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 6, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 7 to 111, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 112 to 123, inclusive, answered orally.

Schools Building Projects.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

124 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason insufficient funds have been allocated to a school (details supplied) in County Mayo to carry out all the necessary works at same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25987/04]

As part of an expansion of the devolved scheme for primary school building works a grant of €100,000 was sanctioned in May 2004 to enable the management authorities of the school in question provide ancillary accommodation at the school. The grant was sanctioned on condition that the works commence on site and 70% of the funding be drawn down within six months.

My Department's school building section has received no communication from the management authorities of the school in question indicating that they are unable to meet the deadline of 20 November 2004. I have requested an official of the school building section to contact the school to establish the current position.

On a general point, my Department does not intend increasing the amount of the grant offered to the school. This is because a central tenet of the devolved scheme is that any school authority granted discretion and guaranteed funding to enable immediate progress on its accommodation needs must equally accept responsibility for prioritisation, control of costs and ensuring value for money.

If, as the Deputy's question seems to suggest, there is a concern regarding the adequacy of the grant the options open to the board of management are to: reduce the scale of the works to stay within the limit of the grant; use funds allocated by the Department under the terms of the grant scheme for minor works to supplement the grant provided such funds are not required for more urgent and immediate works; and fund the balance of the works from their own resources.

School Staffing.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

125 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to a recent decision by the Office of the Director of Equality Investigations in relation to gender discrimination against three female applicants for a teaching post in a secondary school; her views on the findings in the case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26136/04]

I am aware of the decision to which the Deputy refers and I understand it is currently being appealed. I am therefore precluded from commenting on the details of the case.

The filling of promotion posts in schools is primarily a matter for the management of each school in accordance with appointment procedures agreed between the respective management bodies, the teacher unions and my Department.

In regard to the appointment to assistant principal posts in community and comprehensive schools, the agreed procedures provide for the appointment of a selection board. The object of the selection board is to select the most suitable candidate for the post. The selection board is required to adopt the agreed criteria and marking scheme when determining the order of merit of applicants.

Once this case is concluded, my Department will study its findings with a view to establishing the implications, if any, for the wider system.

Schools Building Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of primary and second level schools throughout the country in respect of which she has received requests for the provision of extra facilities including refurbishment, extension and replacement of existing buildings or the provision of new schools on green field sites; the extent to which she expects to be in a position to respond to such requests in the near future in view of the fact that that a number of Departments have underspent in 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26099/04]

This year, €388 million was allocated in the school building programme which will deliver in excess of 260 significant school building projects at primary and post-primary level. Furthermore, over 570 additional schools will benefit in some way from the capital programme directly by means of temporary accommodation, permanent accommodation and-or improvements works. All primary schools benefit directly from the devolved grant scheme for minor works.

While all funding is committed and therefore not available for reallocation, the rate of drawdown on approved projects may by year end run somewhat slower than expected. However, I plan to use the carryover provision of the multi-annual capital envelope to carryover any such funds so that they can be applied to projects payments that fall due for payment early next year rather than late this year.

Apart from the schools where projects are at construction or are proceeding to tender and construction there are in excess of 1,000 other projects on hand for capital funding, either at various stages of architectural planning or at the initial application stage. Officials of the planning and building unit are reviewing all of these projects and applications, with a view to including them in a multi-annual building programme from 2005.

All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, revised earlier this year in consultation with the Education partners.

I expect to publish the multi-annual programme following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process.

Question No. 127 answered with QuestionNo. 122.

Schools Refurbishment.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

128 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the much needed provision of a new roof for a school (details supplied); the reason funding was not made available under the summer works scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26053/04]

My Department is fully aware of the condition of the roof in each of the schools referred to by the Deputy. A member of my Department's technical team recently investigated and provided an updated report on the roof conditions.

Each of the four schools in question applied for funding under the 2004 summer works scheme for roof works. The applications were unsuccessful because my Department intends to replace the roof on all four schools as one composite large scale project in the interest of achieving the optimum solution and the overall project has been re-prioritised within band 1 which is the highest priority.

I look forward to being in a position to announce more details on the progress of this project when I publish the multi-annual programme following the conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process.

Higher Education Report.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

129 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science her opinion of the recommendation from the OECD for a new third level authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26116/04]

Mary Upton

Question:

163 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has considered the conclusions of the OECD report on third level education published in August 2004; the steps she proposes to take on foot of those conclusions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26103/04]

Joe Higgins

Question:

172 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has read the OECD report which proposes that she chair a new national council for tertiary education research and innovation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22395/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 129, 163 and 172 together.

The OECD review on the future of higher education in Ireland makes far reaching recommendations for reform and development of the sector. The review comes against a background of the crucial role that has been identified for our higher education system which is not only producing well educated graduates but also achieving Ireland's broad strategic objective to become a world leading knowledge-based society.

The extensive consultation that the OECD team undertook with all of the key stakeholders here, and the expertise of the team itself, lends considerable weight to these recommendations. Obviously, on my part, a good deal of consideration and examination of these is necessary. The major importance of the challenge that has been put to Government and to the higher education sector itself through these recommendations cannot be underestimated. As Minister, I intend to take these seriously and, as a priority, work closely with my Government colleagues and consult widely with the higher education sector in advancing progress on them. In this regard, it is my intention to bring proposals to Government shortly on an implementation approach and priorities.

In terms of an immediate response, however, I particularly welcome certain aspects of the report, including, for example, those relating to the strategic framework within which higher education should develop. The analysis of the review team in respect of the development of a unified strategy for the sector is very welcome. As the report outlines, the institute of technology sector has brought great strength to the Irish system and has been successful for Ireland in meeting the varying needs of students, the economy and society. The emphasis in the report on the institute of technology sector as an equal partner with the universities in a dynamic, diversified, system is important in that regard.

The report has identified a continuing need for an independent policy advisory and funding authority for the sector. I would agree that this is the appropriate vehicle for ensuring an integrated policy approach to the entire sector, including the institutes of technology and other currently non-designated bodies. If we are to maximise available strengths and resources within a unified Irish higher education system, stronger inter-institutional collaboration needs to be encouraged. A single oversight body is well placed to incentivise and promote that. As the Deputy is aware, it has been a long-standing policy objective to designate the institutes of technology under the Higher Education Authority. The OECD report endorses this and, with the agreement of my Government colleagues, I would propose to now move on this on a transitional basis in advance of full legislation for a new authority.

The report makes important recommendations on governance and leadership for higher education institutions and presents a detailed analysis of required changes to the funding allocation model for the sector. These are very welcome. I am glad to say that the HEA is already advancing work on a revised funding mechanism in consultation with the relevant stakeholders. The emphasis laid by the OECD report on particular aspects of what is required is a valuable input in this regard.

The report contains a whole range of further recommendations, including those relating the research and innovation system, that require careful attention and consideration. At a broader level, the case made in the report for significantly enhanced investment in higher education over the longer term, if we are to meet our strategic aspirations, is one that we cannot afford to ignore.

A strong consensus has now built around the critical role of higher education in achieving our future national objectives. The Government is prepared to give leadership in advancing progress on the way forward. I am looking forward to now actively engaging with the Higher Education Authority, leadership in the university and institute of technology sectors, as well as the various other agencies and interests both within and outside the sector, in considering and taking forward the agenda that the OECD has presented. I know from my initial discussions as Minister that the sector is ready to take on the challenges. The outcome available is certainly worth pursuing. If we can effectively channel the efforts of all those with a stake in that outcome, in now mapping the way forward for higher education in Ireland, I am confident that we can make important strides for future generations.

Third Level Fees.

Willie Penrose

Question:

130 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the recent comments by the new president of NUI Maynooth in relation to third level funding and third level fees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26138/04]

The recent OECD report on the future of higher education in Ireland makes clear that increased investment in higher education will be necessary if the sector is to play the leading role assigned to it for the achievement of our broader national economic and social aspirations. A key challenge for Government is to ensure that the necessary investment for the development of a world leading higher education system can be made. In this regard, the OECD report has also, importantly, noted that public sources of funding will not yield the levels of increase required.

The current reliance on Exchequer sources of funding for higher education is high here by international comparison. The OECD report strongly recommends an enhanced role and opportunity for diversified private sources of funding for the sector and makes suggestions in relation to these. In this regard, it identifies a need for the sector to develop activities aimed at diversifying their funding streams, including through the commercialisation of research activity, the encouragement of philanthropy, the attraction of fee paying overseas students, short courses for industry, revenues from spin-out companies and other commercial activities. The OECD report also recommends the return of individual student contributions to bridge the funding gap. This option has been ruled out by the Government and there are no plans to re-introduce tuition fees at third level.

I am looking forward to now actively engaging with the Higher Education Authority, leadership in the university and institute of technology sectors, as well as the various other agencies and interests within and outside the sector, in considering and taking forward the overall agenda for the development of the Irish higher education system that the OECD have presented.

Schools Building Projects.

Denis Naughten

Question:

131 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the action she is taking to upgrade secondary schools in County Roscommon; the action she is taking to upgrade primary schools in County Roscommon; and if she will make a statement on the matter [25989/04]

The 2004 school building programme is a further major step in progressing this Government's consistent commitment since 1997 to deal with school accommodation needs. It details in excess of 200 significant school building projects that are being authorised to proceed to tender and construction in 2004.

The projects in Roscommon that are listed in the programme for proceeding to tender and construction this year include primary schools at Ballyforan, Cloonbonniff, Ballanagare and Ballyleague. A further two schools, Grange NS in Boyle and Abbey NS in Roscommon, were added to this list as part of a subsequent additional allocation of €30 million to the school building programme.

Schools in Roscommon also benefited from the €31 million which was set aside in the 2004 programme for the summer works scheme. Applications from Ballyforan NS, Lisacul NS and Abbeycarton NS were successful under the 2004 scheme. At post-primary level, applications from Scoil Mhuire gan Smal, Roscommon, Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown and St. Nathy's College, Ballaghaderreen were also successful under the scheme.

There are a number of other projects listed in the 2004 school building programme for schools in Roscommon that are at various stages of architectural planning. These projects together with all other applications for capital funding are being considered in the context of a review of all projects countrywide which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme. This is with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, revised earlier this year in consultation with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the multi-annual programme.

I expect to publish the multi-annual programme following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process.

National Curriculum.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

132 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science her proposals for further consultation before a decision is taken on standardised testing for school children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26111/04]

I am awaiting advice from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, on issues relating to standardised testing for pupils during their compulsory schooling. The NCCA is doing this through its usual consultative and partnership processes. I am confident that this advice will be underpinned by up-to-date research and sound educational theory.

It is my intention to defer making a final decision on this matter until I am fully informed regarding the potential and the limitations of standardised testing and until I have explored the range of options available. My approach will be to weigh the benefits to pupils, parents, schools and the system against the costs in terms of the inputs required and the consequences that are likely to result. This will involve not only consultation but also intensive listening and reflection on my part.

I believe there is widespread acceptance of the value of standardised tests as one of a range of modes of assessment to help teachers make more informed decisions in relation to the instruction of pupils, inform parents of pupils' progress and provide information relevant to the identification of pupils who may require additional support.

At classroom level, information from standardised tests can be particularly useful in informing individual and group teaching. The fact that more than 95% of our primary schools use such tests in some way is testimony to the value that our teachers ascribe to them. In the light of this, it seems unjust that all pupils, and their parents, do not have the same entitlement to avail of standardised tests and to derive the benefit of the judicious use of their results.

At school level, standardised tests also have a key role to play. They can provide valuable information for teachers, principals and boards of management when engaging in a self-evaluation process. This is very important in planning the development and improvement of the individual school.

In any education system, trend data are a convincing source of evidence of the quality of the system and assist in the identification of areas of need within it. In addition to the valuable national surveys that are conducted periodically by the Educational Research Centre, ERC, and others, there is a need to develop systems that will provide my Department with more regular information on trends in pupil progress and achievement in our education system.

Notwithstanding the benefits of standardised testing that I have just outlined, I can understand how any move to systematise their use can give rise to fears and concerns. I can give my reassurance that it is not my Department's intention to use the results of standardised tests either as a stand-alone criterion to determine the allocation of resources to individual pupils and individual schools; as a stand-alone criterion to measure the effectiveness of individual teachers and schools; or to compile school league tables.

Rather, the intention is to develop a considered and balanced policy in relation to standardised testing. I believe that it should facilitate the provision of information in relation to the quality of the education system and also support schools in the development of best practice in using the outcomes of standardised tests to benefit pupils in their learning.

Medical Education.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

133 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the proposed aptitude test for entry to medicine courses at third level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26134/04]

The working group on undergraduate medical education and training has very recently presented interim recommendations for significant reform of the entry mechanism to medical education. These recommendations include the introduction of a multi-streamed model of entry to medicine, comprising undergraduate and graduate entry methods, with leaving certificate performance no longer the sole selection method for entry at undergraduate level. In this regard, it is proposed that selection for entry to undergraduate medicine would be based on two measures. Anyone opting for medicine who achieves 450 leaving certificate points will be eligible for consideration, with places to be allocated on the basis of performance on a separate entry test.

These recommendations are a very welcome attempt to address the huge pressures that are being placed on students in the second level system as a result of the extremely high leaving certificate points required for entry to medicine and certain other disciplines. In this regard, the potential exists for extending the proposed selection approach to other high points disciplines down the road. It is important that the significant implementation issues associated with this proposed change are carefully attended to, including the development of a proposed second selection test for entry to undergraduate medicine. I am currently considering the composition and terms of reference of an implementation group for this purpose and intend to bring forward proposals shortly on this front.

Inservice Training.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

134 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the closure of schools for teacher training on 22 October and 1 November 2004 and the dispute with the Episcopal Commission on this issue; the reason her Department arranged the in-service days in contravention of the Department’s regulations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26127/04]

Under the agreed arrangements standardising the school year, schools are required to remain open for students on the weekday immediately preceding, and immediately following, school holidays. This excludes the possibility of using these days for the provision of in-service for teachers as well as for internal school meetings for planning and other related purposes. The standardisation of the school year has been overwhelmingly successful in bringing clarity for parents in terms of making arrangements for the care of their children during school holidays. The agreement for all schools to take their Christmas, Easter, summer and mid-term breaks at the same time followed in-depth negotiations involving all the partners in the education process.

This year's October mid-term break runs from 25 to 29 October. Despite the restriction on closures, my Department became aware that primary curriculum in-service, delivered under devolved arrangements, for music and physical education was scheduled in a number of cases by the primary curriculum support programme, PCSP, for Friday, 22 October and Monday, 1 November — the weekdays immediately preceding, and following, the holidays.

It appears that, for a variety of reasons, in-service was scheduled on 22 October and 1 November in a number of locations. In part, this related to the subject matter and content of the music and physical education in-service currently being delivered to primary schools. Both areas require specialised equipment and venues which creates difficulties when attempting to deliver in-service in the most efficient and effective manner. In other cases, the in-service was scheduled in schools for the two dates in question due to administrative oversights.

When my Department became aware of the scheduling of music and physical education in-service on 22 October and 1 November, it immediately instructed that it be re-scheduled for a later date, in accordance with the standardisation agreement. This was done by the education centres and, in most cases, the in-service was re-scheduled.

As an exception, it was decided that, where cancellations would have greatly upset the plans of schools and parents, the in-service could proceed as originally planned. Some flexibility was needed in order to minimise the inconvenience to schools and parents who had already made arrangements for the dates in question. The vast majority of over three thousand schools will fully comply with the standardisation agreement; only a tiny minority of schools will have in-service training on one or both of the two days, 22 October and 1 November.

There is no question of a dispute with the Episcopal Commission in this matter. The Department's instructions to the PCSP were issued, coincidentally, around the same time that the Catholic bishops were directing that schools under their patronage were to close on 1 November, the Feast of All Saints.

It should be noted that the Catholic bishops are fully entitled to request that these schools observe All Saints' Day by closing on 1 November. As a result, there is no question of any dispute between my Department and the bishops about this issue. In this regard, the position as set out in the circular on the standardisation of the school year are very clear: "the arrangements are agreed without prejudice to closure (of schools) on specific days, within the overall requirement of 167 days at post-primary level and 183 days at primary level, dictated by religious observance that is required under the patronage of different denominations or faiths". The circular also states: "The scheduling of such days must not be used to extend or modify the period set out in respect of mid-term .... breaks save where religious observance requirements of a school under a particular patronage make this necessary". This arrangement covers Catholic schools and the schools under the patronage of other denominations and religions.

Third Level Funding.

Liz McManus

Question:

135 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has plans to deal with overcrowding in a college (details supplied) in Dublin 8 which is in need of capital funding to expand campus facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26109/04]

Officials from my Department and the Higher Education Authority recently met with the college referred to by the Deputy to discuss the future development of the campus.

The proposals from the college concerned include major developments which involve restoration of a listed building, provision of new buildings, and the acquisition of land to facilitate the proposed construction. The college authorities are currently in the process of finalising its capital development proposals. Elements of the overall development package are being considered for implementation under a public private partnership, PPP, type programme and this will require further assessment.

Along with all other third level colleges the college submitted its proposals to the third level capital review group. The review group in its recently published report recommended funding for the restoration of the listed building and the purchase of the adjoining site.

While the review group accepted in principle that a further expansion of the college was necessary, the group considered it inappropriate to make a final recommendation on other proposed developments as an intended enabling land swap had not yet been completed and the PPP type funding mechanism has yet to be finalised.

I am currently considering the report and its overall proposals regarding capital funding for the third level sector including the college concerned. I do not expect to be in a position to indicate my response to the recommendations until the conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process in the coming weeks.

Bullying in Schools.

Martin Ferris

Question:

136 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science if she intends adopting the mentoring concept as outlined in the report, How are Our Kids?, in view of the very serious problem of bullying in schools. [26148/04]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

145 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to a report, How are Our Kids?; and if she plans to factor the results of the survey into her programme of work, in particular in relation to the problem of bullying at school. [26145/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 145 together.

I am supportive of the concept of mentoring and consider that it can be of value in countering bullying at school level.

Individual school management authorities are responsible for implementing effective policies to counter bullying in schools. Each school is required to have in place a policy which includes specific measures to deal with bullying behaviour, within the framework of an overall school code of behaviour and discipline. Such a code, properly devised and implemented, can be the most influential measure in countering bullying behaviour in schools.

The managerial authority of each school, in developing its policy to counter bullying behaviour, must formulate the policy in co-operation with the school staff, both teaching and non-teaching, under the leadership of the principal, and in consultation with parents and pupils. In this way, the exercise of agreeing what is meant by bullying and the resultant development of school-based strategies for dealing with it are shared by all concerned. It is essential that all parties concerned have a clear understanding of the policy aims and content if the policy is to form the basis for developing effective school-based strategies for dealing with the problem.

The concept of mentoring may indeed form part of the schools policy but this is a matter for the managerial authority of each school to address.

School Vandalism.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

137 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the high incidence of vandalism and break-ins at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24 over the past 18 months; and if she will sanction extra funding for security for the school in view of these problems. [26154/04]

I appreciate the concerns of the school community regarding the vandalism of school property. I understand that the school management authority has made contact with the local crime prevention officer who is working with it in this matter. The management authority should continue to report each incident to local gardaí who are best placed to provide practical advice and support and to make recommendations on how best to mitigate the potential risk to the school.

It is open to the school's management authority to apply under the 2005 summer works scheme for funding for any security measures required at the school. Schools have been notified of the scheme and the closing date for receipt of completed applications is 5 November 2004. The list of successful applicants will be published by 31 January 2005.

A dedicated Freefone service is in operation to assist schools with the application process. The number for this service is 1800 200 955. It is currently available and will continue to operate until the closing date for applications. My officials will be happy to assist the school with any queries it might have in relation to the scheme.

College Closures.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

138 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason there was so little consultation with the management of a college (details supplied) on the future of that establishment. [26144/04]

The Deputy will be aware that this issue arose in the context of a decision by the trustees of the college that, due to personnel and financial considerations, they were no longer in a position to fulfil the role of trustees of the college.

Following discussions between the trustees and my Department, it was agreed that a consultant, a former senior official of my Department, would be appointed who would meet with relevant parties and prepare a report on the options for the college's future. As part of this process, the consultant met with the trustees of the college, its management, staff and students. In essence, there was full consultation with all parties with an interest in the college in regard to its future options.

The consultant's report, which was completed in July of 2002, was thoroughly examined in my Department and the options for the future of the college were set out for my consideration by my predecessor, Deputy Noel Dempsey.

Having carefully considered all of these options and having taken into account other factors such as the national spatial strategy, relevant costs in a time of financial constraint, a Government decision to restrict public service numbers, the need to secure value for money and a better allocation of resources, the then Minister, Deputy Dempsey, decided that these considerations would be best served by the closure of the college and the designation of St. Angela's College, Sligo as the sole centre for the training of home economics teachers.

School Curriculum.

Denis Naughten

Question:

139 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the action she intends to take to address the uptake of science in second level schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14113/04]

A range of actions is being taken to promote an increased uptake of science subjects in second-level schools, in line with the recommendations in the report of the task force in the physical sciences. In particular, important progress is being made in regard to curricular reform and in-service support, with new syllabi already implemented in leaving certificate biology and physics and chemistry; revised syllabi in primary science and junior certificate science were introduced in schools in September 2003, the latter on an optional basis but currently being taken by approximately 90% of schools; and work is under way on a new leaving certificate physical sciences syllabus to replace the physics and chemistry — combined — syllabus and a revised syllabus in leaving certificate agricultural science is at an advanced stage of preparation. The introduction of all of the revised syllabi is being, or has been, supported by national in-service programmes for teachers; resourcing, with substantial grants issued to schools at primary level in 1999, 2001 and 2002; an additional per capita grant for physics and chemistry at leaving certificate; a capital grants programme for senior cycle science ICT and science equipment; allied with the announcement in 2003 of a once-off grant scheme, likely to cost of the order of €12 million, to support the implementation of the new junior certificate science syllabus. To date, some 614 schools in the free education scheme have opted to provide the revised junior certificate science syllabus from 2003-04. Grants of €10.2 million were issued to these schools in 2004. The revised junior certificate science syllabus has an increased emphasis on hands-on student practical work and promotes a more investigative approach to the teaching and learning of the subject. Furthermore, for the first time this practical work will be directly assessed — some 35% of the final marks are being allocated to an assessment of practical course work based on 30 of the experiments and investigations specified in the revised syllabus. The hands-on approach is seen as critically important to improving student learning, enhancing the attractiveness of the subject and encouraging more students to choose the physical sciences at senior cycle; ICT integration projects in teaching and learning under the schools IT initiative, and the new TV scope programme in partnership with RTE, NCCA and the National Centre for Technology in Education; provision of materials and publications to schools to promote the attractiveness and relevance of science for students as a subject option and career path; reviews of mathematics, grading of subjects in the leaving certificate, gender equity issues in science and initial reports on teacher training undertaken; awareness measures supported by industry and third level colleges linking with schools; and the launch of the new Discover Science and Engineering programme in October 2003 bringing together existing awareness activities in a unified strategy; the announcement by the Tánaiste in December 2003 of plans for Ireland's first interactive learning centre for children and adults, designed to give visitors a hands-on experience and understanding of science, and to be an education and outreach centre for teachers and pupils. The Exploration Station is due to open in 2006 and will be sited in the OPW Heuston Gate development in Kilmainham, Dublin.

This work continues to be progressed and enhanced as resources permit in collaboration and consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Forfás and industry. My Department is fully committed to strengthening the quality of science teaching and learning, promoting increased scientific literacy and encouraging more students to choose science subjects at senior cycle and progress to third level options in this critical area as a vitally important part of the national strategy to support competitiveness and develop a knowledge-based economy.

Special Educational Needs.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

140 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by schools, parents and children due to the new weighted system; if she will make changes to the system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26159/04]

The revised system for the allocation of resource teachers comprises both a general allocation for pupils with mild learning disabilities-difficulties and specific allocations for individual pupils with more complex needs. The revised system will put teaching resources permanently in place to meet the needs of children with special needs. The system will greatly reduce the need for individual applications and supporting psychological assessments. It will also allow for better planning in schools, greater flexibility in identifying and intervening earlier with regard to pupils' special needs, as well as making the posts more attractive to qualified teachers.

The previous allocation system placed significant demands on principals, teachers and psychologists. It has also proven to be time-consuming, thereby delaying the allocation of resources for special needs. The new model will, over time, significantly improve the capacity of the system to cater for children with special needs in a speedier, more effective way. The revised system will reduce the administrative burden on schools and allow them to concentrate on the delivery of services to pupils with special needs. It will also allow psychologists to devote more time to advising teachers on planning for individual children and for whole school provision.

In order to facilitate the full introduction of the revised model from the school year 2005-06, my Department has agreed not to re-deploy surplus teachers from full-time postsvia the panel redeployment process during the current school year. In the case of small rural schools, the Department’s inspectorate is currently finalising clusters of schools.

As the Deputy will be aware, I have announced that I am having the impact of the revised allocation model reviewed to ameliorate any difficulties arising, particularly in small and rural schools. I want to ensure that it provides an automatic response while at the same time ensuring that pupils currently in receipt of service continue to receive the level of service appropriate to their needs.

School Staffing.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

141 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Science her policy with regard to State support for private fee-paying schools in view of recent figures showing an increase in the numbers attending such schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26113/04]

The payment of teacher salaries is part of a complex scheme of funding for fee-charging schools, which has traditionally sought to balance considerations of equity, pragmatism and State support for minority religions. Teachers in fee-charging schools, irrespective of the denominational ethos of the school, are paid by the State. This may well reflect a long standing pragmatism that the State would be required to provide teachers for the pupils in question were they located within the free education scheme.

There are 59 fee-charging second level schools in the country of which one is Jewish, 21 Protestant, two inter-denominational and the balance Catholic. The Protestant and Jewish schools receive funding by way of a block grant, which has its origins in the desire of the State to enable students of the Protestant and Jewish persuasion to attend schools, which reflect their denominational ethos. The block grant includes payments in respect of capitation and these schools also qualify for payment of such grants as the transition year support grant and secretarial and caretaking grants. Fee-charging schools not embraced by the block grant do not qualify for payment of capitation or related supports.

I have no plans to withdraw State support for the payment of teachers in fee-charging schools. This support has been a long standing feature of our education system and one continued by successive Governments.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

142 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that 31 schools have been investigated by the Health and Safety Authority between January and September 2004; her views on this number; if her attention has further been drawn to the nature of the complaints from schools which prompted these investigations; if she will avail of the school building programme 2005 to ensure that essential repairs in schools can be carried out speedily; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26118/04]

In accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, it is the responsibility of school management authorities to have a safety statement in place in their schools. Schools are obliged to identify possible hazards, assess the risks to health and safety and put appropriate safeguards in place.

Individual school authorities are responsible, in the first instance, for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care. It is open to school management authorities or individuals to make direct contact with the Health and Safety Authority in relation to matters of concern to them and my Department would not necessarily be aware of such communication. Where they are issued, notifications from the Health and Safety Authority are sent to the management authorities of schools, in the first instance.

Provision is built into the school building programme to enable schools to address urgent health and safety problems. Primary schools are given an annual allocation, currently amounting to €3,809 plus €12.70 per pupil, under the grant scheme for minor works which can be used entirely at the discretion of school management to address basic health and safety issues relating to the school infrastructure.

In addition, the summer works scheme was introduced during 2004 which provided capital grants for small scale improvement works at primary and post-primary schools during the summer holidays. A total of 457 schools were approved for funding under this scheme in 2004. The 2005 summer works scheme has recently been published with a closing date of 5 November 2004 for receipt of completed applications.

My Department also sets aside a contingency sum each year to deal with emergency works in primary and post-primary schools, including health and safety works. Urgently required health and safety works relating to asbestos removal, radon mitigation or dust extraction may be grant-aided under the remediation programmes operated by the school building section of my Department.

College Closures.

Seán Crowe

Question:

143 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the consultancy report conducted on the future of a college (detail supplied) was suppressed. [26141/04]

At the outset, I would like to emphasise that there is no question of suppressing the consultancy report conducted on the future of the college in question.

The Deputy will be aware that the issue of the future of the college, which is the subject of the question posed by the Deputy, arose in the context of a decision by the trustees of the college that, due to personnel and financial considerations, they were no longer in a position to fulfil the role of trustees of the college.

Following discussions between the trustees and my Department, it was agreed that a consultant, a former senior official of the Department, would be appointed who would meet with relevant parties and prepare a report on the options for the college's future.

The consultants' report, which was completed in July of 2002, was thoroughly examined in my Department and the options for the future of the college were set out for my consideration by my predecessor, Deputy Noel Dempsey. Having carefully considered all of these options and having taken into account other factors such as the national spatial strategy, relevant costs in a time of financial constraint, a Government decision to restrict public service numbers, the need to secure value for money and a better allocation of resources, the then Minister, Deputy Dempsey, decided that these considerations would be best served by the closure of the college and the designation of St. Angela's College, Sligo as the sole centre for the training of home economics teachers.

The consultants' report and any related advice were only two factors considered by the then Minister, Deputy Dempsey, when making his decision on the future of the college and the future of its subject area.

The Deputy will be aware that the report and all papers relating to this case are now in the public domain.

Capitation Grants.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

144 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will restore the grant of €635 for physical education equipment, which was scrapped in the budget of December 2002; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25986/04]

In October 2000, my Department introduced a physical education grant for all primary schools. Since the introduction of the scheme, my Department provided in excess of €5.5 million in grant aid to primary schools under this scheme to enable schools provide coaching or mentoring in connection with physical education or to purchase resource materials associated with the provision of physical education.

Materials and equipment purchased by schools in previous years will generally be available to them for subsequent years.

In the light of budgetary constraints, it was decided to withdraw payment of the grant from 2003. The question of restoring the grant will be kept under review as part of the normal Estimates process in the coming years.

I would point out, however, that schools may use their general capitation funding to support the implementation of curricula including physical education.

Question No. 145 answered with QuestionNo. 136.

Education Schemes.

Seán Ryan

Question:

146 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science her role in the establishment of the proposed new body to attract overseas students to study here; her views on the proposal to examine ways to increase the number of students in secondary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26125/04]

The Government has approved the publication of the report of the interdepartmental working group on the internationalisation of Irish education services and the necessary arrangements for this are being put in place by my Department as a matter of urgency. The Minister for Education and Science is responsible for implementing the recommendations in the report. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on or discuss the various recommendations in the report until it is published.

Schools Building Projects.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

147 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will report on the progress towards an extension for a college (details supplied) in County Monaghan at which teachers and pupils have obtained outstanding results in spite of totally inadequate accommodation and several commitments having been given and broken over many years; if there is no ulterior motive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25984/04]

The extension project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an early stage of architectural planning. It has a band 2 rating.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and the progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the programme from 2005.

Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

Insurance Costs.

Seán Ryan

Question:

148 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that one fifth of primary school insurance claims are attributable to children falling, tripping or slipping in schools yards; if she is intent on continuing to ignore the spiralling costs of insurance in schools; if she has proposals to alleviate the high costs of insurance in schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26126/04]

Responsibility for arranging insurance cover on school property and against public liability is a matter for the managerial authorities of primary schools.

Funding is provided to primary schools by way of per capita grants, which affords schools considerable flexibility in the use of these resources to cater for the needs of their pupils. In my view this is, in general, a preferable approach to putting in place grants for specific cost items such as insurance. I also hold the view that moving to a position where the Government covers the insurance costs of primary schools may encourage the insurance sector to keep increasing premia on the basis that the State would meet the cost. I believe such an approach would also reduce the incentive for school management to reduce risks.

I am committed to improving the funding position of primary schools in the light of available resources. The significant increases in the funding of primary schools in recent years is a clear demonstration of this Government's commitment to prioritise available resources to address the needs of schools.

In the case of primary schools the standard rate of capitation grant has been increased from €57 in 1997 to €121.58 per pupil from 1 January last, an increase of almost 113%.

The CLÁR primary school outdoor play facilities enhancement scheme, which was launched in March 2004, is jointly funded by my Department and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs with each Department contributing €500,000 in the current year. The scheme is aimed at improving outdoor play facilities in small rural primary schools in CLÁR areas.

Tackling the difficulties that are being caused by high insurance premiums is a clear priority for the Government. A key concern to which the Government is giving priority is the cost and availability of liability insurance. In this context, a comprehensive set of inter-related measures, across a number of Departments, has been announced which is designed to improve the functioning of the Irish insurance market.

Key initiatives relating to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment include the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, which was established by ministerial order on 13 April 2004, and the undertaking of a joint study into insurance by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in conjunction with the Competition Authority.

Key initiatives relating to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform include reform of the law in relation to personal injury claims. The Civil Liability and Courts Act, which includes measures to tackle fraudulent and exaggerated claims and streamline the law in relation to personal injury claims, was enacted on 21 July 2004.

Capitation Grants.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

149 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will increase the level of the capitation grant for primary and secondary schools; if her attention has been drawn to the chronic inadequacy of the grant in meeting day-to-day expenditure in schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26101/04]

I am committed to improving the funding position of primary and secondary schools in the light of available resources.

Significant improvements in the levels of direct funding of schools have been made in recent years. The standard rate of capitation grant for primary schools has been increased from €57 in 1997 to €121.58 per pupil from 1 January last, an increase of almost 113%. In the case of secondary schools, the standard per capita grant now amounts to €274 from 1 January last as against the rate of €224.74 that applied in 1997. In the case of disadvantaged schools this increase has brought the total per capita grant to €312. In addition, the support grant that was introduced under the school services support initiative was also increased from 1 January last and now stands at €131 per pupil. This increase is in addition to the range of equalisation grants of up to €15,554 per school per annum that was approved in December 2001.

The question of further increases in the level of capitation grants payable to primary and secondary schools will be considered as part of the normal Estimates process.

Higher Education Grants.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

150 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the details of the recent changes to the third level maintenance grant levels; her views on whether such minor increases are sufficient; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26140/04]

It has been my Department's approach in recent years to increase the value of the grant under the student maintenance grant schemes annually at least in line with inflation. This year, in line with this policy, increases of 2% were made in the ordinary maintenance grant to give a maximum grant of €2,945 in the 2004-05 academic year.

Similarly, in relation to the reckonable income limits under the maintenance grant schemes, the practice in recent years has been to increase the limits at least in line with movements in the average industrial wage in the previous year. This year, in line with this policy, an increase of 5.9% was approved in the reckonable income limits for the 2004-2005 academic year, as has the allowance by which the income limits may be increased for each dependant where two or more children are in further or higher education.

The top income limit has been increased from €40,000 to €42,360, where there are less than four children, ensuring that a significantly higher number of students from households with moderate incomes will not have to pay the student service charge of €750. Higher income thresholds than this apply in cases where there are four or more dependent children in the family. Over 56,000 students were in receipt of grants in the 2003-04 academic year.

