these by the Office of Public Works, the process of drawing down allocated funding invariably extends beyond the construction period. Thus my expectation would be that for projects approved this year the grant drawdown will extend into 2005 and beyond. In addition, 5% of grant aid is retained until the final account and architect's opinion on compliance with building regulations and planning permission is provided and found to be in order.

The following table outlines the position with regard to projects that have outstanding grant commitments in 2004:

Project

Grant Commitment

Drawn down prior to 2004

Drawn down to date in 2004

Outstanding

Enniscorthy

2,693,565

2,541,197

0

152,368

Arklow

2,349,015

2,231,565

0

117,450

Dundalk

3,809,214

3,618,753

0

190,461

Roscommon

3,809,214

3,618,735

0

190,479

Ballinasloe

3,809,214

3,618,753

0

190,461

Finglas, Dublin

3,809,214

3,618,753

0

190,461

Grove Island, Limerick

3,809,214

2,108,526

1,510,227

190,461

Tralee

3,809,214

1,379,338

1,205,725

1,224,151

Clonmel

1,641,934

336,600

156,096

1,149,238

Churchfield, Cork City

3,809,214

0

0

3,809,214

Tuam

3,809,214

0

591,630

3,217,584

Ballymun, Dublin

3,809,214

0

0

3,809,214

Total

40,967,440

23,072,220

3,463,678

14,431,542

Expenditure allocations for 2005 and later years will be determined in the course of the annual Estimates process.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

234 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of internal audit reports completed within his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16464/04]

Since the establishment of my Department in June 2002, a total of seven internal audit reports have been completed to date. The title of each report is as follows: survey of procedures for payments of grants and grants-in-aid to bodies under the aegis of the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; arts and culture capital enhancement support scheme, ACCESS; postal and telecommunications services; travel and subsistence; office machinery and office supplies; horse and greyhound racing fund; and compliance with late payments in commercial transactions legislation.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Beverley Flynn

Question:

235 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the maximum level of grant assistance available to a local authority for the provision of a new swimming pool; his views on whether this is adequate in view of the current building costs; and if he has plans to increase this grant. [16634/04]

Under the local authority swimming pool programme, LASPP, grants of up to €3.8 million are made available towards either the refurbishment of existing pools or the provision of new pools, subject, in both cases, to the total grant not exceeding 80% of the eligible cost of the project or 90% for projects located in designated disadvantaged areas. There are no plans at present to increase this grant amount.

However, my Department has commenced an expenditure review of the LASPP, the outcome of which will be used to assist in formulating future policy in this area. This review is examining, among other things, how the programme has worked to date, the benefits which have accrued to areas where pools have been built and what amendments, if any, are required to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of the programme. It is hoped to have this review completed by mid-year.

Health Board Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

236 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if there are plans to provide a speech therapist at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16364/04]

The provision of health related services, including speech and language therapy, for people with physical and/or sensory disabilities is a matter for the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards in the first instance. Accordingly, the Deputy's question has been referred to the regional chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority with a request that he examine the matter and reply directly to the Deputy, as a matter of urgency.

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

237 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if, further to Question No. 595 of 27 April 2004, a decision has been made in regard to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16129/04]

Responsibility for the provision of services at St. Vincent's Hospital, Athlone, is in the first instance a matter for the Midland Health Board. My Department has been informed by the Midland Health Board that a reply will issue to the Deputy today.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

238 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford can be offered additional respite care during the summer holidays as the family are finding it increasingly difficult to give full-time care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16130/04]

Responsibility for the provision of health related services for people with an intellectual disability and autism in the Wexford region is a matter, in the first instance, for the South Eastern Health Board. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the South Eastern Health Board to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply directly to him.

Health Board Services.

Mary Upton

Question:

239 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 will be approved for orthodontic treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16131/04]

Responsibility for the provision of orthodontic treatment to eligible persons in Dublin 12 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 her directly.

Services for People with Disabilities.

John Perry

Question:

240 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will intervene on behalf of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo who has autism to ensure, when he or she starts transition and beyond in rehabilitation, that his or her needs will be specifically catered for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16132/04]

Responsibility for the provision of services to people with an intellectual disability and autism in the Sligo region is a matter, in the first instance, for the North Western Health Board. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the North Western Health Board to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply to him directly.

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

241 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will be called for a cataract operation in Galway Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16153/04]

The provision of hospital services to residents of County Roscommon is the responsibility of the Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the position regarding this case and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Board Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

242 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive orthodontic treatment. [16156/04]

As the Deputy is aware, responsibility for the provision of orthodontic treatment to eligible persons in County Mayo rests with the 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.

Hospital Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

243 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has committed funding towards the provision of radiotherapy units in private hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16164/04]

My Department has not committed any revenue or capital resources towards the provision of radiotherapy services in private hospitals.

As the Deputy is aware, I launched the report of the expert working group on the development of radiation oncology services in Ireland on 9 October 2003. Its recommendations have been accepted by the Government. The Government agrees that a major programme is now required to develop rapidly clinical radiation oncology treatment services to modern standards. Furthermore, the Government has agreed that the first phase of such a new programme should be the development of a clinical network of large centres in Dublin, Cork and Galway. The development of those centres as a clinical network is of paramount importance and will, in the shortest possible timeframe, begin to address the profound deficit in radiation therapy services that has been identified in the report. The implementation of the report's recommendations is the single most important priority of my Department in cancer services in the acute setting.

Approval has issued for the purchase of two additional linear accelerators for the supra-regional centre at Cork University Hospital and the necessary capital investment amounting to more than €4 million to commission that service as rapidly as possible. In 2004, €1 million in ongoing revenue funding is being made available for the development, which will improve services for cancer patients in the Southern, Mid-Western and South Eastern Health Boards. Approval has issued for the appointment of two consultant radiation oncologists with sessional commitments to the South Eastern and Mid-Western Health Boards.

Regarding the supra-regional centre at University College Hospital, a new radiotherapy unit has been constructed and is being commissioned. In 2004, €2.5 million in ongoing revenue funding is being made available. Approval has been issued for the appointment of one consultant medical oncologist and three consultant radiation oncologists, two of whom will have sessional commitments to the North Western and Mid-Western Health Boards. Recruitment for those consultant posts is under way.

Care of the Elderly.

Michael Ring

Question:

244 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the position with the site selection for the Ballinrobe nursing home, County Mayo (details supplied). [16170/04]

Beverley Flynn

Question:

254 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Minister for Health and Children when he will approve an allocation for funding for Ballinrobe community nursing unit to enable a design team to be appointed in view of the fact that a brief for that project was submitted to his Department on 26 April 2004. [16254/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 and 254 together.

Funding for the purchase of a site at Claremorris Road, Ballinrobe, was provided to the Western Health Board by my Department. I understand that contracts for the sale of the site have been completed and that full title will be transferred to the board in the coming weeks.

My Department, in association with the Department of Finance, is at present examining the health capital programme for 2004 and beyond to ascertain what new projects can be progressed through either planning or construction stages, taking account of existing commitments and overall funding resources available. It is in that context that my Department will continue to liaise with the Western Health Board regarding the proposed development in Ballinrobe in the light of the board's overall capital funding priorities.

Hospital Services.

Seán Power

Question:

245 Mr. S. Power asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the paediatric out-patient service at Tallaght Hospital is closed to new appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16172/04]

Responsibility for the funding of services at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, incorporating the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght, rests with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the regional chief executive of the authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to him directly.

Health Board Services.

