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 14, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 15 to 37, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 38 to 45, inclusive, answered orally.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003.

Mary Upton

Question:

46 D’fhiafraigh Dr. Upton den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an raibh aon chruinniú aige leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta maidir le haistritheoirí Béarla-Gaeilge a chur ar fáil; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [33237/04]

Bíonn teagmháil idir mo Roinnse agus an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta maidir le cúrsaí aistriúcháin agus ceisteanna eile a bhaineann le cur i bhfeidhm Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003. Anuas ar sin, bíonn teagmháil idir mo Roinn agus comhlachtaí atá i mbun an soláthar aistritheoirí a mhéadú, ollscoileanna agus Údarás na Gaeltachta ina measc.

Maidir le ceist an aistriúcháin agus cur i bhfeidhm an Achta, tá próiseas bunaithe ag Foras na Gaeilge chun córas creidiúnaithe a chur ar fáil d'aistritheoirí san earnáil phríobháideach. Nuair a bheidh an córas sin i bhfeidhm, beidh sé mar chabhair phraiticiúil do chomhlachtaí poiblí a bheidh ag iarraidh aistritheoirí seachtracha a fhostú.

Is eol dom go raibh fadhbanna áirithe — idir fhadhbanna pleanála agus soláthair — ag líon beag comhlachtaí poiblí le doiciméid áirithe go dtí seo agus tá sé intuigthe, ar ndóigh, go mbeadh deacrachtaí mar sin le sárú sa chéad bhliain de thogra chomh suntasach le cur i bhfeidhm na reachtaíochta seo. Ach táim sásta, mar sin féin, go bhfuil dóthain aistritheoirí oilte ar fáil chun freastal ar na riachtanais reatha ó thaobh an Achta agus go bhfuil agus go mbeidh an margadh ag déanamh soláthar cuí i gcomhréir leis na riachtanais.

Community Development.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

47 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the serious difficulties arising from the withdrawal of funding to a society (details supplied); the reason for the withdrawal of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33026/04]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

58 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he proposes to take to immediately re-instate funding for the development and community activities on Sherkin Island and associated islands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33025/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 58 together.

The society referred to by the Deputy has received funding under the community development programme since 1997. Funding to the society has been withdrawn due to the unacceptable level of conflict which has been associated with the project and the inability of the society to address these conflict issues successfully over a sustained period. In the circumstances, I am of the view that the Sherkin community would not be served by the continuation of the project as presently constituted.

My Department is considering the appropriate structures to provide support for development projects on Sherkin Island in the context of a wider review of the support structures on both Gaeltacht and non-Gaeltacht islands. It is hoped to make progress in this context by spring 2005. In the interim, my Department is examining means to provide some funding to ensure continuation of essential administrative support to initiatives on Sherkin Island which were previously supported by the society in question.

Irish Language.

Liz McManus

Question:

48 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has had discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding official working status for the Irish language in the EU; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that ambassadors to the EU have given a cautiously positive response to the Government’s request for Irish to be an official EU language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33251/04]

As I indicated in my reply to Question No. 91 on 9 November last, a process of discussions has been initiated with the other EU member states and the EU institutions with a view to seeking official and working language status for the Irish language in the EU under EEC Regulation 1/1958. The regulation is the legal instrument that governs the EU institutions' official and working language regime.

As the Deputy may be aware, my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, announced on 24 November that Ireland had on that day tabled a formal proposal — by way of a draft amendment to EEC Regulation 1/1958 — requesting that official and working language status be accorded to the Irish language.

The focus in the discussions, which are ongoing, with representatives of the other member states and EU institutions is on securing agreement on the practical modalities in relation to this objective. As I also indicated in my previous reply, it would not be appropriate for me to make any public comment on the detail of these discussions until they have been brought to a conclusion.

Community Development.

John Gormley

Question:

49 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the meaning of the concept of hosting new community development projects in which such organisations are prevented from interacting with development structures in their own right. [33285/04]

The Government recognises that local and community development measures are contributing significantly to tackling a range of challenges at local and community level. However, the number of structures involved in the delivery of these programmes is very extensive and complex. With this in mind, a review of the structures employed in the delivery of local and community development programmes has been undertaken and brought to completion. Arising from that review, the Government decided that public bodies and departments should look to existing structures for delivery of new local or community development initiatives. In this regard, the Government also decided that any further community development projects established would be on the basis of maximising recourse to existing structures.