The special rates of maintenance grant, usually referred to as "top-up" grants, payable to disadvantaged grant holders were introduced with effect from the 2000-01 academic year. This year's schemes are giving particular priority to addressing inequities in participation of students from the lower socio-economic groups through the special rates of maintenance — top-up grant. There is a significant increase of 18.6% in the "top-up" element for the 2004-05 academic year. The higher, non-adjacent special rate of maintenance has been increased to €4,855, an amount based on the maximum personal rate of social welfare unemployment assistance. The adjacent rate has been increased to €1,945. These rates represent "top-ups" on the ordinary grant of €1,910 and €765, respectively.

The annual income threshold for the special rates of maintenance grant has been increased, in line with the relevant social welfare payments, by 6.8% to €14,693.

While I have no plans to depart, in the foreseeable future, from the current practice in relation to increases in the reckonable income limits or grant rates under my Department's student maintenance grant schemes, I am committed to ongoing improvements in the student support schemes, including increasing the value of maintenance grants and increasing the income limits, as resources permit.

Third Level Education.

Liz McManus

Question:

151 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has received a copy of the Higher Education Authority report which recommends a linking of future funding for third level access programmes to performance; her view on this suggestion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26110/04]

The report referred to by the Deputy is the report of the high level group on university equality policies, published by the Higher Education Authority in April of this year, and the recommendation referred to forms part of a series of recommendations contained therein. The task of the group was to carry out a review on behalf of the HEA of the equality policies of the universities, including access to the universities by sections of society under-represented in higher education.

The review group examined and reported on how the universities have responded to equality requirements both in relation to students and employees. This response has been supported by my Department through the HEA, with over €40 million in strategic initiative funding having been allocated since 1996 towards the establishment of a core access infrastructure on the part of institutions. Progress on the range of initiatives being funded is reviewed annually both by the institutions and the HEA. These initiatives include programmes and staff dedicated to increasing access and supporting participation by school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds as well as mature students, disabled students and more recently Traveller and refugee students.

The context in which the particular recommendation of the high level group referred to was framed was that of highlighting the need for improvement of statistical information on access to higher education in order to further evaluate progress to date both nationally and institutionally, as well as inform the targeting of resources towards the areas of greatest need. I agree with the group's view of the importance of this issue if we are to ensure that we achieve all our objectives in this area.

I welcome the fact that work is already underway in the HEA on a new and comprehensive student record system that will capture information about students in all higher education institutions. The first of its type in Irish higher education, this database will provide comprehensive data on variables associated with student participation in higher education, and will support better analysis of student participation and completion in higher education. The database is due to be operational in all HEA institutions by the end of 2004 and will be extended on a phased basis to the institutes of technology.

The HEA are also presently engaged in a review of recurrent funding mechanisms for HEA funded institutions. In consultation with third level institutions, consideration is being given to the development of both core and strategic funding from an input to a more output or performance based model. This approach, which I welcome, would allow funding allocations to reflect and incentivise institutional performance in certain key areas such as the intake of students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, students with a disability and mature students.

The report of the high level group also highlighted a key role for the national office for equity of access to higher education in the future development and implementation of a national strategy on equity of access to higher education.

In August 2003, my colleague, the former Minister for Education and Science, established the national office for equity of access to higher education within the Higher Education Authority. This decision followed a report by the action group on access to third level education which highlighted the pressing need for a national co-ordinating unit to lead work on achieving equity of access to higher education, co-ordinate funding and resources, and monitor and report on progress.

Importantly, the national office works with the higher education sector as a whole, and its functions include: development of a national action plan to facilitate equity of access to higher education; advising on and promoting the development of national policy on equity of access to higher education; managing funding programmes to widen access to higher education; and monitoring and reporting on progress in implementing the action plan and attaining national and institutional targets on equity of access to higher education.

An action plan for equity of access to higher education is being developed by the national office with the assistance of an advisory group representative of learners, education partners and social partners. Development has also included broader consultation with over 30 additional organisations.

I understand that work on this plan is at an advanced stage at present and is to be forwarded to my office very shortly.

I intend that the office will monitor and report on progress in implementing the action plan and reaching national and institutional targets on equity of access to higher education.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Seán Crowe

Question:

152 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science the scheme she intends to put in place in order to allow redress for victims of abuse who were day pupils at educational institutions here. [26143/04]

The Residential Institutions Redress Board was established as an alternative mechanism to the courts to provide financial redress to former residents of institutions who were abused while in institutions over which the State had a significant supervisory or regulatory responsibility. There are no plans to extend the remit of the redress board to day schools.

The rationale behind the setting up of the redress board was that children in the institutions were separated from their parents and therefore did not have the benefit of the care and protection which children in the care of their families usually enjoy. The institutions concerned controlled all aspects of children's lives 24 hours, seven days a week with no reasonable capacity for access to or involvement by parents. Therefore, the children in the institutions relied to a significant degree on the public bodies that had a statutory duty to protect them.

This situation did not apply to day schools which were in the main privately owned and in which children were enrolled by their parents. Public bodies did not have the same kind of supervisory functions, powers or duties that applied to residential institutions and the children themselves were resident with their families.

People who as children suffered sexual abuse in day schools have other avenues in which they may seek compensation from those who were responsible for their abuse. Amendments to the Statute of Limitations recognise that a person who suffered sexual abuse in childhood may not have been in a position, due to the abuse suffered, to take legal action against an abuser. Before the statute was amended a person had only three years from the date she or he attained majority to initiate such an action. The statute now provides that the normal three year period will not apply where the delay in bringing the action resulted from the abuse itself, for example, suppressed memories of abuse.

Any person who was subjected to abuse should in the first instance report the matter to the Garda. She or he should also obtain legal advice in relation to the legal remedies that may be open to them, such as seeking compensation in the courts from those who were responsible for their abuse.

Investment in Education.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

153 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if a recent study by the National Competitiveness Council which shows that Ireland ranks bottom of a list of 15 industrialised countries with regard to the proportion of GDP spent on education has been brought to her attention; her views on the study; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26105/04]

The recent report of the National Competitiveness Council makes a number of important observations and recommendations in relation to key elements of the education system in Ireland and will be carefully considered by my Department.

The strength of our education system has been a substantial contributor to our economic progress and development in the last ten years.

Investment in education in Ireland has increased substantially in real terms and accounted for 13% of total public expenditure in 2001. This increased investment has achieved falling pupil-teacher ratios over time as well as rising real expenditure per pupil.

The recent OECD publication, Education at a Glance (2004), has clearly shown that expenditure per primary and second level student in Ireland increased by 45% between 1995 and 2001. This was the fourth biggest increase of the 23 OECD countries for which data was available.

The challenge facing policy makers now is to ensure that our education system continues to make a substantial contribution to our social and economic development.

Early Childhood Education.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

154 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on a recent report, Making the Move, published recently (details supplied) which analysed the secondary school selection options of primary school pupils from different socio-economic groups; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26124/04]

My Department has received the report referred to by the Deputy and it has been forwarded to the relevant officials for their information. I have asked my officials to consider the findings of the report in the light of the transition process from primary to second level.

Adult Education.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

155 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science her intentions in relation to the further education sector; if she will facilitate its expansion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26160/04]

Within the context of lifelong learning policies, the conceptual frameworks for further education, adult education and vocational education and training are becoming inextricably linked. It is therefore essential that there is co-operation, co-ordination and cohesion between Departments with responsibilities in these fields and between the statutory bodies with responsibility for delivery of programmes at regional and local level.

The new national framework of qualifications and the consultations being carried out by the Higher and Further Education and Training Awards Councils with providers in relation to quality assurance and validation processes is facilitating the development of a more streamlined approach to the development and delivery of further education.

The principal providers of further education, adult education and continuing vocational education and training are the vocational education committees and FÁS. Other statutory providers include Fáilte Ireland, Teagasc and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

The principal objectives of the measures and programmes funded by the Department of Education and Science in the further and adult education area are to meet the needs of young early school leavers, provide second-chance education for adults, provide vocational education and training opportunities for labour market entrants and re-entrants, and facilitate alternative pathways to higher education.

The White Paper on Adult Education, Learning for Life, published in 2000, identified a range of areas requiring investment and development, including: a national adult literacy strategy; the expansion of the scale and flexibility of existing provision at further and higher education levels; measures to promote community education models; enhancement of quality, accreditation and assessment, staff development and supporting services, such as guidance and child care; expansion of capital provision for adult education; implementation of an ICT programme for adults; specific equality initiatives to improve the participation of marginalised groups; and structures for national and local co-ordination.

The recommendations of the White Paper are being implemented as resources permit.

College Closures.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

156 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the way in which her Department will respond to criticisms from the Information Commissioner regarding the suppression of the consultancy report on the future of a college (details supplied). [26149/04]

At the outset, I would like to emphasise that there is no question of the consultancy report conducted on the future of the college in question been suppressed.

The Deputy will be aware that the issue of the future of the college, which is the subject of the question posed by the Deputy, arose in the context of a decision by the trustees of the college that, due to personnel and financial considerations, they were no longer in a position to fulfil the role of trustees of the college. Following discussions between the trustees and my Department, it was agreed that a consultant, a former senior official of the Department, would be appointed who would meet with relevant parties and prepare a report on the options for the college's future.

The consultant's report, which was completed in July of 2002, was thoroughly examined in my Department and the options for the future of the college were set out for my consideration by my predecessor, Deputy Noel Dempsey. Having carefully considered all of these options and having taken into account other factors such as the national spatial strategy, relevant costs in a time of financial constraint, a Government decision to restrict public service numbers, the need to secure value for money and a better allocation of resources, the then Minister, Deputy Dempsey, decided that these considerations would be best served by the closure of the college and the designation of St. Angela's College, Sligo as the sole centre for the training of home economics teachers.

The report and any related advice were amongst a number of factors considered by the then Minister, Deputy Dempsey, when making his decision on the future of the college and the future of its subject area.

Having examined the issues relating to the freedom of information request, it is clear that the official who initially refused the request — November 2003 — and the official who upheld that refusal — December 2003 — were acting in good faith and that there is no question of these officials suppressing the report and other requested material in relation to this case.

As the Deputy is aware, Ms Madeline Mulrennan, President of St. Catherine's College, requested in October 2003 the release of the consultant's report along with a number of all related papers amounting to 26 in total.

The refusal by my Department to release these documents was based on two factors:

"(i) access to the documentation could have a significant, adverse effect on the performance by the Department of any of its functions relating to management, including industrial relations — Section 21(c), and

(ii) access to the documentation could disclose positions taken, or to be taken, or plans, procedures, criteria or instructions used or followed, or to be used or followed, for the purpose of any negotiations carried on or being, or to be carried on by or on behalf of the Department — Section 21(c)".

While I accept that the Information Commissioner, Ms Emily O'Reilly, disagreed — August 2004 — with the position taken on the request, I can only reiterate that the officials were acting in good faith when they made their decision not to release the material. I do not think any purpose will be served by making any further comment on this particular case.

The Deputy will be aware that the consultant's report and all papers relating to this case are now in the public domain.

Educational Disadvantage.

Martin Ferris

Question:

157 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on whether there is a direct link between poverty and educational under-achievement; and the steps she intends taking to address the issue. [26147/04]

My approach in addressing the issue of educational disadvantage is set in the context of the Government's National Action Plan Against Poverty and Social Exclusion, 2003-2005, NAPs/incl, and the latest partnership agreement, Sustaining Progress, which contains a special initiative focused on literacy, numeracy and early school leavers.

A key focus of education policy is to prioritise investment in favour of those most at risk and to optimise access, participation and outcomes at every level of the system for disadvantaged groups.

Some €540 million is being provided by my Department in 2004 for programmes specifically designed to tackle educational disadvantage in accordance with the strategies outlined in the NAPS/incl and Sustaining Progress. This includes provision in the following areas: €8 million for pre-school programmes such as the Early Start pilot project which caters for pupils aged three to four years who are most at risk in areas of social disadvantage; over €70 million for disadvantaged programmes at primary level such as the disadvantaged areas scheme, the home school community liaison scheme, and the giving children an even break programme; €35 million for post primary level disadvantaged schemes such as the disadvantaged areas scheme, and the home school community liaison scheme; €23 million for the school completion programme which operates at primary and post-primary level and is a key component of my Department's strategy to discriminate positively in favour of children and young people who are at risk of early school leaving; €20 million for disadvantaged youth schemes; €175 million for further education measures such as the back to education initiative, the Youthreach programme, and the adult literacy programme; €197 million for measures specifically designed to broaden access to third level education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds; and €6.5 million for the National Educational Welfare Board.

My priority as Minister for Education and Science will be to continue targeting resources at those areas and people most in need.

School Absenteeism.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

158 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Education and Science if it is planned to substantially increase funding to the National Education Welfare Board in view of the fact that pupils in disadvantaged areas of cities here miss school for an average of one month every year and that the NEWB’s own research shows that one in seven children leave primary school with reading and writing difficulties. [26056/04]

My Department is aware of the preliminary findings of the recent research conducted by the National Education Welfare Board into levels of school attendance for the school year 2003-04. These findings will be considered by my Department in the context of future planning and investment.

Schools Building Projects.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

159 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science if she plans to facilitate the early provision of a second level school at an early stage at lands beside the proposed temporary railway station at Adamstown, in view of the growth in population in the rest of Lucan, the need for an Educate Together second level facility and the availability of land for early construction; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26052/04]

As the Deputy will be aware, a site for a post-primary school has been reserved as part of the Adamstown strategic development zone. Officials of the school planning section of my Department are working closely with the development agency, South Dublin County Council, regarding the optimum time frame for the delivery of the proposed school. Discussions have also taken place with the owners of the site. A management model has not yet been determined for this school.

With regard to the overall issue of post-primary capacity in the Lucan area, the position is that a new school for Coláiste Cois Life will proceed to tender and construction this year. This will provide places for 600 pupils, some 400 additional places relative to existing capacity.

Capacity at Coláiste Phádraig will be increased by 300 pupil places with the completion of the major extension project at the school. A further extension project at St. Joseph's College will also be completed this year, which will provide an overall capacity of 725 pupil places. This is deemed sufficient to meet demand from pupils in its catchment area.

The Deputy will also be aware that there is considerable capacity at post- primary level in areas adjacent to Lucan. Given that it is the current practice, particularly in Dublin, that post-primary students tend to travel some distance to attend a post-primary school, it is not unreasonable that my Department should seek to optimise the use of existing surplus capacity at post-primary schools in the general vicinity of Lucan as part of a range of measures to address any shortfall for post-primary places that may emerge in that area.

Education Policy.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

160 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the proposals advanced by IBEC in July 2004 in relation to the future of education here, particularly regarding part-time working by secondary school students during exam years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26108/04]

The proposals put forward by IBEC last July are very wide ranging in scope and involve all levels of education. Since last January, a year long national public consultation process on the development of education in Ireland for the future, Your Education System, has been under way. The outcomes of that process will be reported on early next year. The Deputy specifically referred to the issue of part-time work for second level exam students.

IBEC undertook to actively discourage part-time work for second level students in exam years as part their ten point action plan included in the education policy document it issued in July 2004. I believe this is a responsible position. I am aware that it reiterated its call to businesses not to employ second level exam students at the start of this school year.

I support the position that young people should avoid engaging in employment to an extent that adversely affects their studies. There is an onus on legislators, employers, teachers and parents to encourage young people to avoid damaging their long-term economic, social and personal prospects by sacrificing the attainment of their full academic potential for the immediate gain of paid employment. There is legislation in this area. The employment of young people is legislated for under the Protection of Young Persons Act 1996, the implementation of which is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The Education Welfare Act 2000 provides legislation in connection with the attendance of children and young people at school or other places of education.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

161 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Education and Science if there will be a change in her policy or increase in investment at primary and second level in view of the recent report published by the National Competitiveness Council; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26057/04]

The recent report of the National Competitiveness Council makes a number of important recommendations in relation to key elements of the education system in Ireland. These recommendations will be of benefit to policy makers and specialists in the education sector and will be carefully considered within my Department.

I am committed to improving the funding position of primary and secondary schools in the light of available resources.

Significant improvements in the levels of direct funding of schools have been made in recent years.

The standard rate of capitation grant for primary schools has been increased from €57 in 1997 to €121.58 per pupil from 1 January last, an increase of almost 113%.

In the case of secondary schools, the standard per capita grant now amounts to €274 from 1 January last as against the rate of €224.74 that applied in 1997. In the case of disadvantaged schools this increase has brought the total per capita grant to €312.

In addition, the support grant that was introduced under the school services support initiative was also increased from 1 January last and now stands at €131 per pupil. This increase is in addition to the range of equalisation grants of up to €15,554 per school per annum that was approved in December 2001.

Further increases in the levels of direct funding payable to first and second level schools will be considered as part of the normal Estimates process.

Physical Education Facilities.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

162 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the chronic shortage of physical education and recreational facilities in many primary and secondary schools and to the health and social consequences of this shortage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26106/04]

I do not accept the Deputy's contention that there is a chronic shortage of physical and recreational facilities in primary and post primary schools. I want to make it clear that the policy of my Department is to provide for the delivery of a broad and balanced physical education curriculum in our schools and to support this with the provision of appropriate infrastructure.

In relation to facilities generally, many primary schools have a general purpose room and practically all schools have outdoor play areas which are utilised for teaching different aspects of the physical education programme. The provision of multi-purpose space for primary schools will continue to be considered within the design brief for new schools and-or renovation-extension school building projects. This is being done in the context of available resources and the published criteria for prioritising school building projects.

At second level, again, many schools have PE halls, hard play areas and playing fields. It is the practice of my Department to provide a PE hall as part of the delivery of an extension project to a school where no such facility exists. A PE hall is also provided when a new school is being built.

In addition, many schools, primary and post-primary, use adjacent local facilities, including public parks, playing fields and swimming pools.

In terms of resources, the Government is delivering on its commitment to provide modern facilities in schools and has progressively increased funding in recent years with an aggregate total of almost €2 billion since 1998, the largest investment programme in the history of the State.

My Department has never underestimated the scale of the task and the level of capital funding and other resources required to rectify decades of under investment in school infrastructure. The budget announcement regarding multi-annual capital envelopes will enable me to adopt a multi-annual framework for the school building programme, details of which will be announced as soon a possible after the next budgetary process.

Question No. 163 answered with QuestionNo. 129.

Schools Building Projects.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

164 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science when the school building programme for 2005 will be published; if considerations in that regard have been considered; the funding which will be allocated to the programme for 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26115/04]

Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

The precise level of funding available to be allocated to the 2005 programme will not be known until the completion of the Estimates process.

Special Educational Needs.

Jack Wall

Question:

165 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of applications for special needs assistants outstanding in her Department; the number of applications for resource teaching outstanding in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26132/04]

I can confirm that, at present, approximately 780 applications for special educational needs, SEN, supports remain to be processed in my Department. These applications are for resource teaching and-or special needs assistant support. They consist of new applications and also relate to appeals in respect of decisions on previous applications already conveyed to schools. Approximately 100 of these applications are incomplete and the relevant schools have been requested to submit the appropriate supporting documentation. In addition, applications at the rate of between ten and 20 per day continue to be received in my Department. These include both new applications for SEN supports and also appeals from schools who have previously received a response to their applications. The outstanding applications will be processed as quickly as possible.

School Discipline.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

166 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on a recent survey from TUI which outlined the growing problems of intimidation of teachers by pupils, lewd and vulgar language, aggressive behaviour and defiance in the classroom; if her attention has been drawn to the significant problems this behaviour is creating for teachers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26107/04]

I am aware of the survey conducted by the TUI and referred to by the Deputy.

It is important that while acknowledging that student discipline is an issue in schools we do not talk this up to being a crisis. It is undoubtedly the case that a small proportion of students cause serious problems in schools. The reasons for this are not simple and are societal as much as educational. That said, I do not believe that today's generation of young people is more disruptive than their predecessors. The reality of the situation is that as we have progressively increased the retention rate in our formal education system we are retaining students who in the past would have dropped out of school early. This poses challenges for schools and for society.

A school's code of discipline and the inclusive way in which it is framed is important, particularly in harnessing student and parental support. We also have to consider whether the formal school model best meets the needs of all students and whether other models need to be developed. As against this we have to be careful not to promote the exclusion of problem students as this will leave us with a greater problem down the road.

It is particularly important that we identify models of best practice in the area of student behaviour. In other words, we need to see what works well and by the same token what does not.

It is my intention to give this issue a particular focus and I will make some further announcements in the near future.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

167 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the estimated final bill arising from the indemnity deal between the State and the religious orders; if there is likely to be more institutions added to those involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26139/04]

The indemnity agreement to which the Deputy refers is the agreement between the State and 18 religious congregations that was signed on 5 June 2002. Under the agreement the congregations made a contribution of €128 million to the residential institutions redress fund and in return for this contribution, the previous Government agreed to grant an indemnity to the congregations that were parties to the agreement.

The indemnity applies only to cases which are eligible to be dealt with under the terms of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, but which are not resolved within this scheme, and in respect of which litigation is commenced within six years of the date of the agreement. In the event of a congregation deciding to run a case itself then the indemnity will not apply.

It is anticipated that the vast majority of cases will be dealt with by the Residential Institutions Redress Board rather than through the courts. Therefore, it is expected that the indemnity will apply to relatively few cases. However, as there is no way to predict at this time how many claimants will opt to go through the courts rather than the redress board, I am not in a position to estimate the likely cost of the Indemnity to the State. To date, the indemnity has been invoked in settling just three cases. Furthermore, the settlements that were reached in these three cases were all well within the parameters of the awards that can be made by the redress board.

My Department had estimated prior to the establishment of the redress board that the cost of awards would be €508 million. The recent report of the C&AG estimated that the final outturn would be in the range of €605 million; to €828 million. However, it is not possible at this stage of the process to determine what the final outcome will be.

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. It has been necessary for my Department to establish if the institutions identified to it are eligible for inclusion in the Schedule and this process has proven to be time consuming and is continuing.

While inquiries have not yet been completed in respect of all institutions, I can confirm that the Government has recently approved the addition of a further 13 institutions to the Schedule of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002. In accordance with section 4 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, a draft of the order necessary to add these 13 institutions to the Schedule was approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas this week and I intend signing the order as soon as possible.

Inquiries into and consideration of the other institutions that may be eligible will continue and it may be necessary to bring a further order forward in 2005.

Adult Education.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

168 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has satisfied herself that adequate resources are in place to fund adult literacy services in view of the increase in the numbers availing of adult literacy services in recent years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26114/04]

The adult literacy service is organised and delivered by the vocational education committees throughout the country with funding from my Department.

The national development plan committed €93.5 million to the service in the period 2000-06, with a target of reaching 113,000 clients over that period. This target will be met.

Funding for adult literacy has been increased incrementally in recent years from just under €1 million in 1997 to over €19 million in 2004. Client numbers rose in the same period from 5,000 to over 31,000 per year. The increase in funding has also enabled the introduction of special programmes targeted at groups with particular literacy needs. Such programmes include family literacy and literacy for deaf people. In addition, a focused work place literacy programme, jointly funded by my Department and the local authority national partnership group, is available nationwide for local authority outdoor staff.

To supplement the work of the VEC literacy service, and to cater for people who do not wish to enrol in the service, my Department funds the television literacy tuition and awareness series "Read, Write, Now". The fifth series is currently being broadcast.

My Department also pays an annual grant to the National Adult Literacy Agency, NALA, in respect of publicity and promotion, research and training events.

School Transport.

Dan Boyle

Question:

169 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Education and Science if she envisages carrying out a review of school bus transport catchment areas and boundaries during the lifetime of the Government. [26054/04]

At the outset, I wish to advise the Deputy that for the purposes of post-primary education provision, the country is divided into catchment areas, each of which has its own post-primary education centre. These areas were drawn up in the late 1960s in the context of the free education scheme. The catchment boundaries were determined following consultation with local educational interests.

The revision of catchment areas is addressed by my Department as the need arises. It is the practice in my Department to consult with local educational interests, where any such adjustments are contemplated. There are no plans at present to carry out a review of catchment area boundaries.

School Placement.

Jack Wall

Question:

170 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the arrangements that have been made for the eight children in Limerick who have not secured a second level school place by the end of September 2004, and for whom an alternative structured education provision is to be arranged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26133/04]

The eight children to whom the Deputy refers have been allocated home tuition hours through an after-school club in Limerick city. The educational welfare officer for the area has been closely liaising with the club organisers and has been involved in setting out the programme of tuition which will be offered to these children. Two teachers have been recruited, each of whom will deliver 27.5 hours of tuition per week for these children.

The National Educational Welfare Board is continuing to pursue longer term provisions for these children including access to the Limerick Youth Encounter Project and with Youthreach.

Educational Disadvantage.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

171 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will commission a cost benefit analysis in terms of the investment required to keep a child from a disadvantaged area within the school system up to leaving certificate level, the tax revenues arising from better paid employment balanced against the costs of educating the child, the loss of earnings of a child that leaves school early and the possible social welfare cost and the possible costs of imprisonment in view of the fact that children who leave school early are more likely to become engaged in criminal activity; if such a cost benefit analysis has been carried out extensively before; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26060/04]

Educational disadvantage has been the source of a wide range of national and international research in recent years. Extensive research has been carried out in relation to economic return from investment in education. For instance, the annual school leavers' survey shows the clear advantage of completing upper second level education in terms of less time spent seeking work, greater capacity to progress to employment or further study, less risk of unemployment and earning levels. The data involved highlights the inter-generational effect of educational disadvantage, as it is the children of the unemployed who are most likely to leave school early and be unemployed themselves.

I am committed to ensuring our policies strive to increase the retention rate of students in our schools.

Question No. 172 answered with QuestionNo. 129

Third Level Qualifications.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

173 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if she is engaging in discussions with FÁS regarding opposition from her Department to the awarding of bachelor degrees to certain qualified craftspersons; the content and outcome of these discussions; if the matter has been resolved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26121/04]

The Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999 provides for the development of a new national framework of qualifications and for a five year transition phase while the new awards system is being implemented. The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland launched the new framework of qualifications in October 2003, and the process of phased implementation is now under way with a view to completion by 2006. As part of this process, former awards bodies in the further education and training sector were asked to submit advice and recommendations to the Further Education and Training Awards Council, FETAC, within a prescribed template format and published determinations and guidelines, on the placement of existing awards on the new framework of levels.

The process involves comparing the content of curricula, learning outcomes, examinations and practices, and data from published and unpublished reports, regarding the various awards, with the generic levels indicators published in respect of each level of the framework by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, as well as providing information on historic equivalences with other awards. A similar process was undertaken in relation to HETAC awards.

FÁS sought my Department's agreement to advice and recommendations for placement of the national craft certificate at levels six to seven of the national framework of qualifications. My Department did not endorse this view, on the basis that the recommended placement did not reflect traditional progression pathways and the international trends on placement of apprenticeships in the International Standard for Classification of Education, ISCED.

Following discussions with FÁS and examination of the FÁS draft documentation, my Department carried out an independent assessment, involving experts from apprenticeship and other staff in the institutes of technology, the Dublin Institute of Technology, the council of directors and the Department of Education and Science. This resulted in a recommended placement at levels five to six of the framework. Documentation was exchanged and further meetings were held with FÁS which failed to result in a jointly agreed recommendation on placement. At that stage, my Department indicated its intention to proceed with the submission of separate advice and recommendations to the Further Education and Training Awards Council, an option which had been discussed earlier.

I should like to point out that the input of former awards bodies to the process of placement is advisory in nature only. Decisions on placement are a matter for either the Further Education and Training Awards Council or the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, as appropriate, with the agreement of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, on the basis of the evidence submitted and compliance with the criteria, determinations and guidelines set out for the framework. These are published by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland in their reports Determinations for the Outline Framework of Qualifications and Policies and Criteria for the Establishment of the National Framework of Qualifications.

The submissions from FÁS and my Department to FETAC will enable the matter to be progressed to a conclusion. The process will involve further dialogue between FÁS, FETAC and the Department through the auspices of a FETAC working group. FETAC will also consult with HETAC before a decision on placement is made.

I am confident that the process developed by the awards councils for the placement of existing awards in the framework will allow for a decision on placement to be satisfactorily resolved, and that FÁS and my Department will continue to work collaboratively to ensure the continued delivery of high quality training in this important area.

My Department fully appreciates the importance of the contribution of apprentices to the overall economy, the growing demand for skilled craftspersons, the rigour and quality of the training, both on and off the job, which underpins the national craft certificate, and the specialised skills which holders of the award bring to the workplace.

School Accommodation.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

174 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will report on the progress towards an extension for a college (details supplied) in County Monaghan at which the pupils and teachers have to cross the N2 Dublin-Derry road and use a building that is totally unfit for use as a school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25985/04]

An application for grant aid towards an extension has been received from the management authority of the college referred to by the Deputy.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and the progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the multi-annual programme. The accommodation needs of the school referred to are being considered as part of this review.

Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

Physical Education Facilities.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

175 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will review her policy which requires schools to use physical education halls and other rooms as classrooms before they will be considered for additional accommodation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26102/04]

At the outset let me make it clear that the policy of my Department is to provide for the delivery of a broad and balanced physical education curriculum at both primary and post-primary levels.

In relation to facilities generally, the position is such that many primary schools have a general purpose room and practically all schools have an outdoor play area which are utilised in the delivery of all aspects of the physical education programme. Many schools also enjoy the use of adjacent local facilities, including playing fields, public parks and public swimming pools.

A particular difficulty arose this year in relation to some schools in need of additional accommodation to facilitate the appointment of an extra teacher. The school planning section of my Department considered all applications for temporary accommodation for the current school year. However in the context of the available funding and the number of applications for that funding, it was not possible to approve all applications received. Only those schools with an absolute and demonstrated need for the additional accommodation were approved.

As an interim measure some schools were advised to maximise the use of their existing accommodation until my Department is in a position to make extra accommodation available.

The need for additional accommodation at any given school will be considered in the context of the 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 them as part of a multi-annual school building programme from 2005, details of which will be announced following conclusion of the current estimates and budgetary process.

School Accommodation.

Billy Timmins

Question:

176 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the situation with respect to proposals to develop the primary school at Lacken County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25990/04]

I take it the Deputy is referring to Lacken mixed national school which is listed as a refurbishment-extension project for proceeding to tender and construction as part of this year's school building programme.

Following discussions and correspondence with the Department, the board of management has advised the Department that they will purchase a site for a new school provided the project is changed to a new school. The Department has agreed to facilitate this request being explored provided it can be achieved within the existing budget set for the project.

The Department has made it clear to the board of management that the onus is on them to explore the new school option within an indicative timetable set by the Department. It is envisaged that interactions with the Department will be kept to a minimum. However, in the event of it not proving possible to progress the new school option for reasons such as site acquisition, budget issues etc., the project will revert back to a refursibhment-extension of the existing school.

The board of management has accepted this and is currently working on the acquisition of a site following which they have been authorised to engage a design team to commence the design work on the new school.

Joan Burton

Question:

177 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has considered a recent warning from a legal expert (details supplied) that schools here could be sued by students who have been educated in sub-standard buildings; her views on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26129/04]

I am only aware of the media reports on the matter in question. The position is that individual school authorities are responsible, in the first instance, for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care.

In light of this, and in accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, it is the responsibility of school management authorities to have a safety statement in place in their schools. Schools are obliged to identify possible hazards, assess the risks to health and safety and to put appropriate safeguards in place.

Provision is built into the school building programme to enable schools address urgent health and safety problems. Primary schools are given an annual allocation, currently amounting to €3,809 plus €12.70 per pupil, under the grant scheme for minor works which can be used entirely at the discretion of school management to address basic health and safety issues relating to school infrastructure.

In addition, the summer works scheme was introduced during 2004 which provided capital grants for improvement works at primary and post-primary schools. A total of 457 schools were approved for funding under this scheme in 2004. The 2005 summer works scheme has recently been published with a closing date of 5 November 2004 for receipt of completed applications.

My Department also sets aside a contingency sum each year to deal with emergency works in primary and post-primary schools, including health and safety works. Urgently required health and safety works relating to asbestos removal, radon mitigation or dust extraction may be grant aided under the remediation programmes operated by the school building section of my Department.

School Staffing.

Joan Burton

Question:

178 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason she has not replaced six visiting teachers for deaf and blind children in Counties Galway, Mayo, Waterford, Wicklow, Cavan and Monaghan; if she will move to resolve the lack of access to specialised supports for the hundreds of children affected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26128/04]

My Department proposes to assess the role of the visiting teacher service in the context of the level and range of teacher supports now being provided for children with special educational needs. I expect that the review will be completed within the current school term.

A decision on the filling of vacancies will be based on the outcome of the review.

Early Childhood Learning.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

179 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on whether steps have to be taken to increase investment in early childhood education, in view of Ireland’s comparative weakness with other developed countries. [26062/04]

My Department is strongly committed to the development of pre-school education. The enhancement of early childhood services in accordance with the White Paper on early childhood education, Ready to Learn, is being undertaken on a collaborative, phased basis and will draw together and build upon the many examples of best practice in early childhood education that have emerged over recent years. In order to help combat disadvantage and promote education, special emphasis will be placed on the provision of appropriate pre-school education in areas of social deprivation and for those with special needs.

To this end my Department supports the early start scheme which funds 40 centres that aim to expose children aged three to four years from disadvantaged areas to a positive pre-school environment to improve their overall development and long-term educational experience and performance. The Department also funds 52 pre-schools for Travellers which aim to develop children's cognitive, language and social skills, to prepare children for entry to primary school and to provide a foundation for further learning.

My Department established the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, CECDE, in October 2002 to develop, within a three year period, a quality framework for early childhood education and to develop, through active research with existing programmes, targeted interventions for children who have special needs or who are disadvantaged. The centre is currently developing a conceptual framework of early childhood learning and development which will be completed early in 2005.

In addition, Ireland recently participated in a major OECD review which assessed quality, access and co-ordination in early childhood provision. This review was published on 24 September and offers a number of important recommendations and observations which will inform policy and programme development in the sector and will assist the work of the CECDE among others.

Early childhood education and care is a horizontal policy issue involving several Departments and agencies. The policy implications of the recommendations arising from the OECD review are under active consideration within my own Department and also by the relevant sub group of the Government's high level working group on child care and early education.

State Property.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

180 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she is in a position to publish a full list of properties to be transferred to the State by the religious orders under the deed of indemnity signed on 5 June 2002; if she will provide that list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26131/04]

The indemnity agreement provided that the property contribution of the congregations was to be divided into two separate and distinct schedules of properties.

Properties to be transferred from the congregations to the State, State agencies and local authorities after the date of the signing of the indemnity agreement on 5 June 2002: The total value of these property transfers for the purposes of the indemnity agreement was to be €36.54 million. I can confirm that agreement in principle has been reached with the religious congregations on the transfer of properties to the amount of €38.28 million. This figure of €38.28 million includes €4.98 million in cash that was provided by the congregationsin lieu of property. The list of properties on which agreement in principle has been reached is attached at list A.