John Perry

Question:

246 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties encountered by a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; if he will intervene on their behalf to ensure that they receive speech and language therapy; if he will make a favourable decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16174/04]

The provision of health services, including speech and language therapy, to people with a physical or sensory disability is a matter for the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards in the first instance. Accordingly, the Deputy's question has been referred to the chief executive officer of the North Western Health Board with a request that he investigate the matter and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Hospital Services.

Seán Ryan

Question:

247 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Health and Children the provision of enhanced external counter-pulsation treatment for heart conditions here and in particular regarding the ceasing of that treatment at Beaumont Hospital, where 200 or so patients receive it and were due booster sessions during 2004; and if measures will be taken to ensure that those patients get their booster treatments, including the persons who have to travel to get the treatment. [16210/04]

Services at Beaumont Hospital are provided under an arrangement with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the regional chief executive of the authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to him directly.

Health Board Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

248 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive an appointment for an operation at Beaumont Hospital in view of the very severe pain that he or she is encountering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16219/04]

Responsibility for the provision of health services to persons residing in counties Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow rests with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the regional chief executive of the authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to him directly.

Michael Ring

Question:

249 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be reassessed for orthodontic treatment. [16223/04]

As the Deputy is aware, responsibility for the provision of orthodontic treatment to eligible persons in County Mayo rests with the 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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Finian McGrath

Question:

250 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if the service to a person (details supplied) in County Galway will be increased to ensure that he or she can live independently. [16230/04]

The provision of health-related support services, including home help services for people with physical and sensory disabilities, is a matter for the relevant health board. Accordingly, the Deputy's question has been referred to the chief executive officer, Western Health Board, with a request that she examine the case and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Ambulance Service.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

251 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Health and Children when funding will be made available (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16231/04]

Responsibility for the provision of ambulance services in counties Donegal and Sligo rests with the North Western Health Board. My Department is advised that the development of new part-time ambulance stations at Falcarragh, Buncrana and south Sligo is one of a number of capital development projects proposed by the board for funding under the national development plan, or NDP. The proposal will be considered by my Department in conjunction with the board in the context of the board's capital development priorities and with regard to the level of resources available.

Cancer Incidence.

Pat Carey

Question:

252 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children if his Department, or any agency reporting to him, can carry out tests or an examination at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 11 to establish whether there is evidence to explain the reason that, in the small area, a significant number of residents have had cancer-related illnesses in recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16247/04]

My Department has asked the chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority to investigate the matter raised and to advise the Deputy of the outcome as soon as possible.

Community Care.

Paul McGrath

Question:

253 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the timeframe for the provision of a primary health care centre located in Mulhuddart Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16253/04]

With regard to the provision of new health centres generally, the position is that the identification, prioritisation and provision of such facilities to meet the needs of local communities within its functional area is a matter for the relevant health board or the Eastern Regional Health Authority, or ERHA. In the case of Mulhuddart, that responsibility rests with the ERHA.

The ERHA has indicated that the development of a new health centre would constitute a regional priority in the context of the community health service requirements in the Mulhuddart area. That capital proposal will be considered by my Department and the ERHA in the context of capital priorities under the capital investment framework for 2004 to 2008.

Question No. 254 answered with QuestionNo. 244.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

255 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is possible for Irish persons to adopt children from Vietnam; and if there is a bilateral agreement between the two countries. [16312/04]

During 2002 the Vietnamese authorities decided that, from the end of 2002, adoptions would be allowed only to countries with which a bilateral agreement was in place. Accordingly, in March 2003, I contacted the Irish ambassador, and a delegation headed by the ambassador to Malaysia and Vietnam negotiated a bilateral agreement on inter-country adoption. Both Ireland and Vietnam have signed and ratified the agreement.

The practical operation of the agreement is a matter for the Adoption Board. The board has informed me that, following an interview process, it nominated an individual to act as an authorised person under the agreement. The board is now awaiting approval of the authorised person from the Vietnamese authorities.

Services for People with Disabilities.

John McGuinness

Question:

256 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has determined the extent of the facility to be provided for persons with autism at Myshall, County Carlow; when a decision will be made regarding the provision of a centre of excellence at that location for the care and treatment of persons with autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16317/04]

As the information requested by the Deputy regarding Myshall is, in the first instance, the responsibility of the South Eastern Health Board, my Department has asked the chief executive officer of the South Eastern Health Board to investigate the matter and reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Seán Crowe

Question:

257 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the logjam at Tallaght Hospital, at which up to 41 patients have been left on trolleys on several occasions in 2004; and the funding and resources he proposes to introduce to prevent that occurring. [16394/04]

Responsibility for the funding of services at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, incorporating the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght, rests with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the regional chief executive of the authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to him directly.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Seán Crowe

Question:

258 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by deaf and hard-of-hearing persons who wish to follow social and political current affairs programmes on television channels (details supplied); and the discussions he has had with senior management at those channels regarding that matter. [16395/04]

The issue raised by the Deputy has not previously been brought to my attention. It does not appear to be a matter for my Department.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Michael Ring

Question:

259 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason questions relating to having persons (details supplied) in County Mayo treated under the national treatment purchase plan are not being responded to in full. [16396/04]

The provision of hospital services to residents of County Mayo is the responsibility of the Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the issues raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Board Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

260 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason Question No. 295 of 11 May 2004 has not been answered in full by the Western Health Board. [16397/04]

The provision of hospital services to residents of County Mayo is the responsibility of the Western Health Board. The Western Health Board has outlined the position in this case in its letter to the Deputy dated 29 April 2004. My Department has again asked the chief executive officer of the board to respond to the Deputy's queries regarding this case and to reply directly to him.

Long-Term Illness Scheme.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

261 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Cork who suffers from cystic fibrosis is entitled to receive a long-term illness scheme card. [16402/04]

Under the Health Act 1970, a health board may arrange for the supply, without charge, of drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances to people with a specified condition, for the treatment of that condition under the long-term illness, or LTI, scheme. The conditions are: mental handicap, mental illness — for people under 16 only, phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, haemophilia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophies, parkinsonism, conditions arising from thalidomide and acute leukaemia.

The Deputy will be pleased to note that cystic fibrosis is an eligible condition for the LTI scheme. A person with an eligible condition should contact their local health board to register under the scheme.

Health Board Allowances.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

262 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will investigate the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork seeking the backdating of a domicilary care allowance in respect of their child for the period of time they were resident in the Dublin area. [16403/04]

The assessment of entitlement to and payment of the domiciliary care allowance, including the payment of arrears, in any individual case is a matter for the relevant health board. My Department has therefore asked the regional chief executive, Eastern Regional Health Authority, to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply directly to him.

Hospital Services.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

263 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has been unable to have a hernia operation as a public patient at University College Hospital, Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16408/04]

The provision of hospital services to residents of County Galway is the responsibility of the Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the position regarding the case and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Mary Upton

Question:

264 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will investigate the lengthy unacceptable delays in a service (details supplied); and the steps he will take to improve the matter. [16409/04]

The provision of health-related services, including occupational therapy, for people with physical or sensory disabilities is a matter for the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards in the first instance. Accordingly, the Deputy's question has been referred to the regional chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority with a request that he examine the matter and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Mary Upton

Question:

265 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person and their family (details supplied) in Dublin 6W will have the benefit of respite care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16410/04]

Responsibility for the provision of services to people with an intellectual disability and autism in the Dublin area is a matter, in the first instance, for the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the Eastern Regional Health Authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply directly to her.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Jack Wall

Question:

266 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is unable to stay in a nursing home owing to the financial implications of the cost to their family; if he will investigate the matter and have it resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16414/04]

As the Deputy will be aware, the provision of health services in the Kildare area is, in the first instance, the responsibility of the South Western Area Health Board acting under the aegis of the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive of the authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply direct to him as a matter of urgency.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

267 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of internal audit reports completed in his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16465/04]

The audits carried out in my Department since 1 January 2001 are as follows: ERDF operational programme 1994 to 1999: Tallaght Hospital: 5% verification under Article 3.1(b) of Regulation 2064/97: audit carried out by consultants Deloitte & Touche: January 2002.