Ten projects currently at pre-development stage have been approved for inclusion in the community development programme, CDP, with a total budget commitment of €600,000 for their first year of operation. In eight of those projects, agreement has been reached with existing local community development organisations to facilitate the establishment of the new projects for the purpose of drawing down funding under the CDP. In one case, negotiations are ongoing. In the remaining case, no appropriate local community development structures exist and this project will be established as a legal entity in its own right.

While the contracts for funding will be between my Department and the existing local community development structures, the day-to-day operation of the new projects will be similar in most other aspects to the operation of other projects already funded under the CDP. This new model will be reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that the needs of communities are being best served.

Departmental Schemes.

John Gormley

Question:

50 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the way in which funding is to be used, having been diverted to his Department from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, for the administration of community employment, job initiative and social employment schemes. [33284/04]

This funding is not being diverted from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. My colleague, the Minister for Finance, announced in budget 2005 on 1 December 2004 that he was providing "€5 million for the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to support the development of community services in disadvantaged areas and to complement the contribution of workers employed for service delivery under the Social Economy and Job Initiative Programmes operated by FÁS". My Department will consult relevant interests early in the new year so as to ensure this additional funding is targeted to maximise benefits for disadvantaged communities.

Irish Language.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

51 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he made comments (details supplied) to an Irish language organisation in Spiddal in 2003, as reported in a newspaper (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33240/04]

As I outlined in my reply to Question No. 190 on 25 November 2004, the purpose of the meeting to which the Deputy refers was to: explain the provisions of the Official Languages (Equality) Bill 2002, as it was then; to inform and update Irish language organisations of the progress of the legislation; and to provide a forum for such organisations to discuss and debate issues in relation to the legislation. The meeting also provided an opportunity for me, as Minister, to listen to and address some of the concerns and issues being expressed by these organisations regarding the proposed legislation.

In relation to the reference to an article in a newspaper, it is vital that the remarks I made at the meeting in An Spidéal are put in context. I spoke in Irish because the whole meeting was conducted in Irish and it would therefore have been strange if I had made any remarks at that meeting in English. At the meeting, I cautioned Irish language groups about having a blinkered view of the proposed Act. They were, as was understandable, looking for the Act to be a lot wider and a lot more immediate than it is. I was aware, however, of the need for the Bill to reflect a fair balance between the rights of Irish speakers, practicality, cost etc.

However, despite public consultation over five years and an effort to engage not only the Irish language media, but also the English language media in the debate, most of the debate involved those with a particular interest in the Irish language. This was not because of a lack of effort by my Department, but because very little interest was shown by the non-Irish language media.

I was aware at the time that a small section of our population would react negatively to any effort made to provide basic services in Irish to the Irish language community. It was to their possible reaction I was referring to in my remarks at the meeting.

Foclóir Béarla-Gaeilge.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

52 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cathain a fhógróidh Foras na Gaeilge céim II de thionscadal an fhoclóra Béarla-Gaeilge; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith [33232/04]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

71 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cathain a fhógróidh Foras na Gaeilge céim II de thionscadal an fhoclóra Béarla-Gaeilge agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [33233/04]

Tá sé i gceist agam Ceisteanna Uimh. 52 agus 71 a fhreagairt le chéile.

Tá an fógra réamheolais mar gheall ar chéim a dó de thionscadal an fhoclóra Béarla-Gaeilge foilsithe cheana ar Iris Oifigiúil an Aontais Eorpaigh agus tá sé foilsithe chomh maith ar shuíomhríomh-thairiscintí an Rialtais,www.etenders.gov.ie.Tá súil ag Foras na Gaeilge go spreagfaidh an fógra seo suim ag daoine agus grúpaí ar mhaith leo a bheith bainteach leis an raon leathan tascanna a bheidh i gceist le scríobh an fhoclóra féin le linn chéim a dó.

Is é tuairim Fhoras na Gaeilge go mbeidh ráitis spéise á lorg go foirmeálta go luath san ath-bhliain agus tá an dáta 31 Márta 2005 luaite san fhógra mar sprioc chuige sin. Beidh próiseas plé ann sula réiteofar an leagan críochnúil den cháipéis tairisceana agus sula lorgófar tairiscintí go foirmeálta.