Properties transferred from the congregations to the State, State agencies, local authorities or voluntary organisations between 11 May 1999 and the date of the signing of the indemnity agreement on 5 June 2002: The total value of these property transfers for the purposes of the indemnity agreement was to be €40.32 million. I can confirm that, at this stage, transfers of properties to the value of approximately €32.93 million have been agreed in principle. One further property has been identified which, if acceptable to the State, has the potential to finalise this schedule. Discussions on this property are continuing and should the State agree to accept the property I will provide information on it. The properties accepted in principle to date are attached at list B.

Arrangements for the final valuation and legal transfer of these properties are the responsibility of the individual transferees. My Department will continue to liaise with the various transferees to ensure that all properties on which agreement in principle has been reached are legally transferred.

List A

Properties accepted under terms of Redress Scheme

To be transferred and alternative properties

Address of Property (35)

Transferee

Primary School, Waterpark, Newtown Rd, Waterford

Department of Education & Science

Primary School, St. Johns Rd, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Department of Education & Science

Lands at Mullaghmonaghan, Co. Monagahan

Department of Education & Science

Site at Virginia Rd, Kells, Co. Meath

Department of Education & Science

Secondary School, Mounthawke, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Department of Education & Science

Site, Doon, Co Limerick.

Department of Education & Science

3 acre site at Merrion

Dublin City Council

The Vineyard Child Centre, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

Eastern Regional Health Authority

Vacant Buildings and land at Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

Eastern Regional Health Authority

Goldenbridge Group Homes

Eastern Regional Health Authority

1, Garravogue Road, Raheen, Co. Limerick

Mid Western Health Board

6, Mount Vincent Terrace, O’Connell Ave, Limerick

Mid Western Health Board

23, Parnell Square (Colaiste Mhuire)

Office of Public Works

Coisceim, Cappoquin, Co.Waterford

South Eastern Health Board

Emohruo, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

South Eastern Health Board

Avondale, Smithland North, Kilkenny

South Eastern Health Board

Deenagh House, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Southern Health Board

Airne Villa, Rock Rd, Killarney, Co. Kerry.

Southern Health Board

23, Woodlee, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Southern Health Board

24, Westcourt, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Southern Health Board

15, The Willows, Mallow, Co. Cork

Southern Health Board

St. Colemans, Rushbrooke, Cork

Southern Health Board

Mount St Joseph, Passage West, Cork

Southern Health Board

Land and buildings at Lota, Glanmire Co. Cork

Southern Health Board

St. Patricks Upton, Cork

Southern Health Board

Respite Centre, Garretstown. Cork

Southern Health Board

Former Old Schoolhouse, Garretstown, Co. Cork

Southern Health Board

Site at Cloughmacsimon, Bandon, Co. Cork

Southern Health Board

5, Avondale Drive, Bandon. Co. Cork.

Southern Health Board

Kildron, Roundhill, Old Chapel, Bandon, Co. Cork

Southern Health Board

Gentili, Farahoe, Innishannon, Co. Cork.

Southern Health Board

Benvon, 5, Bishopstown Road, Bishopstown, Co. Cork.

Southern Health Board

Roseboro, 2, Firgrove Gardens, Bishopstown, Co. Cork.

Southern Health Board

10, The Priory, Old Chapel, Bandon, Co. Cork

Southern Health Board

4, the Hawthorns, Macroom Road, Bandon, Co. Cork.

Southern Health Board

List B

Properties accepted under terms of Redress Scheme

Already Transferred + alternative properties

Address of Property (27)

Transferee

St. Teresa Temple Hill, Blackrock

Alzheimers Society

Creche/childcare at Ballymote, Sligo

Ballymote Childcare Association

Two properties at Tuam

Cluid & G.A.M.H.C.

Holy Cross Gardens, Killarney

Cluid Housing

Playing field at Carna. Co. Galway

Dept of Education & Science

Presentation Sec. School Building, Hospital, Limerick

Dept of Education & Science

Moate National School, Co. Westmeath

Dept of Education & Science

Sec School & site at Ennistymon, Co. Clare

Dept of Education & Science

Site at Mohill, Co. Leitrim

Dept of Education & Science

Sen & Jnr Schools Portlaoise

Dept of Education & Science

Terenure Secondary School Building

Dept of Education & Science

Site & School at Glenamaddy

Dept of Education & Science

Convent at Barrack Hill, Newport, Co. Mayo

Dominic Housing Association

Site at Dolphin Pk, Crumlin, Dublin 6

Dublin City Council

Gate Lodge at Goldenbridge, Inchicore, Dublin 8

Dublin City Council

Site at Dunardagh, Blackrock

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co. Co.

28, The Woodlands, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Eastern Regional Health Authority

2, Moyle Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Eastern Regional Health Authority

Presentation Convent, Hospital, Limerick

Hospital Vol Housing Ass

Convent land at Barrack St, Limerick

Irish Wheelchair Assoc

Housing & Services at Belmullet, Co. Mayo

Irish Wheelchair Assoc

59, Hollybank Rd, Drumcondra, Dublin 9

PACE

Cork Street, Dublin 8 (SOPHIA Housing)

Sophia Housing

Sacred Heart Centre, Waterford

South Eastern Health Board

St. Annes Sec School, Milltown, Dublin 6

St. Vincent de Paul

Site at Long Mile Rd, Walkinstown, Dublin

Walkinstown Association

School at Ballina, Co. Mayo

Western Care Association

Third Level Funding.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

181 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the preparations which are being made, financial or otherwise, to cope with the high increase expected in the number of third level students over the next decade; if capital funding will be provided to facilitate this expansion in student numbers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26135/04]

The OECD review of higher education in Ireland has presented an agenda for reform and development of the sector to enable it to play the crucial role that has been identified for it in supporting Ireland's broader social and economic aspirations. The ability of the sector to meet the anticipated demand for higher education over the coming years is central to this. I am looking forward to now actively engaging with the Higher Education Authority, leadership in the university and institute of technology sectors, as well as the various other agencies and interests both within and outside the sector in taking forward the agenda that the OECD has presented. The report on the review and prioritisation of capital projects in the higher education sector, the Kelly report, was published recently and as part of their work the review group prepared student population projections for the period up to 2015-16. The most relevant projections however are those out to 2007-08. The scale of growth in school leaver participation in higher education has been dramatic in recent decades — the rate of participation in higher education by the 18 year old cohort stood at 11% in 1965, 36% in 1992 and had risen to 53% by 2003. The review group expects this participation figure to rise to 58.5% by 2007-08, which would increase the full-time student numbers from 125,230 in 2003 to 140,305 in 2007-08, an increase of circa 15,000 students.

The report sets out projects for priority investment in order to sustain a high quality higher education and research sector and remain internationally competitive. The report identifies an overall estimated Exchequer requirement of almost €1.9 billion over a ten year period. This comprises a proposed phased funding framework requiring €933 million expenditure on essential health and safety, national and strategic priority projects, with €599 million of this required in the initial five-year period. The report also proposes an additional €900 million capital provision over ten years, €90 million per annum, to cover minor capital works and equipment renewal in third level institutions.

The report and its proposals in relation to the phasing of funding will have to be considered in the context of the ongoing Estimates process.

Educational Disadvantage.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

182 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to reports that many schools are being forced to seek funding from charities, credit unions and banks to help support disadvantaged students; her views on this development; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26112/04]

I am committed to improving the funding position of primary and second level schools in the light of available resources.

Significant improvements in the levels of direct funding of schools have been made in recent years. The standard rate of capitation grant for primary schools has been increased from €57 in 1997 to €121.58 per pupil from 1 January last, an increase of almost 113%. In the case of secondary schools, the standard per capita grant now amounts to €274 from 1 January last as against the rate of €224.74 that applied in 1997. In addition, the support grant that was introduced under the school services support initiative, was also increased from 1 January last and now stands at €131 per pupil. This increase is in addition to the range of equalisation grants of up to €15,554 per school per annum that was approved in December 2001.

Over the past 15 years, educational disadvantage has been a focal point for many initiatives and interventions in the form of specific measures and programmes on a school or area basis and as a result, schools serving disadvantaged communities, qualify for varying amounts of additional non-pay funding.

For instance, at primary level, under Giving Children an Even Break, schools are in receipt of a special €63.49 per capita grant paid in respect of the percentage of pupils with disadvantaged characteristics, with a minimum payment of €952.30 to each school. Designated disadvantaged schools also get a refund of their television licence fee. Under the urban phase of Breaking the Cycle, BTC, 32 schools receive annual grant assistance in addition to the above of €5,078.95 for out of school projects aimed at combating disadvantage, and €3,809.21 in respect of materials and equipment.

Under the rural phase of BTC, 120 schools receive annual grants of €1,269.74 for materials and equipment, and €1,269.74 for out of school projects.

A further initiative which was introduced in recent years is targeted at schools that suffer from very serious financial difficulties. Under this initiative, financial assistance has been granted to selected schools towards debt alleviation. In 2003, a sum of €519,000 was spent on debt alleviation.

At post-primary level, schools in the disadvantage areas scheme are in receipt of an additional capitation grant of €38.09 per capita.

The Estimates process is still under way. I will, in the context of that process, be seeking to secure additional resources for a number of areas, including educational disadvantage, with a view to building on the substantial investment which the Government is already making in this regard.

School Staffing.

Willie Penrose

Question:

183 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the sharp decline in the number of men applying for primary school teaching posts; if the committee established in her Department to look into the matter has come to final conclusions; her proposals to reverse this trend; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26137/04]

The Deputy may be aware that there is an emerging general phenomenon in many developed countries of a marked decline in the number of males who are willing to pursue a career in teaching at either primary or post-primary levels. This is an issue which the OECD is currently examining in the context of a detailed comparative analysis across members states on attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers which officials from my Department are involved with.

In an Irish context, the issue appears to be most relevant at primary level. In October 2003, a primary education committee was established in my Department to examine how more males can be encouraged to enter the primary teaching profession. This committee was set up with particular reference to the report of Dr. Sheelagh Drudy of the education department of UCD entitled, Gender Differences in the Pattern of Admission to the Colleges of Education.

In dealing with the issue of encouraging greater male participation in primary teaching, the committee has adopted a multi-stranded approach: provision of expert advice from academics specialising in this area; examining an INTO report on gender imbalance in primary teaching, Easter 2004; seeking the views of male primary teachers qualified in the last ten years; seeking the views of a number of female teachers; exploring issues through a number of focus groups which include representatives of boys schools and Church of Ireland schools; the colleges of education have sought the views of current male students in their colleges using a questionnaire and also by organising focus group meetings; and, holding a conference in Maynooth on 14 October 2004 to seek the views of the wider education sector.

I share the generally expressed concerned about the falling numbers of males entering primary teaching. I await, therefore, with interest the report of the committee, which is due early in 2005 and which will contain recommendations on the short-term and long-term strategies and initiatives most appropriate to address this issue. When I have evaluated these findings, I will decide on what specific action is necessary to encourage the entry of more males into the primary teaching profession.

Special Educational Needs.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

184 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will re-evaluate the special needs teaching requirements at both primary and second level throughout the country with a view to increasing the allocation in line with the actual need and expectations created in early summer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26100/04]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department has developed a new weighted system of allocation of resource teaching supports in primary schools. The proposed system for the allocation of resource teachers comprises both a general allocation for pupils with mild learning disabilities-difficulties and specific allocations for individual pupils with more complex needs. The revised system will put teaching resources permanently in place to meet the needs of children with special needs. The system will greatly reduce the need for individual applications and supporting psychological assessments. It will also allow for better planning in schools, greater flexibility in identifying and intervening earlier with regard to pupils' special needs, as well as making the posts more attractive to qualified teachers.

The previous allocation system placed significant demands on principals, teachers and psychologists. It has also proven to be time-consuming, thereby delaying the allocation of resources for special needs. I believe that the new model will, over time, significantly improve the capacity of the system to cater for children with special needs in a speedier, more effective way. The revised system will reduce the administrative burden on schools and allow them to concentrate on the delivery of services to pupils with special needs. It will also allow psychologists to devote more time to advising teachers on planning for individual children and for whole school provision.

The Deputy will also be aware that I am having the impact of the revised allocation model reviewed to ameliorate any difficulties arising, particularly in small and rural schools. I want to ensure that it provides an automatic response while at the same time ensuring that pupils currently in receipt of service continue to receive the level of service appropriate to their needs.

Where pupils with special educational needs enrol in a post-primary school, it is open to the school to apply to my Department for additional teaching and-or special needs assistant support for these pupils.

My Department allocates additional teaching support and special needs assistant support to second level schools and vocational educational committees to cater for pupils with special educational needs. The level of resources allocated by my Department is determined after detailed consideration of the school's application, the supporting documentation provided, including the recommendations made by the National Educational Psychological Service, and having regard to the overall level of resources already available to the school.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

185 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will seek to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools; the ratio at present; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26130/04]

The pupil teacher ratio at primary level has improved significantly in recent years.

The ratio has fallen from 22.2:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 17.44:1 in the 2003-04 schoolyear.

In line with Government policy, my Department will continue to provide further reductions in the pupil-teacher ratio within available resources and subject to spending priorities within the education sector. Priority will be given to pupils with special needs and those from disadvantaged areas and junior classes.

Ministerial Appointments.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

186 Mr. Morgan asked the Taoiseach the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26008/04]

Details of the names of persons appointed to State boards since 1994 were given in response to previous questions and I am arranging to have them sent to the Deputy.

The members of State bodies under the aegis of my Department are appointed through well-established nominating procedures, having regard both to the remit of the bodies and, consequently, the competencies and skills expected of their members. In many instances, the members are nominated through relevant nominating panels. NESC and NESF, for example, comprise representatives of the various pillars involved in social partnership, that is, employer bodies, trade unions, farming organisations and community and voluntary organisations.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

187 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of her Department was appointed since 1994. [26009/04]

Information on appointees to State boards under the aegis of my Department is maintained on a dedicated information technology system introduced in 2002. Details of appointees contained on the database are being forwarded to the Deputy today under a separate cover due to the large volume of information involved.

For the period 1997 to 2002, details of appointees were maintained on a paper filing system. The compilation of this data represents a significant body of work, which is currently being undertaken by my Department. Once collated, the information will be forwarded to the Deputy.

Information relating to board appointees in the period 1994 to 1997, as requested by the Deputy, is not readily available in my Department, nor does it hold any personal information, including details of qualifications, on any person appointed, at any time, to State boards under the aegis of my Department.

The process by which a person is appointed to a State board reflects the conditions for appointment laid down in the relevant statutory instrument establishing the board.

Care of the Elderly.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

188 Mr. O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her proposals to introduce legislation based on the Protecting Our Future document of 2002; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26032/04]

As the Deputy may be aware, the report of the working group on elder abuse, Protecting Our Future, was launched on 11 November 2002. This report, in starting with a definition of elder abuse and recommending the putting in place of structures to deal with suspected cases, will hopefully give older people who feel they are the subject of abuse in any shape or form the confidence to report their anxieties, as appropriate, to a social worker, a public health nurse, a member of the Garda Síochána or, indeed, any professional or care worker. One of the recommendations in the elder abuse report is the establishment of a national implementation group. This group was established in December 2003 and has commenced its work.

In addition, funding of €0.8 million was provided in 2003 to commence the elder abuse programme and in 2004 an additional €0.75 million was provided. There are no proposals to introduce legislation in this area at present but this will be kept under review in the light of progress made in implementing the recommendations made in Protecting Our Future.

Mental Health Services.

Liz McManus

Question:

189 Ms McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Question No. 146 of 13 October 2004, if there is a budgetary impact on mental health care; and if not, the budget from which the €35 million is being diverted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26033/04]

During the Estimates process last year my Department secured an increase of 10.7% in its non-capital funding, which was almost double the overall Government increase in spending. Within this overall sum, the Minister applied flexibility to prioritise selected areas and one of the priorities identified was the opening of new facilities completed under the capital investment framework prior to 2004. Both acute and non-acute new units were covered in this initiative which were the subject of discussions between my Department and the Department of Finance. An agreement was reached to open new facilities including two new facilities in the area of mental health. The budgetary impact on the area of mental health is therefore a positive one. These units will significantly enhance service delivery and, once opened, will have an immediate impact on relieving pressures on services such as acute hospitals, services for older people, disability services and mental health.

Medical Cards.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

190 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the estimated cost of extending medical card eligibility to 40% of the population. [26039/04]

It is extremely difficult to estimate the cost of extending eligibility in a manner as suggested by the Deputy. However, based on the figures supplied in the GMS (Payments) Board annual report for 2003, the approximate cost of such an initiative would be in the region of €419 million. This figure includes the costs of payment to GMS general practitioners, drugs and medicines and fees to pharmacists. There would also, of course, be other associated costs with a medical card such as the dental and ophthalmic schemes. The estimates above assume no change in existing fee arrangements.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

191 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who have applied for nursing home subvention in the counties of Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan (details supplied) in each year since 1997; the number of persons granted subvention; the budget for each year since 1997; the amount of subvention granted each year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26075/04]

As the Deputy will be aware, the provision of health services in counties Meath, Cavan, Louth and Monaghan is, in the first instance, the responsibility of the North Eastern Health Board. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive of the board to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply direct to him as a matter of urgency.

Disabled Drivers.

Enda Kenny

Question:

192 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason disabled persons over 65 years of age are deprived of grant aid towards the purchase of a motor vehicle under the motorised transport grant scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26076/04]

The circular for motorised transport grant states that all health boards may pay a grant towards the purchase of a car and-or adaptations to a car being purchased by a person with a severe disability who is 17 years or older and up to 65 years of age, where such a car is essential for him-her to obtain or retain employment. Self-employed persons who satisfy the criteria of eligibility may also be considered, subject to the above age limits. The primary purpose of the grant is to assist people with disabilities in retaining their employment status, hence, the cut-off point is the age of retirement. It is not envisaged that the motorised transport grant guidelines will be reviewed in isolation from other transport grants-schemes for people with disabilities.

The Deputy may be aware that under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, an interdepartmental working group, chaired by the Department of Health and Children, was established to examine the feasibility of introducing a cost of disability payment, PPF3.10.11.

The working group produced a position paper in March of this year, which gave an overview of the work they have undertaken to date. It outlined the group's current thinking and also gave an indication of the next steps the working group intend taking. The working group now proposes to examine the scope for rationalising and streamlining the various disability support measures, with a particular focus on mitigating the additional costs of disability for a greater number of people with disabilities, particularly in the case of those who wish to move from a position of total welfare dependence to one of greater economic independence. It is anticipated that one of the first areas to be examined will be that of transport for people with disabilities. In this regard, the motorised transport grant will be examined in conjunction with other transport grants-schemes which are available to people with disabilities.

Foreign Adoptions.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

193 Mr. McGinley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the difficulties being experienced by couples here who are attempting to adopt children in Belarus; and the measures being taken to address these difficulties. [26097/04]

Arrangements with the central authorities of other countries are primarily a matter for the Adoption Board. I have been informed by the board that the adoption centre in Belarus has confirmed that inter-country adoptions to all countries have been suspended by the Belarussian Government, pending a review of inter-country adoption laws, procedures and practices in Belarus. This suspension also applies to adoption applications already in Belarus.

I have also been advised by the Adoption Board that the board is in routine contact with the adoption authorities in Belarus to ensure that we are in full conformity with their inter-country adoption requirements at all times. The board regularly monitors and follows up on any outstanding post-placement reports. Post-placement reports from Ireland were not a factor in the decision to suspend adoptions. The adoption centre in Belarus is awaiting further clarification from the Belarussian Government as to the scope of the internal review of inter-country adoption that is to be carried out. The board will remain in close contact with the adoption centre as regards developments.

Health Board Services.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

194 Mr. McGinley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Question No. 253 of 1 June 2004, the timeframe for the provision of a long-awaited primary health care centre, located in Mulhuddart, Dublin 15; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26098/04]

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, ERHA. In the case of Mulhuddart, this 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. However, given the resources available for capital developments, the ERHA was unable to proceed with this development this year. This position will be reviewed again in 2005 under the capital investment framework, in the context of priorities for development in this care programme and overall capital funding availability.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

195 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason paediatric therapy has not been provided for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if same will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26167/04]

Responsibility for the provision of services, including therapy services, to persons with intellectual disability and those with autism in the Kildare area lies, in the first instance, with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has asked the regional chief executive to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply directly to him.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Bernard Allen

Question:

196 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when the pilot cervical programme will be expanded nationwide. [26227/04]

A pilot cervical screening programme commenced in October 2000 and is available to eligible women resident in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary North. Under the programme, cervical screening is being offered, free of charge, to approximately 74,000 women in the 25 to 60 age group, at five year intervals.

The Health Board Executive, HeBE, commissioned an international expert in cervical screening to examine the feasibility and implications of a national roll-out of a cervical screening programme. The examination included an evaluation of the pilot programme, quality assurance, laboratory capacity and organisation and the establishment of national governance arrangements. The expert's report was submitted to my Department on 12 October 2004 for consideration. My Department is now consulting with relevant professional representative and advocacy groups on the report as an essential input into its preparation of a detailed response to the recommendations.

Winter Vomiting Virus.

Bernard Allen

Question:

197 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of outbreaks of winter vomiting disease, norovirus, in 2004 to date and the figures for 2003. [26228/04]

The National Disease Surveillance Centre, NDSC, has reported that there were 76 outbreaks of norovirus in 2003 and 64 outbreaks to date in 2004.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Bernard Allen

Question:

198 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when she will honour commitments made on breast cancer screening provisions in the south and west. [26230/04]

The roll-out of the national breast screening programme to the remaining counties is a major priority in the development of cancer services. This will ensure that all women in the 50 to 64 age group in every county have access to breast screening and follow up treatment where required. A capital investment of approximately €20 million has been approved to construct and equip two static clinical units, one in the south and the other in the west. This investment will also ensure that mobile units are available to screen women in the relevant age group throughout the country.

BreastCheck and my Department are fully committed to an expeditious approach to the national roll-out of the programme and representatives have met recently to progress the design process.

Hospital Services.

Bernard Allen

Question:

199 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the steps she proposes to take in a situation where the Irish committee on higher medical training has threatened to withdraw training recognition from the diabetes unit at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin in 2005 unless facilities and staffing there are improved. [26231/04]

Services at Beaumont Hospital are provided under an arrangement with the Eastern Regional Health Authority and my Department has, therefore, asked the regional chief executive of the authority to examine this issue and to reply to the Deputy directly.

Health Board Services.

Liam Twomey

Question:

200 Dr. Twomey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the case of a person (details supplied). [26248/04]

I am aware of the circumstances of this case. Responsibility for the provision of care and treatment of the named individual rests with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has therefore asked the regional chief executive to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply to him directly.

Hospital Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

201 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will meet a deputation of consultants from Ennis General Hospital in County Clare to discuss the contents of the Bradley report and the future of Ennis General Hospital in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26249/04]

My predecessor appointed an implementation group in the Mid-Western Health Board area to identify in detail the services that should be provided in each hospital in the region in light of the Hanly report. I believe that the Bradley report, which responds to the Hanly proposals as they affect Ennis General Hospital, would best be examined in this context. In the circumstances I do not consider that a meeting with hospital representatives would be appropriate at present.

Hospital Accommodation.

Liz McManus

Question:

202 Ms McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the hospitals in which 900 new beds in the health service are located; the number of beds which have been lost in the hospital service since 1997; the location of these beds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26266/04]

This Government is committed to increasing acute hospital bed capacity as indicated in the health strategy. Since 2002, funding has been provided to hospitals to open an additional 900 beds. Six hundred of these beds are already open and the rest will come on stream in 2004-05. The following table shows details of the current position in relation to additional beds for which funding has been provided.

Hospital

Additional beds in place

Beds due to open

Beaumont/St. Joseph’s, Raheny

77

28

St. James’s

74

66

St. Vincent’s, incorporating St. Michael’s, Dun Laoghaire

42

Naas General

61

30

James Connolly Memorial

21

Tallaght

7

Temple Street

15

Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore

6

Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar

12

Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise

5

Mid West Regional Hospital, Limerick

55

Croom Orthopaedic

17

Nenagh General

6

Louth General

14

Monaghan General

10

Our Lady’s Navan

14

Letterkenny General

8

Sligo General

30

Kilcreene Orthopaedic

28

St. Luke’s Kilkenny

14

Waterford Regional

24

Wexford General

10

Bantry General

8

Mercy University Hospital

13

South Infirmary / Victoria, Cork

35

Kerry General, Tralee

16

Mayo General

23

37

Roscommon General Hospital

9

UCHG

36

44

Portiuncula

3

2

Total

600

300

Overall Total

900

The average number of in-patient and day bedsavailable in publicly-funded hospitals in June 1997 as reported to the Department of Health and Children by health boards and voluntary hospitals was 12,604. The total number of available beds in July 2004, the latest date for which complete figures are available was13,390.

Health Board Services.

Willie Penrose

Question:

203 Mr. Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be admitted to Tullamore General Hospital to have the necessary operative procedure carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26267/04]

Responsibility for the provision of hospital services to residents of County Westmeath rests with the Midland Health Board. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the position in relation to this case and to reply to the Deputy directly.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

204 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the names and the addresses of the doctors who received payments in respect of the indicative drugs target savings schemes; and the details of the amount paid to each doctor. [26268/04]

Some of the information requested in this question has already been supplied to the Deputy. The additional records now being sought have been requested from the General Medical Services (Payments) Board and will be sent to the Deputy under separate cover.

Health Board Staff.

Richard Bruton

Question:

205 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number employed in the health services in 2004 and the way in which that has grown since 1997; the way in which these numbers are distributed between programmes, general hospital, long-stay facilities, disability, mental health, community health, community welfare and so on; and the balance with each funding between front line care workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics and so on and administrative back-up. [26296/04]

Employment information for the health service is collected by my Department on the basis of the grade of staff and the employing agency, rather than in the programme format requested by the Deputy. I would also point out that many health service workers provide services to several distinct categories of patient and client. Employment growth in the main grade categories of health service staff in the health board, voluntary hospital and intellectual disability sectors respectively is, therefore, set out in the table following for the period between end-1997 and end-2003. It is expected that data in respect of the end-2004 position will be available in March 2005. Caution should be exercised in comparing employment growth between grade categories, owing to some changes in their composition over the period.

The Deputy may wish to note that responsibility for human resource planning in each health board rests at present with the chief executive officer, CEO, of the relevant health board-authority. This will change with the establishment of the Health Service Executive. Each CEO, in managing the workforce in their region, is responsible for determining the appropriate staffing mix and the precise grades of staff to be employed in line with service plan priorities, subject to overall employment levels remaining within the approved regional employment level.

As far as the balance between front line and administrative staff is concerned, as illustrated in the table, almost two thirds of health services personnel formally classified as "management-administrative" are involved in direct service provision to the public. In fact it is estimated that 6% of health services personnel are employed in a purely administrative capacity. These staff work in areas that are critical to the effective running of the health services such as payroll, accounts, financial and human resource management. The report of the Commission on Financial Management and Control Systems in the Health Service, chaired by Professor Niamh Brennan, concluded that there was no evidence to support the perception that administrative staff, rather than those providing a direct patient service, have disproportionately absorbed additional resources allocated to the health service over recent years. Indeed, the report stated that of the order of ten out of every 11 additional employees recruited since 1997 are engaged in duties of direct services to patients and the public.

Health Service Employment(excluding Home Helps)

31/12/1997

31/12/2003

Change end-1997 to end-2003

Health Boards/Authority

Medical/Dental

3,029

4,348

1,319

Nursing

17,358

23,028

5,670

Health and Social Care Professionals

3,627

7,848

4,222

General Support Staff and Other Patient and Client Care

13,477

18,220

4,743

Management/Administrative — Direct Patient Services

3,782

7,186

3,403

Management/Administrative — Other

2,127

4,042

1,914

Total

43,401

64,672

21,271

Voluntary Hospitals

Medical/Dental

1,898

2,354

456

Nursing

7,822

8,218

396

Health and Social Care Professionals

1,978

2,737

759

General Support Staff and other Patient and Client Care

4,017

4,781

763

Management/Administrative — Direct Patient Services

1,568

2,296

729

Management/Administrative — Other

882

1,292

410

Total

18,165

21,678

3,512

Intellectual Disability Homes

Medical/Dental

49

90

42

Nursing

2,166

2,520

354

Health and Social Care Professionals

364

2,104

1,739

General Support Staff and Other Patient and Client Care

3,211

4,484

1,273

Management/Administrative — Direct Patient Services

310

609

298

Management/Administrative — Other

175

342

168

Total

6,275

10,149

3,874

Source: Department of Health and Children Personnel Census.

Hospital Services.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

206 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when funding for a laser extraction system will be provided for St. James’s Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26302/04]

Services at St. James's 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.

State Property.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

207 Mr. Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the purchase cost of Ionad Foláin Centre, Myshall, County Carlow to the State initially; the plans the health board have for its use; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26406/04]

As the property in question was purchased by the Office of Public Works on behalf of the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform, my Department does not have details of the purchase costs.

The South Eastern Health Board has set up a group to look into the potential uses of the land and buildings at Myshall. My Department is currently awaiting a copy of that group's report.

Child Care Facilities.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

208 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Finance his plans to provide child care facilities in Leinster House and in the various Department buildings. [26096/04]

As regards the provision of child care facilities in Leinster House, I understand that there are plans to provide such facilities in the refurbished Kildare House. Refurbishment will not be completed until February 2005. Management in the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas are currently considering arrangements for the operation of the facility. As regards child care in Departments, in the 2001 budget, the Government allocated €12.7 million for the provision of ten to 15 crèches for the children of civil servants throughout Ireland.

Currently, five crèches are in operation under the Civil Service child care initiative. There are two crèches in Dublin: Mount Street and Marlborough Street, and three in regional locations: Ennis, Athlone and Sligo. An operator has recently been appointed for the crèche built as part of the Government Laboratories campus at Backweston, County Kildare. This crèche is expected to open in January 2005 bringing the total number of Civil Service crèches to six.

In view of the existing distribution of staff throughout the country, OPW have continued in 2004 to explore opportunities for the development of crèches under the initiative and a suitable site has been identified in Cork for the development of a crèche. The future direction of the initiative will be reviewed in the light of the decentralisation programme with consideration being given to the provision of child care in the decentralised locations.

Decentralisation Programme.

John Cregan

Question:

209 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Finance the progress being made on the move of his Department’s offices from St. Munchin’s House, Limerick to Heuston Hall, Raheen, County Limerick; when he expects this move to be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26403/04]

The Commissioners of Public Works are in the process of finalising a deal to lease alternative accommodation for the Department of Agriculture and Food staff currently housed in the St. Munchin's House building in Limerick City. Negotiations have proven protracted due, in part, to the complicated nature of the specification for the fit-out of the new building. Every effort is being made, however, to conclude this deal as soon as possible.

Ministerial Appointments.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

210 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a State board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26010/04]

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled by my Department and will be forwarded directly to him.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

211 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his estimate of the increase in revenue from benefit in kind since he extended the scope of the tax and altered the treatment of company cars; and his views on whether the new rules are operating in an equitable manner. [26036/04]

Legislative provision was made in the Finance Acts and the Social Welfare Acts of 2003 and 2004 to put in place arrangements which require all taxable benefits in kind be put through the PAYE system and treated in the same way as normal wages and salaries for the purposes of income tax, PRSI and health levy charges. These new arrangements came into effect from 1 January 2004. Up until then, such benefits were liable for income tax but not PRSI or health levy charges.

The full year yield from the new arrangements was estimated at €40.5 million, comprising €30 million employer PRSI, €5.5 million employee PRSI and €5 million health levy. It was estimated that there would be a once-off cash flow gain of €8 million in income tax in relation to 2004 arising from moving the taxation of benefits in kind to a current year basis.

The actual Exchequer yield under the new arrangements will not be available until after the P35 end of year returns are received from employers and processed. These are due for filing in February 2005.

In relation to the taxation of the benefit to an employee of the availability of the private use of a company-provided car, Finance Act 2003 provided for a revised and simplified structure for determining the taxable value which, depending on the extent of business mileage, contains only four rates, where previously there were 17. It is estimated that this will cost the Exchequer €4 million annually. This simplification was aimed at making it easier for employers to operate the PAYE system in respect of company cars. Apart from the obvious benefits arising to employers from this simplification, it is estimated that, in the context of the impact of the change on employees, there will be more winners than losers in terms of income tax. Some employees will pay additional PRSI under the new arrangements if their cash remuneration is below the PRSI threshold of €42,160. Employees with company cars will also have an additional 2% health levy charge on the taxable value of the benefit. Overall, I am satisfied that the new treatment of benefits in kind is equitable in that it aims to treat all remuneration, in whatever form, in the same way for income tax, PRSI and health levy purposes.

Jack Wall

Question:

212 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance when the tax situation of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be resolved. [26048/04]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer's employer made the appropriate refund of emergency tax to her in her salary last week.

Paul McGrath

Question:

213 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual percentage of PAYE taxpayers who paid income tax at the higher rate in each of the past ten years; the number of taxpayers in this category; and the estimated figure for the 2004 tax year. [26169/04]

Paul McGrath

Question:

214 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual percentage of PAYE workers who were tax exempt in each of the past ten years; and the number of taxpayers in this category. [26170/04]

Paul McGrath

Question:

215 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual percentage of PAYE taxpayers who paid income tax at the lower rate in each of the past ten years; and the number of taxpayers in this category. [26171/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213, 214 and 215 together.

It is assumed that what the Deputy requires are the numbers in each category and the percentage they represent of all PAYE income earners on the tax record.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Percentage of PAYE earners in different tax bands 1994/95 to 2004

Tax Year

Exempt

Standard rate#

Higher rate

%

Numbers

%

Numbers

%

Numbers

1994/1995

24.61

274,200

46.16

514,300

29.23

325,700

1995/1996

23.20

267,500

47.38

546,300

29.42

339,200

1996/1997

23.96

289,200

47.10

568,600

28.94

349,400

1997/1998

24.64

319,700

46.09

598,000

29.27

380,000

1998/1999

24.57

340,700

44.35

615,100

31.09

431,200

1999/2000

27.36

399,000

38.71

564,600

33.93

494,900

2000/2001

28.02

436,000

40.50

630,200

31.48

489,800

2001†

29.35

464,200

40.24

636,500

30.41

481,200

2002*

32.85

530,200

40.17

648,200

26.98

435,400

2003*

32.83

541,600

37.13

612,500

30.05

495,700

2004*

33.77

563,800

33.29

555,900

32.94

549,900

# Includes taxpayers benefiting from marginal relief

† Short tax "year" from 6 April 2001 to 31 December 2001.

* Provisional and likely to be revised.

As will be seen from the preceding table, the percentage of those in the exempt category in the PAYE sector who are outside the tax net has increased significantly, for example, by over 45% since 1995-96 — from 23.2% of all PAYE income earners to 33.8% now. In numerical terms, the change has been even more notable. The figures are 267,500 in 1995-96 to 563,800 now, a provisional figure — an increase of over 110%.

For the years prior to 2002, the exempt figures shown in the above table are actual historical figures. For the years 2002 to date, they are estimates from the Revenue tax forecasting model of the numbers likely to be tax exempt using actual data for the year 2001 adjusted as necessary for income growth for the year in question.