ERDF operational programme 1994 to 1999: vocational training infrastructure: system-based audit: 1999 to close of programme under Article 3.1(a) of Regulation 2064/97: audit carried out by consultants Deloitte & Touche: December 2002.

ERDF operational programme 1994 to 1999: vocational training infrastructure: 5% verification under Article 3.1(b) of Regulation 2064/97: audit carried out by consultants Deloitte & Touche: February 2003.

ESF human resources operational programme 1994 to 1999: NRB: 5% verification under Article 3.1(b) of Regulation 2064/97: the verification report was collated by the Department’s internal audit unit: February 2003.

Patient Statistics.

Tony Gregory

Question:

268 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of babies born in May 2004 in each of the Dublin maternity hospitals, the parents of whom had entered the State during 2004. [16483/04]

Tony Gregory

Question:

283 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of requests received during May 2004 from non-nationals who were still resident outside of this country during May 2004 to make arrangements for admission to each of Dublin’s maternity hospitals. [16592/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 268 and 283 together.

The information requested by the Deputy is not routinely collected by my Department. My Department has, therefore, requested the regional chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority to collate the information and to forward it directly to the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

269 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason special tricycles for children with moderate or severe learning difficulties are subsidised by health boards in some parts of the country but are not subsidised in the SWAHB region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16484/04]

Responsibility for the provision of health services for people with intellectual disabilities and autism in the south-west region is a matter, in the first instance, for the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the Eastern Regional Health Authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply to him directly.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

270 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the SWAHB refuses to award a grant in respect of a special needs bed (details supplied); and if the grant will be issued now without delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16486/04]

Responsibility for the provision of health services to people with intellectual disabilities in the south-east region of Dublin is a matter, in the first instance, for the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the Eastern Regional Health Authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply directly to him.

Health Board Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

271 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who had a stroke cannot be transported to rehabilitation in Dún Laoghaire for speech therapy owing to the fact that transport is not provided by the health board in the afternoons; his views on whether that is fair to the person, who has now missed their first appointment owing to that rule; if he will investigate the matter with a view to providing transport for the person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16487/04]

Responsibility for the provision of health-related services for people with a physical disability in the Dún Laoghaire region is a matter, in the first instance, for the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the Eastern Regional Health Authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply directly to him.

Hospital Services.

Liz McManus

Question:

272 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that persons under the age of 65 cannot avail of physiotherapy at Tallaght Hospital; his views on whether that is unsatisfactory; and his plans to improve the situation. [16488/04]

Responsibility for the funding of services at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, incorporating the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght, rests with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the regional chief executive of the authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to her directly.

Health Board Services.

Liz McManus

Question:

273 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is a one-year waiting period for speech and language therapy for children in Bray, County Wicklow, and a four-year waiting period in Wicklow; and if the recruitment embargo will be lifted to ensure proper staffing to meet the need. [16489/04]

The provision of health-related services, including speech and language therapy, for people with physical or sensory disabilities is a matter for the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards in the first instance. Accordingly, the Deputy's question has been referred to the regional chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority with a request that he examine the matter and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Hospital Services.

Pat Carey

Question:

274 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the capital and revenue funding that will be available in 2004 to a hospital (details supplied); if new plans will be funded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16490/04]

Responsibility for the funding of services at Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital rests with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the regional chief executive of the authority to examine the issues raised and to reply to the Deputy directly.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Pat Carey

Question:

275 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason adequate services have not been put in place to assist a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 with fragile X syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16491/04]

Responsibility for the provision of health services to people with disabilities and autism in the Dublin region is a matter, in the first instance, for the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the Eastern Regional Health Authority to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply directly to him.

Health Board Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

276Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Childrenthe policy of the ERHA regarding orthodontic care for children in cases in which conflicting assessments are given to parents by a private orthodontist and by the health board’s own orthodontist as in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; the number of category V patients who have been treated in each of the past three years; the number currently awaiting treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.[16492/04]

As the Deputy is aware, the provision of orthodontic services to eligible persons is the responsibility of the health boards or authority in the first instance.

The aim of my Department is to develop the treatment capacity of orthodontics in a sustainable way over the longer term. Given the potential level of demand for orthodontic services, the provision of those services will continue to be based on prioritisation of cases based on treatment need, as happens under the existing guidelines. It is widely recognised that decisions made in the private sector regarding orthodontic treatment are based primarily on subjective need and are not based on any evidence linking the orthodontic condition to any aspect of dental ill health. On the other hand, decisions made in health boards are based on prioritised guidelines ensuring that cases are selected for treatment based on the objective severity of the condition.

The guidelines for orthodontic treatment were issued in 1985. They are intended to enable health boards to identify in a consistent way those in greatest need and to commence timely treatment for them. Patients in category A require immediate treatment and include those with congenital abnormalities of the jaws such as cleft lip and palate, and patients with major skeletal discrepancies between the sizes of the jaws. Patients in category B have less severe problems than category A patients and are placed on the orthodontic treatment waiting list. Patients in category C have less severe problems than in category B. The number of cases treated is dependent on the level of resources available in qualified staff in the area, and that is reflected in the treatment waiting list. The provision of orthodontic services is severely restricted due to the limited availability of trained specialist clinical staff to assess and treat patients. Consequently, a category C waiting list may not be maintained in some health boards.

However, I am pleased to advise the Deputy that I have taken several measures to address the shortage of specialists and so increase the treatment capacity of orthodontic services in the Eastern Regional Health Authority, or ERHA, area and on a national basis.

The grade of specialist in orthodontics has been created in the health board orthodontic service. In 2003, my Department and the health boards funded 13 dentists from various health boards for specialist in orthodontics qualifications at training programmes in Ireland and at three separate universities in the United Kingdom. Those 13 trainees for the public orthodontic service are additional to the six dentists who commenced their training in 2001. Thus, there is an aggregate of 19 dentists in specialist training for orthodontics, including five from the ERHA. Those measures will complement the other structural changes being introduced into the orthodontic service, including the creation of an auxiliary grade of orthodontic therapist to work in the orthodontic area.

In June 2002, my Department provided additional funding of €5 million from the treatment purchase fund to health boards specifically for the purchase of orthodontic treatment. That funding is enabling boards to provide both additional sessions for existing staff and purchase treatment from private specialist orthodontic practitioners. The ERHA received €1.815 million from the fund for the treatment of cases in that way.

The regional chief executive of the authority has informed my Department that, at the end of the March quarter for 2004, 3,695 children were awaiting orthodontic treatment. The regional chief executive of the authority has also informed my Department that the number of children in treatment in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 was 3,776, 3,896 and 4,012 respectively.