Irish Language.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

53 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of jobs that have been created for the Irish language community as a direct result of the enactment of the Official Languages Act 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33239/04]

I have already addressed the issue raised in this question in my reply to Question No. 39 of today. The purpose of enacting the Official Languages Act 2003 was to provide a statutory framework for the delivery of public services through the Irish language and its primary objective is to ensure better availability and a higher standard of such services.

As I outlined in my reply to Questions Nos. 188 and 189 on 25 November 2004, full implementation of the Act will require us to draw on the language competencies of significant numbers of people across both the public and private sectors. A small number of people, fewer than ten in total — the majority of whom were existing public servants — have been employed in the office of An Coimisinéir Teanga or have been assigned in my own Department to the implementation of the Act. These posts were filled from within the overall staff numbers ceiling in my Department. Moreover, I do not anticipate the creation of any significant additional employment in the wider public sector as a consequence of the legislation. As I indicated previously, it is to be anticipated that further employment may be created in training, translating etc. outside the public service.

Proposed Legislation.

Willie Penrose

Question:

54 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the process of examination and consideration of the recommendations contained in the report of the national committee on volunteering, Tipping the Balance, will be concluded; if he plans to introduce new legislation on volunteering in view of this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33256/04]

As I stated in my replies to previous parliamentary questions on this matter, most recently on 17 November last, a sub-committee of the implementation and advisory group, IAG, was formed earlier this year to examine the Tipping the Balance report with a view to identifying how its recommendations might be progressed. The report of the sub-committee makes a number of practical recommendations in this regard. My Department has been considering these recommendations and would hope to be in a position to make available some funding in the new year to support a number of initiatives in this regard. I do not consider that the question of legislation arises at this time.

Decentralisation Programme.

Joe Costello

Question:

55 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if further progress has been made with regard to the decentralisation of his Department; if there have been more expressions of interest made to the central applications facility in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33267/04]

As the Deputy will be aware, the progress of decentralisation in any Department is guided by the overall implementation process being carried out centrally by the decentralisation implementation group.

In that context, the decentralisation implementation group, in its latest report published on 19 November, has listed my Department as a "potential early mover". Officials in my Department are engaged on a continuing basis, in co-operation with officials of the decentralisation unit in the Department of Finance, in putting in place the necessary arrangements to ensure the efficient implementation of the decentralisation programme in respect of my Department.

I outlined in my reply to Question No. 119 on 9 November 2004 the range of steps that has been taken by my Department to advance the decentralisation process, including the establishment of a dedicated decentralisation unit and a departmental decentralisation committee comprising members of senior management and staff.

The Deputy will be aware that the CAF system, which is operated by the Public Appointments Service, will be open to staff members on a continuing basis. The September 2004 data obtained from the CAF system indicates that 159 civil servants and nine public servants have lodged applications for or expressed an interest in decentralisation to Knock Airport. The number of staff required by my Department for that location is 159.9. There is no information to hand on additional applications through the CAF relating to my Department since September 2004.

Departmental Programmes.

Joan Burton

Question:

56 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position with regard to the CLÁR programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33266/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

85 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he proposes to revitalise the CLÁR programme with particular reference to the extended needs now emerging; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33229/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

237 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which moneys have been expended under the CLÁR programme on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33515/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 56, 85 and 237 together.

I introduced the CLÁR programme in October 2001 to address depopulation as well as the decline and lack of services in rural areas. Areas in 18 counties with a population of 362,000 have been selected under the programme, including areas I announced in January 2003. This honoured the commitment to review in An Agreed Programme for Government in light of the 2002 population census data. There are no plans for any further review of the boundary of CLÁR areas. No other significant areas fulfil the population criteria for inclusion in CLÁR.

CLÁR funds or co-funds, together with other Departments, State agencies and local authorities, investment in selected priority developments. These investments are made through a series of more than 20 measures, which support physical, economic and social infrastructure such as electricity conversion, roads, water and sewerage, village, housing and schools enhancement, health, broadband and sports and community projects. The measures reflect the priorities identified by the communities in the selected areas whom I consulted at the start of the programme.