Since 1995-96 also, the number of PAYE earners on the tax record increased significantly by over 516,000 from 1,153,000 to 1,670,000 now, provisional figure, an increase of almost 45%. This increase reflects the significant growth in employment over the period. In the same period, the higher rate of tax was reduced from 48% to 42% and the standard rate from 27% to 20%, thus reducing the tax burden greatly on all those in the tax net. The percentages in the table are expressed in terms of the numbers of all PAYE income earners on the income tax record. It should be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

216 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wexford is still on emergency tax; and when they can expect to return to the normal rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26180/04]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that incorrect employer details were provided with the original claim in this case and consequently a tax credit certificate issued to the wrong employer, albeit an employer within the same entity. The correct details have now been established and a tax credit certificate, to grant the taxpayer the appropriate credits and standard rate cut-off, issued to the taxpayer's employer on 22 October 2004. The employer will refund any tax deducted on the emergency basis.

Fiscal Policy.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

217 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if the services of teachers of certain types of dance such as ballet are not subject to VAT whereas the services of teachers of more popular dance are; the reason for the logic underpinning this distinction; if he will review it and allow the exemption be extended to the services of the teachers of all types of dance classes; if this exemption will be considered in the context of the Finance Act 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26183/04]

The position is that the provision of dancing lessons is liable to VAT at the standard rate of 21%. However, Paragraph (ii) of the First Schedule to the VAT Act 1972, as amended, allows for an exemption from VAT in respect of:

children's or young people's education, school or university education, and vocational training or retraining. . . provided by educational establishments recognised by the State, and education, training or retraining of a similarkind . . . provided by other persons

Following an application in respect of ballet lessons in 1982, the provision of such lessons was deemed to come within the terms of paragraph (ii) of the First Schedule to the VAT Act 1972, as amended. In the event that the services of teachers of any type of dance fall within the terms of this legislation, they will be entitled to the exemption from VAT. It should be noted, however, that they therefore would not be entitled to reclaim any VAT charged to them in the course of their business. Any dance teachers who wish to establish or confirm the VAT status of their services should contact their local tax office.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

218 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if, in the event of a company (details supplied) or similar banking situation in the future, the responsibility to deal with the matter will be his or solely the responsibility of IFSRA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26186/04]

I might first explain that the Minister of Finance is responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Once the necessary legislative framework has been put in place, day-to-day responsibility for the supervision of credit institutions is a matter for the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority, IFSRA. I might also point out that the primary responsibility for managing a bank and preventing fraud lies with the management of that institution. No supervisory regime can guarantee a financial institution will never be a victim of internal fraud. However, I am satisfied that we have a solid legislative framework for banking supervision, and that the creation of a single financial services regulator in the form of IFSRA provides an effective organisational structure for enforcement of that framework. Up to May 2003, the Central Bank of Ireland was the independent statutory authority for banking supervision. IFSRA now has that role. However, the primary regulators of the activities of the institution in question were the relevant US authorities. Moreover, the Central Bank — now IFSRA — had the role of monitoring the overall consolidated position at the group level. Clearly, for consolidated supervision to be effective, there must be close contact and information exchange between the home and host country supervisors. This is typically governed by the provisions of a memorandum of understanding or letters setting out the terms for exchange of information. Where the foreign-based undertaking is in another EU member state, arrangements for co-operation between the home and host country supervisors would also be governed by the provisions of EU directives. It will be clear from the foregoing that a banking situation such as that referred to by the Deputy would be a matter for IFSRA. Where, in the light of experience of dealing with a particular situation, IFSRA felt that it required new or amended powers, requiring new legislation, then this would be brought to the attention of the Minister for Finance for consideration.

Deputies will also recall that as soon as my predecessor became aware, in February 2002, of the events concerned the Central Bank was asked to provide a report, on the completion of its investigations, as to whether it considered that any changes to legislative provisions governing banking supervision might be required. The Central Bank reported that there was no evidence that the Irish legislative framework contributed in any way to the losses concerned, and that it already had sufficient powers to work with the US regulators. Accordingly, the bank did not consider it necessary to recommend any changes in legislation in the area of supervision.

Tax Code.

Phil Hogan

Question:

219 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Finance the number of requests from PAYE taxpayers for balancing statements each year over the past three years; the percentage this number represents of the total number of taxpayers; the extent to which these balancing statements reflected an under payment or over payment of tax; the amounts involved in each of these categories over the same period; the estimate of total PAYE tax underpaid and overpaid by taxpayers over each of the past three years; and the estimate of these amounts collected or returned respectively to PAYE taxpayers over the same period. [26246/04]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested is not readily available but Revenue will source as much information as possible and forward this to the Deputy within a matter of weeks.

Drainage Schemes.

John Perry

Question:

220 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Finance if necessary drainage works will be carried out by his Department on the river along a property (details supplied) in County Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26247/04]

Maintenance work on the stretch of the River Duff adjacent to the lands in question is programmed to take place in summer 2005.

Tax Code.

Liam Aylward

Question:

221 Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Finance if the proper tax free allowance has issued to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [26276/04]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the person to whom the Deputy refers holds a certificate of tax credits and standard rate cut-off point and that he has paid no tax in the year to date. If the person has a further query on his certificate, he should ring the lo-call PAYE help line at 1890 444425.

Decentralisation Programme.

Joe Walsh

Question:

222 Mr. Walsh asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of requests for decentralisation to Clonakilty, County Cork; the interim arrangements he is making to facilitate an early response to this request; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26405/04]

The Government decentralisation programme involves the relocation of my Department's seafood and coastal zone functions as well as an Bord Iascaigh Mhara to Clonakilty. The latest information from the Public Appointments Service, formerly Civil Service Commission, indicates 140 expressions of interest had been received for the 91 CAF posts in the Department's seafood and coastal zone functions in Clonakilty. In the case of BIM, there are, thus far, 36 expressions of interest in the 93 CAF posts.

The decentralisation implementation (Flynn) group has indicated its intention to report shortly on sequencing of moves based on both CAF results to date, and the progress made by OPW as regards property/accommodation acquisition at the various locations. Developments in that regard will have a critical bearing on our arrangements for relocation to Clonakilty. In the interim, my Department continues to liaise continually with the Flynn group and the Department of Finance on relevant aspects of the programme. In addition, our regular consultations with OPW have included a number of joint visits to Clonakilty to assist consideration of the various site options. We are also engaged, as is BIM, in ongoing consultation with stakeholders, both internal and external, and, particularly, with staff interests.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

223 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26011/04]

The information requested by the Deputy will take time to collate. I will forward the information to him under separate cover as soon as possible.

Natural Gas Grid.

Martin Ferris

Question:

224 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will provide copies of the documents (details supplied). [26244/04]

The consent to construct the pipeline as issued under section 40 of the Gas Act 1976, as amended, is essentially permission, in principle, to proceed with the design process for the pipeline, including the onshore 9 km section. This, in turn, is followed by the issue of "consent to install and commission" by petroleum affairs division of the pipeline. The works to install and commission the Corrib gas field pipeline will be undertaken in phases. Each phase requires a separate consent. The various phases address all technical issues including methodology, design, trench, depth and safety, etc., and may also require inputs from the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

In this context, my Department has issued the following consents for the following phases: phase 1 — nearshore trench construction; and phase 2 — landfall. In addition, an interim consent of the phase 3 preparatory works has also issued. I have forwarded details of the correspondence to the Deputy. Applications for the remaining phases of the "consent to install and commission" have yet to be submitted by the developers.

The route of the proposed pipeline is as set out in section 19 of the Corrib field development offshore — field to terminal — environmental impact statement, which has a been published. The application for consent and the associated EIS was subject to full public consultation procedures, as specified under the Gas Acts, as amended, between November 2001 and the decision in April 2002.

The review by PAD of the onshore pipeline quantified risk assessment, additional transient analysis undertaken to ensure liquid slugs can be safely accommodated and the proposed measure for mitigating upheaval buckling of the infield flowlines is not complete and is the subject of ongoing dialogue with the developers. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate to make public at this stage documentation given its work in progress nature. In any case, the consent of the developers would be required to release any document originating with them.

As regards the pipeline integrity philosophy document, the hydrotest-pre-commissioning procedures and the terminal quantified risk assessment, the petroleum affairs division has not received an application for commissioning. Shell E&P Ireland Ltd. must furnish such a document at least 30 days prior to commissioning. On receipt of same, my Department will carry out a review of the document.

Telecommunications Services.

Martin Ferris

Question:

225 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when broadband access will be available at a location (details supplied). [26245/04]

The provision of broadband is primarily a matter for the private sector telecommunications companies, regulated by ComReg, the Commission for Communications Regulation. DSL broadband is available in the location mentioned. There may, however, be operational reasons a digital subscriber line service cannot be delivered to the premises in question, and that is a matter for Eircom. Apart from DSL, there is a number of other options for the delivery of broadband, such as wireless, cable modem and satellite technology. A full list of the service providers offering services in the Kilbarrack and Raheny areas of Dublin can be found on my Department's website,www.broadband.gov.ie.

Foreign Conflicts.

Finian McGrath

Question:

226 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details regarding a USA air force jet (details supplied) at Shannon Airport on 18 October 2004; and its purpose at the airport. [26175/04]

The US authorities sought permission for the military aircraft referred to by the Deputy to land at Shannon Airport for the purposes of refuelling and crew rest. In accordance with the usual policy stipulations, permission was granted on condition that the aircraft was unarmed, not involved in intelligence gathering and not engaged in military exercises.

Finian McGrath

Question:

227 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the reason US soldiers in uniform are allowed to leave the designated area at Shannon Airport in a neutral country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26176/04]

In accordance with the provision of section 317 of the Defence Act 1954, express permission has been granted to the US authorities for their military personnel to wear military uniform in the transit areas of Irish airports. The US authorities are required to request further permission to wear uniforms outside of the transit area.

Passport Applications.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

228 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government supports the introduction of biometrics indicators in EU passports from 2006. [26253/04]

The European Commission has proposed a draft regulation on security standards, including biometric information, for passports. The regulation, if adopted, would effect only Schengen countries and would not, therefore, apply to Ireland. However, the Government believes the incorporation of biometrics in passports, in accordance with the standards proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, can make an effective contribution to increasing the security of international travel. The Government, therefore, welcomes the emerging consensus on the Commission proposal, even though Ireland will not be bound by the regulation, if adopted.

The United States enacted legislation after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 that requires all visa waiver countries, including Ireland, to introduce passports containing biometric information by 26 October 2004, subsequently postponed to 26 October 2005, as a condition of remaining in the visa waiver programme.

On 22 January 2004, the Government agreed in principle to the introduction of passports containing biometric information, subject to a further Government decision at a later stage on the practical arrangements for its implementation. My Department is examining these issues and, in the light of this, I expect to submit proposals to Government in the near future.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

229 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26012/04]

The names and qualifications of those appointed to the Advisory Board of Ireland Aid, the Refugee Agency and the Agency for Personal Services Overseas are set out in annexes A, B and C. Appointees to State boards carry out an important function and are chosen on the basis of the qualities and attributes which the Minister believes are suitable to discharge this function.

ANNEX A

The Advisory Board of Ireland Aid The Advisory Board of Ireland Aid was established in August 2002 operating under the aegis of Department of Foreign Affairs with a board of directors appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The name was changed to the Advisory Board for Development Co-operation Ireland in September 2003.

Name

Relevant Qualifications/Background

Chris Flood

Former Deputy of Dáil Éireann, who served as Minister of State at the Departments of Health and of Tourism and Sport. Irish representative to the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance.

David Andrews

Chairperson of the executive committee of the Irish Red Cross Society. Former Minister for Foreign Affairs.

David Begg

General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Formerly Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide.

Sally O’Neill

Trócaire’s regional director for Central America, based in Honduras.

Lorraine Sweeney

Businessperson. Former chairperson of the Small Firms Association.

Larry O’Loughlin

Chief agricultural officer with Teagasc. Board member of Self Help Development International.

Howard Dalzell

Concern Worldwide Director of Policy Development and Evaluation Unit.

Fr. Gerard O’Connor

Redemptorist priest. Previously worked with GOAL in Africa.

Jerry Liston

Executive Chairman of the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business.

Morina O’Neill

Development Education Officer with Comhlámh (Development Workers in Global Solidarity: Ireland). Previously worked as a development worker in Belize.

Padraig McManus

Chief Executive, Electricity Supply Board of Ireland. Worked in West Africa for a number of years.

The advisory board was chaired by Mr. Desmond O'Malley, former Minister and chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs from August 2002 until July 2003. Mr. Chris Flood was appointed chairperson in September 2003

ANNEX B

The Refugee Agency

The Irish Refugee Agency was created in 1991. Board members were appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs for two-year periods and boards were composed of an independent chairperson and representatives of relevant Departments connected with the admission of refugees to Ireland. Those representatives varied from time to time. Observers also attended on behalf of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, a number of voluntary agencies and individuals active in the field of refugee welfare. The Refugee Agency ceased operation and was integrated in April 2001 into the Reception and Integration Agency which operates under the aegis of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Name

Relevant Qualifications

Duration of appointment

Ms Iseult O’Malley

Barrister

1993-1996

Ms Noreen O’Sullivan

Department of Health

1993-1995

Mr. Tom O’Connell

Department of Education

1993-1994

Mr. Frank Donoghue

Department of Environment

1993-1994

Ms Valerie Fallon

Department of Justice

1993-1994

Mr. Robert McClean

Department of Enterprise and Employment

1993-1995

Mr. Tony Fallon

Department of Social Welfare

1993-1994

Ms Barbara Jones

Department of Foreign Affairs

1993-1995

Sr. Phil Sinnott

Sacred Heart Sister working with Vietnamese communities

1993-1998 2000-2001

Dr. Wendy Cox

Irish Council for Overseas Students

1993-2001

Ms Dianne Grammar

UNHCR

1993-1994

Mr. David Keane

Solicitor working with asylum seekers and refugees

1993-1997

Col. Jim Croke

Irish Red Cross

1993-1997 2000-2001

Rev. Dermot Clifford

Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants

1993-1997 1999-2001

Mr. Barry O’Shea

Department of Justice

1995 (1 year)

Ms Mary Lally

Department of Social Welfare

1995-2001

Mr. Sean McGabhann

Department of Education

1995-2001

Mr. Jim Cantwell

Department of the Environment

1995-1997

Mr. Sten Bronée

Observer, UNHCR

1995-1997

Ms Nadette Foley

Observer Irish Refugee Council

1995-1996

Mr. Barry O’Hara

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

1996-1998

Mr. Tom Wright

Department of Foreign Affairs

1996-1997

Mr. Colm O Maoáin

Department of Education

1996 (1 year)

Ms Mary Aylward

Department of Health

1997-2001

Ms Margaret Breen

Department of Environment

1997 (1 year)

Mr. Paddy Dillon Malone

(Chair) Barrister

1998-1999

Mr. Jack Killane

Dept. of the Environment and Local Government

1998-1999

Mr. Brian Mc Cabe

Dept. of Enterprise and Employment

1998 (1 year)

Ms Hope Hanlon

Observer, UNHCR

1998 (1 year) 2000-2001

Ms Nadette Foley

Observer, Irish Refugee Council

1998 (1 year)

Ms Sheila Callan

Observer, Irish Red Cross

1998-1999

Ms Phil Murnaghan

Dept. of Foreign Affairs

1999 (1 year)

Ms Jean Mc Manus

Dept. of Foreign Affairs

1999 (1 year)

Ms Denise Barry

Dept. of Justice , Equality and Law Reform

1999-2001

Mr. B. Brogan

Department of Health and Children

1999 (1 year)

Mr. Jack Killane

Dept. of Environment and Local Government

1999 (1 year)

Mr. Michael Lindenbauer

Observer, UNHCR

1999 (1 year)

Mr. Peter O’Mahoney

Observer, Irish Refugee Council

1999-2001

Fr. John Feighery

Observer, Irish Refugee Council

1999 (1 year)

Ms Anne Colley

(Chair) Solicitor

2000-2001

Mr. Denis Hayes

Dept. of Foreign Affairs

2000-2001

Ms Denise Barry

Dept. of Justice , Equality and Law Reform

2000-2001

Ms M. Walshe

Dept. of the Environment

2000-2001

ANNEX C

The Agency for Personal Service Overseas — APSO.

APSO was established in 1973 as a semi-State body operating under the aegis of the Department of Foreign Affairs, with a board of directors appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. APSO was integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs on 1 January 2004. Under the articles of association of APSO, the board shall consist of not more than 11 directors. Up to ten members of the board were appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the recommendation of the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for development co-operation and human rights, the agency itself and-or the development co-operation directorate of the Department of Foreign Affairs. One member of the board was an APSO staff member, elected by the staff themselves, whose appointment was confirmed by the Minister. The following is a list of the board of directors of APSO as at 31 December for each of the years 1994 to 2003 by name and background:

31 December 1994

Name

Background

Mr. Brendan Golden,

Agriculturist

Mr. Owen Curley,

Teacher, Farmer

Mr. Howard Dalzell,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Dorita Field,

Belfast City Council Social Services

Mr. Ian Finlay,

Civil Servant

Ms Mairéad Hayes,

Human Resources, Aer Lingus

Ms Mary Jennings,

Lecturer

Ms Bríd Ann Ryan,

Lecturer

Mr. Kenneth Thompson,

Civil Servant

Ms Rosemarie Hanna,

Staff Nominee

Fr. Enda Watters CSSP,

Missionary

31 December 1995

Name

Background

Mr. Howard Dalzell,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mairéad Hayes,

Human Resources, Aer Lingus

Mr. Anthony Clare,

Medical Director, St. Patrick’s Hospital

Mr. Paul Cullen,

Civil Servant

Mr. Martin Greene,

Civil Servant

Fr. Des McGillicuddy,

Justice and Development Officer, Irish Missionary Union

Ms Anne Connolly,

Management Consultant

Ms Rosemarie Hanna,

Staff Nominee

31 December 1996

Name

Background

Mr. Howard Dalzell,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mairéad Hayes,

Human Resources, Aer Lingus

Mr. Anthony Clare,

Medical Director, St. Patrick’s Hospital

Mr. Paul Cullen,

Civil Servant

Mr. Martin Greene,

Civil Servant

Fr. Des McGillicuddy,

Justice and Development Officer, Irish Missionary Union

Ms Anne Connolly, `

Management Consultant

Ms Rosemarie Hanna,

Staff Nominee

Mr. Robin Hanan,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mary Sweeney,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Maeve Healy,

Financial Sector

31 December 1997

Name

Background

Mr. Howard Dalzell,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mairéad Hayes,

Human Resources, Aer Lingus

Mr. Anthony Clare,

Medical Director, St. Patrick’s Hospital

Mr. Paul Cullen,

Civil Servant

Ms Philomena Murnaghan,

Civil Servant

Fr. Des McGillicuddy,

Justice and Development Officer, Irish Missionary Union

Ms Anne Connolly,

Management Consultant

Ms June Carr,

Staff Nominee

Mr. Robin Hanan,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mary Sweeney,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Maeve Healy,

Financial Sector

31 December 1998

Name

Background

Mr. Howard. Dalzell,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mairéad Hayes,

Human Resources, Aer Lingus

Mr. Anthony Clare,

Medical Director, St. Patrick’s Hospital

Mr. Paul Cullen,

Civil Servant

Ms Philomena Murnaghan,

Civil Servant

Fr. Des McGillicuddy,

Justice and Development Officer, Irish Missionary Union

Ms Anne Connolly,

Management Consultant

Ms June Carr,

Staff Nominee

Mr. Robin Hanan,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mary Sweeney,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Maeve Healy,

Financial Sector

31 December 1999

Name

Background

Mr. Howard Dalzell,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mairéad. Hayes,

Human Resources, Aer Lingus

Mr. Aidan. Eames,

Solicitor

Mr. Paul Cullen,

Civil Servant

Ms Philomena Murnaghan,

Civil Servant

Fr. Des McGillicuddy,

Justice and Development Officer, Irish Missionary Union

Ms Anne Connolly,

Management Consultant

Ms June Carr,

Staff Nominee

Mr. Robin Hanan,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mary Sweeney,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Maeve Healy,

Financial Sector

31 December 2000

Name

Background

Ms Mairéad Hayes,

Human Resources, Aer Lingus

Mr. Aidan Eames,

Solicitor

Mr. Paul Cullen,

Civil Servant

Fr. Des McGillicuddy,

Justice and Development Officer, Irish Missionary Union

Ms Dónal MacDonald,

Staff Nominee

Mr. Robin Hanan,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mary Sweeney,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Maeve Healy,

Financial Sector

Mr. B. Rogers,

Civil Servant

Mr. Mick Kiely,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Mr. Sean Burke,

Accountant

31 December 2001

Name

Background

Ms Mairéad Hayes,

Human Resources, Aer Lingus

Mr. Aidan Eames,

Solicitor

Mr. Brendan Rogers,

Civil Servant

Mr. Dónal MacDonald,

Staff Nominee

Mr. Robin Hanan,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Ms Mary Sweeney,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Mr. Mick Kiely,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Mr. Sean Burke,

Accountant

Sr. Teresa Walsh,

Missionary (MSHR)

Sr. Margaret Quinn,

Missionary (MMM)

Ms Maeve Healy,

Financial Sector

31 December 2002

Name

Background

Mr. Aidan Eames,

Solicitor

Mr. Brendan Rogers,

Civil Servant

Mr. Dónal MacDonald,

Staff Nominee

Ms Mary Sweeney,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Mr. Mick Kiely,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Mr. Sean Burke,

Accountant

Sr. Teresa Walsh,

Missionary (MSHR)

Sr. Margaret Quinn,

Missionary (MMM)

Mr. Joseph O’Hara

Lecturer

Mr. John Murphy,

Financial Consultant

31 December 2003

Name

Background

Mr. Aidan Eames,

Solicitor

Mr. Pat Bourne,

Civil Servant

Ms Catherine Boylan,

Staff Nominee

Ms Mary Sweeney,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Mr. Mick Kiely,

Development Non-Governmental Organisation

Mr. Sean Burke,

Accountant

Sr. Teresa Walsh,

Missionary (MSHR)

Sr. Margaret Quinn,

Missionary (MMM)

Mr. Joseph O’Hara

Lecturer

Mr. John Murphy,

Financial Consultant

Mr. Aidan O’Connor

Engineer

Foreign Conflicts.

Finian McGrath

Question:

230 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to a report of he Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which indicates that Israeli occupation forces have continued to construct the annexation wall inside the West Bank territory; if he has raised these matters with the Israeli authorities; his views on whether these actions are consistent with the obligations of the Israeli Government in relation to human rights under Article 2 of the Association Agreement between Israel and the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26042/04]

I am aware of the report to which the Deputy refers, and the fact that the Israeli Government has continued its construction of the separation barrier in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, despite concerted calls from the international community for the activity to be discontinued and reversed.

Ireland acknowledges the right, indeed the responsibility, of the Israel government to protect its people, including, if it so wishes, by a security fence. Our objection to the fence is to the line that it takes. The construction of the fence within the Occupied Palestinian Territories is contrary to international law. In the short term, the current line of the fence divides Palestinian communities and creates severe hardship for them. Equally troubling is the long term impact, which tends to perpetuate facts on the ground and make it more difficult to reach a final settlement. The Israeli authorities are well aware of the Government's views on this matter.

The Government and the EU have repeatedly reaffirmed these positions, including through our support for the UN General Assembly resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority in response to the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the barrier. The provisions of article 2 of the association agreement between EU and Israel reinforce obligations which already fall to the signatories with respect to human rights. The question of whether Israel has fully lived up to its obligations under this article is a subject for regular discussion at the meetings of the association council.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

231 . Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the contact he has had with a Government (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26327/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos. 166, 173, 194, 198, 214, 235 and 365 on 19 October 2004.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

232 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the name, relevant qualifications, political party membership and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26013/04]

The names of the persons appointed to State boards since the establishment of my Department in June 2002 follow. All appointments are made on the basis of the broad experience, knowledge and expertise that the individuals in question can bring to the relevant board.

Members of Arts Council

Ms Olive Braiden

Ms Noelle Campbell Sharp

Willie Doherty

Theo Dorgan

Jerome Hynes

Philip King

Rosaleen Linehan

Orlaith McBride

John McGahern

Una Ó Murchú

Mary Nunan

Emer O'Kelly

Patrick Sutton

Under the Arts Act 2001, the Minister appoints the members of the council.

Board of the National Theatre

Ms Eithne Healy

Dr. John O'Mahony

Two members of the board of directors are appointed by the Minister in accordance with the company's memorandum and articles of association.

National Gallery of Ireland

Mr. Lochlann Quinn

Dr. Patrick Fottrell

Mr. Anthony Cronin

Mr. Bruce Arnold

The Duke of Abercorn

Ms Pauline Bewick

Mr. Bernard McNamara

Dr. Abdul Bulbulia

Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald

Mr. Conor Fallon

Mr. Sean Benton

Mr. Austin Mescal

The Royal Hibernian Academy and the Royal Dublin Society appoint a total of two members to the board. The chairman of the Office of Public Works is appointedex officio and the Minister makes the remainder of the appointments to the board.

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Mr. Gerard Mannix Flynn

The Minister makes the appointments to the board.

Irish Sports Council

Mr. Ronnie McBrien

Mr. Brian Mullins

Mr. Mick O'Dwyer

Ms. Sheila Dickson

Mr. Niall Quinn

Ms. Marian McGennis

Mr. Pat O'Neill

Mr. Maurice Ahern

Ms Mary Davis

Mr. Peter McLoone

Mr. Tony McCarthy

Ms Tracy Piggott

The members of the board of the Irish Sports Council are appointed by the Minister under the terms of the Irish Sports Council Act 1999.

Bord na gCon

Mr. Cathal Curley

Mr. John Hegarty

Ms Helen Nugent

Mr. Tony McKenna

Mr. Padraic Feeney

Mr. Paschal Taggart

The Minister appoints the chairman and the six board members.

Horse Racing Ireland

Mr. John Kidd

Mr. Jerry L. Desmond

Mr. Willian Flood

Ms Jessica Harrington

Mr. Cahir O'Sullivan

Mr. Frank Clarke

The Minister appoints all the members of the board of Horse Racing Ireland from among persons nominated by persons and organisations representative of interests in the horse racing industry and a further two members are appointed directly by the Minister, who are employed by the industry and by the industry in Northern Ireland.

Bord Fáilte Éireann

Mr. Noel McGinley

Mr. Patrick O' Donoghue

Mr. PáidíÓ Sé

Mr. Séan Dunne

The members of the board were appointed by the Minister under the terms of the Tourist Traffic Acts.

Tourism Ireland

Ms Gillian Bowler

Mr. Shaun Quinn

Tourism Ireland is a North-South body where the board appointments are made by the North-South Ministerial Council following nominations by northern and southern Ministers.

National Tourism Development Authority

Ms Gillian Bowler

Ms Maureen Cairnduff

Mr. Dominic Dillane

Mr. Brian Dowling

Mr. John McDonnell

Mr. Noel McGinley

Ms Mary McKeon

Mr. Noel O'Callaghan

An tUasal Pádraig Ó Céidigh

Mr. Patrick O'Donoghue

An tUasal PáidíÓ Sé

Ms Catherine Reilly

Ms Eithne Scott-Lennon

The members of the National Tourism Development Authority are appointed by the Minister under the terms of the National Tourism Development Authority Act.

National Minimum Wage.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

233 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cost to the State of removing the age restrictions in relation to the minimum wage and increasing the minimum hourly wage to €8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25997/04]

The ESRI has conducted two surveys of private sector non-agricultural firms on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment since the introduction of the minimum wage in April, 2000. The ESRI estimate that just 1.9% of employees are being paid the subminimum rates. Subminimum rates of the national minimum wage apply where an employee is under age 18 or in the first two years after the date of first employment over age 18 or undergoing a prescribed course of study or training.

Surveys have highlighted that the most frequently used subminimum rate is that which applies to employees under 18 years of age. Employees under the age of 18 are entitled to 70% of the national minimum wage. This percentage was recommended by the national minimum wage commission to strike a balance between ensuring that young employees are not exploited and ensuring that the rate of pay does not encourage students to leave full-time education.

The national minimum wage commission recommended that subminimum rates should also apply to employees in the first two years of employment over age 18 and to those undergoing structured training. The commission expressed the view that employers should be encouraged to focus on training and that the structure of the national minimum wage should provide encouragement and inducement for employers to take on unskilled staff and to involve them in training. There are no plans to amend the national minimum wage legislation to abolish the sub-minimum rates.

The minimum wage was increased to its current rate of €7.00 per hour on 1 February 2004, as recommended by the social partners. The parties to the mid-term review of part two of Sustaining Progress — pay and the workplace have agreed to request the Labour Court to review the national minimum wage and to make a recommendation to the Minister to apply with effect from 1 May 2005.

While information on the cost to the State of abolishing subminimum rates and increasing the minimum wage to €8 per hour is not available, an assessment, in accordance with the national minimum wage legislation, will be undertaken of the impact of a new rate that may be recommended by the Labour Court to take effect on 1 May next.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

234 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the estimated cost to the State of removing the provisions which disqualify those over the age of 66 from the terms of the Redundancy Acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26001/04]

The Redundancy Review Group Report of July 2002, which produced recommendations for the up-dating of statutory redundancy legislation, considered that increasing the upper age limit of 66 for redundancy qualification purposes would not be a priority in the short term if resources were scarce. It could be argued, therefore, that the age cap should remain unchanged to maintain consistency with the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2001 and the Employment Equality Act 1998.

The group recognised, however, that the labour force is becoming older and that participation in the labour force by older people, if desired, should be facilitated. Accordingly, it was recommended that consideration should be given in the medium term to removing the age cap or raising the age cap in conjunction with similar changes to unfair dismissals, equality and social and family legislation as recommended by the Equality Authority.

On 18 July 2004, the upper age limit of 66 for bringing claims under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2001 was removed by the Equality Act 2004. However, the Unfair Dismissals Acts will still not apply to dismissed employees who, at the date of dismissal, had reached the normal retirement age in that employment, that is, if it is the policy in an employment to retire employees at a certain age, then the new provisions would not apply.

There are no plans at present to remove the upper age limit in respect of statutory redundancy. However, in the light of the evolution of age-related legislative provisions, it will be necessary to review the age-related provisions of the Redundancy Payments Acts. This will have to be done prior to making legislative proposals for submission to Government.

In the absence of any such review, it is impossible to estimate the potential cost to the social insurance fund of the removal of the upper age limit of 66.

Redundancy Payments.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

235 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cost to the State of increasing redundancy payments to three weeks of pay per year of service. [26002/04]

In the 12 months from October 2003 to end September 2004, the full cost to the State of making statutory redundancy payments amounted to €162,286,200.30. This consisted of €146,310,498.40 for redundancy rebates to employers who paid all their eligible employees their correct statutory redundancy entitlements and €15,975,701.93 in direct payments to employees where the employers had failed to pay statutory redundancy lump sums. Based on the above figures, the annual cost to the State of further increasing redundancy payments from the present two weeks pay per year of service to three weeks pay per year of service would be €243,429,300.40, an increase of €81,143,100.10.

Under the recently enacted Redundancy Payments Bill 2003, redundancy payments were substantially increased from half a weeks pay per year of service between 16 and 41 years and one weeks pay per year of service over 41 together with a bonus week, to two weeks pay for every year of service together with a bonus week in respect of all eligible employees. This was the first such major increase since the redundancy payments scheme was set up under the Redundancy Payments Act 1967, although there have been periodic increases in line with increases in wages paid in the transportable goods industries.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

236 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26014/04]

The information sought is provided, for the period 1997 to date, on a schedule set out below. The schedule also contains readily available material for the period 1994 to 1996. As agreed, the remaining material relating to this period will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible. The process involved in appointments to State boards is as laid down in the relevant legislation. Details regarding relevant qualifications and political party membership of members of State boards are not to hand in the Department.

FORFÁS

Name

Year of Appointment

Mr. K. McGowan — CEO IDA

1994

Mr. D. Flinter — CEO Enterprise Ireland

1994

Mr. J. Travers — CEO Forfás

1994

Mr. T. Toner

1994

Mr. P. Cassells

1994

Mr. K. Bonner

1994

Mr. L. Murphy

1994

Prof. F. Ruane

1994

Ms J. O’Connor

1994

Mr. J. O’Mahoney

1994

Mr. A. McCarthy

1994

Mr. J. Lynch

1994

Mr. L. Murphy (reappointed)

1995

Mr. J. O’Mahoney (reappointed)

1995

Mr. T. Toner (Chairman)

1996

Mr. P. Cassells

1996

Mr. O. Tattan

1996

Mr. P. Haran

1997

Mr. J. Lynch (reappointed)

1997

Mr. W. Scally

1997

Mr. L. Murphy (reappointed)

1998

Prof. M. Hillery

1998

Mr. F. O’Rourke

1998

IDA Ireland

Name

Year of Appointment

Kieran McGowan

1994

Denis Hanrahan

1994

Pat Dineen

1994

Donal Keough

1994

Marie O’Connor

1994

Eleanor O’Higgins

1994

John O’Shaughnessy

1994

Brian Parkes

1994

Jean Peyrelevade

1994

Tony Ritchie

1994

Niall Welch

1994

John Walsh

1994

Eleanor O’Higgins (R)

1995

Ronald Long

1995

Gary Kennedy

1996

Bríd Horan

1996

Proinnsias Breathnach

1996

Gary Duffy

1997

Pat Dineen (R)

1997

Kieran Corrigan

1998

Nial Ring

1998

Frank McCabe

1999

Sean Dorgan

1999

Denis Hanrahan (R)

1999

Ronald Long (R)

2000

John Dunne

2000

Ann Marie Gill

2000

Gary Kennedy (R)

2001

Thomas Lynch

2001

Bríd Horan (R)

2002

Bernard Collins

2002

Kieran Corrigan (R)

2003

Loretta Brennan Glucksman

2003

Brian Whitney

2003

Enterprise Ireland since its establishment in 1998

Name

Year of Appointment

Pat Molloy

1998

Chief executive — Dan Flinter Chief executive — Frank Ryanex officio

1998

Kieran McGowan

1998

Gus Fitzpatrick

1998

Brian Kearney

1998

Heather Ann McSharry

1998

Veronica Perdisatt

1998

Lorraine Benson

2001

John Connolly

2001

Elaine Farrell

2002

Gerry O’Malley

2004

Margaret Daly

2004

Miriam O’Callaghan

1998

Tim Collins

1998

David McKenna

1998

David Dilger

1998

Barry O’Halloran

1998

Ned Costello

1998

National Standards Authority of Ireland — since its establishment in 1997.