Nursing Education.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

277 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nurses with special needs training to deal specifically with Parkinson’s disease; the location of those nurses; the proposals he has to provide a specially trained Parkinson’s nurse for the Kerry area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16493/04]

Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder. The care and nursing management of the condition is included on the curriculum of the undergraduate general nursing degree and diploma. Regarding specialist training, Parkinson's disease fits into the broader area of neurology. There are eight clinical nurse specialist, or CNS, posts in neurology with one post specific to Parkinson's disease and Aspen. That post is based in the Mid-Western Health Board. Gerontological nursing also embraces the holistic approach to care for persons with Parkinson's disease. The National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery has approved 13 CNS posts specific to care of the older person. I understand that the Southern Health Board has no immediate plans to develop a specialist nursing post in the area of Parkinson's disease in County Kerry.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Richard Bruton

Question:

278 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has satisfied himself that his Department supports the cost of expensive medical appliances for persons with a serious disability only in circumstances in which their income is below medical card guidelines (details supplied); the extent to which Ireland is out of line with other EU countries in failing to provide substantial cost rebates for medical appliances for persons with a disability; and his estimate of the cost of providing hearing aids to persons with an identified acute hearing difficulty without a means test. [16530/04]

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available in my Department. If the Deputy has a specific instance in mind, I will have the case examined by my Department on receipt of the relevant details.

Patient Statistics.

John Gormley

Question:

279 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children the figures available for ulcerative colitis for the age group of 16 to 25 for the years 2002 and 2003; the figures for the age group of 16 to 25 for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 for Crohn’s disease; if an increase has been noted; the steps he intends to take to ensure that patients are entitled to the long-term illness payment (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16531/04]

The conditions that the Deputy refers to are not notifiable diseases under the public health system. Thus the figures that the Deputy requested are not collected by my Department.

Under the Health Act 1970, a health board may arrange for the supply, without charge, of drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances to people with a specified condition for the treatment of that condition under the long-term illness, or LTI, scheme. The conditions are: mental handicap, mental illness — for people under 16 only, phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, haemophilia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophies, parkinsonism, conditions arising from thalidomide and acute leukaemia.

Other schemes provide assistance towards the cost of approved drugs and medicines for people with significant ongoing medical expenses. People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. Eligibility for a medical card is solely a matter for the chief executive officer of the relevant health board. In determining eligibility, the CEO has regard to the applicant's financial circumstances. Health boards use income guidelines to assist in determining eligibility. However, where a person's income exceeds the guidelines, a medical card may be awarded if the CEO considers that the person's medical needs or other circumstances would justify that. Medical cards may also be issued to individual family members on that basis. Non-medical card holders and people with conditions not covered under the LTI can use the drugs payment scheme. Under that scheme, no individual or family unit pays more than €78 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. There are no plans to amend the list of eligible conditions for the LTI.

Health Board Services.

John Gormley

Question:

280 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason that children with learning difficulties and in need of speech and language therapy have not received any therapy for more than a year; and the reason that their parents have now been informed that those children, who need the therapy at a vital stage of their lives, are not on a waiting list. [16532/04]

The provision of health-related services, including speech and language therapy, for people with physical or sensory disabilities is a matter for the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards in the first instance. Accordingly, the Deputy's question has been referred to the regional chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority with a request that he examine the matter and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Vaccination Programme.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

281 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children the action he proposes to take in regard to concerns (details supplied) of parents regarding the MMR vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16557/04]

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella and, in accordance with the recommendations of the immunisation advisory committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, can be administered to children between 12 and 15 months of age. A vaccine uptake rate of 95% is required to protect children from the diseases concerned and to stop the spread of the diseases in the community. Measles, in particular, is a highly infectious and serious disease; approximately one in 15 of children who contract measles suffers serious complications.

There is concern among some parents regarding the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine. Negative coverage on the issue has added to the confusion of parents in deciding whether to vaccinate their children. In April 2002, I launched the MMR vaccine discussion pack, an information guide for health professionals and parents. The pack was produced by the NDSC and the department of public health, Southern Health Board, and was published by HeBE on behalf of the health boards. The pack sets out the facts regarding the most common concerns about MMR in a way that will help health professionals and parents to explore those concerns together, review the evidence regarding MMR and provide the basis for making an informed decision. The information is presented in such a way as to allow full discussion between health professionals and parents on each issue. The pack also contains an information leaflet for parents. The pack is set out in a question-and-answer format and addresses such issues as the alleged link between MMR and autism and Crohn's disease, the safety and side effects of the vaccine, the purpose of a second dose of vaccine, combined vaccine versus single doses and contraindications to the vaccine. The pack will enable health professionals to respond to the very real concerns of parents.

There is a sound evidence basis for the use of the MMR vaccine. Since the original publication of UK research from Dr. Andrew Wakefield about a possible causal link between MMR vaccine and autism, many researchers have investigated the proposed causal relationship and concluded that there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism or inflammatory bowel disease. My Department's submission to the Oireachtas committee contained further details on the scientific evidence in that regard. In Ireland, the issue has been examined by the immunisation advisory committee of the RCPI and the Irish Medicines Board. The conclusions are that there is no evidence to support the association between MMR vaccines and the development of autism or inflammatory bowel disease and the vaccine is safer than giving the three component vaccines separately. The Oireachtas committee has also endorsed the safety of the MMR vaccine.

The international consensus from professional bodies and international organisations is that the MMR is a safe and effective vaccine. The institutions include the Medical Research Council expert committee and the British Committee on the Safety of Medicines in the UK, the centres for disease control and prevention, or CDC, and the American Academy of Paediatrics in the USA, as well as the World Health Organisation. Studies by the United States Institute of Medicine concluded that there is no link between the vaccine and autism or inflammatory bowel disease. A large Finnish study involving 1.8 million individuals demonstrated that no case of inflammatory bowel disease or autism was linked to the MMR vaccine. A recent UK study where researchers analysed 2,000 studies from 180 countries found no evidence of a causal link between the MMR vaccine and autism or inflammatory bowel disease. A similar Swedish study found no increase in cases of autism in the ten years since the MMR vaccine was introduced. In late 2002, The New England Journal of Medicine published details of a study of more than 500,000 children born in Denmark between January 1991 and December 1998 which indicated that the risk of autism was the same for children regardless of whether they were vaccinated with MMR. The World Health Organisation, or WHO, strongly endorses the use of MMR vaccine on the grounds of its convincing record of safety and efficacy.

Dr. Simon Murch of the centre for paediatric gastroenterology, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, who had originally questioned the safety of the MMR vaccine, categorically supports use of the MMR vaccine. In the November 2003 edition of The Lancet he states that:

by any rational standards of risk/benefit calculation, it is an illogical and potentially dangerous mistake for parents to be prepared to take their children in a car on the motorway or in an aeroplane on holiday, but not to protect them with the MMR vaccine. An unprotected child is not only at personal danger, but represents a potential hazard to others, including unborn children.

I am aware that the editor of The Lancet has said recently that the journal had learned of a “fatal conflict of interest” concerning the research carried out by Dr. Wakefield. I understand that the British General Medical Council is to examine that matter.

I have no plans for the introduction of a national database at this stage. I would like to take this opportunity again to urge all parents to have their children immunised against the diseases covered by the childhood immunisation programme to ensure that both their children and the population generally have maximum protection against the diseases concerned.

National Drugs Strategy.

Seán Crowe

Question:

282 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of clients that are receiving methadone treatment, the yearly cost of such treatments; and if he will report on the average waiting time for heroin addicts seeking help in the various Dublin health board areas. [16575/04]

Responsibility for the provision of drug treatment services rests with the health boards in the first instance. Since 1997, additional funding of €52 million has been provided to health boards to fund a wide range of drug treatment services. Those services include methadone maintenance, methadone detoxification, education, outreach services, rehabilitation and counselling.

I am advised by the Eastern Regional Health Authority, or ERHA, that, as of 30 April 2004, 6,611 clients were in receipt of methadone treatment in the Eastern Region, shown in Table 1. That represents 95.5% of clients in treatment nationally.