The measures were agreed with and are operated in tandem with the lead Departments, State agencies or public utilities, as appropriate. This ensures efficiency and effectiveness and meets the needs of the people in the CLÁR areas. I intend to continue this practice for new measures I may introduce, depending on identified needs. Equally, I will keep the operation of existing measures under review.

The merits of this practice are reflected in the successful delivery of the programme. Expenditure amounted to €14.14 million in 2002 and €8.613 million in 2003 which, it is estimated, secured a further €21 million in related public and private expenditure in these areas, which otherwise would have been bottom of the list for infrastructure investment. Expenditure in 2004, which I expect to be up to €12 million, has, with ongoing leverage of other funding, continued to support investment in physical, economic and social infrastructure across a wide range of measures.

The breakdown of expenditure by county from 2002 to date in 2004 is as follows:

County

CLÁR Expenditure — 2002 to date

Cavan

2,351,796

Clare

2,265,419

Cork

2,339,944

Donegal

2,362,799

Galway

2,704,601

Kerry

2,881,463

Leitrim

4,443,305

Limerick

153,601

Longford

678,425

Louth

825,885

Mayo

4,757,981

Meath

131,219

Monaghan

556,084

Roscommon

2,638,347

Sligo

1,995,533

Tipperary North

364,840

Tipperary South

221,411

Waterford

186,563

Westmeath

283,519

Total

32,142,735

Irish Language.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

57 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the high level steering committee for the language planning initiative has been established; if he has received reports from local steering committees on the operation of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33263/04]

I assume that the parliamentary question refers to the community-based language planning initiative in the Gaeltacht, for which I approved funding last month of €1.36 million over a three-year term. The allocation will be shared between five community-based Gaeltacht organisations, which will undertake language schemes in their areas of operation. The steering committee to which the Deputy refers will be established at the appropriate time and will include senior representatives of my Department and Údarás na Gaeltachta. It is intended that this group will meet approximately every three months to monitor and oversee the general implementation of the initiative.

No reports are anticipated until after the various community-based organisations have established their respective local steering committees, appointed their language managers, and had the opportunity to finalise their language plans and begin implementation. My understanding is that the groups are currently engaged in the initial stages of this process.

Question No. 58 answered with QuestionNo. 47.

Coimisiún na Gaeltachta.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

59 D’fhiafraigh Mr. M. Higgins den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén dul chun cinn atá déanta maidir le moltaí Choimisiún na Gaeltachta a chur i bhfeidhm; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [33235/04]

I measc na gcéimeanna suntasacha a glacadh le tamall anuas chun moltaí sonracha atá déanta i dtuarascáil Choimisiún na Gaeltachta a chur chun cinn: tá Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 ina dhlí anois, rud a thugann aghaidh ar chur i bhfeidhm cúig chinn de mholtaí sonracha an choimisiúin; tá cur síos ar an dul chun cinn agus ar chéimeanna eile atá glactha i gcomhthéacs an Achta sa bhfreagra a thug mé inniu ar cheist; tá dréacht rialacháin foilsithe le déanaí ag an Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha d'fhonn stádas oifigiúil oibre a iarraidh don Ghaeilge san AE agus leanann an plé idir Éire, na ballstáit eile agus na hinstitiúidí Eorpacha ina thaobh sin; bronnadh conradh i mí Eanáir 2004 ar Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, i gcomhar leis an Institiúid Náisiúnta um Anailís Réigiúnach agus Spásúil, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Má Nuad, chun staidéar cuimsitheach teangeolaíoch ar an nGaeltacht a thionscnamh; sheol mé feachtas feasachta teanga ar 13 Meán Fómhair faoin teideal, Ár dTeanga Nádúrtha Féin, d'fhonn na buntáistí a bhaineann le húsáid na Gaeilge mar phríomh-theanga teaghlaigh a chur ina luí ar thuismitheoirí na Gaeltachta; agus d'fhógair mé níos luaithe i mbliana go raibh ciste gur fiú €1.56 milliúin thar trí bliana á bhunú agam chun tionscnamh pleanála teanga a chur chun cinn sa Ghaeltacht ar bhonn trialach; tá na hiarratais uilig a fuarthas ó Chomharchumainn Ghaeltachta, chomh maith le heagraíochtaí pobal-bhunaithe eile, scrúdaithe anois agus na heagraíochta rathúla á aithneofar chun críche aitheantais fógraithe agam ar 22 Deireadh Fómhair 2004.