Name

Year of Appointment

Mr. Dan Tierney — chairman

1997

Mr. Simon Kelly — chief executive,ex-officio member

1997

Mr. Brian Griffin

1997

Dr. Ursula MacEvilly

1997

Ms Mary Carroll

1997

Ms Jackie Fitzgerald

1997

Mr. Sean Wallace

1997

Mr. Frank Dawe

1997

Mr. John Coady

1997

Mr. Doug Burns

1997

Mr. Neil Buckley

1997

Ms Kay Hallahan

1997

Ms Ann-Christin Cederlund

1997

Ms Annemarie O’Connor

1998

Dr. Brendan Finucane

1999

Ms Jean Cahill

1999

Mr. Patrick Geraghty

1999

Mr. Vincent Delaney

2000

Ms June Finnegan

2000

Mr. John McGowan

2001

Mr. Martin Lynch

2001

Ms Anne Riordan

2001

Ms Catherine Caulfield

2001

Dr. Sean McCarthy

2002

Ms Dorothea Dowling

2002

Mr. Patrick Coffey

2002

Mr. Conor O’Mahony

2003

Mr. Niall Fitzsimons

2003

Mr. Patrick Rigney

2003

Mr. Paraig Hennessy

2003

Ms Rose Hynes

2003

Mr. Des O’Loughlin

2003

Mr. Ed Stack

2003

Mr. John Hewitt

2004

Shannon Development

Name

Year of Appointment

Michael McKenna

1994

John Griffin

1994

Kieran Keenaghan

1994

Brendan Dinneen

1995

Declan Doyle

Pre 1994

Michael Punch (Chairman)

1995

Tim Butler

1996

Cynthia Carroll

1996

Agnes Aylward

Pre 1994

Liam McElligott (Chairman)

1996

Morgan Stack

1997

Brian O’Connell

1998

Patricia Collins

1998

Sean Gorman

1999

Paul O’Brien

1999

William Loughnane

1999

Noreen Foran

2000

Kieran Grace

2001

Ron Carroll

2001

Freda Keane-Carmody

2001

Peter Schutz

2001

Roger Downer

2002

John Brassil

2004

Science Foundation of Ireland — since its establishment in 2003.

Name of Board Members

Year of Appointment

Prof. Patrick Fottrell, chairperson

2003

Mr. Frank McCabe, deputy chairperson

2003

Dr. Bill Harris, director general

2003

Mr. Erich Bloch

2003

Dr. Kristina Johnson

2003

Dr Anita Jones

2003

Mr. John Travers

2003

Dr. Jane Grimson

2003

Dr. Jim Mountjoy

2003

Dr. Martina Newell McGloughlin

2003

Mr. Ned Costello

2003

Dr. Don Thornhill

2003

Dr. Jacqueline Hunter

2003

Personal Injuries Assessment Board — since its establishment in 2004.

Name

Year of Appointment

Dorothea Dowling

2004

Senator Joe O’Toole

2004

Patricia Byron chief executive officer

2004

John Fay

2004

Tom Noonan

2004

Pat Healy

2004

Carmel Foley

2004

Mary O’Dea

2004

Frances Cooke

2004

Frank Cuneen

2004

Professor Denis Cusack

2004

FÁS

Name

Year of Appointment

Mr. Patrick Lynch

1998

Mr. Brian Geoghegan

2001

Mr. Seamus O Morain

1998

Mr. Dermot O Callaghan

1998

Mr. Sean Gorman

2001

Mr. Colm Breslin

1998

Mr. Dermot Quigley

1999

Mr. Jim O Brien

2004

Mr. Eamonn Kearns

2004

Mr. Paddy McDonagh

1998

Ms Kathleen McLoughlin

2001

Mr. John Hynes

1998

Ms Bernadette Lacey

2001

Mr. Joe Morgan

1996

Ms Cathy Crowley

1998

Mr. Sexton Cahill

2001

Ms Caroline Casey

2001

Mr. Owen Wills

1998

Mr. Des Geraghty

1999

Ms Bernadette Corridan

1998

Mr. Peter Cullen

2001

Mr. Michael Dolan

2001

Mr. Dermot Lacey

1998

FÁS International Consulting Ltd.

Name

Year of Appointment

Mr. Jim Tunney

1995

Mr. John Lynch

1995

Mr. P. Ellis

1995

Mr. S. Loughnane

1995

Mr. S. O’Brien

1995

Ms A. Kerins

1995

Mr. M. O 15Faolain

1995

Mr. K. Humphreys

1995

Ms Alice Prendergast

1995

Mr. T. Brady

1995

Ms Alice Prendergast

1998

Ms Claire Brannigan

1998

Mr. Declan Purcell

1998

Mr. Michael Hayden

2001

Mr. Joe Morgan

2001

Mr. Owen Wills

2001

Mr. Martin Doonan

2001

Mr. Jackie Kenny

2001

Ms Tara Hayes

2001

Mr. Rody Molloy

2001

Mr. Tony Killeen

2004

FÁS International Consulting Ltd. is being wound down. It is envisaged that it will be struck off the register of companies or will be placed in voluntary liquidation by 31 December 2004. Following the resignation of the board on 25 May 2004, Mr. Rody Molloy and Mr. Tony Killeen were appointed as directors of the company as and from 25 May 2004 to oversee any outstanding issues.

Nitrigin Eireann Teoranta

(current board)

Ronald Long, chairman

1995

Conor O’Mahony

2003

Jim O’Brien

2000

Nitrigin Eireann Teoranta is being wound down

Health and Safety Authority

Name

Year of Appointment

Mary Buckley

1995

Grainne Higgins

1995

Sylvester Cronin

1995

Fergus Whelan

1998

Lenore Mrkwicka

1995

Eric Fleming

1995

Mary Slattery

1995

Fergus McCafferty

1995

Frank Cunneen

1998

Tony Briscoe

1998

Marie Rock

1998

Joe Hegarty

1998

Seamus Daly

1998

Mary Dorgan

1998

Peter McCabe

2000

Ciarán Ó Cuinneagáin

2000

Marion Coy

2001

Louise O’Donnell

2001

Sue Corbett

2001

Desmond Gilroy

2001

Martin Lynch

2002

Work Permits.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

237 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a work permit will be issued to a company in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26078/04]

A work permit application was received on 12 July 2004 for the above named individual. On 13 October 2004, the applicant was informed in writing of the decision to refuse this application. The applicant was also advised of his right to appeal this decision and I am informed that no such appeal has been received to date.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

238 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the estimated cost to the State of increasing maternity leave entitlements to 26 weeks paid and 26 weeks unpaid leave. [25998/04]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

239 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the estimated cost to the State of increasing adoptive leave entitlements to 24 weeks paid and 26 weeks unpaid leave. [25999/04]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

240 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the estimated cost to the State of introducing a paternity leave entitlement of two weeks per child. [26000/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 238 to 240, inclusive, together.

Maternity benefit is a payment made to employed women who are entitled to maternity leave under the maternity leave acts and self-employed women who satisfy certain PRSI contribution conditions on their own insurance record. It is normally payable for a continuous period of 18 weeks. The estimated cost of maternity benefit during 2003 was €107 million for the 30,000 claims awarded. Increasing the number of weeks from 18 up to 26 would lead to an approximate €52.3 million increase in cost in the first year and €57.2 million in a full year. An extension to the period of unpaid leave would not of its nature lead to an increase in direct programme spending. However, the extended award of credited PRSI contributions, which are currently awarded for periods of unpaid leave so as to preserve access to social insurance entitlements, could have some implications for the longer term financing of the social insurance system. It would be difficult to quantify these implications.

Adoptive Leave is a payment for employed women who are entitled to adoptive leave under the Adoptive Leave Acts and self-employed women who satisfy certain PRSI conditions on their insurance record on the occasion of adopting a child. The estimated cost of adoptive benefit during 2003 was €532,000 for the 183 awards made during the year. Increasing the number of weeks that adoptive leave is payable from 16 to 24 would lead to an approximate increase of €162,000 in the first year and €174,000 in a full year. An extension of the period of unpaid leave would not lead to an increase in direct programme spending. However, the extended award of credited PRSI contributions, which are currently awarded for periods of unpaid leave so as to preserve access to social insurance entitlements, could have some implications for the longer term financing of the social insurance system. It would be difficult to quantify these implications.

Arrangements for paternity leave are currently a matter between employers and employees. Some employers, including those in the public sector, currently offer a number of days paid paternity leave to fathers immediately following the birth of a child and any paternity benefit would involve a transfer to the State of a cost currently paid by these employers. Indicative costings suggest that payment by the State of two weeks paternity benefit on a similar basis to maternity benefit might cost €9.5 million per annum, although the lack of data surrounding the number of fathers who might be eligible and the number who might avail of this potential payment makes accurate costing difficult.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

241 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26015/04]

There are six agencies operating under the aegis of my Department: the Pensions Board, the Pensions Ombudsman, the Combat Poverty Agency, Comhairle, the Family Support Agency and the Social Welfare Tribunal. In making appointments to boards regard is had to the Government's policy in relation to minimum representation — 40% of both men and women among members of the boards of State bodies.

The remit of the Pensions Board, which was established on 21 December 1990, is to monitor and supervise the operation of the Pensions Act, and pensions developments generally. Representation on the Pensions Board is dictated by section 8 of the First Schedule of the Pensions Act 1990. The board consists of 16 ordinary members with the chairperson appointed by the Minister. The First Schedule also sets out criteria for the appointment of 13 ordinary members to the board, for example, one shall be a representative of the actuarial profession and one shall be a representative of the accounting profession.

The First Schedule also states that the members of the board representing various interests shall be nominated by organisation/s which the Minister considers to be representative of the various professions. The Pensions Act 1990 does not specify particular qualifications for membership of the board.

The Pensions Board.

Appointments to the Pensions Board since 1994 are outlined as follows:

Name

Nominated by

Kevin Brabazon

Nominated by Irish Business & Employers Confederation

Kay Brophy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mary Broughan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Alan Broxson

Nominated by Irish Association of Pensioner Funds

Brian Buggy

Nominated by Association of Pension Lawyers in Ireland

John Byrne

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Rosheen Callender

Nominated by Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Deirdre Carroll

Representative of the Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Marie Daly

Nominated by Irish Business & Employers Confederation

Pat Delaney

Nominated by Irish Business & Employers Confederation

Tom Finlay

Nominated by Irish Association of Pension Funds

Michael Guilfoyle

Representative of the Minister for Finance

Kate Hayes

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Monica Healy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Eamonn Heffernan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mary Howe

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

John Hynes

Representative of the Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Caroline Jenkinson

Nominated by Irish Business & Employers Confederation

Jim Kehoe

Nominated by Society of Actuaries in Ireland

Paul Kelly

Nominated by Society of Actuaries in Ireland

Raymonde Kelly

Nominated by Association of Pension Lawyers in Ireland

Maria Kinlan

Nominated by Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Michael Lane

Nominated by Association of Pension Lawyers in Ireland

Ciaran Long

Nominated by Irish Insurance Federation

Niamh Maguire

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Anne Maher

Nominated by Irish Association of Pension Funds

Gerry Mangan

Representative of the Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Donal McAleese

Nominated by Irish Business and Employer’s Confederation

Stephen McCarthy

Nominated by Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Brian McCracken

Nominated by Association of Pension Lawyers in Ireland

Veronica McDermott

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Joe Mooney

Representative of the Minister for Finance

Mary O’Donnell

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Patricia O’Donovan

Nominated by Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Tim Quirke

Representative of the Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Anne Vaughan

Representative of the Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Fergus Whelan

Nominated by Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Robert Woods

Nominated by Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies in Ireland

Tom Wright

Nominated by Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies in Ireland

Grainne Clohessy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Michael McNulty

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Michael O’Halloran

Representative of Senior Citizens Interests (nominated by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs)

Carmel Foley

Representative of Consumer Interests (nominated by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs)

Dermot Quigley

Representative of the Minister for Finance

Pensions Ombudsman

The remit of the Pensions Ombudsman, established in September 2003, is to investigate and decide on complaints and disputes involving occupational pension schemes and personal retirement savings accounts, PRSAs. Mr. Paul Kenny was appointed Pensions Ombudsman on 28 April 2003 on foot of an open competition undertaken by the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commission. Mr. Kenny is a former Chairman of the Retirement Planning Council of Ireland. He has worked with Irish Pensions Trust-Mercer Human Resources Consulting and was head of retirement research. He holds a B.Comm (NUI) and is a Fellow of the Pensions Management Institute and of the Irish Institute of Pensions Managers.

Combat Poverty Agency (CPA)

The Combat Poverty Agency has an advisory, research and public information role in relation to poverty issues and a role in initiating and evaluating programmes in this area. Its role is set out in the Combat Poverty Agency Act 1986. Persons are appointed by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs to the board of the CPA under sections 6 and 7 of the Combat Poverty Agency Act 1986. No specific qualification criteria are specified in relation to appointments and there are no nominating bodies.

Appointments are valid for a period of up to three years. The board includes a representative from the Combat Poverty Agency, CPA, elected by CPA staff members, and a representative from the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The director of the CPA is also appointed to the board.

Current legislation provides that the number of members of the CPA at any one time shall not be less than eight or more than 16.

Appointments to the CPA board since 1994 are as follows:

Name

Nominated by

Helen Johnston

Combat Poverty Agency staff representative from February 1994 and Director, from September 2001 to date

Pat O’Hara

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Tom Collins

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Deirdre Carroll

Representative of the Department of Social & Family Affairs

Anna Lee

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Berni Brady

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Fergus McCabe

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Fionnuala Richardson

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Hugh Frazer

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Michelle Power

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Pat Ridge

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Eoin O Malley

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Niall Fitzduff

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Clare Farrell

Combat Poverty Agency staff representative

Brian Kenny

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Feargus Ó Raghallaigh

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Liam Barrett

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Pearse O’Hanrahan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Frank Mulcahy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Bernadette Lacey

Representative of the Department of Social & Family Affairs

Fintan Farrell

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Rachel Farrell

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Benny Devlin

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Alice Robertson

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Niall O’Keefe

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Maria Corrigan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Michael Waugh

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Christina Maguire

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Margaret Sweeney

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Grace Maguire

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Brian Duncan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Bernard Feeney

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mary Kennedy

Representative of the Department of Social & Family Affairs

Seamus McAleavey

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Joan O’Flynn

Combat Poverty Agency staff representative

Tony Lane

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Alice Robertson

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Maria Gorman

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Frank Curran

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Anthony Gavin

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Marie O’Neill

Representative of the Department of Social & Family Affairs

Olive Sweetman

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Tony O’Callaghan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Callista Bennis

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Orlaigh Quinn

Representative of the Department of Social & Family Affairs

Comhairle

Comhairle was established in June 2000 under the Comhairle Act 2000. It replaced the National Social Services Board and the information service provided by the National Rehabilitation Board with a new mainstream information and support service. Members of the existing National Social Services Board were appointed to the board of Comhairle. Comhairle is responsible for the provision of independent information, advice and advocacy services for citizens throughout the country, including people with disabilities.

The legislation provides that the board shall include five members representative of people with disabilities nominated by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, an elected member of staff and a representative from the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The remaining 13 members are representative of the following interests: health boards, local authorities, local development, citizens information centres, independent information providers and general interests. The legislation also provides that the Minister, when making appointments to the board, shall have regard to the objective of having a minimum of eight men and eight women on the board.

Appointments to the board of Comhairle since June 2000 are as follows:

Name

Nominated by

Dr. Donal De Buitleir

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Marion Byrne

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Carol Brill

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Tom Mulherin

Representative of the Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Clare Young

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mary Fitzgerald

Comhairle staff representative

Rosari Moylan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mary Murphy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Michael McLoone

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Peter Sands

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Billy Mahoney

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Tom Doherty

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Martin Naughton

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Anne Marie White

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Kitty King

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Terry O’Sullivan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

John Hogan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Peter McLachlan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Olive Howlett

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Alan O’Connor

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Inez Bailey

Nominated by Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform (Director of the National Adult Literacy Agency)

Nigel Brander

Nominated by Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform (Chairman of People with Disabilities in Ireland)

Mairin Byrne

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Caroline Casey

Nominated by Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform (Ashling Foundation)

John Bosco Conomo

Nominated by Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform (Honorary Secretary of the Irish Deaf Society)

Ian Coulter

Comhairle staff representative

Tom Daly

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

John Gallahue

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Paul Hogan

Nominated by Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform (Vice Chairman of Disabilities in Ireland — founder member of the Institute of Disability and Design)

Hubert Kearns

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Maria Mangan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Joe Meagher

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

David Ormond

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Michael Walsh

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Patricia Walshe

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Ann Marie White

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Oliver Wilkinson

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Rosemary Farrell

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Brian Flynn

Representative of the Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mary Lyne

Comhairle staff representative

Rosarie Moylan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Fionnuala McCarthy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

National Social Services Board

The following people were members of the National Social Services Board, NSSB, from 1994, responsibility for which was transferred to the Department of Social Welfare on 1 June 1995. There were no nominating bodies for appointments to the NSSB.

Name

Nominated by

Dr Donal de Buitleir

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Paula Clancy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mel Cousins

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Joan Duffy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Denis Foley

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Katie Kelly

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Geralyn McGarry

National Social Services Board staff representative

Michael McLoone

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Rosarie Moylan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Tom Mulherin

Representative of the Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mary Murphy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Martin Naughton

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mary O’Connell

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Padraig Rehill

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Monica Weir

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Carol Brill

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Marion Byrne

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Tom Doherty

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Mary Fitzgerald

National Social Services Board staff representative

John Hogan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Olive Howlett

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Kitty King

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Billy Mahoney

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Peter McLachlan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Alan O’Connor

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Peter Sands

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Terry O’Sullivan

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Anne Marie White

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Clare Young

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Board of Family Support Agency

The Family Support Agency has responsibilities in relation to family mediation services, marriage and relationship counselling, promotion of information and research and provision of advice on family related issues and developing a range of family support services, as set out in the Family Support Agency Act 2001.

The Act provides that there shall be 12 members, including the chairperson on the board. These shall include persons with an interest and expertise in the functions of the agency, one member of staff of the agency, a representative of the Minister and not more than three officers of another Minister of the Government.

Name

Nominated by

Michael O’Kennedy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Paddie Connellan

Appointed by Minister for Social and Family Affairs

Sinead Hanly

Appointed by Minister for Social and Family Affairs

Gerard Mangan

Representative of Department of Social & Family Affairs

Clare Cashman

Nominated by Family Resource Centre National Forum

Dick Hickey

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Brendan Murphy

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Dr Colm O’Connor

Appointed for Minister for Social & Family Affairs (ACCORD)

Muriel Walls

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Dilly O’Brien

Nominated by Minister for Health and Children

Brid Rocks

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Margaret Farrell

Family Support Agency Staff Representative

Social Welfare Tribunal

The Social Welfare Tribunal is a statutory body set up in 1982 to deal with cases where entitlement to unemployment benefit or assistance is refused due to involvement in a trade dispute. The tribunal consists of a chairman and four ordinary members, two on the nomination of ICTU and two nominated by IBEC. All members are appointed by the Minister. The appointments are for a term of three years.

The persons appointed to the tribunal since 1994 are as follows:

Name

Nominated by

Thomas Noonan

Irish Business & Employers Confederation

Hazel Bye

Irish Business & Employers Confederation

Kevin Duffy

Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Dympna Harper

Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Michael Keegan (Chairman)

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Joseph Chadwick (Chairman)

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Fergus Whelan

Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Aidan Bunyan (Chairman)

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Colin Walker (Chairman)

Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Patrick Pierce

Irish Business & Employers Confederation

Colin Walker

(Chairman) Appointed by Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Fergus Whelan

Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Dympna Harpur

Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Richard Keating

Irish Business & Employers Confederation

Family Support Services.

David Stanton

Question:

242 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the discussions with the officials from the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Health and Children, Education and Science and health board representatives to ensure a more co-ordinated approach to the provision of crèche and pre-school supports have concluded; the progress which has been made as a result of these discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26023/04]

Officials of my Department engaged in discussions earlier this year with the Departments of Health and Children, Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Education and Science, the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards to identify and put in place suitable funding arrangements for crèches for 2004 and subsequent years. Some local funding difficulties in relation to 2004 were resolved in light of these discussions. My Department is also continuing to maintain payment of any existing supplement arrangements for 2004. This issue will be given further consideration in context with the 2005 Estimates and budget processes.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Michael Ring

Question:

243 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for an oral hearing to finalise their appeal. [26026/04]

Michael Ring

Question:

244 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the way in which a person (details supplied) in County Mayo was assessed for farm assist; and if his Department will reconsider this case in relation to this person’s income. [26027/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 244 together.

The person concerned made a claim for farm assist from 10 February 2004. The deciding officer disallowed the claim on the grounds that the person's means exceed the statutory limit for receipt of farm assist. Means assessed at €413 weekly comprised €404 capital and the remainder from land.

The person concerned has appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The appeal has been referred to the appeals officer who is of the opinion that an oral hearing is required. He will be advised of the date and venue for the hearing when the necessary arrangements have been made.

Under social welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by deciding officers and appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

245 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has not been awarded an old age contributory pension or non-contributory pension. [26028/04]

One of the qualifying conditions for old age contributory pension is that a person must have a minimum yearly average of 10 contributions over their working history. According to my Department's records, the person concerned has a yearly average of six contributions. On this basis, he does not qualify for the pension and he has been notified of same.

His entitlement to the means tested old age non contributory pension is currently under examination. A social welfare inspector has carried out a means assessment and the file has been forwarded to a deciding officer for necessary action. As soon as the decision is made, the person concerned will be notified of the position.

Under social welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by deciding officers and, where appropriate, appeals officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

246 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the saving to the Exchequer generated to date by each of the 15 social welfare cutbacks announced by his predecessor on 13 November 2003; the estimated cost of reversing each of those cutbacks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26040/04]

The measures announced in November 2003 in the context of the 2004 Estimates included changes to the back to education allowance, one parent family payment, certain child dependant allowances, changes in the conditions of entitlement to short term social insurance payments and changes in the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

It is not possible to quantify precisely the savings to-date to the Exchequer, or to the Social Insurance Fund, generated by the measures in question in that, where disallowances or reduced entitlements occur, the specific reasons for such are not recorded on payment systems in a way which facilitates production of the information requested.

While data is readily available on the numbers in receipt of all payments and the amounts of their entitlements, simple comparisons of such numbers and amounts would not reliably indicate the savings being generated by the measures. In some cases, the individuals who may have been affected by a particular measure could have availed of alternative supports.

I have already informed the House that I am carrying out a review of the measures in question to ascertain what hardship, if any, they are causing to people. That review will also address the costs in the current and future years of reversing any of the measures.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

247 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the estimated cost of abolishing the means test for the carers allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26041/04]

The primary objective of the carer's allowance is to provide income support to low income carers. In line with other social assistance schemes, the means test is applied to the carer's allowance so as to ensure that limited resources are directed to those in greatest need. The means test applied to the allowance has been eased significantly in the past few years, most notably with the introduction of disregards of spouses' earnings.

The cost of complete abolition of the means test has been estimated at €180 million in a full year but this is currently being reviewed taking account of CSO and departmental data. Proposals to improve supports for carers are being considered in the context of the forthcoming budget.

Social Welfare Code.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

248 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will consider raising the threshold for payment of the €253 health-employment levy by self employed persons from the earnings threshold of approximately €3,000 per annum to €5,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26079/04]

Self-employed contributors with annual income in excess of €3,174 per annum pay a minimum PRSI contribution of €253 per annum or 3%, whichever is the greater, plus the health contribution where applicable. This is equivalent to a social insurance contribution of €4.89 per week. These contributions count for establishing entitlement to,inter alia, old age contributory pension. Persons with incomes below €3,174 are not entitled to pay contributions.

The minimum contribution was set at its present level in 2001. In the meantime, the old age contributory pension has risen by 25% and average earnings by 19%. Any proposals to raise the level of the minimum contribution or the threshold for payment would have to be considered in a budgetary context.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Liz McManus

Question:

249 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a FIS payment is fixed for 12 months and does not alter even though the circumstances of the entitled person may change during that period; if a review of the regulations will be made and ensure that the FIS system is more responsive to individual needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26219/04]

The family income supplement, FIS, scheme is designed to provide an incentive for low paid workers with families to take up or remain in full-time employment. An integral feature of the scheme is that, once the level of the FIS payment is determined, it continues to be payable at that level for a period of 52 weeks provided that the claimant remains in employment. However, the rate of payment can be amended where an additional child is born in the course of the 52 weeks.

A key advantage of this approach, which is unique to the FIS scheme, is that claimants can be certain that they will receive a guaranteed level of income support throughout the period. This certainty is important to the success of the scheme in providing a real incentive to workers with families to avail of employment opportunities.

On balance, the net impact of the present approach is likely to be significantly positive for workers, given that wage movements are likely to rise rather than fall in the majority of cases during the year. The impact of more regular reviews would most likely be lower payments for most FIS recipients, employers and my Department. Any change in the existing arrangements would require legislative change. Given the nature and purpose of the FIS scheme, I am not convinced that any such change would be appropriate.

Bernard Allen

Question:

250 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he proposes to put out to tender the administration and payment of social welfare which is currently with An Post. [26273/04]

An Post is the principal agency through which payments are delivered to customers of my Department. Currently, some 60% of payments are made at post offices. These payments are made by book payment at post offices or by electronic information transfer.

Apart from payments through An Post, my Department also operates cheque payment to certain customers and, increasingly, payment by electronic fund transfer to bank and building society accounts. The volume of payments made by electronic methods will increase as more customers opt for this convenient method of payment.

My Department intends continuing to offer a range of payments options to our customers. There are no plans, however, for payment services to be put to tender at this stage.

Social Welfare Code.

Martin Ferris

Question:

251 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he has received a report from the Attorney General on cases pending regarding appeals on social assistance claims in which old shares in Kerry Co-op are being assessed at an arbitrary value of €31.74; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26289/04]

The value of shares and other assets held by applicants for old age non-contributory pension is taken into account in assessing their means.

Earlier this year, my Department sought legal advice regarding the value of certain shares held by a married couple for the purpose of determining their entitlement to this pension. The Attorney General's opinion on the matter is being reviewed by my Department. This review is expected to be completed shortly.

Billy Timmins

Question:

252 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason persons in Avoca and the greater Avoca area can no longer sign on in the Avoca Garda station and now have to do so in the office in Arklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26305/04]

Currently, recipients of unemployment payments who reside more than six miles from their nearest social welfare local or branch office sign a declaration at their local Garda station for the purpose of proving unemployment. This service was instituted, as a service to customers, at a time when transport was less frequent and travel was more difficult than today.

My Department is implementing a modernisation action plan aimed at improving customer service and at enhancing control. In this context the role of signing at Garda stations has been reviewed and it has been concluded that the service has long since ceased to be appropriate and is taking from, rather than adding to quality customer service.

The new signing arrangements, which balance customer service requirements with effective control measures, will be introduced in two phases. At the end of November 2004, all customers who currently "sign on" at Garda stations will self-certify and return their signing docket directly to the social welfare local or branch office. In the early part of 2005 the following revised signing arrangements will apply: customers residing up to ten miles, 16 km, from their social welfare local or branch office will attend that office once every four weeks for certification purposes; customers residing more than ten miles from their social welfare local or branch office will self-certify every four weeks and attend the office every 12 weeks. These customers will be offered the flexibility to attend at the office on any day in a designated week; a flexible approach to certification will be adopted for customers on offshore islands and other remote areas of the country and they will not, as a general rule, be required to attend the social welfare local or branch office.

These changes represent a significant improvement in customer service by enabling all unemployed customers have direct contact with their social welfare local or branch office where they can be directed to the many educational and work supports available to the unemployed.

Approximately 80 unemployed customers living in Avoca and the greater Avoca area sign on at Avoca Garda station. Under the new arrangements these customers will sign on at Arklow local office every four weeks.

To qualify for unemployment payments a person must show that he or she is available for and genuinely seeking work. A number of people from the Avoca area travel to Arklow and further afield to work. In the normal course my Department would expect unemployed customers from the Avoca area to take up offers of employment in the Arklow area and to travel there on a daily basis. In these circumstances it is not unreasonable to require customers from the Avoca area, who are actively seeking work, to travel to Arklow every four weeks for certification purposes.

However, if any customer has particular difficulties with the revised arrangements, my officials in Arklow will be glad to consider these and make whatever adjustments are considered appropriate.

Social Welfare Benefits.

David Stanton

Question:

253 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the estimate provided in 2003 for the school meals community programme; the amount actually expended in 2003; the reason for the difference between the estimate provision and the outturn if any; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26407/04]

The school meals programme provides funding for the urban school meals scheme, which operates in conjunction with certain local authorities, as well as for a number of locally operated school meals projects, that are supported under the school meal community programme.

Funding is provided for food only and is based on a rate per meal per child. The type and range of meals provided as well as the method and logistics of supplying the meals are decided by the local groups that design and run the projects. Some €3.25 million was provided in 2003. Total expenditure amounted to €1.76 million.

My Department is working with the Department of Education and Science to extend the school meals programme. That Department is using its schools completion programme and giving children an even break initiative to target disadvantaged schools and is promoting the school meals programme through its local schools completion programme co-ordinators. In July 2003 invitations to apply for funding under the school meals programme were issued by my Department to 217 schools identified and the Department is in regular contact with the Department of Education and Science in order to maximise the uptake of the programme by schools.

Social Welfare Fraud.

David Stanton

Question:

254 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of prosecutions taken by his Department in 2002 and 2003 concerning suspected fraud; the number involved in each of the respective schemes; the outcome of such cases; the number of cases pending or being heard at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26408/04]

Prosecutions are taken by my Department against persons who defraud social welfare payments schemes and also against employers who fail to honour their obligations under the PRSI system. Civil proceedings are also taken for the recovery of overpayments of moneys improperly claimed and against persons liable to maintain benefit recipients and their children. At the end of September 2004, some 800 cases were with the Chief State Solicitor's office for prosecution. Some of these are awaiting a first court hearing. Others have already had at least one court hearing and have been adjourned for various reasons, such as to allow the defendants to seek legal aid or to monitor the recovery of the overpayments involved.

Statistics relating to the period referred to in the question are contained in the following tables:.

Cases referred to the Chief State Solicitor's office.

Scheme

2002

2003

2004

Unemployment Assistance

91

146

151

Unemployment Benefit

61

158

168

Disability Benefit

18

29

9

Disability Allowance

0

3

1

Occupational Injury Benefit

0

1

0

One-Parent Family Payment

8

1

16

Widow’s Pension

1

0

2

Carers Allowance

1

2

2

Invalidity Pension

0

0

2

Family Income Supplement

0

1

0

Sub-total

180

341

351

Employer

25

14

15

CIVIL Schemes

11

20

9

Maintenance Recovery

29

29

7

Employer

0

1

1

Sub-total

40

50

17

TOTALS

245

405

383

Cases finalised in court.

Scheme

2002

2003

2004

Unemployment Assistance (UA)

105

92

88

Unemployment Benefit (UB)

36

73

72

Disability Benefit (DB)

11

13

17

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)

5

2

0

Employers (ER)

7

24

12

Other

4

14

12

TOTALS

168

218

201

Results of cases finalised in court in 2002.

Result

UA

UB

DB

OFP

Other

ER

Total

Fined

46

20

4

3

1

4

78

Community Service

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Imprisoned

3

1

0

0

0

1

5

Suspended Sentence

23

2

0

2

1

0

28

Probation Act

19

6

5

0

0

2

32

Struck Out

5

3

1

0

1

0

10

Dismissed

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

Bound to the Peace

4

3

0

0

0

0

7

Liberty to re-enter

5

1

0

0

0

0

6

Court Order Granted

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

TOTAL

105

36

11

5

4

7

168

Results of cases finalised in court in 2003.

Result

UA

UB

DB

OFP

Other

ER

Total

Fined

50

34

6

1

2

16

109

Community Service

6

4

1

0

0

1

12

Imprisoned

5

4

1

0

1

0

11

Suspended Sentence

7

8

1

0

1

0

17

Probation Act

9

13

2

0

0

3

27

Struck Out

10

6

1

0

3

2

22

Dismissed

0

1

0

0

0

2

3

Bound to the Peace

2

2

0

0

0

0

4

Liberty to re-enter

3

1

0

1

0

0

5

Debt Paid

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

Decree Obtained

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

District Court Order

0

0

0

0

6

0

6

TOTAL

92

73

13

2

14

24

218

Results of cases finalised in court in 2004 (to end September).

Result

UA

UB

DB

Other

ER

Total

Fined

42

44

10

1

11

108

Community Service

2

1

0

0

0

3

Imprisoned

7

2

0

0

0

9

Suspended Sentence

5

7

1

1

0

14

Probation Act

16

12

5

0

0

33

Struck Out

6

4

1

2

1

14

Dismissed

0

0

0

1

0

1

Bound to the Peace

3

2

0

0

0

5

Liberty to re-enter

7

0

0

0

0

7

District Court Order

0

0

0

7

0

7

TOTAL

88

72

17

12

12

201

EU Funding.

David Stanton

Question:

255 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason the EU Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion 2002 — 2006 only expended €43,000 in 2003 of the €250,000 provided; the way in which the €43,000 was expended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26409/04]

The EU Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion 2002 — 2006 is a €75 million programme to encourage co-operation between member states in their efforts to combat social exclusion. It is part of the EU response to the target agreed at the Lisbon European Council in 2000 that member states should make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty and social exclusion by 2010.

There are several strands to the programme, one of which is a programme of trans-national exchange projects, which aims to promote and support the organisation of exchanges, sharing of good practice and mutual learning between member states. A first preparatory phase of exchange projects commenced in 2003, when the EU Commission approved funding for 64 projects. Ireland is the lead partner in three projects and is involved in eight others.

EU funding for these projects amounts to approximately 80% of project costs, with the remaining 20% to be supplied by the participating partners. In the case of Irish project partners it was agreed that their proportion of the 20% matching funding would be supplied by my Department. For the year 2003 my Department has paid out a total of €43,000 to Irish partner organisations. A similar arrangement will apply in respect of partners participating in projects in exchange projects in 2004.

The figure of €43,000 is below the original estimate of €250,000 for two main reasons. First, given that this was a new EU programme, it was difficult to estimate with certainty either the likely degree of interest in it from potential Irish partners, or the outcome of the EU Commission's evaluation of the applications received. Second, the estimate of €250,000 was framed at a time when the specific amount of EU funding was not known. The figure of €250,000 was chosen in order to ensure that sufficient matching funding would be available to allow successful Irish partners to participate fully in any projects selected. The uptake of projects was slower than anticipated and the programme took longer than planned to get started. This fact has been acknowledged by member states and the EU Commission.

It has been agreed that there is a need to develop greater awareness of the EU social inclusion process and of various elements of this process, including the Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion 2002 — 2006. A focus on awareness-raising activities will form a specific part of future elements of the programme. It is also the case that the operation on the ground of the trans-national exchange projects during this first phase of activity has increased awareness of the programme. My Department, in conjunction with the Combat Poverty Agency, will seek to ensure that information on the programme is disseminated in this regard.

Family Support Services.

David Stanton

Question:

256 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount provided in the Estimates for the family services project in 2003; the amount expended in 2003; the difference between the two figures; the reason for such a difference; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26410/04]

The family services project, FSP, operated by my Department is designed to provide a high quality information service on the range of supports available to families from State agencies and from the community and voluntary sector with a particular emphasis on the services available locally. The project also provides information and customer referrals to the recently established family support agency.