Table 1: Number of clients by provider agency as of

30 April 2004

Eastern Regional Health Authority

East Coast Area Health Board

713

Northern Area Health Board

2,419

South Western Health Board

2,642

Drug Treatment Centre Board

495

Prison Services in ERHA

342

Total

6,611

I am also advised that, as of 30 April 2004, there were 319 clients awaiting methadone treatment, and the average waiting time for clients on the list was 5.5 months, shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Number of clients on waiting list by provider agency as of 30 April 2004

Service Provider

Number waiting

East Coast Area Health Board

7

Northern Area Health Board

49

South Western Health Board

178

Drug Treatment Centre Board

85

Total

319

Question No. 283 answered with QuestionNo. 268.

Hospital Services.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

284 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of lung transplants anticipated at the new Mater Hospital unit in 2004; and the number anticipated per annum when the unit is operating at a capacity which is consistent with the maximum anticipated availability of transplant organs. [16613/04]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

285 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of lung transplants which took place at Newcastle as part of the Irish-Newcastle contract arrangements in each of the years from 1999 until 2003. [16614/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 284 and 285 together.

Services at the Mater Hospital are provided under an arrangement with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. The primary objective in establishing an Irish-based lung transplant programme is to increase the numbers of Irish patients receiving lung transplants, while at the same time ensuring that the clinical outcomes for those patients are at least as good as those obtained in established centres elsewhere.

Consistent with that objective, and having regard to the complexity of the issues involved in establishing a transplant programme, a phased approach to the repatriation of the lung transplant programme is being taken.

My Department is advised that the Mater Hospital is proposing to carry out three lung transplants this year and hopes to increase that level of activity to at least 15 transplants per annum as the programme develops. The service agreement with the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle provides for a minimum of 15 lung transplants to be performed on Irish patients in the current year, subject to the availability of suitable organs. The position will be further reviewed in the event of additional donor organs being available.

My Department is advised that the number of lung transplants performed on Irish patients at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle in each of the years from 1999 to 2003 is as follows:

Number

April 1999 to March 2000

4

April 2000 to March 2001

7

April 2001 to March 2002

9

April 2002 to March 2003

13

April 2003 to March 2004

14

47

Driving Tests.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

286 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Transport when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly who applied for a driving test in November 2003 can expect to be given a date to take their driving test; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16595/04]

A driving test will be arranged as soon as possible for the person concerned.

Public Transport.

Liam Twomey

Question:

287 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for Transport if the Railway Procurement Agency and the CIE group of companies applied to National Development Finance Agency for advice on any Public Private Partnership projects. [16636/04]

I am informed by CIE and the Rail Procurement Agency that they have held discussions with the National Development Finance Agency, or NDFA, regarding options for financing major capital projects. Such discussions have included the scope for public private partnership arrangements.

Rail Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

288 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Transport the proposals he has to publish and implement a rail freight national policy (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16146/04]

It is my policy that Iarnród Éireann should remain in the rail freight business, and I am aware that the company has made great strides in the past year in restructuring that element of its operations.

As part of an overall plan to address its difficult financial position, Iarnród Éireann is undertaking a restructuring of its rail freight business. Its strategy is to develop the profitable traffic it already has, such as bulk freight and trainload traffic, and reshape the loss-making container business.

Over recent months, the company has attracted additional freight traffic to the railways, particularly from the west. I understand that it is in negotiation with other prospective customers and continues to examine new sources of business, all of which will serve to reduce the impact of freight on the road network.

Railway Stations.

Tony Gregory

Question:

289 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Transport his response to the issues raised in the correspondence (details supplied) regarding the lack of service for the disabled at Connolly and Tara stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16185/04]

The issues raised by the Deputy are day-to-day operational matters for Iarnród Éireann.

However, the company has informed me that the lift in question at Tara Street was in operation on Saturday, 22 May 2004. It is accepted that the lift operates very slowly as it has constantly been subject to abuse and vandalism. Options to improve the performance of the lift are being reviewed.

Iarnród Éireann has further informed me that, when Connolly Station was redeveloped, the layout and location of the old suburban entrance did not lend itself to improvements up to modern standards, including the installation of escalators and lifts. A new link was opened between the suburban and main station with escalator and lift for easier access. That facility was opened on 1 October 2000, and Iarnród Éireann states that it has proved very popular with their customers, and it is not proposed to reopen the old entrance.

Driving Tests.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

290 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Transport the current waiting list for the D1 licence driving test; if in view of the fact that applicants require this licence for employment purposes, he can take steps to reduce the waiting time for tests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16186/04]

Applicants for heavy goods vehicle tests are given a higher priority than other categories as my Department is aware that such applicants usually require the driving test for employment purposes. Separate statistics on the waiting times for such tests are not compiled.

Light Rail Project.

Seán Crowe

Question:

291 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the concerns highlighted recently regarding the passenger capacity of the proposed light rail carriages for the Tallaght Luas line; and if he has had discussions recently in relation to this matter. [16243/04]

The Railway Procurement Agency has informed me that it will monitor capacity levels on the Luas lines once passenger services commence and it has assured me that there is some flexibility to increase service frequency should the demand so require.

Road Safety.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

292 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport his views on the National Safety Council’s belief that adults and teenagers should be permitted to cycle only while wearing cycle helmets and that children should not be permitted to cycle at all; and his views on the British Medical Association and others’ belief that benefits of a mandatory helmet law for cyclists would be outweighed by the resulting drop in cycling, and that cycling produces far more health benefits than costs. [16426/04]

It is longstanding Government policy to recommend and promote the wearing of cycle helmets by all cyclists. The literature internationally does not agree whether the wearing of safety helmets is best achieved through the compulsory route or through other strategies. I am of the view that the wearing of cycle helmets is better achieved by way of encouragement and education rather than by pursuing a punitive approach to the issue particularly having regard to the large numbers of children and young people who cycle. The rules of the road booklet encourages the use of cycle helmets and draws attention to their safety benefits.

I have no plans to make the wearing of bicycle safety helmets, for children and adults, a legal requirement at this time. I am satisfied that at present a statutory requirement to wear cycle helmets, together with the associated prosecutions and penalties for contravention, would not be appropriate, particularly in the case of minors. For similar reasons I believe that a prohibition on cycling by children would not be appropriate. I believe that equipping children with the necessary skills for the safe use of a bicycle and using it in accordance with responsible parental guidance are the appropriate ways to deal with child cycle safety. I am advised that this is also the approach to cycle safety recommended by the National Safety Council.

Public Transport.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

293 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 42% of the Dublin Bus fleet is low-floor wheelchair accessible; the discussions he has had with Dublin Bus to improve this figure significantly; if he has agreed additional resources for Dublin Bus for this particular purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16438/04]

All buses purchased by Dublin Bus since the year 2000 are low-floor wheelchair accessible vehicles. The implementation of this policy has resulted in 42% of the Dublin Bus fleet now being comprised of wheelchair accessible vehicles. Following discussions with my Department, it is now company policy that all new buses purchased are low-floor accessible vehicles. I understand that under current plans, the company hopes to increase the ratio of accessible buses to 60% by the end of 2006.

Departmental Audits.