I measc na mbeartas eile a bhaineann le tuarascáil Choimisiún na Gaeltachta atá idir lámha nó bainte amach tá: athbhreithniú ar scéim na gcúntóirí teanga, ar scéim labhairt na Gaeilge agus ar scéim na gcampaí samhraidh agus scéimeanna leasuithe curtha nó á chur i bhfeidhm; aighneacht maidir le gnéithe criticiúla a mbíonn tionchar acu ar úsáid na Gaeilge sa chóras bunoideachais agus iarbhunoideachais sa Ghaeltacht curtha faoi bhráid na Comhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta; deontas ceadaithe le hOidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne lena chumasú scéim chuairteoirí baile a thionscnamh ar bhonn trialach; aighneachtaí curtha chuig na húdaráis áitiúla le ceantair Ghaeltachta iontu, chomh maith leis an mBord Pleanála, chun a n-aird a dhíriú ar a gcuid dualgas i ndáil leis an nGaeltacht, mar atá sonraithe sna forálacha cuí san Acht um Pleanáil agus Forbairt 2000; tacaíocht bhreise curtha ar fáil d'Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, chun oideachas tríú leibhéal trí mheán na Gaeilge a fhorbairt tuilleadh sa Ghaeltacht; athstruchtúrú i bhfeidhm ar an gcóras faoina gcuireann Údarás na Gaeltachta cúnamh ar fáil don earnáil réamhscolaíochta sa Ghaeltacht; agus struchtúr nua d'eagrais óige sa Ghaeltacht á gcur chun cinn ag an Údarás, tá na réamh-chéimeanna á dtógáil faoi láthair ag súil leis go mbeidh an comhlacht nua óige na Gaeltachta ag feidhmiú go han-luath; agus d'fhonn tuilleadh béime a chur ar thograí agus ar ghníomhaíochtaí atá tairbheach don teanga sa Ghaeltacht, tá Údarás na Gaeltachta, ar threoir shonrach uaim, ag cur béime níos láidre ar bhonn leanúnach ar naíscolaíocht, ar sheirbhísí don óige, ar ghníomhaíochtaí na gcomharchumann agus ar sheirbhísí tacaíochta eile don Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht.

Tá mé sásta go bhfuil dul chun cinn suntasach déanta agus á dhéanamh maidir le cur i bhfeidhm moltaí atá déanta i dtuarascáil an Choimisiúin. Ar ndóigh, tá rath na hoibre seo trí chéile ag brath cuid mhaith ar thacaíocht agus comhoibriú ó phobal na Gaeltachta iad féin, chomh maith leis na páirtithe leasmhara uile a bhfuil baint acu le ceist na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht.

Area Development Management.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

60 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the restructuring of ADM; if there has been progress made by ADM in developing appropriate changes to its articles and memorandum of association; if Government approval has been sought for any such changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33254/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 75 on 9 November 2004. Work is continuing to develop appropriate changes to ADM's articles and memorandum of association. No further proposals have as yet been brought to Government for approval.

Proposed Legislation.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

61 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the plans for the establishment of a league table of charities showing exactly the proportion of contributions that goes to each charity and the amount to the increasing number of commercial fund raisers collecting on their behalf; when new legislation on this issue will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33231/04]

In response to similar parliamentary questions on this subject in October and November, I indicated that, as already signalled in the consultation paper on establishing a modern statutory framework for charities, the proposed regulatory body would be tasked with issuing performance reports on areas of the charities sector and that I would expect matters such as the publication of league tables would be a matter for consideration by the proposed regulatory body.

Irish Language.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

62 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Departments have spent almost €300,000 on Irish language classes for civil servants in order to comply with requirements in the Official Languages Act 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33244/04]

Departments have been funding Irish language training for civil servants for very many years prior to the enactment of the Official Languages Act 2003. Such training helps to ensure that that the public sector is in a position to meet the rights of Irish speakers to avail of public services in the language of their choice. The figure quoted is modest in the context of the overall administrative budgets of Departments.