Within the project, an enhanced programme of support is available to a small group of customers with particular needs, for example, very young lone mothers, other parents rearing children without the support of a partner and dependent spouses in households with children dependent on social welfare payments.

Three pilot projects were originally established in Cork, Waterford and Finglas. Following this initial phase, the Government allocated €15,236,858, £12 million, over the period 2000 to 2006 in the national development plan for the progressive expansion of the successful elements of the project, €1,269,738, £1 million, in each of the years 2000 and 2001 and €2,539,476, £2 million, per year thereafter. An independent evaluation of the project, which was published in October 2000, recommended that the project be rolled out to six additional locations. Since then, rollout has been extended to all ten of my Department's regions. The final two projects were established during the course of 2003.

In 2003, €1,466,113 was expended under the family services project. This level of expenditure represents a 60% increase on 2002 spend in the Border, midland and western regional operational programme area and a 32% increase in the southern and eastern regional operational programme area. The under spend was due primarily to the time necessary for the establishment and embedding of the family services project in any area. A high degree of engagement and preparatory work is required in advance of the submission of formal funding applications. Work is continuing on the expansion of FSP activities to ensure a broader geographic spread of programmes, thus enhancing service delivery and accelerating the anticipated uptake of the service. In addition, a significant amount of work, which necessitates no specific drawdown of FSP funds, is being performed by those of my staff involved in the project. Good progress has also been made in the development of enhanced links with statutory and voluntary organisations at a local level and I anticipate that this should result in increased FSP expenditure in the future.

Ministerial Appointments.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

257 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Transport the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26016/04]

The Department of Transport was established on 6 June 2002. Appointments to State boards are made on the basis of the experience and/or knowledge which the relevant persons can bring to the board in question and not necessarily their academic qualifications or political persuasion.

For specific appointments made to boards under the aegis of my Department since its establishment in 2002, I refer the Deputy to the answers to Question No. 211 of 25 February 2004, Question No. 472 of 15 June 2004 and Question No. 214 of 7 October 2004.

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

258 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he has satisfied himself that an adequate bus service exists from the city centre to meet the requirements of commuters from the north Kildare towns of Maynooth, Leixlip and Celbridge who currently use the bus on the morning inward journey but find it difficult to obtain accommodation on the evening return journey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26187/04]

The provision of bus services is a matter for the bus companies. However, I have referred the Deputy's concerns to Bus Átha Cliath and Bus Éireann for their consideration.

Road Network.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

259 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport if he will reconsider reverting to having county councils responsible for the cutting of the hedges along the edges of roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26256/04]

This matter does not come under the remit of my Department.

National Car Test.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

260 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the main difficulty with car registration plates here, which causes them to be one of the main reasons for cars failing the NCT in 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26258/04]

The specifications for registration plates, including dimensions, colours, characters and character dimensions are statutory requirements in accordance with the Vehicle Registration and Taxation (Amendment) Regulations 1999, which were made by the Revenue Commissioners.

A registration plate that does not meet the specifications constitutes a reason for refusal of an NCT test certificate. This position has been strongly endorsed by the Garda authorities.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

261 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the measures he intends to take to deal with numerous complaints made by members of the public with the national car test in particular the inconsistencies in the pass and failure rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26259/04]

The car testing contract requires National Car Testing Service Limited, NCTS, to carry out testing to specified performance standards covering test integrity, quality assurance, premises, test equipment, staff, public information and customer service. As required by the contract, NCTS has a customer charter and operates a complaints and appeals procedure for dealing with customer complaints. The level of complaints is small relative to the volume of cars tested each year by the company. In 2003, some 961 complaints were received, representing less than 0.1% of all tests. Customer service is monitored by the supervision services contractor and consistently exceeds the contract performance index.

The national car test, NCT, was introduced in order to implement the requirements of EU Directive 96/96/EC relating to the roadworthiness testing of passenger cars. The directive specifies the items to be tested as part of a vehicle test. The NCT reflects both the requirements of the directive and those laid down in national regulations relating to the standards, which a vehicle must meet for use on a public road.

As part of my round of meetings with agencies in the areas under my aegis I intend to meet representatives of NCTS to discuss general issues and I will reflect on the complaints and appeals procedure. While I am conscious of concerns on certain matters, I believe they are minor in the overall context.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

262 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if, as proposed, the ten year contract awarded to the national car testing service, will be reviewed when it reaches its mid-term point at the end of 2004; when this work will begin; the person who will carry out this review; if its finding will be made public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26261/04]

The car testing contract provides for a mid-term review to take place five years into the contract. The review will be carried out by my Department in conjunction with the supervision services contractor that assists with the supervision of the national car testing service. In accordance with the contract, the review will commence after 4 January and will be completed during 2005. The review will involve a public consultation dimension and the outcome will be published with copies of the final report being available in the Oireachtas Library.

National Roads Authority.

Martin Ferris

Question:

263 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Transport the person decided the criteria to be filled by the successful candidate for the position of chief executive of the National Roads Authority; if this person will be subject to the same regulations regarding interests as public servants; and the person who will make the decision regarding the candidate who is offered the job. [26262/04]

The appointment of a new chief executive officer is a matter for the National Roads Authority subject to my consent under section 29 (1)(c) of the Roads Act 1993. The selection of the chief executive officer, including the specification of selection criteria, is a matter for the National Roads Authority. The chief executive officer of the NRA is subject to section 37, disclosure of interests, and section 40, declaration of interests, of the Roads Act 1993 and to the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001.

Road Safety.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

264 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if he has received the report commissioned into the incidence of single occupant late night car crashes. [26287/04]

Following the growth in the reporting of concerns in the fatalities resulting of single vehicle crashes occurring late at night, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety and the Department of Forensic Medicine at University College Dublin were asked if they could examine the issue surrounding single vehicle and late night collisions in order to determine if drugs and-or alcohol is a factor.

There are two very separate and distinct classes of toxicological analyses carried out depending on whether the person provided the sample under the Road Traffic Acts or the sample was taken during post mortem examination. The MBRS does not receive samples from fatalities. However, within the Department of Forensic Medicine at UCD, a pilot study in relation to road traffic crashes is being carried out in the coroner's district of Kildare for a ten year period and analysis of this data is ongoing. This analysis will assist in providing a more solid evidence based assessment of the causes of crashes and fatalities including single occupant late night crashes.

Departmental Policy.

Finian McGrath

Question:

265 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will include CORI justice commission policy recommendations (details supplied) in all policy areas within his Department. [25731/04]

The recommendations to which the Deputy refers form part of CORI's most recent policy briefing in which it set out its main recommendations for the budget in 2005. In this context I will be advancing proposals in my own areas of responsibility, having regard to the views expressed by various organisations, including CORI, and in the light of existing Government commitments relating to my Department's functions.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

266 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a State board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26017/04]

My Department was established in June 2002. On specific appointments made to boards within the ambit of my Department, there were a number of appointments made in the period June 2002 to December 2002:

An Foras Teanga

Foras na Gaeilge

Catríona Ní Cheallaigh,

Diarmuid Ó Murchú.

Ulster-Scots Agency

Alistair Simpson,

Robert Stoker.

On specific appointments made in the period 1 January 2003 to 15 June 2004, I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 590 of 15 June 2004. There have been a number of further appointments since that date:

Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests

Graham Richards.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Seán Ó Droighneáin.

ADM Limited

Patricia O'Hara

Christine Taylor,

Thomas Cooke,

Gerard Fay,

Ellen Cullen.

Appointments to boards within the ambit of my Department are made on the basis of the appointee's knowledge of, experience and-or qualifications relevant to the functions of the board in question. Arrangements regarding appointments are:

Commissioners for Charitable Donations and Bequests

Appointments are made by Government.

Údarás na Gaeltacht

Of the 20 board members, 17 are elected by the people of the Gaeltacht and the remaining three members, including the chairman, are ministerial appointments. Co-options are by statute by the elected members of Bord Údaras na Gaeltachta.

An Foras Teanga

Appointments are made by the North-South Ministerial Council on the nomination of the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland authorities.

ADM Limited

Two of the persons appointed by the board of ADM were nominated by me, as Minister, and the other three members were appointed following nomination by the Government.

Parliamentary Question No. 590 of 15 June

Michael Ring

Question:

590 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the appointments that have been made to State boards and bodies within his Department from 1 January 2003 to 15 June 2004; the persons appointed; and the persons they are replacing. [17805/04]

In response to the Deputy's query, I wish to confirm that the following appointments have been made to State boards and bodies within my Department from 1 January 2003 to 15 June 2004. These details and the names of the persons they replaced where appropriate are set out in the following appendix.

National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST)

Member

Date of Appointment

Person replaced

Padraic White, Chairperson

Feb 2004

Ray Henry

Western Development Commission (WDC)

Member

Date of Appointment

Person replaced

Billy Grimes

24/06/2003

Frank O’Donnell

An Coimisiún Logainmneacha

Membership

Date of Appointment

Person replaced*

Seosamh Ó Braonáin (Cathaoirleach)

03/06/2003

Dr Nollaig Ó Muraile

03/06/2003

An tOllamh Pádraig Ó Riain

03/06/2003

Marcus Ó Floinn

03/06/2003

Dr Ríonach UíÓgáin

03/06/2003

An tOllamh Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha

03/06/2003

Liam Mac Con Iomaire

03/06/2003

Dr Edel Breathnach

03/06/2003

Tom Crowley

03/06/2003

Máire Ní Chiarba

03/06/2003

Dr Úna Uí Bheirn

03/06/2003

Prionnsias de Priondargást

03/06/2003

*The previous Coimisiún Logainmneacha was dissolved and a new Coimisiún Logainmneacha was appointed on 03/06/2003

Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board

Member

Date of Appointment

Person replaced

David Brennan

10/10/2003

Deirdre Carroll

Ulster Scots Agency

Member

Date of Appointment

Person replaced

Dr. Ian Adamson

04/09/2003

Additional appointment

Commissioners for Charitable Donations and Bequests

Member

Date of Appointment

Person replaced

Peter Mullock

1/07/2003

C. Garret Walker

Appointments are made by Government.

The Rural/Agri-Tourism Advisory Group (Established February 2003)

Membership

Date of Appointment

Person replaced

Tom Allen

Feb 2003

Michael Bergin

Feb 2003

Jim Finn

Feb 2003

Siobhán Greene

Feb 2003

Donal Guilfoyle

Feb 2003

Vincent Gorman

Feb 2003

Maurice Harvey

Feb 2003

Marie Heneghan

Feb 2003

Dermot Hurst

Feb 2003

Tom O’Donnell

June 2003

Michael Ludlow

Joss Lynam

Feb 2003

Cormac MacDonnell

Feb 2003

Baz Millar

Feb 2003

Pat Moynan

Feb 2003

Micheál Ó Corcora

Feb 2003

Fionn Ó Gráda

Feb 2003

Una O’Neill, Frank d’Arcy

June 2003

Christine O’Shea

Joe Palmer

Feb 2003

Breda Raggett

Feb 2003

Donal Coleman

June 2003

Dermot Ryan

Frank d’Arcy

Jan 2004

Additional appointment

The Consultation Group on Access to Waymarked Ways established in May 2003 (Now Comhairle na Tuaithe, since February 2004)

Membership

Date of Appointment

Person replaced

Bill Murphy

May 2003

Micheal Manning

Jan 2004

Frank Donaldson

Paddy O’Mahony

Feb 2004

Brian Geraghty

Beatrice Kelly

May 2003

Maurice Harvey

May 2003

Michael Comiskey

May 2004

Con Hickey

Cormac MacDonnell

May 2003

Mary Tubridy

Oct 2003

Adrian Phillips, RIP

Roger Garland

May 2003

Joss Lynam

May 2003

Jim McDonald

May 2003

Malcolm Thompson

May 2004

Brian Kehoe

May 2004

Arramara Teo

Directors

Date of Re-appointment *

Tom Hyland

6/10/2003

Risteard Mac Donnacha

6/10/2003

Marie Tinney

6/10/2003

*Following transfer of functions from the Department of Communications Marine and Natural Resources to my Department.

Afforestation Programme.

Michael Ring

Question:

267 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reason persons whose land is planted by forestry are exempt from taking part in the rural social scheme; and his views on whether this is discrimination against these persons who are farmers living in rural areas. [26077/04]

The scheme is aimed primarily at farmers who are in receipt of long-term social welfare payments, but the rules will admit low-income fishermen also. To be eligible to participate an individual must be in receipt of farm assist or have a herd number and be in receipt of one of the following long-term social welfare payments-unemployment assistance, unemployment benefit if previously on CE or disability allowance.

The dependent spouse of a person qualified will also be eligible to participate in the scheme as an alternate, that is, instead of the spouse to whom the herd number is allocated. I consider that these eligibility provisions provide a wide scope for inclusion of farmers in receipt of long-term social welfare benefits. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be looked at in 2005 as part of a review of the operation of the scheme.

Grant Payments.

Pat Breen

Question:

268 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare did not receive area aid payment for 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25996/04]

The 2004 area aid application of the person named has been fully processed with an area determined of 32.48 hectares. However, to be eligible for the 2004 area-based compensatory allowance, scheme applicants must maintain a minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare for at least four continuous months of the year. The records of the Department show that this condition has not been satisfied in this case and consequently the person named is not eligible for payment.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

269 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a State board operating under the aegis of her Department was appointed since 1994. [26018/04]

The names of appointees to the boards of State bodies operating under the aegis of my Department from 16 December 1994 to date are contained in the tables. Appointments to such boards are made having regard to general suitability, professional experience and competence. I do not have total discretion over appointments. Some appointments are required to be made on the basis of nominations from farming and other relevant organisations, and others by way of election by the body concerned.

Since June 2002, the Boards of Bord na gCon and Horse Racing Ireland come under the aegis of the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism. Details in regard to those organisations will be provided directly to the Deputy.

(A) *An Bórd Bia *An Bórd Glas

Name

Name

Mr. Philip Lynch (Current Chairman)

Mr. Michael Murphy

Dr. Noel Cawley

Mr. John Barry

Ms Agnes Aylward

Mr. Jarlett Brett

Mr. Denis Lucey

Ms Veronica Copstello-Kenneelly

Ms Jean Cahill

Mr. Raymond Coyle

Ms Mary Quinn

Ms Helen Lahert

Mr. John Donnelly

Ms Margaret Moore

Mr. Tom O’Dwyer

Ms Maura Nolan

Ms Sara White

Mr. Tom Power

Mr. Michael Dowling

Mr. Maurice Prendiville

Mr. Michael Hanrahan

Mr. Aidan Ryan

Ms Mary White

Ms Angela Binchy

Mr. William O’Kane

Mr. Dan Lenihan

Mr. Thomas Parlon

Mr. Tom Ambrose

Mr. Denis Lucey

Mr. John Barry

Mr. Joseph O’Sullivan

Mr. Liam Butterly

Mr. Michael Kilcoyne

Mr. Kieran Dunne

Ms Maura Nolan

Ms Bridie O’Neill

Ms Margo Monaghan

Mr. Jeremiah O’Shea

Mr. John Duggan

Mr. Michael Slattery

Mr. Dan Browne

Mr. Jerry Sweetman

Mr. Pat O’Rourke

Mr. David Callinan

Ms Gina Quinn

Mr. Dan Lenihan

Ms Katherine O’Leary

Mr. John Dillon

Ms Mary J. Byrne

Ms Brid Rodgers

Mr. Kieran Dunne

* The boards of An Bórd Bia and An Bórd Glas were amalgamated through the enactment of An Bórd Bia Act (2004).

(B) COFORD Council(C) Coillte Teoranta

Name

Name

Mr. David Nevins (Current Chairman)

Mr. Brendan McKenna (Current Chairman)

Mr. Malcolm Beatty

Mr. Martin Lowery

Mr. Michael Bulfin

Ms Sinead Leech

Ms Angela Coffey

Mr. Frank Toal

Prof. John J Gardiner

Mr. Richard Howlin

Mr. Pat Lehane

Mr. Michael Lalor

Mr. Michael Lynn

Mr. Breffni Byrne

Mr. Diarmuid McAree

Mr. Philip Lynch

Mr. John McCarthy

Ms Grainne Hannon

Ms Mary McMahon

Mr. Liam McGreal

Mr. Gerard Murphy

Ms Pamela Kearney

Mr. Pat Rath

Mr. Henry Haughton

Mr. George Whelan

Mr. Michael Glennon

Mr. John O’Halloran

Mr. John Prior

Dr. Michael Carey

Dr. Seán Crowley

Mr. Edward Kelly

Mr. Peter Hunt

Ms Carmel Murray

Mr. Ray McSharry

Ms Julie Sinnamon

Mr. Tony McInerney

Mr. Padraic Divilly

Mr. Donal Fitzpatrick

Mr. Dermot O’Riordan

Ms Elish Kennedy

Ms Kilda Taylor

(D) Irish National Stud Co. Ltd

Name

Lady O’Reilly (Current chairman)

Mr. Dermot Weld

Ms Patricia O’Kelly

Mr. Jim Beecher

Mr. David Shubotham

Mr. John Coughlan

Ms Kate Horgan

Mr. John Osborne

Mr. Tony Smurfit

Mr. Seán Twomey

Mr. Declan F.Sheehy

(E) National Milk Agency

Name

Mr. Denis Murphy (Current Chairman)

Mr. John Cahill

Mr. Richard Donoghue

Mr. John Foster

Mr. Michael Gabbett

Mr. Gilmer Hamilton

Mr. Patrick Lehane

Mr. Padraig Mulligan

Mr. Liam Chute

Mr. Aidan Dempsey

Mr. Hugh Harkin

Mr. Michael Lanigan

Mr. Henry Corbally

Mr. Thomas Mulligan

Mr. Michael Kilcoyne

Mr. Edward Ward

Mr. Walter Maloney

Mr. Pat Jennings

Mr. Diarmuid Lally

Mr. Daniel Joseph Corkery

Mr. Donal Kelleher

Mr. Pat Brophy

Mr. Liam Woulfe

Mr. George Kearns

Mr. James Murphy

Mr. John O’Callaghan

(F) Teagasc

Name

Dr. Tom O’Dwyer (Current Chairman)

Mr. Michael O’Dwyer

Mr. Peter Keily

Mr. Patrick Kelly

Mr. Jerry Henchy

Mr. Michael Slattery

Mr. Jim Beecher

Prof. Patrick Fottrell

Mr. John Dillon

Ms Eva Coyle

Mr. Tom Gill

Mr. Maurice Harvey

Ms Carmel Fox

Mr. Dan McSweeney

Mr. Joe Fitzgerald

Ms Anna May McHugh

Mr. James J Brett

Mr. Ruaidhri Deasy

Mr. Stephen Flynn

(G) Western Development Commission (February 1999-June 2002 when it became the responsibility of the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs)

Name

Mr. Michael Farrell (Current Chairman)

Mr. Seán Tighe

Ms Mary Bohan

Mr. Séan Hannick

Mr. Maurice Harvey

Ms Ann Whoriskey

Mr. Malachy King

Sr. Maureen Lally

Ms Lisa McAllister

Mr. Pat McGarry

Mr. Michael McLoone

Mr. Peadar O Tuathaill

Mr. Frank O’Donnell

Ms Alice Bonnar

Ms Tish Gibbons

Mr. Joe Healy

Mr. Des Mahon

Mr. John McNamara

Ms Martina Minogue

Mr. Pádraig Ó Caomhánaigh

Grant Payments.

Tom Hayes

Question:

270 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when the forage area will be determined under the suckler cow premium scheme for a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and when outstanding premia will be issued to this person. [26074/04]

The forage area determined from the 2004 area aid application for the person named was 17.51 hectares. This area multiplied by the maximum 1.8 livestock units stocking density limit allows payment to him on 31.51 livestock units. He has been paid 60% advance instalments of special beef premium on 3.6 livestock units and suckler cow premium on 27.91 livestock units i.e. on six male cattle and 28.71 suckler cows/heifers, the amounts paid being €540.00 and €3,861.20, which issued on 19 October and 18 October 2004 respectively.

The 61.58% identification and registration penalty applied to this person's 2003 premia applications is being reduced to 20% on foot of an EU regulation introduced recently and that payments for any balances due to him will issue within the next fortnight.

Enda Kenny

Question:

271 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive area aid payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26087/04]

The 2004 area aid application of the person named has been fully processed with an area determined for payment purposes of 45.72 hectares. Payment of his full entitlement under the 2004 area-based compensatory allowance scheme will issue shortly.

Pat Breen

Question:

272 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding the force majeure appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26089/04]

The person named has been notified that the circumstances outlined in her single payment scheme application did not satisfy the criteria forforce majeure/exceptional circumstances under article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003. Following this decision the person named submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee. A full review of the circumstances of the case will be carried out by the committee and the person named will be notified shortly of the outcome.

Pat Breen

Question:

273 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding the force majeure appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26090/04]

The person named has submitted an application requesting the entitlements to be amended under the single payment scheme measure relating to new entrants-inheritance. Following an examination of the application submitted, the person named was requested to submit additional information in respect of this application. When the outstanding information is received, her application will be processed by my Department, and the person named will be informed of the decision in respect of the application.

Pat Breen

Question:

274 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding the force majeure appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26091/04]

The person named, having been notified that the circumstances outlined by him did not satisfy the criteria forforce majeure-exceptional circumstances under Article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003, submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee. Following a full examination of the circumstances outlined in the appeal, the independent single payment appeals committee made a recommendation and a letter issued to the person named on 7 October 2004. The findings of the appeals committee were that the original decision taken by my Department should be upheld.

However, the person named has submitted applications for consideration under both the new entrants and inheritance measures provided for in the regulation underpinning the scheme. When processing of these applications has been completed the person named will be notified directly of the outcome.

Pat Breen

Question:

275 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding the force majeure appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26092/04]

The person named has been notified that the circumstances outlined in his single payment scheme application did not satisfy the criteria for force majeure-exceptional circumstances under Article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003. Following this decision the person named submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee. A full review of the circumstances of the case will be carried out by the independent single payment appeals committee and the person named will be notified shortly of the outcome.

Pat Breen

Question:

276 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding the force majeure appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26093/04]

The person named, having been notified that the circumstances outlined by him did not satisfy the criteria for force majeure-exceptional circumstances under Article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003, submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee. Following a full examination of the circumstances outlined in the appeal, the independent single payment appeals committee made a recommendation and a letter issued to the person named on 24 September 2004. The findings of the appeals committee were that the original decision taken by my Department should be upheld.

Pat Breen

Question:

277 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding the force majeure appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26094/04]

The person named, having been notified that the circumstances outlined by him did not satisfy the criteria forforce majeure-exceptional circumstances under Article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003, submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee. Following a full examination of the circumstances outlined in the appeal, the independent single payment appeals committee made a recommendation and a letter issued to the person named on 24 September 2004. The findings of the appeals committee were that the original decision taken by my Department should be upheld.

Mayo Landslide.

Michael Ring

Question:

278 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will provide a breakdown of the way in which money was paid to persons in relation to funding that was promised (details supplied). [26142/04]

Under the Pullathomas landslide damage relief scheme, my Department assisted those farmers affected by the landslide in that area of County Mayo. Some 85 applications were received under the scheme, of which 68 were considered to be eligible for funding. Each affected farm was surveyed by officials of my Department and the cost of the work required to offset the damage caused by the landslide was assessed. A 50% grant rate was fixed by my Department which resulted in payments totalling €99,640. These payments were made in recent days.

Grant Payments.

Tom Hayes

Question:

279 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when compensation under the tuberculosis reactor compensation scheme will issue to persons (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [26162/04]

Compensation for TB reactors valued under the on-farm market valuation scheme was certified for payment by the local district veterinary office on 19 October 2004. Payment will shortly issue to the person concerned.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

280 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food, further to Question No. 208 of 6 October 2004, the position regarding the requested details; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26165/04]

A further copy of the provisional entitlements statement and covering letter were posted on 22 October 2004 to the person named. A period of four weeks from the date of receipt of the statement will be available to the person named in order to allow him to submit a request for a review of any of the details contained in the statement.

Mayo Landslide.

Michael Ring

Question:

281 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the compensation payment which issued to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be reviewed. [26263/04]

The person named is an applicant under the Pullathomas landslide damage relief scheme. Payments were issued by my Department to all eligible farmers on 15 October 2004. I have requested my Department to carry out a review of the case concerned, including a re-assessment of the damage caused on the farm concerned by the landslide. Notification of the outcome of this review will be forwarded to you shortly.

Grant Payments.

Tom Hayes

Question:

282 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when the remainder of extensification will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [26264/04]

On 22 October 2004, a balancing payment amounting to €3,800 issued to the person named. He has now been paid his full entitlement under 2003 extensification premium.

Milk Quota.

Dan Neville

Question:

283 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the percentage and number of gallons by which Ireland was above the milk quota in 2003. [26265/04]

Ireland exceeded its milk quota in the 2003-04 milk year by 5.74 million gallons — 26.1 million litres — or 0.5%.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

284 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26019/04]

The Deputy will appreciate that my Department has a wide remit as it covers the justice and equality sectors. Consequently, it has responsibility for a large number of State boards. As the information requested covers a significant number of appointments over the ten-year period referred to, it is not readily available in my Department and could only be compiled by the diversion of substantial staff resources from other important work. It is not considered that this action is warranted. If the Deputy is interested in information on a particular State board and corresponds with me in this regard, I will make arrangements to have the information supplied to him.

Juvenile Offenders.

Finian McGrath

Question:

285 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has plans or strategies to assist violent and dysfunctional children in order to save lives in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26029/04]

The Government has recognised the importance of early intervention as a measure to address the needs of children who may come before the courts or are in trouble with the law. This is clearly set out in the first objective of the national children's strategy. Action has been taken to follow through on this objective. I have been informed that the Department of Health and Children is leading a review of family support services by the health boards. This review will make recommendations on the future development of family support services by the boards and an enabling structure to facilitate prioritisation, access, delivery, development and integration with other services. In addition, the Family Support Agency has recently been established and its functions include a family mediation service and the development of the family and community services resource centre programme.

The Children Act 2001 is significant and comprises 13 parts with 271 sections. The Act introduces a wide range of innovative measures which will provide a statutory framework for the future development of the juvenile justice system in accordance with modern thinking and best international practice. The Act also makes provision for addressing the needs of out-of-control non-offending children who are the responsibility of the health boards and have been appearing in the courts. The Departments with a role in implementing the Act are the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Department of Health and Children and the Department of Education and Science. The National Children's Office is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Act and it co-ordinates regular working group meetings.

During the passage of the Act through the Oireachtas, it was made clear by the Government that implementation would have to take place on a phased basis due to the legislation's complexities. Significant elements of the Act have already been commenced. The first commencement order under the Act relating to my Department was signed by my predecessor on 23 April 2002. The order, which came into force on 1 May 2002, provided,inter alia, for (i) the establishment of the Garda diversion programme on a statutory basis and the introduction of a diversion conference based on restorative justice principles as pioneered in New Zealand; (ii) the establishment of the Children Court; (iii) the introduction of a fines structure for children found guilty of offences and the payment of compensation by parents in respect of offences committed by their children; (iv) the introduction of a curfew for children found guilty of offences; (v) court orders to parents to exercise proper control over their children; (vi) the updating of the law on cruelty to children and persons who cause or encourage a sexual offence against a child; (vii) reversing the burden of proof on parents whose children are found begging; (viii) a limited clean slate in respect of most offences committed by children; and (ix) provisions on the safety of children at entertainment events.

Garda youth diversion projects are crime prevention initiatives which adopt a multi-agency partnership approach to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour at community level. The role of the Garda projects is to create conditions whereby the behavioural patterns of young people towards law and order can develop and mature through positive interventions and interaction. The projects are particularly targeted at ten to 18 year old at-risk youths in communities in which a specific need has been identified. The number of participants in each programme varies according to the level of intervention required. A total of 64 Garda youth diversion projects operate in urban and rural areas and funding of almost €5.6 million was allocated to them in 2003.

I have recently established a team in my Department to carry out a strategic analysis of some of the structures and arrangements involved in the delivery of certain services to youth offenders. The aim is to establish whether there is scope within the new statutory framework of the Children Act 2001 to improve institutional coherence in the area. It is intended that the team will report to me to enable me to bring recommendations to Government next summer.

Visa Applications.

Finian McGrath

Question:

286 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a person (details supplied) will be awarded a holiday visa and given the maximum support and advice. [26030/04]

The visa application in question was to enable the wife of a non-EEA national employed under the work permit scheme to reside with her husband in the State. A worker employed under the work permit scheme may be joined by his or her 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 the worker in question was in a position to fully support his wife. An appeal was made against the decision. Having re-examined the application, the visa appeals officer upheld the original decision.

It is open to the applicant to make a fresh visa application with up-to-date supporting documentation at which point the matter will be considered anew. Any new application should be supported with a copy of the worker's P60 and current payslips.

Proposed Legislation.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

287 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the excessive delay in bringing forward legislation to provide for the abolition of ground rents; if his attention has been drawn to the hardship this delay is causing; when this legislation will be brought forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26031/04]

The Government's legislative programme, which was published on 28 September 2004, makes provision for a Bill to abolish ground rents. As I have stated previously, publication of the Bill is subject to the resolution of possible constitutional and practical difficulties. The constitutional difficulties relate to the respective rights of ground rent tenants and landlords while the practical difficulties concern land law generally and the land registration system in particular. I remind the Deputy that the Land Registry continues to operate at low cost a statutory scheme for the acquisition of the fee simple by the owners of dwelling houses.

Asylum Applications.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

288 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on the application for asylum of persons (details supplied) in County Clare who first applied in 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26046/04]

The wife in question arrived in the State and made an asylum application on 24 July 2001. On 20 October 2001, she gave birth. She withdrew her asylum application and applied for residency on the basis of parentage of that child. On 3 January 2002, her husband arrived in the State and applied for residency on the same basis. He did not make an application for asylum. Following the decision of the Supreme Court in the cases of L and 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 the separate procedure would not apply to cases which were outstanding on that date. There is a large number of such cases outstanding at present, including the case to which the Deputy refers.

As 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 deport them. If in the light of representations received 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. Due to the large number of such cases on hand, I am unable to say when the file will be examined.

Public Order Offences.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

289 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will investigate the incident in which the electricity sub-station at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 12 was attacked which led to power cuts in the area; if he will report on the increasing levels of anti-social behaviour and car break-ins in the immediate vicinity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26051/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that no complaints were received at Sundrive Road Garda station over the weekend of 15 to 17 October 2004 regarding damage to an ESB sub-station in Dublin 12. Inquiries were made with the local ESB service manager which revealed the company had received calls on Sunday 17 October 2004 about a power cut in the area. I understand a service crew was dispatched which observed no damage to the sub-station which did not appear to have been interfered with in any way. The ESB believes an object was thrown at a line which cut the supply for a short period.

I understand from the Garda authorities that in the same period in the area in question there were two reported incidents of car break-ins. These incidents are under investigation. There were also two arrests for drink driving and breaches of the Public Order Act respectively. Gardaí effected an arrest for burglary and two arrests for unauthorised taking of a vehicle. The Garda authorities have assured me that public order issues in this area receive ongoing attention and all complaints from local residents are acted upon. Local gardaí operate a call-back system to individual residents who make complaints.

Garda Stations.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

290 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has plans to sanction, approve or discuss reducing the opening hours of all or any of certain Dublin Garda stations (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26069/04]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

291 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received a report or other recommendations which advocate reduced opening hours in respect of all or any of certain Dublin Garda stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26070/04]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

292 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will elaborate on the views which he expressed to the effect that the high number of Garda stations in Dublin city in close proximity needs to be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26071/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 290 to 292, inclusive, together.

I have no plans to reduce the opening hours of any Garda station or to alter the number of Garda stations in the Dublin metropolitan region or any region. It is the case that the use of Garda stations was considered as part of the major review of the Garda organisation structures under the strategic management initiative programme of modernisation which looked in detail at a range of areas within the organisation. The Garda SMI implementation steering group's final report, which I have laid before the House and which is available on my Department's website, does not refer to the closure of any specific Garda station. Rather, it makes recommendations to assist policy making on the management and use of all available resources including Garda stations. It is also the case, however, that the position has changed significantly since the consideration of these issues under the strategic management initiative. The Garda Síochána Bill 2004, which proposes the most fundamental modernisation of the Garda since the foundation of the State, provides that the commissioner will have enhanced responsibilities in preparing proposals for organisational reform.

It would be premature to anticipate at this stage what proposals, if any, might be developed by the commissioner in this context.

Asylum Support Services.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

293 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if Ireland is participating in the adoption of EU Council Directive 2003/9/EC establishing minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers; and the reason for this decision. [26072/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 405 on 5 October 2004. The position remains unchanged.

Firearms Licences.

Joe Costello

Question:

294 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will remove section 30 of the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 which amends section 4 of the Firearms Act 1925; if he will introduce an appropriate amendment to the Firearms Act 1925 as requested by the National Association of Regional Game Councils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26172/04]

A review of policy on the licensing and certification of firearms was commenced by the Department with the original intention that the review would lead to a comprehensive updating of all legislation in this area. However, on foot of the outcome of certain recent court cases, I decided to bring forward proposals to Government to seek approval for the inclusion of some firearms control provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which was published on 8 July 2004.

As Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I am acutely aware of the need to prevent criminal elements from having greater access to firearms. While the published Bill contains one provision on the certification process for firearms, I intend to bring forward further provisions in this area in the form of amendments to be introduced on Committee Stage. An announcement about these provisions will be made shortly.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

295 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further, to Question No. 165 of 13 October 2004, if he will examine the prohibition of refoulement procedures in operation with a view to a full appreciation of the serious threat to the lives and well-being of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if his attention has been drawn to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26184/04]

I have outlined the prohibition of refoulement procedures for the Deputy in previous Questions Nos. 427 and 437 of 5 October 2004 and No. 165 of 13 October 2004. I am satisfied that the requirements and procedures of prohibition ofrefoulement have been fully complied with in this case. Indeed, every case which comes to the attention of my Department is examined on its own merits under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 and section 5 of the Refugee (Prohibition of Refoulement) Act 1996, including consideration of all representations received on the person’s behalf.

My Department always uses the most up-to-date and extensive country of origin information in evaluating the risk or threat to the life and freedom of any person facing return to Nigeria having failed the asylum process. This information is drawn from different sources and is based on independent research done on the ground, including reports prepared by UNHCR.

However, as I advised the Deputy in Question No. 165 of 13 October 2004, this person has been given a temporary stay of six months on the effecting of the deportation order made against her while her case is being further reviewed by my Department.

Registration of Title.

John Perry

Question:

296 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if registration with the Land Registry will be completed for persons (details supplied); when it will be complete; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26209/04]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that the details supplied by the Deputy refer to two applications for registration by way of a Land Commission schedule which were lodged on 9 November 1993. Schedule Nos. V0000WS092314V and V0000WS092315V refer.