Enda Kenny

Question:

294 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Transport the number of internal audit reports completed within his Department since January 2001; the title of each completed audit report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16466/04]

As the Deputy is aware the Department of Transport was formed in June 2002. Following is a table listing internal audits carried out in this Department from mid 2002 to date. Summary List of all Internal Audits carried out since January 2001

EU Audits

Report Number

Title

Fund

Type of Report

Date

EUIAR 8

Energy Efficiency Measure

ERDF- Economic Infrastructure Operational Programme 1994-1999

Final Report-Systems Audit

November 2002

EUIAR 9

E-Commerce Corporate Infrastructure Measure

ERDF- Economic Infrastructure Operational Programme 1994-1999

Final Report-Systems Audit

December 2002

EUIAR 10

Technical Assistance Measure

ERDF- Economic Infrastructure Operational Programme 1994-1999

Final Report-5% Verification Check

October 2002

EUIAR 11

Dunleer-Dundalk (Stage 2) Project

Cohesion Fund 1994-1999

Final Report-Systems Audit

May 2003

EUIAR 12

M1 Cloghran-Lissenhall (Stage 2) Project

Cohesion Fund 2000-2006

Final Report-Systems Audit

March 2004

EUIAR 13

M1 Lissenhall-Balbriggan Project

Cohesion Fund 2000-2006

Final Report-Systems Audit

March 2004

Non-EU Audits

Report Number

Title

Type of Report

Date

IAR 17

Travel & Subsistence System

Final Report-Systems Audit

November 2003

Parking Regulations.

Pat Carey

Question:

295 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Transport if, in relation to the enforcement of the parking or lorries in excess of three tonnes in residential areas, whether it is possible to park the tractor unit of an articulated vehicles in such an area even if this unit is in itself over three tonnes and is parked without the trailer unit attached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16547/04]

Article 38 of the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 provides that where the appropriate traffic sign is provided by a local authority, a vehicle whose unladen weight exceeds the weight specified on the information plate accompanying the sign shall not be parked in the said area. For the purposes of the regulations, a vehicle includes the drawing component of an articulated vehicle where the unladen weight of such component exceeds that specified on the information plate.

Decisions as regards the locations where such prohibitions are to be applied and the size, that is, weight, of vehicles to be banned from parking at such locations are matters for determination by the relevant local authorities. This provision can be implemented on an area basis through the provision of the appropriate signage on the main entrance roads into particular estates and the restriction applies until a traffic sign is encountered indicating the end of the prohibition. This obviates the need to provide individual signs on every estate road. Enforcement of these regulations is a matter for local authority traffic wardens and the Garda Síochána.

Public Transport.

Richard Bruton

Question:

296 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the number of notifications he has received from Dublin Bus concerning a proposed new service or proposed change to an existing service in the greater Dublin area since 10 January 2001; if he can confirm that Dublin Bus does not require the authority of his Department before making a decision to operate a new bus route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16548/04]

Section 7 of the Road Transport Act 1932 prohibits the carrying on of a passenger road service without a licence. However, section 24 of the Transport Act 1958 provides that this does not apply to the State bus companies. Section 25 of the Transport Act 1958 then goes on to provide the State bus companies may not, without the consent of the Minister, initiate any passenger road service or alter any passenger road service for the time being operated by them so as to compete with a licensed passenger road service.

Since 10 January 2001, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus are required by statutory ministerial direction to notify my Department of proposed new services or proposed changes to existing services at least four weeks prior to their introduction. Where a proposal conflicts with a prior application from a private operator to licence a service under the Road Transport Act 1932, Bus Éireann or Dublin Bus, when notified by my Department, is required to defer the introduction of the proposed service changes until the prior application from the private operator concerned is decided. Once the application for the licence has been processed, Bus Éireann or Dublin Bus will be advised that the Department has noted its proposal and it is free to proceed or, where appropriate, it will be asked to review its proposals in the light of any licence that may have been issued to the private operator for the route in question. In the majority of cases there is no conflict with an existing licensed service or with a prior licence application and in these circumstances the companies' proposals are noted within one month of receipt and they are then free to proceed. My Department has received 149 notifications from 10 January 2001 to date from Dublin Bus for amendments to existing services and for new services in the greater Dublin area. Of these, 40 notifications were received in 2001, 33 in 2002, 52 in 2003 and 24 in 2004 to date.

State Airports.

Seán Crowe

Question:

297 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Transport the rationale for transferring the ownership of Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports to Aer Rianta in 1999; the professional and departmental advice he received on the matter in favour or against such a transfer; his estimation of the value of these assets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16631/04]

Seán Crowe

Question:

298 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the economic case made by departmental officials and all professional consultants, hired since 1997, for or against the break-up of Aer Rianta; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16632/04]

Seán Crowe

Question:

299 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Transport the professional and departmental advice he has received on the future projected profitability of Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16633/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 297 to 299 inclusive.

The Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Act 1998 provided for the vesting of the three State airports at Dublin, Shannon and Cork in Aer Rianta and for the establishment of the latter as a normal commercial State owned company. Prior to the passing of the 1998 Act, Aer Rianta operated and managed the three airports on behalf of the Minister. Even though Aer Rianta acquired most of the airport assets itself, it held those assets in trust. Some airport property, however, was funded by the State and the company made a payment of £13.9million- €17.65million — representing the written down value of Exchequer funded airport assets — to the Exchequer when ownership of the three airports was vested in it following the passing of the 1998 Act.

There have been a number of consultancy or expert reports in recent years in relation to Aer Rianta and the State airports including the Warburg Dillon Read report of 1999 which reviewed the strategic options for the future of Aer Rianta, the Doganis report of January 2002 on aviation-tourism issues and the Mullarkey report of February 2003 on the independent terminal concept for Dublin Airport. In addition, in May of last year, Aer Rianta submitted to me a copy of a report which the company commissioned from NERA Economic Consulting on competition in the context of Irish airports.

The Warburg Dillon Read report of 1999, while offering some general observations on the issue of separating the three State airports, did not analyse this issue, draw any conclusions nor make any recommendations in respect of it. The work which is being carried out by my Department's current advisers, PricewaterhouseCoopers, PWC, in connection with the Government's decision of July last to restructure Aer Rianta does not constitute a consultancy report or study. PWC, together with legal and aviation experts, were engaged last year to advise my Department on all aspects of the implementation of that decision.

PWC has assisted my Department in its analysis of financial projections and data provided both by Aer Rianta at group level and by the chairmen-designate in conjunction with local Aer Rianta management at Shannon and Cork airports. These working papers contain confidential and commercially sensitive information. They have, however, been provided to the financial advisers engaged by the ICTU and the Aer Rianta unions subject to a strict confidentiality agreement which they entered into with my Department.

It will be a matter for the new airport authorities, when formally established, to develop strategic and business plans, including marketing strategies, for each of the three airports. I believe that with a fresh start both Shannon and Cork airports will be a commercial success and each will maximise sustainable employment both within the airport companies themselves and in their catchment areas. Through more focused commercial operation, all three airports can perform better and each can play a greater role in stimulating and supporting regional and national economic activity to the benefit of their customers, both airlines and passengers, and of Irish tourism, trade and industry.

Family Support Services.

Mary Upton

Question:

300 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a crèche (details supplied) will receive increased funding to allow it continue its important services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16272/04]

Support towards staffing costs under the equal opportunities childcare programme 2000 — 2006 is only made available to community based projects which can demonstrate that they are providing child care in areas of significant disadvantage and are supporting parents who are availing of employment, education or training opportunities.

In July 2001, the group in question received a staffing grant of €44,441 for one year, towards the staffing costs of its out of school project. This funding was administered by the former Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. The group then submitted a further application under the EOCP and, in March 2003, was awarded additional staffing funding of €70,000 over two years, towards the operation of its child care service, which operates full-time out of school term. This funding of €35,000 per annum was considered to be appropriate to the level of service being provided by the group. The Deputy may also be aware that this community based group received capital grant assistance of €2,570 in December 2003. The child care directorate has not received a request from the group to increase this funding level.