Voluntary Sector.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

63 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the White Paper, Supporting Voluntary Activity, remains policy in this area; and if not, the policy to be put in its place. [33286/04]

The White Paper on a framework for supporting voluntary activity is a statement of Government policy objectives and supporting actions. In this context, a number of measures under the White Paper, including multi-annual funding for federations and networks and supports for training, are now in place. It is also appropriate to note that the community and voluntary sector is a pillar in social partnership and represented on NESC and NESF.

The White Paper remains Government policy. However, the context in which White Paper policy is to be implemented has clearly changed with time. Hence, while the broad principles of the White Paper remain, it is appropriate that the mechanisms for addressing these be adjusted to appropriately reflect wider developments, including contextual, programme and structural changes.

Since publication of the White Paper, there has been a number of developments relevant to this area, including: the establishment of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs with a particular mandate to secure a more co-ordinated engagement by the State with communities around the country; the frameworks and priorities established under Sustaining Progress; the implementation of new structures, including the county-city development boards and the community fora; the advancement of the RAPID programme featuring area implementation teams; the strengthening of local drugs task forces and the development of regional drugs task forces; and the establishment of rural social scheme and other initiatives in this regard signalled in budget 2005.

These developments reflect a range of initiatives by Government designed to support communities and also deepen engagement with a sector rich in diversity and in contribution to the common good. Many of these initiatives were not contemplated at the time of publication of the White Paper.

Going forward, therefore, it can be anticipated that, while the broad principles in the White Paper remain Government policy, the actions and processes to deliver on these will reflect emerging needs and priorities appropriate to a changing context.

Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

64 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the person by whom €4.5 million in grants were repaid to Údarás na Gaeltachta in the years 1998 to 2002, inclusive, according to its annual reports; the reason these sums were repaid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33280/04]

Dan Boyle

Question:

245 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the person by whom €4.5 million in grants were repaid to Údarás na Gaeltachta in the years 1998 to 2002, inclusive, according to its annual reports; the reason these sums were repaid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33544/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 245 together.

I understand from Údarás na Gaeltachta that grant repayments in the amount of €4.5 million were received from 19 companies over the years 1998-2002, as set out in the following table:

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Total

€72,497

€2,533,148

€1,202,643

€177,000

€576,534

€4,561,822

Repayments are sought by Údarás na Gaeltachta in accordance with the terms of grant agreements, and occur mainly in cases where companies cease to trade or transfer their business from a Gaeltacht area to a non-Gaeltacht area. In other cases, repayments are in accordance with specific pre-agreed terms.

Irish Language.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

65 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if representatives from his Department have delivered their presentation on implications to the advisory group to encourage and promote the use of Irish in local authorities; if so the contents and issues raised in the presentation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33258/04]

As I indicated in my reply to Question No. 127 on 9 November 2004, my Department is represented on the new local authority advisory group to encourage and promote the use of Irish in local authorities. My Department made a presentation to the group on the Official Languages Act 2003 and its implications for local authorities at the group's meeting on 7 December 2004. The presentation outlined the provisions of the Act and the current position in relation to its implementation in respect of which there is a separate parliamentary question on today's Order Paper.

Legislative Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

66 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his legislative priorities for the Dáil session commencing in January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33262/04]

I anticipate that the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Bill 2004 will be introduced in Dáil Éireann in early 2005, subject to the agreement of the Whips. This Bill provides for changes to the role of the dormant accounts fund Disbursements Board and in relation to decision-making on disbursements from the dormant accounts fund. The Bill was introduced in Seanad Éireann on 29 June 2004 and completed all Stages in that House on 8 December 2004.

Departmental Appointments.

Seán Ryan

Question:

67 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of appointments he has made to statutory boards and bodies under the aegis of his Department since 1 January 2004; the names of all those appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33260/04]

Six appointments have been made or nominated by either myself or Government to statutory boards and bodies under the aegis of my Department since 1 January 2004. The names of those appointed and the relevant board or body are listed below. Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests: Graham Richards — appointed by Government. ADM Limited: Appointments made by ADM Limited on the nomination of the Government-Minister. Patricia O'Hara, Christine Taylor, Thomas Cooke, Gerard Fay, Ellen Cullen. Údarás na Gaeltachta: Seán Ó Droighneáin. Co-option as per legislation by elected member of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Múineadh na Gaeilge.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

68 D’fhiafraigh Mr. M. Higgins den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an raibh aon chruinniú aige leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta maidir le múineadh na Gaeilge ag an gcéad leibhéal, ag an dara leibhéal agus ag an tríú leibhéal; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [33234/04]

Bíonn teagmháil rialta agam leis an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta chun ábhair éagsúla a bhaineann leis an dá Roinn a phlé, staid na Gaeilge san áireamh.