Land Commission schedule applications are deemed to be registered as of the date of vesting which is prior to the date of lodgement of the documents in the Land Registry. Accordingly, registration in the Land Registry of Land Commission cases is afforded a lower priority than the registration of other dealings.

I am further informed that queries issued to the lands division of the Department of Agriculture and Food in Cavan on 29 March 2004 and on 22 October 2004 and that these applications cannot proceed until these queries have 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.

EU Decisions.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

297 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the decision of the Czech President to veto legislation introducing the EU arrest warrant to the Czech Republic due to the fact that it would have meant handing over a part of the country’s sovereignty and its right to protect its citizens. [26210/04]

I am not in a position to say why or in what circumstances the President of the Czech Republic decided to exercise his constitutional right not to sign the laws passed by Parliament implementing the framework decision on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between member states. However, I understand the relevant laws have now been enacted in accordance with the provisions in the constitution of the Czech Republic and they are expected to come into force on 1 November 2004.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

298 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the countries he proposes should be included on the EU’s proposed safe country list; and the countries he proposes should be excluded from the EU’s proposed safe country list. [26211/04]

The proposed safe country of origin list to which the Deputy refers is that provided for in Article 30 of the draft council directive on minimum standards on procedures in member states for granting and withdrawing refugee status on which a general approach was agreed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 29 April 2004 under the Irish Presidency.

Article 30 of that draft directive provides for a minimum common list of safe countries of origin to be annexed to the directive at the time of adoption and also for the amendment of the list after adoption. The criteria by which a country is to be assessed in determining its suitability, or otherwise, for inclusion on the common list require an in-depth assessment of the extent to which a country provides protection against persecution or mistreatment through,inter alia, its observance of international human rights instruments and the manner in which its laws are applied. The criteria are set out in Annex II to the draft directive. Member states will retain the right at national level to designate safe countries of origin other than those included on the binding common list.

Discussions are at an advanced stage at EU level on the proposed common list. The countries under consideration at this time, namely, Botswana, Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mali, Mauritius and Senegal, are considered by the vast majority of member states, including Ireland, to fulfil the criteria set out in the draft directive for inclusion on the common list. In arriving at this conclusion, member states have considered a range of information sources on the legal situation, the application of the law and the general political circumstances in the countries concerned. These information sources included reports from member states, third countries, United Nations treaty monitoring bodies and other international organisations.

In the case of Ireland, we conducted our assessment of these countries in consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Dutch Presidency will be reconsulting the European Parliament on the directive, including the common list, prior to its adoption. In view of the misconceptions surrounding the safe country of origin principle which appeared in a recent media report, I emphasise that the principle is simply a mechanism which allows for applications for asylum to be streamed for prioritised processing.

The safe country of origin principle derives from the recognition that while certain countries may be asylum seeker producing countries, conditions in those countries are not generally those that result in refugees. The principle is incorporated in our domestic law, by way of section 12(4) of the Refugee Act 1996, as inserted by the Immigration Act 2003, and in that of other member states and is acknowledged by the UNHCR to be an appropriate accelerating tool.

It is important to note that the designation of a country as a safe country of origin allows for the possibility that the country may not be safe for a particular applicant from that country. Accordingly, a complete examination of information provided by the applicant in support of his or her case for refugee status will always be conducted on an individual basis, with applicants enjoying a range of procedural safeguards, including the right to legal assistance, the right to an interpreter and the right to an effective remedy before a court or tribunal. This is the case under the provisions of both our Refugee Act and the draft directive.

Anti-Racism Measures.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

299 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the moneys he has allocated to fund initiatives related to anti-racist workplace week 2004. [26213/04]

The total cost of organising anti-racist workplace week, which takes place from 1 to 7 November, will be in the region of €190,000. Some €100,000 of this is being funded by the European Community action programme to combat discrimination. My Department is contributing approximately €50,000 with the balance of €40,000 coming from the Irish Equality Authority. The activities of the week will include advertising, poster campaigns, leaflets and research.

Citizenship Applications.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

300 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the estimated processing times for applications for Irish citizenship. [26214/04]

The current average processing time for applications for naturalisation and declarations of post-nuptial citizenship is 24 months and ten months, respectively. The lengthy processing time results from a significant increase the volume of applications being received over recent years. The following tables set out details of the numbers of applications and declaration received and certificates issued in the past five years.

Post nuptial citizenship

Year

New Applications

Certificates Issued

2000

1,293

1,018

2001

1,502

1,419

2002

1,728

1,550

2003

2,491

2,272

2004 (end of Aug.)

1,757

1,622

Naturalisation

Year

New Applications

Certificates Issued

2000

1,004

125

2001

1,431

1,012

2002

3,574

1,332

2003

3,580

1,664

2004 (end of Sept.)

3,138

1,117

There are 20 staff assigned to the citizenship section of my Department. In all, over 650 staff members are employed by my Department in the provision of services for or in respect of non-nationals. Unfortunately, it has been the case that more than 70% of those staff are engaged full time in activities associated with the actual processing of asylum claims or in the provision of support of asylum applicants. However, the major reduction in the numbers of asylum applications is now giving me an opportunity to re-focus those resources on areas of service provision for non-nationals which are under resourced at this point in time. The citizenship area is one of the areas which will benefit from that process.

Asylum Support Services.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

301 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Government supports the proposal to establish transit camps in north Africa to process asylum seekers outside the EU. [26252/04]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to a very general outline of proposals for the setting up of transit reception centres in north Africa which was canvassed by German Interior Minister Schily at the informal JHA Council on 30 September and 1 October 2004 in Scheveningen, the Netherlands. While the outline German proposals have to be further elaborated, their stated objective was to address serious and ongoing problem of persons seeking to enter the EU illegally by means of crossing the Mediterranean by sea and the potential for serious loss of life which this involves.

There is a recognition among member states, which is shared by the UNHCR and the European Commission, that action needs to be taken to tackle movements of people by sea in the Mediterranean region so as to avoid serious loss of life in the future. The Commission is working on proposals received from the UNHCR concerning the building or strengthening of asylum systems in north Africa which involve,inter alia, promoting legislation and training of officials from the states involved in refugee status determination.

I am of the view that the German ideas raised a wide range of major issues that need to be addressed, including human rights, legal and humanitarian considerations and linkages to developing the capacity of regions of origin to deal with large scale migration flows. Pending more detailed clarification from Germany, I am very much keeping an open mind on this issue and I have not yet brought Ireland's position on the matter to Government for a policy decision.

Registration of Title.

Michael Ring

Question:

302 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a map of a folio will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [26277/04]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that this is an application for copy folio and filed map lodged on 15 September 2004. Application No. P2004SM075646T refers. I am further informed that this application was completed on 21 October 2004.

Firearms Registration.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

303 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current policy of his Department with regard to the granting of importation licences under section 17 of the Firearms Act 1925; the way in which many such importation licences have been applied for since July 2004; and if these importation licences are required for individuals who have been issued with firearms certificates by the Garda Síochána, in view of section 21 of the Firearms Act 1964. [26291/04]

Section 17 of the Firearms Act 1925 deals with restrictions on the import of firearms, prohibited weapons and ammunition. My Department considers all applications for importation licences under section 17 on a case by case basis. Since July 2004, there have been 12 applications for importation licences under that section. Section 21 of the Firearms Act 1964 states: "The restriction imposed by section 17 of the Principal [1925] Act on the importation in to the State of firearms shall not apply in relation to the importation of a firearm by the holders of a firearm certificate in respect of the firearm which is in force". I am advised that this section does not apply to prohibited weapons or ammunition.

It should be noted that the terms of the European Council Directive 91/477/EEC, as transposed by the European Communities (Acquisition and Possession of Weapons and Ammunition) Regulations 1993, apply to all transfers of firearms and ammunition between member states. Section 6(1) of those regulations require the prior consent of the competent authorities in member states to the transfer.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

304 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on plans for closed circuit television in the Tallaght area; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that particular interest throughout the community in this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26299/04]

As the Deputy is aware, 17 locations throughout the country, including Tallaght, are set to receive town centre CCTV systems. This expansion is being implemented on a phased basis as follows: Phase 1 — Bray, Dundalk, Dun Laoghaire, Finglas, Galway and Limerick Phase 2 — Athlone, Clondalkin, Tallaght and Waterford Phase 3 — Ballyfermot, Carlow, Castlebar, Clonmel, Ennis, Kilkenny and Sligo Installation of the CCTV systems is of necessity a detailed, complex and lengthy process. The installation of the systems in Bray, Dundalk, Dun Laoghaire and Limerick has been completed and these systems are now fully operational.

The second phase of Garda CCTV systems will be installed in Athlone, Clondalkin, Tallaght and Waterford. The Garda authorities have given careful consideration to a restructuring of the manner in which these Garda CCTV systems go to tender with a view to delivering the implementation of these CCTV systems in a faster, more efficient and cost-effective manner. Significant progress has been made in this regard and I am advised that the pre-tender process to engage the appropriate services to commence the implementation of this second phase of CCTV systems is almost complete. This tender competition will be advertised on the Government website,www.etenders.ie, and the Official Journal of the European Communities, OJEC.

Computerisation Programme.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

305 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science her priorities for the schools broadband programme over the next three years, including the plans she has for Scoilnet and for the development of ICT within the national curriculum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25668/04]

The provision of broadband to schools is a central element of my Department's strategy for advancing ICT as a teaching and learning resource in first and second level education. By facilitating multi-media on-line applications in a classroom setting, much faster download of educational content and enhanced communications between school communities, broadband will greatly enhance the potential of ICT in teaching and learning in schools.

Earlier this year the Government reached agreement with the telecommunications sector on a major investment project which will see broadband connectivity delivered to all schools by the end of 2005. A three-year fund of €18 million is being established for this purpose, with industry providing €5 million per annum and the Government providing €1 million per annum. Additional Exchequer funding will be provided for the development of a secure national network managed centrally by HEAnet and a services helpdesk providing advice and support to schools on technical issues in relation to broadband connectivity.

Tenders for the provision of broadband services to schools over a three year period are currently being evaluated by a team of experts appointed by my Department and it is the intention to award contracts before the year end. The National Centre for Technology in Education, NCTE, is holding advice seminars for school principals and IT co-ordinators in October and November and is making arrangements to register schools for participation in the broadband programme.

The investment in schools broadband is part of a wider strategy aimed at providing students with the necessary range of skills and dispositions for participation in the knowledge society. To ensure that broadband is used effectively in the classroom, concerted action will be taken across a range of issues including equipment provision and maintenance in schools, technical support and advice, enhancement of teacher skills in ICT applications, embedding ICT in the curriculum, providing access to quality digital content for learning and fostering an e-learning culture within schools. A new strategy for schools' ICT, under consideration within my Department, will address these issues.

The Scoilnet website, which is managed by the NCTE, will have an important role to play in building a wide range of curriculum relevant digital resources for teachers and students. Significant improvements have been made to the website in the past year and the plan is to progressively upgrade and extend the facility over the coming years so that it may become a content rich interactive resource for teaching and learning across the curriculum. In the area of curriculum development and reform, a key objective will be to promote ICT as a central teaching and learning resource across the curriculum and to ensure that the full potential of ICT is leveraged for the benefit of student learning and skills development. My Department will be working closely with the National Council for Curriculum Assessment and the National Centre for Technology in Education on this issue.

Radon Gas Levels.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

306 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science the action she intends to take to counter excessive radon gas levels in schools in view of the findings of a recent Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland survey showing that dangerous levels of the gas have been found in one in four schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22595/04]

In 1998 my Department, in consultation with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, RPII, took a proactive approach to identifying and eradicating radon in schools. This commenced with my Department commissioning the RPII to conduct a survey of radon levels in all primary and post-primary schools. This survey predates legislation on the issue of radon in the workplace by more than two years and the action taken exceeds any legislative requirements in that all schools regardless of whether or not they are situated in areas of high radon were invited to be tested. In addition, in June 2001, a circular letter issued to all boards of management informing them of my Department's initiative and advising schools on the course of action necessary for radon mitigation.

During the course of the survey, 4,072 schools were invited to participate, of which 3,798 schools responded and were sent detectors. Radon surveys were subsequently completed in 3,444 schools. Approximately 300 schools had radon concentrations above the workplace reference level of 400 Bq/m3. The average radon concentration level in the schools surveyed was 93 Bq/m3. The remaining schools which did not participate in the original survey were again invited to participate. Detectors were issued to the schools and it is expected that the results will be available to my Department shortly. If remediation action is required it will be carried out as soon as possible thereafter.

The radon reference set for the workplace under the Radiological Protection Act 1991 (Ionising Radiation) Order 2000 (SI 125 of 2000) is 400 Bq/m3. Notwithstanding the fact that the radon reference for workplaces is 400 Bq/m3, my Department issues grants to schools for the installation of suitable vents in classrooms where radon levels are between 200 Bq/m3 and 400 Bq/m3.

Schools with levels above 400 Bq/m3 are advised to secure the services of a suitably qualified consultant architect-engineer to carry out all necessary remedial works. Following completion of remediation works, post-remediation measurements are carried out by the RPII to determine if the remediation has been effective. This process is ongoing and the RPII continues to carry out post-remediation testing in schools.

My Department funds all costs in relation to radon mitigation. In addition, in relation to the provision of new accommodation for schools, my Department's building unit ensures that radon barriers are included in the design of all such buildings.

Special Educational Needs.

Finian McGrath

Question:

307 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if the special educational needs of persons at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5 will be urgently addressed; if the situation will be changed whereby some pupils receive 28 minutes per week learning support; and if additional resources will be granted to resolve this matter. [26402/04]

Where pupils with special educational needs enrol in a post-primary school, it is open to the school to apply to my Department for additional teaching and-or special needs assistant support for these pupils. My Department allocates additional teaching support and special needs assistant support to second level schools and vocational educational committees to cater for pupils with special educational needs. Each application is considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the pupils involved and having regard to a range of factors including the overall resources available to the school.

Following consideration of the application from the school concerned, my Department allocated a total of 14.66 hours per week teaching support for the 2004-2005 school year to cater for the special educational needs of pupils enrolled. The level of resources allocated by my Department was determined after detailed consideration of the school's application, the supporting documentation provided, including the recommendations made by the National Educational Psychological Service and having regard to the overall level of resources, including four surplus or over quota posts, already available to the school.

Where a school authority is of the view that the level of needs within the school is such as to be incapable of being addressed from within its current allocation, my Department will consider these concerns. Such consideration requires a clear demonstration of the inadequacy of the allocation by reference to the current utilisation of the school's available resources.

In relation to the school in question, my Department reviewed the school's allocation based on the concerns presented by the school. However, it was considered that the current staffing allocation was adequate to meet the needs of the pupils concerned.

Ministerial Appointments.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

308 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Education and Science the name, relevant qualifications, political party membership and process by which each person appointed to a state board operating under the aegis of her Department was appointed since 1994. [26020/04]

Appointments to State boards under the aegis of my Department are made to ensure that they are as representative as possible of the various interests involved. This is generally done through nominations by the organisations representing these interests as well as by the Minister. The overriding requirement in this process is that nominees will have the capacity to contribute effectively to the work of the boards on the basis of their knowledge and expertise in the relevant area. The detailed information required by the Deputy would not be readily available through the above process.

Special Educational Needs.

David Stanton

Question:

309 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science , further to correspondence from this Deputy to her office and the response received on 17 September 2004, if the inquiries to be made into the special educational needs of a person (details supplied) in County Cork have been completed; if she has decided to make resources available to this person as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26034/04]

Where a pupil with special educational needs enrols in a post-primary school, it is open to the school to apply to my Department for additional teaching support for the pupil. My Department allocates additional teaching support and special needs assistant support to second level schools and vocational educational committees to cater for pupils with special educational needs. Each application is considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the pupils involved and the nature and level of support provided is determined on the advice of the psychological service.

The school concerned has been allocated 17.50 hours per week additional teaching support for the 2004-05 school year to cater for the special educational needs of a number of pupils including the pupil to which the Deputy refers. The level of resource teaching allocated to the school in question by my Department was determined after detailed consideration of the school's application, the supporting documentation provided, including the recommendations made by the National Educational Psychological Service and having regard to the overall level of resources already available to the school to address special needs issues.

Where a school authority is of the view that the level of needs within the school is such as to be incapable of being addressed from within its current allocation, my Department will consider these concerns. Such consideration requires a clear demonstration of the inadequacy of the allocation by reference to the current utilisation of the school's available resources.

School Staffing.

David Stanton

Question:

310 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has received a communication from a school (details supplied) in County Cork regarding the need to appoint a special education teacher to the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26035/04

I can confirm that my Department received correspondence from the school referred to by the Deputy in relation to its allocation of learning support teaching provision. The school, which has 11 part-time hours' learning support, was advised of its teacher allocation under the new weighted system on 24 June 2004.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department has developed a new weighted system of allocation of resource teaching supports in primary schools. The proposed system for the allocation of resource teachers comprises both a general allocation for pupils with mild learning disabilities-difficulties and specific allocations for individual pupils with more complex needs. The revised system will put teaching resources permanently in place to meet the needs of children with special needs. The system will greatly reduce the need for individual applications and supporting psychological assessments. It will also allow for better planning in schools, greater flexibility in identifying and intervening earlier with regard to pupils' special needs, as well as making the posts more attractive to qualified teachers.

The previous allocation system placed significant demands on principals, teachers and psychologists. It has also proven to be time-consuming, thereby delaying the allocation of resources for special needs. I believe that the new model will, over time, significantly improve the capacity of the system to cater for children with special needs in a speedier, more effective way. The revised system will reduce the administrative burden on schools and allow them to concentrate on the delivery of services to pupils with special needs. It will also allow psychologists to devote more time to advising teachers on planning for individual children and for whole school provision.

The Deputy will also be aware that I am having the impact of the revised allocation model reviewed to ameliorate any difficulties arising, particularly in small and rural schools. I want to ensure that it provides an automatic response while at the same time ensuring that pupils currently in receipt of service continue to receive the level of service appropriate to their needs. The needs of the school in question will be considered in the context of this review.

Schools Building Projects.

Phil Hogan

Question:

311 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science when work is expected to commence in respect of the extension to a school (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26044/04]

The extension project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. It has a band three rating.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and the progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the programme from 2005. Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

School Staffing.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

312 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science when a person (details supplied) in County Limerick will be allocated the special needs assistant they require; if this case can be prioritised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26049/04]

Where a pupil with special educational needs enrols in a post-primary school, it is open to the school to apply to my Department for additional teaching and-or special needs assistant support for the pupil. My Department allocates additional teaching support and special needs assistant support to second level schools and vocational educational committees to cater for pupils with special educational needs. Each application is considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the pupils involved and the nature and level of support provided is determined on the advice of the psychological service.

The level of resources allocated by my Department was determined after detailed consideration of the school's application, the supporting documentation provided, including the recommendations made by the National Educational Psychological Service, and having regard to the overall level of resources already available to the school. My Department has recently received an application for additional resources to cater for the special needs of the student in question and this application is currently receiving attention. The school will be notified of the outcome of the application as soon as possible.

Special Educational Needs.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

313 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Science if resource hours will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26064/04]

The school in question received a response to the application for special educational needs resources for the relevant pupil on 24 June 2004. This pupil's special educational needs are in the high incidence disability category and it would be expected that pupils within this category would have their special educational needs met from within the resource-learning support teaching allocation available to the school. The school in question currently has three full time resource teacher posts and one full-time learning support post.

Dan Neville

Question:

314 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science if the provision of a special needs assistant for a person (details supplied) in County Limerick will be reconsidered. [26065/04]

I can confirm that my Department received an application for special needs assistant support for the pupil referred to by the Deputy. The application will be reconsidered in the context of any supporting documentation submitted to my Department.

Institutes of Technology.

Pat Carey

Question:

315 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans and those of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies for Dunsink Observatory; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26066/04]

The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, in its strategy statement, has identified the conduct of regular reviews of the academic work of its three constituent schools as a critical factor for its success. I understand from the institute that it established independent panels of international experts during 2004 to carry out such reviews of the research work of its three constituent schools. The international panel on the School of Cosmic Physics, which includes the astronomy section, has submitted its report and its recommendations are being examined by the institute.

I understand that it is the intention of the institute, following full consideration of the report, to take a decision on the level of research that will be carried out in Dunsink, by and on behalf of the institute and the School of Cosmic Physics. I understand that the institute has no plans for changing the current use of Dunsink Observatory and it has not presented any proposals to me in this regard.

Special Educational Needs.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

316 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the action that has been taken to progress the recommendations made by the task force on autism; if she will report on progress made with regard to each recommendation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26067/04]

A multi-faceted approach is being taken by my Department in response to the report of the task force on autism. At the macro level, the priority has been and will continue to be the implementation of the fundamental legislative and structural measures which are essential to underpin the development and delivery of services for persons with autism.

On the legislative front, the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 sets out the rights and entitlements of children with special needs, including autism, to an appropriate education service and providing the necessary framework for effective service delivery.

On the structural front, the National Council for Special Education, which will have a local area presence, will play a key role in the development and delivery of services for persons with special needs, including persons with autism. It will have a research and advisory role and will establish expert groups to address particular areas of special needs provision. It will also establish a consultative forum to facilitate inputs from the education partners and other interested parties.

Significant progress has been made in the establishment of the national council. Seventy special education needs organisers have recently been recruited. These people will be a focal point of contact for schools and parents. They will process individual applications for resources for special educational needs. It is anticipated that the council and the special education needs organisers will become operational shortly.

At the micro level, my Department is continuing to develop the network of special educational provision for children with autism. The extent of progress can be measured from the fact that, since 1998, when autism was first recognised as a distinct special educational need, the number of dedicated facilities that have been developed is as follows: eight pre-school classes for children with autism; 134 special classes for children with autism attached to special schools and mainstream schools; five special classes for children with Asperger's syndrome; and eight facilities, sanctioned on a pilot basis, which are providing an applied behavioural analysis model, ABA, of response to children with autism.

Another major landmark in the development of autism specific services was the joint launch last month by my predecessor and the Minister with responsibility for Education in Northern Ireland of the Middletown Centre for Autism. This marked the successful completion of the purchase of the former Saint Joseph's Adolescent Centre, Middletown, on behalf of the Department of Education in the North and the Department of Education and Science in the South. Both Departments plan to refurbish the property to meet the needs of a centre of excellence for children and young people with autism throughout the island of Ireland. The centre will be dedicated to improving and enriching the educational opportunities of children and young people with autistic spectrum disorders. Four key services will be provided by the centre: a learning support service, on a residential basis; an educational assessment service; a training and advisory service; and an autism research and information service.

The steps taken in recent years and those in hand represent significant progress in the development of services for children with autism. However, I fully recognise that further progress is required and my Department, in consultation with parents and existing service providers, will seek to ensure that the recent rate of development is maintained.

Schools Refurbishment.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

317 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to an application for an extension and refurbishment to a school (details supplied) in County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26068/04]

An application for grant aid towards an extension and refurbishment has been received from the management authority of the school referred to by the Deputy. The refurbishment-extension project for the school is at an early stage of architectural planning. It has a band 3 rating. My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. The accommodation needs of the school referred to are being considered as part of this review. Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

Special Educational Needs.

Michael Ring

Question:

318 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the educational support that will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [26146/04]

I can confirm that my Department received an application for resource teaching support and special needs assistant support for the pupil referred to by the Deputy. Additional information has been received in support of the application and this is being considered. A decision on the application will be conveyed to the school as soon as this process has been completed.

School Transport.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

319 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if there are resources available to schools to pay for the cost of transporting pupils to swimming venues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26150/04]

My Department does not make any specific provision in regard to the cost of transporting pupils to swimming venues. However, schools may use their ordinary capitation grant, which has been increased to €121.58 with effect from 1 January 2004, for such purposes. The position in respect of further increases in the capitation grant will be reviewed as part of the normal Estimates process.

School Services Staff.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

320 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the inadequacy of the ancillary services grant for many schools; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that the cutbacks in the community employment programme have made it more difficult to acquire ancillary staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26151/04]

Funding to primary schools for secretarial and caretaking services has increased from the €50.79 per pupil that applied in the 2000-01 school year, to €127.00 per pupil at present, more than doubling the grant over the period.

Increased funding for the provision of caretaking and secretarial services was secured to compensate for the phasing out of community employment schemes and enabled my Department to put improved secretarial and caretaking supports in place for schools.

In respect of secondary schools, the support grant that was introduced under the school services support fund was increased from 1 January last and now stands at €131 per pupil. While provision for support services, including secretarial and caretaking, is a particular focus of this fund, schools have discretion, in line with that available in relation toper capita grants, as to how this additional funding is best utilised in the interests of their pupils. This funding support is provided in addition to the provision made to schools for secretaries and caretakers under separate schemes.

The question of any further increases in the level of ancilliary services grants will be considered as part of the normal Estimates process.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

321 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of claims notified to her pursuant to clause 6(A) of the deed of indemnity dated 5 June 2002, made between her Department and certain religious congregations; the number of such claims classed as existing and as future claims; the number of such claims, in each category, of which she had previously no formal notice; the number of such claims, in each category, in which no State or public body had either been joined as a defendant or had been put on notice that it was liable to be joined as a co-defendant; the number of cases in which, pursuant to clause 5(A) of the agreement, she has taken over the defence of legal proceedings to which the indemnity applies; if she or any other State or public body had been a defendant in those proceedings prior to being taken over; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26153/04]

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available within my Department. In the circumstances, I have asked my officials to examine the various questions raised by the Deputy with a view to issuing a comprehensive reply, updating her on the position since March 2004, as soon as possible.

Third Level Fees.

Joan Burton

Question:

322 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the numbers of students not required to pay the annual third level college capitation fee charge for each year from 1997 to date; and the reason for the exemption. [26155/04]

Joan Burton

Question:

323 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of students exempted from the annual college capitation fee for each year from 1997 to date, according to the local authority area. [26156/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 322 and 323 together.

The student charge is levied by third level institutions to defray the costs of examinations, registration and students services. The student charge in the 2004-05 academic year is €750. Students who are eligible under my Department's means-tested maintenance grant schemes have the charge paid on their behalf by the local suthorities and vocational education committees, in respect of third level study in Ireland.

The following tables set out the total number of students in receipt of funding under the three third level grant schemes, since 1997. The payment of the student charge under the schemes is extended to eligible students pursuing their studies in Ireland. This represents approximately 96% of grant holders.

Table 1

Academic Year

Grantholders under HEG Scheme

Grantholders under VEC Scheme

Grantholders under TLT Scheme

Total Number of Grantholders

1997/98

26,281

5,254

15,997

47,532

1998/99

25,670

5,292

15,521

46,483

1999/00

24,924

5,694

14,916

45,534

2000/01

24,121

5,590

14,160

43,871

2001/02

23,380

5,782

13,738

42,900

2002/03

24,180

6,628

13,401

44,209

2003/04 (est)

26,317

7,979

14,194

48,490

Table 2

Grant Awards Under the HEG Scheme.

Local Authority

1997/98

1998/99

1999/00

2000/01

2001/02

2002/03

Carlow Co Council

277

283

285

273

232

222

Cavan Co Council

431

454

466

472

447

446

Clare Co Council

864

895

899

842

1,184

1,037

Cork City Council

933

915

876

831

759

817

Cork County Council

2,537

2,427

2,331

2,281

2,041

2,144

Donegal Co Council

1,166

1,188

1,187

1,165

1,139

1,091

Dublin City Council

2,258

2,254

2,162

2,222

2,213

2,363

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown Co Council

829

751

698

747

722

800

Fingal Co Council

644

575

577

520

490

575

South Dublin Co Council

1,024

902

904

840

801

811

Galway Co Council

1,979

1,981

1,759

2,017

2,008

2,107

Kerry Co Council

1,295

1,260

1,153

1,161

1,174

1,190

Kildare Co Council

690

675

684

630

594

688

Kilkenny Co Council

629

667

699

700

660

619

Laois Co Council

422

435

425

396

371

378

Leitrim Co Council

217

224

225

248

251

233

Limerick Co Council

1,132

1,086

1,231

920

854

870

Limerick City Council

314

272

259

229

231

270

Longford Co Council

332

323

302

304

281

307

Louth Co Council

546

565

481

312

453

466

Mayo Co Council

1,461

1,329

1,226

1,230

1,280

1,313

Meath Co Council

731

685

657

587

551

552

Monaghan Co Council

431

462

444

413

419

457

Offaly Co Council

456

478

414

379

329

328

Roscommon Co Council

550

529

536

538

447

477

Sligo Co Council

403

399

377

387

363

393

Tipperary N.R. Co Council

539

575

575

592

526

594

Tipperary S.R. Co Council

637

608

629

563

505

494

Waterford Co Council

439

431

443

448

362

397

Waterford City Council

174

173

184

166

146

168

Westmeath Co Council

584

535

522

488

443

392

Wexford Co Council

802

830

830

750

663

712

Wicklow Co Council

555

504

484

470

441

469

TOTAL

26,281

25,670

24,924

24,121

23,380

24,180

Table 3

Grant Awards under the VEC Scheme

VEC

1997/98

1998/99

1999/00

2000/01

2001/02

2002/03

Co. Carlow

102

106

108

108

137

146

Co. Cavan

102

98

119

113

135

151

Co. Clare

143

151

159

123

155

191

Co. Cork

416

486

458

429

439

512

City of Cork

109

124

140

154

150

143

Co. Donegal

652

521

511

540

536

668

City of Dublin

227

181

147

184

204

202

Co. Dublin

216

209

435

263

241

259

Dun Laoghaire

27

19

41

36

30

37

City of Galway

81

85

73

86

116

152

Co. Galway

275

307

371

381

352

399

Co. Kerry

260

266

297

347

366

398

Co. Kildare

94

115

106

104

113

118

Co. Kilkenny

92

120

93

101

104

124

Co. Laois

85

102

84

90

78

89

Co. Leitrim

72

70

87

77

74

82

City of Limerick

80

80

88

88

94

127

Co. Limerick

217

227

214

226

281

278

Co. Longford

68

59

61

56

74

65

Co. Louth

184

185

173

182

197

219

Co. Mayo

254

225

244

269

290

311

Co. Meath

122

114

140

117

123

410

Co. Monaghan

114

139

154

144

125

128

Co. Offaly

104

105

131

146

140

182

Co. Roscommon

182

169

171

172

171

186

Co. Sligo

144

145

148

149

154

171

Co. Tipperary (NR)

134

135

133

118

132

133

Co. Tipperary (SR)

107

138

145

149

155

170

Co. Waterford

68

54

64

67

71

60

City of Waterford

140

144

128

106

81

83

Co. Westmeath

85

84

108

122

117

122

Town of Wexford

11

13

Co. Wexford

149

199

200

208

201

193

Co. Wicklow

138

130

150

135

146

119

TOTAL

5,254

5,292

5,694

5,590

5,782

6,628

Table 4

Grant Awards under the TLT Scheme

Institute

1997/98

1998/99

1999/00

2000/01

2001/02

2002/03

Athlone

1,505

1,363

1,431

1,381

1,350

1,352

Carlow

1,339

1,177

1,107

1,066

932

817

Cork

1,700

1,639

1,601

1,543

1,526

1,469

Dundalk

1,194

1,082

1,013

841

784

737

Galway

1,833

1,945

1,874

1,796

1,792

1,721

Letterkenny

1,020

1,141

1,038

1,085

952

895

Limerick

1,077

1,090

1,178

1,089

1,007

932

Sligo

1,284

1,500

1,296

1,459

1,475

1,529

Tallaght

393

431

499

391

391

426

Tralee

1,108

999

988

891

938

868

Waterford

1,512

1,419

1,347

1,289

1,254

1,326

DIT

1,861

1,537

1,219

928

813

777

Dun Laoghaire

171

185

193

198

195

171

TRBDI*

13

96

115

167

165

Blanchardstown

36

88

162

216

TOTAL

15,997

15,521

14,916

14,160

13,738

13,401

* Tipperary Rural and Business Development Institute
Question No. 324 answered with Question No. 116.

Higher Education Grants.

Joan Burton

Question:

325 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason she has failed to make details on the socio-economic background of students who were awarded higher education grants for the academic year 2002-2003 despite a parliamentary question available; when the information will be made available and when she sought the information from the relevant grant awarding authorities. [26158/04]

My Department is currently in the process of collating information on the socio-economic background of students who were awarded higher education grants for the academic year 2002-03 and 2003-04. Statistical forms did not issue until August 2004 to each of the 33 local authorities and information will be collated when all returns are received in the student support unit of my Department.

My Department reviewed the type of information previously collected in respect of the higher education grant scheme and felt it was inadequate. The statistical form was amended to collect more detailed information on grant recipients, which will result in more informed decisions in respect of future amendments to the higher education grant scheme.

The data requirements for the other three student support schemes are also being examined and consultation is taking place with the Irish Vocational Education Association on how best to address the additional statistical requirements on the three schemes which are currently administered by the VECs, namely, the VEC scholarships schemes, the third level maintenance grant scheme for trainees and the maintenance grant scheme for students attending post leaving certificate courses. Data has not historically been collated in respect of the socio-economic background of students awarded grants under these schemes.

It is regrettable that the information in respect of the 2002-03 academic year was unavailable to the Deputy following the previous parliamentary question. The information will be made available to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available.

Question No. 326 withdrawn.

Special Educational Needs.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

327 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason resource teaching hours have not been sanctioned for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if same will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26166/04]

The original application for special educational needs, SEN, support indicated that the pupil in question falls within the higher-incidence disability categories. It would be expected that such pupils would have their SEN met from within the resource and learning support teaching allocation available to the school.

Additional documentation has recently been submitted to my Department which suggests that the pupil may have a disability falling within the lower-incidence disability categories. This documentation is now being reviewed and further contact will be made with the school as soon as this process has been completed.

Weight of Schoolbags.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

328 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a recent survey by the Chiropractic Association of Ireland found that one in four children suffers chronic back pain from carrying heavy schoolbags (details supplied); the urgent action she proposes to take; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26179/04]

As the Deputy will be aware, a working group was set up in Autumn 1997 to examine the potential problems caused by the weight of heavy school bags. The group presented its report in July 1998 in which it formulated proposals to alleviate problems associated with the weight of schoolbags.

The report acknowledged that many of the solutions belong at local school level and one of the main recommendations related to the need to heighten the awareness of the potential health hazards posed by excessively heavy schoolbags.

In this regard my Department, at primary and post-primary levels, initiated an awareness raising campaign by disseminating the report, with an accompanying circular, to all primary and post-primary schools. Furthermore, information leaflets and posters were also distributed to all schools, highlighting the potential health hazard of heavy schoolbags and outlining a range of local measures that could be adopted in order to alleviate the problem. It is a matter for each school to choose those measures that would be most suited to its needs.

Positive action has been taken by many schools. At second level, actions taken by some schools consist of a range of measures, including the provision of lockers, the arrangement of the timetable into double class periods, active liaison with parents and the co-ordination of homework by subject teachers.