Garda Stations.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

301 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the ranking which a Garda station (details supplied) in County Donegal had in each of the years 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003; and the reason for the decrease in priority afforded to it in view of its important location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16333/04]

I understand that the Deputy has been informed by the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon, in a recent reply to Question No. 128 of 25 May 2004 that, for operational reasons , the completion of works to Burnfoot Garda station must precede works to the station mentioned by the Deputy. This is because it is necessary to have one of these stations operating with cell accommodation at any one time. This strategy has the agreement of the Garda authorities. In that regard, I understand from the Office of Public Works that it expects to have a contract placed for the necessary works to Burnfoot station in late July, 2004.

As regards the priority afforded to the station mentioned by the Deputy, it was not until 2002 that it was placed on the Garda building programme list at No. 32 because of the scope of the works envisaged for the station. In 2003 it was placed at No. 34 on the list, a position it still holds.

While I cannot say at this time when the project to provide the newly refurbished station will commence, I can assure the Deputy that the matter will be progressed as quickly as overall priorities within the Garda building programme and the availability of financial and other resources allow.

Garda Recruitment.

Joe Costello

Question:

302 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the membership of the Garda at the latest date for which figures are available; if he has received Cabinet approval for the recruitment of 2,000 additional gardaí; the 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. [16358/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of the Garda Síochána, all ranks, as at 28 May 2004 was 11,964.

In April 2000, the Government agreed, inter alia, to a system of delegated authority under which recruitment is carried out to maintain the strength of the force at an agreed level. In April 2002, the Government agreed to increase the approved strength of the force by 200 to 12,200. Recruitment was carried out during 2003 with a view to bringing the strength of the force to 12,200 by 31 December 2004.

An Agreed Programme for Government states that the coalition will complete the current expansion of the Garda Síochána and increase recruitment so that numbers will increase by a further 2,000. This commitment remains, and while it will not be possible to increase numbers beyond the approved strength of 12,200 for as long as the cap on public service numbers remains in place, I will be asking the Government to look again at how quickly budgetary circumstances will permit progress towards achieving the target of 14,000 to be made.

The Garda college has accommodation on a weekly basis of 400 single rooms. These are utilised to cater for student and course accommodation. The student garda "living out" programme that has been developed to cater for increased numbers of trainees, enables Garda students to be accommodated off campus and within the environs of Templemore and can cater for a further 300 students per week. The implementation of the Government commitment to increase the strength of the force by a further 2,000 represents a significant challenge for the Garda training college. The annual intake required to implement the commitment would require an enhancement of the current capacity of the Garda college, and this will be factored into the recruitment plan.

Proscribed Organisations.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

303 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Real IRA is a proscribed organisation under Irish law; if not, the steps being taken to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16608/04]

Section 18 of the Offences against the State Act 1939 provides, inter alia, that any organisation which raises or maintains or attempts to raise or maintain a military or armed force in contravention of the Constitution shall be an unlawful organisation. Section 19 of the 1939 Act provides that it shall be lawful for the Government by order to declare that such an organisation is an unlawful organisation and ought in the public interest to be suppressed.

One of two such orders made to date is the Unlawful Organisation (Suppression) Order 1939, which suppresses the organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, also the IRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann.

It has been held by the courts that labels such as "official", "provisional" or "real" are irrelevant in considering whether a particular person or group of persons are within the ambit of the 1939 order, that is, whether they belong to an organisation which styles itself the Irish Republican Army, IRA or Óglaigh na hÉireann.

Prisoner Transfers.

Seán Crowe

Question:

304 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there is a swift mechanism for transferring prisoners from jails in England to prisons here. [16133/04]

The Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts 1995 and 1997 provide a mechanism whereby Irish persons who are imprisoned overseas may apply to serve the remainder of their sentences in Ireland under the terms of the 1983 Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

The purpose of the convention is to facilitate the transfer of foreign prisoners to their home countries by providing a procedure which is simple and expeditious. The procedures involved in processing a transfer request between two states require information to be exchanged about the sentenced person. This information includes a copy of the judgment and of the law on which it is based, sentence administration particulars and medical-social reports. The terms of the convention also provide that, for a transfer to take place, a three-way consent is required from the offender, the sentencing state and the state to which the transfer is requested — the administering state. The convention imposes an obligation on states to ensure that the sentenced person's consent to a transfer is given voluntarily and with full knowledge of the legal consequences which the transfer would entail for the person concerned.

Due to the complexity of the documentation required to effect a transfer between other states and Ireland, the process of information exchange can be time-consuming. This invariably lengthens the timeframe involved in completing a transfer. The operation of the convention is kept under review by a Council of Europe committee of experts on the operation of European conventions in the penal field. My Department is represented on this committee which seeks to streamline the operation of the convention.

Registration of Title.

Denis Naughten

Question:

305 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to an application (details supplied) with Land Registry; when this application will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16135/04]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that this is an application for conversion of title which was lodged on 19 May 2004. Dealing No. D2004CR004960R refers. I understand that due to their complicated nature, applications for conversion of title can take some time to process. Accordingly, it is not possible to estimate a completion date at this stage. However, I assure the Deputy that the application is receiving attention in the Land Registry.

Legal Aid Services.

Seán Crowe

Question:

306 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the length of waiting lists for free legal aid for clients in the various centres throughout the State; and if he has plans to release additional funding to address the increased demands for this service. [16136/04]

The Legal Aid Board does not process information relating to the length of waiting lists for free legal aid. However, it does record the length of time the person longest on the waiting list has waited. The following table shows the length of time the person longest on the waiting list has waited as of April 2004 by law centre.

The board operates a procedure whereby priority is accorded for certain categories of cases over other cases, for example, domestic violence, child care and cases where there are time limits. These cases are dealt with immediately. In 2003, the total number of priority appointments offered by law centres was approximately 1,500, or almost 22% of the total number of appointments offered to new clients during the year. The board continually monitors the waiting times and is seeking to utilise resources in such a way as to reduce them at centres with particularly long waiting times.

With regard to the position of additional funding, funding is allocated to the board by way of grant-in-aid and is not allocated by me to individual law centres. In this regard, the Deputy may be interested to note that grant-in-aid for 2004 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.

Law Centre

Maximum Waiting Time in Months in April 2004

Athlone

3.00

Castlebar

2.00

Cavan

2.75

Cork: Popes Quay

7.00

Cork: South Mall

12.00

Blanchardstown

9.75

Clondalkin

3.00

Finglas

13.75

Gardiner Street

7.25

Brunswick Street

11.50

Ormond Quay

3.00

Tallaght

10.75

Dundalk

7.50

Ennis

12.25

Galway

7.00

Kilkenny

12.25

Letterkenny

9.50

Limerick

5.00

Longford

0.00

Monaghan

3.50

Navan

11.75

Nenagh

4.50

Newbridge

12.00

Port Laoise

17.00

Sligo

5.00

Tralee

5.00

Tullamore

2.25

Waterford

4.50

Wexford

6.50

Wicklow

10.00

Seán Crowe

Question:

307 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will confirm that many clients requesting assistance at the Tallaght free legal aid centre have to wait up to six months and will he be allocating extra funding for this increasingly busy centre. [16137/04]

The Legal Aid Board does not process information relating to an average waiting time for people seeking its services. However, it does record the length of time the person longest on the waiting list has waited. In this regard, the longest a person has waited, as at 30 April 2004, for legal services at the Tallaght law centre is 10.75 months.

The board operates a procedure whereby priority is accorded for certain categories of cases over others, for example, domestic violence, child care and cases where there are time limits and these are dealt with immediately. In 2003, the total number of priority appointments offered by law centres was approximately 1,500, or almost 22% of the total number of appointments offered to new clients during the year. The Legal Aid Board continuously monitors the waiting times and is seeking to utilise resources in such a way as to reduce them at centres with particularly long waiting times. The board is offering applicants an alternative law centre where waiting times are shorter.