Departmental Programmes.

Dan Boyle

Question:

69 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the criticism of the RAPID programme which makes the accusation of badging the roll-out of funding in this area; and the way in which he intends to counteract this criticism. [33279/04]

I am aware that there is a problem with the poor level of badging of expenditure as RAPID expenditure by Departments. I have previously raised this with departmental representatives at the RAPID national monitoring committee meetings and with my ministerial colleagues at bilateral meetings. Appropriate badging of RAPID expenditure is essential and I will continue to raise the matter with Departments.

Community Development.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

70 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if it is considered likely that community development projects in Gaeltacht areas will come under the remit of Údarás na Gaeltachta; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33282/04]

Most community-based projects in Gaeltacht areas already come within the remit of Údarás na Gaeltachta. In addition, a small number of community development projects based in and solely dealing with the Gaeltacht are funded by my Department. I have an open mind as to the optimal arrangements for all such community-based projects, taking into account the language requirements attaching to Gaeltacht-based development and the need for improved cohesion.

Question No. 71 answered with QuestionNo. 52.

Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

72 D’fhiafraigh Mr. McGinley den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé de thuairim aige go mbeidh easnamh mór ar liúntas caipitiúil Údarás na Gaeltachta don bhliain 2005; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith [33268/04]

Ba mhaith liom a mheabhrú don Teachta go bhfuil €23.5 milliúin curtha ar fáil d'Údarás na Gaeltachta i leith caiteachais chaipitil sna Meastacháin choimrithe don bhliain 2005. Is méadú 7% é seo ar an soláthar a cuireadh ar fáil i 2004. Anuas air seo, tuigim ón údarás go bhfuiltear ag súil le €7 milliún a fháil i 2005 ó fhoinsí éagsúla — díol sócmhainní, aisíoc deontas agus fáltais eile — agus beidh an t-airgead seo le caitheamh ar thograí caipitil chomh maith.

National Drugs Strategy.

Damien English

Question:

73 Mr. English asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding which will be allocated to each regional drugs task force in 2005; if the regional drugs task forces will have completed the mapping of drug problems in their areas and will be in a position to begin implementing their plans by the second half of 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33270/04]

I am pleased to tell the Deputy that €5 million per annum will be made available to the regional drugs task forces to assist them in implementing their plans, which are currently being drawn up. I hope to be in a position to make recommendations on the plans to the Cabinet sub-committee on social inclusion for approval as early as possible in 2005. I hope that following that approval, a number of new programmes and initiatives will be put in place throughout the country during 2005.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

74 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when he expects legislation concerning the dormant accounts fund to be enacted; the criteria the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board will use in terms of considering the groups that will receive money from the fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33230/04]

The Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Bill 2004 was published on 24 June 2004, thus fulfilling a commitment given by Government in December 2003, following its review of arrangements in relation to dormant accounts funding. The Bill was introduced in Seanad Éireann on 29 June 2004 and completed all Stages in that House on 8 December 2004. It is anticipated that the Bill will be introduced in Dáil Éireann early in 2005, subject to the agreement of the Whips.

While the Bill provides for key changes to the role of the board and in relation to decision-making on disbursements, the objectives of the disbursements scheme remain unchanged. Allocations from the fund will continue to target programmes or projects designed to assist three broad categories of persons — those affected by economic and social disadvantage; those affected by educational disadvantage; and persons with a disability.

Official Languages Act 2003.

Joan Burton

Question:

75 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has requested, under the terms of the Official Languages Act 2003, any private sector company controlled by a public regulator to translate any of its publications into Irish; if so, the number of times he has requested these companies to do so; the estimated cost of translating these publications into Irish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33241/04]

I have not made any such request under the Official Languages Act.