If a parent is concerned at ongoing problems with regard to the weight of their child's schoolbag, then this should be taken up in the first instance with the management authorities of the school concerned.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Pat Breen

Question:

329 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science if she intends to carry out the recommendations of the Health and Safety Authority as a matter of urgency for a science laboratory in a school (details supplied) in County Clare; if her attention has been further drawn to the authority’s report which was forwarded to her; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26182/04]

In accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, it is the responsibility of school management authorities to have a safety statement in place in their schools. Schools are obliged to identify possible hazards, assess the risks to health and safety and put appropriate safeguards in place.

Individual school authorities are responsible, in the first instance, for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care. It is open to school management authorities or individuals to make direct contact with the Health and Safety Authority in relation to matters of concern to them. Where they are issued, notifications from the Health and Safety Authority are sent to the management authorities of schools, in the first instance.

Provision is built into the school building programme to enable schools to address urgent health and safety problems. The summer works scheme was introduced during 2004 which provided capital grants for small-scale improvement works at primary and post-primary schools during the summer holidays. A total of 457 schools were approved for funding under this scheme in 2004. The 2005 summer works scheme has recently been published with a closing date of 5 November 2004 for receipt of completed applications. I have made arrangements for an application form for the 2005 summer works scheme to be issued to the school concerned.

Grant aid of €3,500 per science laboratory was available to all schools at post-primary level to enable them provide the revised science syllabus for the junior certificate examination. In addition, further funding was provided to schools, which did not have major capital investment to their science facilities since 1995. These grants have been paid to all schools that notified my Department that they were opting into the revised syllabus. The school in question made no application for grant aid under this scheme.

In addition, the architectural planning process has been completed for a proposed large-scale building project for the school referred to by the Deputy and the project is listed in section 8 of the 2004 school building programme. The project has been assigned a band two rating by my Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects. Upgrading of the existing science laboratories in this project were not warranted at the commencement of this project, however, in light of the school's current concerns, I have made arrangements to have the school visited by an official from my Department's building unit.

School Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

330 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science when she expects to be in a position to provide permanent classroom accommodation and ancillary facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26185/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

346 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the provision of extra facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26363/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

348 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if and when funding will be offered to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare to facilitate relocation of students, currently using the PE hall as a classroom, to a portakabin, in view of the fact that all students will be precluded from using the PE hall for its intended use over the winter period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26365/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

352 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the provision of additional accommodation at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare whose prefabs are dilapidated, unsafe and which are continually being patched up; if the school will be offered same in the current year or extra funding towards repairs to current prefab accommodation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26369/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

356 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of additional accommodation and facilities for a school (details supplied) in County Kildare taking into consideration the increase in population; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26373/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

359 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of extra facilities required at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare with a view to meeting growing population needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26376/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

360 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the current position in regard to the provision of extra facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26377/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

365 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of the required extra facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the preparatory works that have been undertaken in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26382/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

366 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the discussions that have taken place between her Department and the authorities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare with a view to providing the extra permanent classroom and ancillary facilities required thereat; a timetable for the anticipated works; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26383/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 330, 346, 348, 352, 356, 359, 360, 365, 366 together.

The school planning section of my Department is currently nearing completion of an examination of all building projects on hands in line with the project prioritisation criteria that were recently revised in consultation with the education partners. The proposed projects for the schools referred to by the Deputy are included in this review.

I expect to be in a position to provide an update in relation to the progress of individual projects in the context of a multi-annual building programme. I intend to publish this programme as soon as possible after the budgetary process.

School Closures.

Martin Ferris

Question:

331 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will make a statement on the future status of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [26235/04]

A decision has been taken by the trustees of the school referred to by the Deputy that it will close in June 2007.

Given the pattern of falling enrolments at the school, together with considerable surplus capacity in the general area, my Department concurs with the trustees' decision. At this point I wish to record my appreciation of the enormous contribution Greendale community school has madeto the community it has served over a longperiod.

My Department's main role in a school closure is to ensure that the best interests of the pupils are looked after in the period up to the closure and that alternative provision is available to accommodate the pupils who would have ordinarily attended the closing school.

Special Educational Needs.

Finian McGrath

Question:

332 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will give the maximum support and assistance to a school (details supplied) in relation to the allocation of resources for pupils with special educational needs; and if she will take steps in order that schedule F does not mean a net loss of 5.8 learning support teachers between these schools; and if this proposed cut will not be expedited. [26237/04]

I am conscious of difficulties that could arise in relation to the weighted model for allocating resource teachers to primary schools, particularly for children in small and rural schools, if it were implemented as currently proposed.

Accordingly, I will be reviewing the proposed model to ensure that it provides an automatic response for pupils with common mild learning disabilities without the need for cumbersome individual applications, while at the same time ensuring that pupils currently in receipt of service continue to receive the level of service appropriate to their needs. The review will involve consultation with educational interests and the National Council for Special Education before it is implemented next year.

Site Acquisitions.

Michael Ring

Question:

333 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding a primary school (details supplied) in County Mayo; the breakdown of work carried out for this school over the past number of years including funding allocated; the progress which has been made in identifying a site for the school; the proposals she has to provide a site for the school; and if health and safety officials have satisfied themselves with the current facilities of the school. [26270/04]

An application for permanent accommodation has been received from the management authority of school referred to by the Deputy. My Department is currently providing grant aid towards the rental of temporary accommodation for the school, at a rate of 95 % of the rental costs. My Department has also provided grant aid to the school towards the cost of furniture.

The property management section of the OPW, which acts on behalf of my Department in relation to site acquisitions generally, is currently exploring the possibility of acquiring a site for this school.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. The accommodation needs of the school referred to are being considered as part of this review.

Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi- annual framework.

Schools Building Projects.

Dan Neville

Question:

334 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the provision of a new primary school at Kilfinane County Limerick. [26271/04]

An application for grant aid towards the provision of a new primary school at Kilfinane has been received from the management authority of the school.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. The need for a new primary school in Kilfinane is being considered as part of this review.

Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

School Staffing.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

335 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans being made to provide a school (details supplied) in Dublin 15 with additional support as per its submission of 7 October 2004, in view of its obvious needs, resultant from its high enrolment of international students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26272/04]

I can confirm that my Department received a submission dated 28 September 2004 from the school and is aware of the situation with regard to the level of international pupils in attendance at the school.

The school currently has an allocation of three language support teachers and this is the maximum number of such teachers that is sanctioned to any school for this purpose. Where a school meets the criteria for allocation of resources under any scheme, it will be allocated the resources as appropriate. There are no exceptional measures open to my Department under which an additional allocation can be made to the school. In making resources available, my Department has, in general, to devise processes which treat schools equitably.

Notwithstanding this, arrangements will be made to have the case made by the school examined in more depth in the context of additional resources becoming available. Any expansion of existing schemes can only be done on a phased basis having regard to available resources and subject to spending priorities within the education sector.

The allocation of resource teaching support and special needs assistant support to primary schools is based on professional assessment of individual pupils with special educational needs and in accordance with the criteria set out in my Department's circulars. Two applications for such support submitted by the school in question are currently being considered in that context. However, my Department has no plans to sanction additional resource teaching provision or special needs assistant support to meet the needs of the international pupil cohort in the school.

Schools Building Projects.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

336 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science if she proposes to place a school (details supplied) in County Galway on the building programme of 2005 as a matter of urgency in view of the school’s pressing need for such attention; if she is in receipt of a sizeable petition sent to her predecessor by the parent’s association on this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26278/04]

An application for the provision of a new school has been received from the management authority of the school referred to by the Deputy.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating under the programme, when published. The accommodation needs of the school referred to are being considered as part of this review. Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

Pension Provisions.

John McGuinness

Question:

337 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for the delay in paying a lump sum and awarding a pension to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26288/04]

The initial award of superannuation benefits to a VEC teacher is calculated by the VEC administrative staff and approved by the VEC committee. The payment function is performed by the appropriate local authority following receipt of the approved rates from the VEC.

I am informed by County Kilkenny VEC that the person in question retired from teaching on 20 September 2004. The VEC, on 29 September 2004, forwarded the details of the pension and retirement lump sum to Kilkenny County Council, which has responsibility for such payment.

I understand that pension, including arrears, was paid on 22 October 2004 and that the person in question will receive the lump sum gratuity on Friday 29 October 2004.

School Accommodation.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

338 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the present situation regarding the proposed extension to a school (details supplied) in County Donegal where additional accommodation was approved in 1999. [26294/04]

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. It has a band four rating.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building [programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and the progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the programme from 2005.

Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

School Meals Scheme.

Billy Timmins

Question:

339 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to supply meals in schools on a countrywide basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26303/04]

Meal provision is an integral element of the school completion programme, SCP, which is my Department's main programme for tackling early school leaving. There are currently 82 SCP "clusters", encompassing 299 primary and 111 post-primary schools. The majority of these clusters operate some level of breakfast support or meal provision.

My colleague, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, administers the school meals scheme, which aims to supplement the nutritional intake of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in order to allow them to fulfil their potential within the educational system and also to reduce the risk of early school leaving.

Under this scheme in 2003, school meals were provided in 729 primary and post-primary schools, encompassing approximately 76,000 pupils, at a cost of €3.3 million. Increased provision of €6 million is being made available to support the school meals scheme in 2004. Officials in my Department are co-operating with the Department of Social and Family Affairs on an ongoing basis with a view to further expanding the number of schools participating in the scheme and to ensuring that available resources are targeted at those pupils most in need.

Special Educational Needs.

Billy Timmins

Question:

340 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science her policy with respect to children in primary schools whose parents express a desire that they repeat a year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26304/04]

My Department's policy on the retention of pupils in primary schools is set out in primary circular 32/03, which issued to all primary schools in December 2003.

The primary school curriculum is designed as an eight-year course, including a two-year infant cycle followed by six years in standards from first to sixth, with children progressing to the next grade at the end of each school year.

My Department is providing considerable support for pupils with learning difficulties in schools. Learning support teachers, resource teachers, special needs assistants and a wide range of resources under the various schemes for schools in areas designated as disadvantaged are among the forms of provision allocated to schools for these pupils. The level of provision available should enable pupils to make progress in keeping with their needs and abilities and to move consecutively through the different class levels in the school along with their peers.

Under my Department's policy, children should only be allowed to repeat a year for educational reasons and in exceptional circumstances. An additional grade level should not operate through the retention of all or a substantial number of pupils at a grade level. In such exceptional circumstances a principal teacher, following consultation with the learning support or resource teacher and class teacher and the parent or parents may conclude that a pupil would benefit educationally by repeating a grade level.

A record outlining the educational basis for the decision to retain a child should be kept for any pupil so retained. There should be a clear programme outlined for such a pupil that records precisely what new approach will be used for her or him and what its expected benefit will be. These records should be retained within the school and should be brought to the inspector's attention by the principal when she or he visits the school. No pupil should repeat a grade more than once in a primary school.

A school must not operate a middle infants class or a repeat sixth class/seventh class. In the event that a school continues the practice of enrolling pupils in a middle infant or a repeat class, my Department will discount the pupils in such classes for the purpose of determining the valid enrolment of the school. Capitation and other grants in respect of such pupils shall not be paid.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

341 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if resource hours will be sanctioned for two persons (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26329/04]

I can confirm that my Department received applications for resource teaching support for the pupils referred to by the Deputy. The application for the first named child is being considered and a response will be conveyed to the school as soon as this process has been completed. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department sanctioned three hours' resource teaching support per week for the second named child. The school was advised of this on 26 August 2004.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

342 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extent to which special needs teaching requirements have been met at the various post-primary schools throughout County Kildare; the schools deemed to be still in need; her plans to meet these requirements in the foreseeable future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26358/04]

Where a pupil with special educational needs enrols in a post-primary school, it is open to the school to apply to my Department for additional teaching and/or special needs assistant support for the pupil.

My Department allocates additional teaching support and special needs assistant support to second level schools and vocational educational committees to cater for pupils with special educational needs. Each application is considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the pupils involved and the nature and level of support provided is determined on the advice of the Psychological service.

A total of 1,100 hours per week in additional teaching support and 726.93 hours per week in special needs assistant support have been allocated to post-primary schools in County Kildare for the 2004-05 school year to cater for pupils with special needs.

The level of resources allocated to individual schools by my Department is determined after detailed consideration of the schools' applications, the supporting documentation provided, including the recommendations made by the National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, and having regard to the overall level of resources already available to the school to address special needs issues.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

343 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extent to which special needs teaching requirements have been met at the various primary schools throughout County Kildare; the schools deemed to be still in need; her plans to meet these requirements in the foreseeable future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26359/04]

The specific information requested is not readily available. However, I can confirm that the following special needs provisions for County Kildare have been sanctioned by my Department to cater for the special educational needs of pupils: nine special classes for pupils with autism at a pupil-teacher ratio of 6:1; six special classes for pupils with mild general learning disabilities at a pupil-teacher ratio of 11:1; and one special class for pupils with moderate general learning disabilities at a pupil-teacher ratio of 8:1. In addition to these special classes, there are three special schools in operation in the Kildare area catering for approximately 157 pupils with special needs, with a pupil-teacher ratio ranging from 6:1 to 11:1.

My Department also provides funding for The Saplings project, a facility sanctioned on a pilot basis that uses applied behavioural analysis methodologies for children with autism. There are approximately 30 children enrolled in the facility.

My Department will continue to process applications for special educational needs based on the assessed needs of pupils in primary schools generally, including County Kildare.

School Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

344 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the post-primary schools throughout County Kildare which are in need of extra accommodation or replacement facilities; her priorities to meet such requirements and the number of school places overall required or anticipated to meet the demand at the present time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26360/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

368 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number and location of the primary schools throughout County Kildare which are currently deemed to be in need of refurbishment, improvement or replacement facilities; the number of school places needed to meet the current or anticipated demand; her priorities to meet such requests; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26394/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 344 and 368 together.

The school planning section of my Department is currently examining all building projects on hand in line with the project prioritisation criteria that were recently revised in consultation with the education partners. All applications received from school authorities in County Kildare at both primary and post-primary levels are included in this review.

I expect to be in a position to provide an update on the progress of individual projects in the context of a multi-annual school building programme. I intend to publish this programme as soon as possible after the budgetary process.

Schools Recognition.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

345 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science when a decision on the application for permanent recognition will be made in the case of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26362/04]

The school referred to by the Deputy commenced operation with provisional recognition from my Department in September 2002. Newly established schools are generally required to undergo a period of provisional recognition, during which time the operation of the school and the growth of pupil numbers are monitored.

An application for permanent recognition was recently received from the school in question. It 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.

Question No. 346 answered with QuestionNo. 330.

Schools Building Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

347 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position on the provision of extra facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the nature and extent of construction work; if she will indicate a timeframe for the completion of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26364/04]

Construction is under way at the school referred to by the Deputy. The project involves an extension comprising seven classrooms and a GP room together with the refurbishment of the existing school building. The project is due for completion in the latter half of 2005.

Question No. 348 answered with QuestionNo. 330.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

349 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress in relation to the provision of the extra permanent classrooms at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; if the tender report has been assessed to date by officials in the school building unit and the outcome of this assessment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26366/04]

My Department recently conveyed approval to the school authority to issue a letter of intent to place a contract with the cheapest tenderer for this project. It is expected that this project will commence on site shortly.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

350 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the provision of extra facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; if she has received a tender report from the management authority, County Dublin Vocational Education Committee; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26367/04]

A tender report has recently been received for the new school project at the school in question. This report is currently being examined by my Department's technical staff and the vocational education committee will be kept advised of developments.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

351 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the provision of extra facilities at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26368/04]

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. It has a band 3 rating. As a result of security concerns, the Department decided to bring forward the boundary fencing part of the main project into a separate enabling works project. The school were informed of this in August 2004 and asked to request their design team to bring forward proposals. The Department is awaiting these proposals.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and the progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the programme from 2005.

Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

Question No. 352 answered with QuestionNo. 330.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

353 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the provision of a new national school at Ardclough, County Kildare; if she will indicate if a site has been acquired; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26370/04]

The property management section of the Office of Public Works, which acts on behalf of my Department in relation to site acquisitions generally, is continuing to explore site options for Ardclough national school, County Kildare. Due to the commercial sensitivities of site acquisitions, it is not proposed at this stage to identify specific sites to be acquired. However, this information will be made available on my Department's website when the relevant acquisitions have been completed.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and the progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the programme from 2005.

Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

School Staffing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

354 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if a project (details supplied) in County Kildare is fully staffed to meet the requirements of its new eight classroom school building including double autistic unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26371/04]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the staffing of a primary school is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30th September of the previous school year. The actual 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 250 pupils on 30 September 2003. The school also has access to two full-time and one part-time resource teachers and a shared learning support teacher.

With regard to provision for children with autism, I can confirm that my Department wrote to the school authorities on 15 April 2004 advising them of my Department's willingness to establish two special classes for such children on receipt of a formal application from the board of management. The matter was further discussed at a meeting between school representatives and Department officials in June last. My understanding of the outcome of that meeting is that the points raised were to have been taken up by the school representatives with the board of management with a view to making further contact with my Department.

Schools Building Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

355 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress in relation to the provision of the extra facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; if her Department has received the necessary additional information from the school authorities to progress this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26372/04]

The refurbishment-extension project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an early stage of architectural planning. It has a band 2 rating.

My Department has recently received a revised stage 1-2-3 submission, detailed plans-costs, and the technical staff are currently examining the documentation. The school authorities will be kept advised of developments.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are being assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and the progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the programme from 2005.

Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

Question No. 356 answered with QuestionNo. 330.

Schools Refurbishment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

357 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the completion of roof repairs to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; when it is expected that the balance of moneys for same will be drawn down; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26374/04]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the final payment in respect of roof repairs to the school in question was issued to the school management authorities on 11 October 2004.

Schools Building Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

358 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of extra facilities required at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; if she will review her decision and sanction retrospective funding for this project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26375/04]

As outlined in Question No. 636 dated 29 September 2004, it is not my intention to sanction retrospective funding for projects which were progressed without the prior approval of my Department.

Questions Nos. 359 and 360 answered with Question No. 330.

Schools Refurbishment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

361 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the required improvement works at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the precise nature and extent of the works involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26378/04]

The roof of the school in question has been surveyed by the health and safety unit of the Office of Public Works, which manages the asbestos remediation programme on behalf of my Department. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that I have authorised the Office of Public Works to carry out the necessary remediation works to the roof in question. I understand the Office of Public Works is liaising with the school authorities on the matter.

Schools Building Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

362 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of the covered walkway at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26379/04]

The Deputy is aware that my Department's 2004 capital programme has been published. On the basis of the budgetary allocation, it was not possible to include this project in the list of new projects to commence in 2004.

It is open to the educational authority to submit an application for consideration under the summer works scheme 2005. I have arranged for an application form for the summer works scheme 2005 to issue to Kildare Vocational Education Committee, the closing date for which is 5 November 2004.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

363 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of alternative or replacement facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26380/04]

The question of the relocation of the school to which the Deputy refers to an alternative site is under examination in my Department. Discussions have been held with Kildare Vocational Education Committee, the local authority and representatives of a developer on the matter. These discussions are ongoing and it is not possible to indicate at this stage when they may be concluded and a final decision taken in the matter.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

364 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of the urgently required new national school at Kill, County Kildare; the progress that has been made in this regard in the last 12 months; if she expects matters to be satisfactorily concluded in the near future; the precise nature of her proposals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26381/04]

The property management section of the OPW, which acts on behalf of my Department with regard to site acquisitions generally, is continuing to explore the possibility of acquiring a site for a new school at Kill, County Kildare. Meanwhile, my officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and the progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the programme from 2005. Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

Questions Nos. 365 and 366 answered with Question No. 330.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

367 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science when it is likely that the extension and improvement works in respect of which planning permission was granted some years ago at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare are likely to be undertaken in view of the urgent necessity to provide permanent classroom accommodation for the school which currently has a serious deficiency in this regard; if it is anticipated that the necessary moneys are likely to be made available for the permanent structures at an early date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26384/04]

The extension project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an early stage of architectural planning. It has a band 3 rating.

My officials are nearing completion of a review of all projects which did not proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. All projects are assessed against the published prioritisation criteria, agreed earlier this year with the education partners. Each project will be assigned a band rating and the progress of all projects will be considered in the context of the programme from 2005. Following conclusion of the current Estimates and budgetary process, I intend to publish the 2005 building programme which will operate in a multi-annual framework.

Question No. 368 answered with QuestionNo. 344.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

369 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress with regard to the provision of the facilities required at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26395/04]

The school referred to by the Deputy is listed for proceeding to tender and construction as part of the 2004 school building programme. This project has been tendered and these tenders are currently being examined by the school's design team.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

370 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the degree to which it is expected to provide an early date for extra facilities required at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the full extent of the works likely to be undertaken and if these works are likely to meet the accommodation and ancillary needs of the school for the foreseeable future in view of the population trends; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26396/04]

The school planning section of my Department is examining all building projects on hand in line with the project prioritisation criteria that were recently revised in consultation with the education partners. The proposed project for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in this review. I expect to be in a position to provide an update with regard to the progress of individual projects in the context of a multi-annual building programme. I intend to publish this programme as soon as possible after the budgetary process.

The area in which the school is located is kept under constant review to ensure adequate provision is made to meet emerging needs.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

371 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress in regard to the provision of the extra facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26397/04]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that construction work is recently under way at the school in question.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

372 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of permanent classroom facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the degree to which it is anticipated that the extra accommodation being provided is capable of meeting requirements in the foreseeable future; when the current works are likely to be concluded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26398/04]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that construction has recently commenced on the new eight-classroom school in question. It is envisaged that the new school will be completed in the latter half of 2005. My Department has no request for any additional facilities for this school.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

373 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the up to date position in regard to the completion of the permanent classroom accommodation at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the extent to which this accommodation is capable of meeting requirements for the foreseeable future in view of the ongoing population increases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26399/04]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that construction work was recently under way on a seven-classroom extension at the school in question.

The need for further additional accommodation in the area referred to by the Deputy will be considered in the context of a review which is being undertaken of all projects with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual school building programme for 2005.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

374 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of extra accommodation or refurbishment requirements at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the timetable in respect of same, if known; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26401/04]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that construction has commenced on an extension project at the school to which he refers. The project is due to be completed in early 2005.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

375 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science , further to Question No. 412 on 29 September 2004, when this application will be processed and a decision communicated to the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26411/04]

The application in question will be considered as quickly as possible and a decision will be conveyed to the school as soon as this process has been completed.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

376 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Defence the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a State board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26021/04]

The State boards under the aegis of my Department are the Army Pensions Board, Coiste an Asgard and the Civil Defence Board. The appointments made to these boards since 1994 are as follows:

Army Pensions Board

Date of appointment

Name of Chairperson

Mr. Martin E. Marren

14.10.1996

Mr. Edward Coffey

15.09.1997

Mr. Thomas Harrington

22.05.2001

Name of Ordinary members

Dr. Roisin Drury

22.03.1995

Dr. Eugene O’Connor

15.09.1997

Dr. Alan O’Grady

11.03.1998

Acting Commandant Helena O’Connor

03.03.1994

Commandant Donal Collins

25.11.1994

Captain Ciaran Leonard

02.12.1994

Captain Tony Margiotta

20.01.1995

Captain Robert Hume

03.11.1995

Commandant Ciaran Leonard

01.03.1996

Lieutenant Col. Christopher Browne

08.03.1999

Commandant Ciaran Leonard

12.01.2000

Commandant John Tobin

24.10.2002

Appointments are made to the Army Pensions Board by the Minister for Defence by virtue of the powers vested in him by section 5 of the Army Pensions Act 1927. The chairman and one ordinary member of the board are civilians. The other ordinary member must be an officer of the Army medical corps. There is no statutory qualification laid down for appointment as chairman but the two ordinary members must be qualified medical practitioners.

Coiste an Asgard

Name of Director

Date of appointment

Mr. William O’Mahony

01.05.1995

Re-appointed 01.05.2000

Mr. Pat Hogan

09.06.1995

Re-appointed 09.06.2000

Mr. Leonard Breewood

01.05.1995

Mr. John Keohane

23.06.1997

Mr. John Boland

23.06.1997

Mr. Manus Brennan

23.06.1997

Ms. Madlin Curran

23.06.1997

Mr. Sean Flood

23.06.1997

Re-appointed 31.07.2002

Ms. Avril Harris

23.06.1997

Mr. J. Clayton Love Jnr.

23.06.1997

Mr. Enda O’Coineen

23.06.1997

Mr. Gerard O’Donnell

23.06.1997

Re-appointed 09.08.2002

Mr. Patrick J. O’Hara

17.09.1997

Re-appointed 30.09.2002

Mr. Frederick Morris

20.02.1998

Re-appointed 27.02.2003

Commodore John Kavanagh

06.10.1998

Mr. David Byrne

25.03.1999

Ms Noirin Butler

07.11.2000

Ms Joannes Berkery

09.08.2002

Dr. Roy Browne

09.08.2002

Mr. Michael Murphy

09.08.2002

Ms Kalanne O’Leary

24.09.2002

Mr. Seamus McLoughlin

09.10.2002

Commodore Frank Lynch

05.10.2003

Mr. Gerry Donnelly

11.10.2004

The Minister for Defence isex officio chairman of Coiste an Asgard and may appoint up to 14 other directors. Directors have experience in sailing or other relevant experience.

Civil Defence Board

Name of Director

Date of appointment

Dr. Michael P. Ryan, Chairman

05.06.2002

Mr. Gerry Gervin, Director General

05.06.2002

Cllr. Margaret Adams

05.06.2002

Cllr. Tony Kelly

05.06.2002

Mr. Paddy Durack

05.06.2002

Mr. Ned Gleeson

05.06.2002

Mr. Sean Hogan

05.06.2002

Dr. Ann McGarry

05.06.2002

Mr. Declan Burns

05.06.2002

Mr. Michael Fitzsimons

05.06.2002

Col. Michael Cleary

05.06.2002

Chief Supt. Denis Fitzpatrick

05.06.2002

Ms. Frances Moynihan

05.06.2002

Ms. Irene O’Meara

05.06.2002

Mr. Patrick J. Cooney, Chairman

25.06.2004

Chief Supt. John T. Farrelly

13.10.2004

Appointments are made to the Civil Defence Board from persons who have experience in business, industry, finance, administration, emergency planning or who are recommended by various organisations in accordance with the Civil Defence Act.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Dan Neville

Question:

377 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the provision of upgrading of the sewerage scheme at Kilmallock, County Limerick. [26073/04]

The Kilmallock sewerage scheme is included in my Department's water services investment programme 2004-06 to commence construction in 2005. The preliminary report for the scheme was approved in May 2004 and my Department is now awaiting submission of Limerick County Council's brief for the appointment of consultants to prepare contract documents.

Local Authority Housing.

Willie Penrose

Question:

378 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of correspondence (details supplied), local authorities will discount or disregard in full the carers allowance as income for the purposes of rent assessment by local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26083/04]

Local authorities are responsible, as an integral part of their housing management functions, for the determination of the rents of their dwellings under the differential rents scheme and for decisions on the types of income to be taken into account in the assessment of rents. It is not proposed to change these arrangements, which are in keeping with Government policy of maximum devolution of functions to local authorities.

Housing Grants.

Finian McGrath

Question:

379 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if there are schemes or grants to assist a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 with heating installation at their home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26274/04]

The installation of central heating may form part of eligible works carried out under a number of schemes administered by local authorities for which financial assistance is available from my Department including: the disabled persons grant scheme; the essential repairs grant scheme; and the 2004 central heating programme, which applies to local authority rented dwellings only.

In addition, funding may be provided under the special housing aid for the elderly scheme, which is operated by the health boards. Further information on the schemes is available from the local authority concerned.

Planning Issues.

Martin Ferris

Question:

380 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will make a statement on the forthcoming study on the retail planning guidelines; if it will deal with the issue of below cost selling; and if it will be open to submissions from members of the public as well as persons involved professionally in the sector. [26651/04]

The retail planning guidelines prescribe a maximum floor area of 6,000 sq. m. gross retail floor space for large-scale single retail warehouse development. This aspect of the guidelines has been under review, taking account of the need to ensure proper planning and sustainable development, while also supporting effective competition in this sector of retailing in the context of ongoing developments in retail formats.

To assist in carrying out the review, interested parties were invited to make submissions to my Department. Some 71 submissions were received and have been assessed. The submissions received raised many complex issues and these will be fully taken into account in considering further whether any changes are needed in the guidelines. I expect to be in a position to announce the outcome of the review in the near future.

The issue of below cost selling does not come within the scope of the retail planning guidelines.

Housing Grants.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

381 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the estimated cost of increasing the disabled persons housing grant to cover 100% of the cost of approved building costs on the basis of need. [26004/04]

Based on activity levels in 2003, local authorities paid €50,481,000 to cover 5,739 disabled persons grants. Assuming that this represented 90% funding, it is estimated that the cost of increasing the grant to cover 100% could be just over €5 million.

This estimate should, however, be regarded as an approximate one only. Factors such as the number of grants paid in any one year, the value of grants paid, the difference in building costs across the country and the percentage of grant paid by each local authority could cause the real additional cost to diverge from the above estimate.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

382 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount it would cost to increase the total social housing rental housing stock in the State by 30%. [26005/04]

There are currently some 105,000 housing units being provided for letting by local authorities.

The construction and acquisition cost of 32,000 social housing units equivalent to 30% of the above figure is estimated at some €5 billion, spread over the appropriate planning and construction period, based on current unit costs. To ensure a net addition of 30%, further construction and acquisition would be needed to compensate for depletion of the social housing stock through tenant purchase and other factors over the relevant period.

Housing Grants.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

383 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the cost to the Exchequer of reinstating the first time buyers grant to its pre-abolition level to apply to new and second-hand homes. [26006/04]

In its last full year of operation before its termination in 2003, the new house grant scheme cost €39.3 million. The grant was only available, however, to first-time buyers of new houses of a certain size. Consequently, the estimated annual cost of applying such a grant to first-time purchasers buying either new or second-hand homes would be of the order of €120 million, based on estimates of activity in the housing market this year.

Through overall increases in supply and increasing output under various affordable housing initiatives, the Government is seeking to improve access to home ownership for first time buyers. These targeted measures, in particular, assist low income purchasers and this, in the Government's view, is a better means of improving the affordability of house purchase and using available resources effectively, unlike a general first-time buyer's grant which would over time become absorbed into the house price. Other general measures are in place through the tax system to assist first time buyers, such as stamp duty concessions and improvements made in 2003 to mortgage interest relief.

Planning Issues.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

384 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of units, which make up part of a development for housing on land of more than 0.2 acres or consisting of five or more houses, for which planning permission has been granted since the enactment of the Planning and Development Act 2000. [26007/04]

The information requested by the Deputy is not available in my Department.

Activity under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2002, for each local authority, is published in my Department's housing statistics bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library.

Appointments to State Boards.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

385 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the name, relevant qualifications and process by which each person appointed to a State board operating under the aegis of his Department was appointed since 1994. [26022/04]

The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Special Areas of Conservation.

Michael Ring

Question:

386 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the compensation a person (details supplied) in County Mayo is entitled to for not cutting turf on their bog. [26038/04]

My Department provides compensation in certain circumstances to persons who cease to cut turf and who are owners of land or turbary rights in bogs that have been statutorily proposed for designation as a special area of conservation, SAC, or natural heritage area, NHA. The scheme is applicable primarily to any person who wishes to sell freehold, fee simple or turbary rights over designated raised bogs, which are mainly in the midlands, and where it is necessary to restrict turf cutting.

As far as possible my Department seeks to avoid restricting domestic turf cutting by means other than sausage machines in blanket bogs, which are in mountain areas and in western counties. From the information supplied it would appear that the land in question lies within the Bellacorick bog complex, candidate SAC No. 1922, and is classified as blanket bog. My Department will only consider payment of compensation in these areas in exceptional circumstances where it is found necessary to discontinue cutting of turf. In such cases, blanket bog will be purchased at the rate of €1,000 per acre or part thereof and an additional incentive payment will also be paid, as follows.

Anyone who sells full title or turbary rights before December 2005 will get an additional payment of €6,000. The value of this payment to those selling in later years will decline by €600 per annum. This is a once-off payment and not a per acre payment. Alternatively, an annual payment of €600, for a maximum of ten years will be available to a landowner who does not want to sell but who commits to cease cutting and allow drain blocking or other essential restoration works. It is conditional on satisfactory evidence of title being produced and the landowner will have to sign a legal agreement. It is important to emphasise that, in designated blanket bogs, all of these payments will only arise where, for conservation reasons, turf cutting cannot be allowed to continue.

Local Authority Staff.

Seán Ryan

Question:

387 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he is satisfied that a clerical officer, for example with An Post, is not eligible for employment in the same grade within the local authority system, not meeting existing leaving certificate education requirements, notwithstanding the fact that they have other education qualifications and skills, for instance in IT; and if he proposes to change the education regulations for entry into the local authorities. [26050/04]

The educational qualifications for the employment of clerical officers in local authorities require candidates to have obtained a certain level in the leaving certificate or an equivalent qualification. However, the qualifications also enable relevant experience to be taken into account for the purposes of admitting candidates to clerical officer competitions where such candidates do not fulfil the leaving certificate requirements.

Therefore, a clerical officer in An Post who does not meet the leaving certificate requirement would be eligible to apply for a clerical officer post in a local authority if they satisfy the employing authority that they possess satisfactory relevant experience in accordance with the qualifications as now declared.

Planning Issues.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

388 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will introduce regulations exempting certain structures erected adjacent to licensed premises providing shelter for patrons who smoke from planning control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26080/04]

Under section 4(1)(h) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, development consisting of the carrying out of works for the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of any structure is exempted development only if the works affect only the interior of the structure or do not materially affect the external appearance of the structure so as to render the appearance inconsistent with the character of the structure or of neighbouring structures. It is a matter for each planning authority to determine whether planning permission is required on a case by case basis.

It is not proposed to amend the planning and development regulations 2001 to introduce a specific exception for smoking shelters.

Local Authority Funding.

Pat Breen

Question:

389 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide support and funding to Clare County Council in view of the fact that the council has now taken over responsibility since the 6 September 2004 for housing in Shannon town, County Clare which will have a huge drain on its resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26250/04]

Local authorities fund their current expenditure, including expenditure on housing maintenance, from a variety of sources including housing rents, specific State grants, commercial rates, fees and charges for services and general purpose grants from the local government fund.

Clare County Council has been allocated significant funding from the local government fund. The council's 2004 allocation of €13.1 million is an increase of 15.2% over the 2003 allocation and represents an increase of more than 350% since 1997.

The issue of 2005 current expenditure will fall to be dealt with by each local authority in the context of its annual budgetary process. In accordance with normal practice, I intend to notify local authorities of their general purpose local government fund grant allocations for 2005 as soon as possible following publication of the Abridged Estimates Volume in November.

Urban Renewal Schemes.

Pat Breen

Question:

390 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he plans a new urban village renewal scheme when the current scheme expires; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26251/04]