With regard to the position of allocating extra funding for this centre, funding is allocated to the board by way of grant-in-aid and is not allocated by me to individual law centres. In this regard, the Deputy may be interested to note that the grant-in-aid for 2004 is €18.388 million compared with €17.539 million in 2003. This represents an increase of almost 5% over last years provision and an increase of 71% in funding since 1997.

Seán Crowe

Question:

308 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position on long term funding for legal aid centres in the Blanchardstown and Finglas areas; and if there are plans to close them and re-locate them to the city centre. [16154/04]

Tony Gregory

Question:

316 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he will take to ensure that the law centres in Finglas and Blanchardstown, Dublin will remain open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16224/04]

Pat Carey

Question:

320 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there are proposals by the Legal Aid Board to reduce the number of centres it operates in the Dublin area; if there are plans to downsize or close the Finglas office of the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16249/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 308, 316 and 320 together.

The Deputies will be aware that, in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995, the Legal Aid Board is independent in the exercise of its functions. In particular, section 30 of the Act provides that responsibility for determining how legal services should be provided is solely a matter for the Legal Aid Board. The responsibility of the board in this regard includes decisions in relation to the location of law centres.

I am sure that the Deputies will appreciate that the aim of the Legal Aid Board is to provide a cost effective and professional service, in a timely manner, to the greatest number of persons possible within the level of resources available to it. In this regard the board, as part of its remit, constantly monitors the operation of its law centre network, including the location of law centres, with a view to ensuring that its services are available to the greatest number of people from within its available resources.

As part of this process, I understand that the board is examining the possible benefits of relocating some or all of its suburban law centres in Dublin to locations in the city centre, to bring them closer to the courts. However I have not received any concrete proposals in this regard from the board and I would expect that any such proposal would take into account any proposals by the Courts Service in relation to the location of family law court sittings.

With regard to the position on long term funding for legal aid centres, I can inform the Deputies that funding is allocated to the board, by way of a grant-in-aid and that funding is not allocated by me to individual law centres. In this regard the Deputies may be interested to note 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, 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.

Registration of Title.

Phil Hogan

Question:

309 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when matters will be completed in respect of a dealing (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16165/04]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that this is an application for first registration, which was lodged on 6 August, 2003. Dealing Number D2003TJ013898V refers.

I understand that due to the complicated nature of these type of cases, which require examination of an applicant's entitlement to the property concerned, it is not possible to estimate a date of completion at this time.

I am further informed that a query issued to the lodging solicitor on 19 May, 2004 and that the application cannot proceed until this query has been satisfactorily resolved.

However, I assure the Deputy that on receipt of a satisfactory reply, the matter will receive further attention in the Land Registry.

Grant Payments.

Phil Hogan

Question:

310 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason grant assistance for Carrigeen pre-school in County Kilkenny has ceased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16166/04]

The group referred to by the Deputy was approved a staffing grant of €12,000 for one year and a capital grant of €20,426 under the equal opportunities childcare programme 2000 — 2006 on 20 January 2003. I understand that the group has now drawn down both grants.

The group was advised that the staffing grant would be paid over one year and that they would be required to prepare and submit a development plan which demonstrated their focus on disadvantage, if future funding of the service was to be considered.

As the Deputy may be aware, each application for funding undergoes a thorough assessment by Area Development Management Limited, which has been engaged by my Department to carry out the day to day administration of the programme. On completion of the assessment process all applications are then considered by the programme appraisal committee, which is chaired by my Department, which makes a funding recommendation to me before I make a final decision on the project proposal.

Recently, following a submission for a staffing grant for a further two years, I concurred with a recommendation of the programme appraisal committee not to approve additional funding, as the group had not satisfactorily demonstrated its focus on disadvantage. As the Deputy will appreciate, funding under the staffing measure of the programme is awarded to community based organisations providing child care which supports disadvantaged parents, particularly women, while accessing work, training or educational opportunities. In this instance, and on the basis of the material supplied by the group, it was considered that this project has limited impact on this objective of the programme.

Visa Applications.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

311 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on a visa application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16175/04]

The visa application in question was in respect of a non-EEA national who wished to join his wife who is employed in the State under the work permit scheme. A worker employed under this scheme may be joined by their spouse and minor children, after the worker has been in the State for one year and has been offered a contract for a further year. The worker must also be able to fully support the family members in question without the need to have recourse to public funds. The application in question was refused as the supporting documentation did not show that the worker was in a position to fully support her husband.

It is open to the applicant to appeal against the refusal by writing to the visa appeals officer in my Department, enclosing up to date pay slips or a P60 as evidence of the worker's income. A recent bank statement showing at least three months transactions should also be submitted in support of the appeal.

Citizenship Applications.

Tony Gregory

Question:

312 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the application of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 for naturalisation can be expedited in view of the exceptional circumstances. [16180/04]

It is quite clear from the details submitted with the Deputy's question that the individual concerned does not fulfil the statutory residency requirements for making an application for naturalisation until September 2005 at the earliest. Any matters relating to the processing of the application can be considered when it has been lodged in my Department.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

313 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to application for residency for a person (details supplied) in County Louth. [16181/04]

The person in question arrived in the State in July 2002 and made an application for asylum. His wife arrived in the State the previous month, June 2002, and made an asylum application. She gave birth in September 2002. Both withdrew their asylum applications and applied for residency on the basis of parentage of that Irish born child.

Following the decision of the Supreme Court in the cases of L & O, the separate procedure which then existed to enable persons to apply to reside in the State on the sole basis of parentage of an Irish born child ended on 19 February 2003. The Government decided that the separate procedure would not apply to cases, which were outstanding on that date. There are a large number of such cases outstanding at present, including the case to which the Deputy refers.

Since the persons in question do not have an alternative legal basis for remaining in this jurisdiction the issue of permission to remain will be considered — but only in the context of a ministerial proposal to make a deportation order. In that context, a notification of a proposal to make a deportation order issued to the persons in question on 6 May 2004 and they were given an opportunity to make representations in relation to it. If, in the light of those representations and the range of factors set out in section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, the Minister decides not to make a deportation order, they will be given leave to remain on a humanitarian basis. Because of the large number of such cases on hand I am unable to say at this stage when the file will be further examined.

Registration of Title.

Michael Ring

Question:

314 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position of a folio of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo in the Land Registry. [16206/04]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that the application referred to by the Deputy is an application for a copy folio and filed map. The original application, No. P2004SM034582P, was lodged and issued on 28 April, 2004. I am informed, however, that in imaging the filed map for this folio an error was made.

I am further informed that on foot a letter received from the lodging solicitors on the 11 May 2004, a new filed map for this folio was expeditiously prepared and a new copy folio and filed map was issued free of charge on 26 May 2004 to the lodging solicitors. Application No. C2004SM001914U refers.

Willie Penrose

Question:

315 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if steps will be taken to expedite an application for first registration by a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16215/04]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that this is an application for first registration, which was lodged on 12 May 2004. Dealing No. D2004XS006807K refers. I understand that due to the complicated nature of these type of cases, which require examination of an applicant's entitlement to the property concerned, it is not possible to estimate a date of completion at this time. I am further informed that queries issued to the lodging solicitors on 26 May 2004 and that the application cannot proceed until these queries have been satisfactorily resolved. However, I can assure the Deputy that, on receipt of a satisfactory reply, the matter will receive further attention in the Land Registry.

Question No. 316 answered with QuestionNo. 308.

Garda Operations.