Joe Costello

Question:

76 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the estimated costs arising from meeting the requirements of the Official Languages Act 2003 in terms of translating official publications into Irish; the reason he did not provide such a costing at an earlier stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33242/04]

As I have indicated on more than one occasion in response to similar parliamentary questions in this House, no formal costings have been done in regard to the full implementation of the Official Languages Act 2003 on the basis that such an exercise would not be feasible in advance of consideration on a case by case basis by each public body of what, if any, specific costs might arise for it. It is clear, however, that there will be some cost issues involved, particularly at start-up, but in the normal course these should be met from within existing administrative allocations.

Since costs will arise in connection with such matters as training and translation services, the position for individual public bodies, or indeed on an overall basis, cannot be established until individual schemes have been agreed in accordance with the legislation.

Circumstances will vary greatly from public body to public body in regard to demand for delivery of services through Irish. Indeed, some bodies will be better placed than others in regard to having the resources to meet this demand, given that they already operate, to varying degrees, a policy of bilingualism.

It is, however, a matter for each public body in the first instance to ensure that resources are made available in order to comply with the provisions of this particular legislation in the same way as resources are made available to ensure compliance with obligations imposed by other legislation and by the requirements to provide quality customer service.

The question of provision of funding for specific administrative costs for individual public bodies — regardless of whether these relate to the Official Languages Act or any other service delivery or policy obligation arising — falls to be assessed against formal business cases or proposals submitted as part of the normal annual estimates and budgetary cycle. Given its position as the first constitutional language, the objective is to ensure that delivery of public services by public bodies, including provision of information about services and activities through the Irish language, is seen a normal requirement to meet appropriate standards of customer service and corporate governance.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

77 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Sargent den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén dul chun cinn atá déanta maidir le rialacháin a ullmhú i dtaobh úsáid agus caighdeán na Gaeilge ar chomharthaíocht bóthair, ar stáiseannóireacht agus i bhfógairtí ó bhéal. [33277/04]

Mar is eol don Teachta, tá forálacha san Acht a chuireann ar chumas an Aire rialacháin a dhéanamh i ndáil le húsáid na Gaeilge, nó na Gaeilge agus an Bhéarla, ar stáiseanóireacht, ar fhógraíocht agus ar chomharthaíocht arna húsáid nó arna cur suas ag comhlachtaí poiblí. Tá obair i ndáil le rialacháin den sórt sin a dhéanamh ag dul ar aghaidh i gcónaí. Tuigfidh an Teachta go raibh dualgas ar mo Roinnse dul i gcomhairle le Ranna Rialtais eile maidir leis an ábhar seo sula bhféadfaí na rialacháin a dhéanamh. Táthar i gcomhairle le hOifig an Dréachtóra Pairliminte faoi láthair agus ní thig liom, mar sin, dáta deimhnitheach a thabhairt faoi chathain a dhéanfar na rialacháin. Tá sé mar sprioc agam, áfach, go mbeidh na rialacháin déanta go luath an bhliain seo chugainn.

Foras na Gaeilge.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

78 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Sargent den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad é polasaí a Roinne i leith nuachtán laethúil Gaeilge a chur ar fáil; agus cad a dhéanfaidh sé i gcomhthéacs na hagóide ó pholaiteoirí frith-Ghaeilge atá ag iarraidh deireadh a chur le maoiniú an nuachtáin a chaill dhá oibrí agus lá foilsitheoireachta le déanaí dá bharr seo. [33276/04]

Tuigfidh an Teachta gur ceist d'Fhoras na Gaeilge féin cinntí a dhéanamh maidir le soláthar deontas, i gcomhréir leis an réimse reachtúil ina bhfeidhmíonn sé agus na pleananna oibre agus corparáide atá aige.

Faoi mar is eol don Teachta, tá Foras na Gaeilge ag cur maoiniú ar fáil do Phreas an Phobail le haghaidh an nuachtáin. Tuigtear dom gur ionann an maoiniú sin agus 47% de chostais táirgíochta an nuachtáin agus go bhfuil sé geallta do thréimhse a chríochnaíonn ar 31 Nollaig 2004. Faoi láthair, tá measúnú neamhspleách á dhéanamh ag Foras na Gaeilge ar an togra agus, bunaithe ar thorthaí an mheasúnaithe seo, déanfaidh bord an fhorais cinneadh maidir le maoiniú don nuachtán sa todhchaí.

Tuigtear dom freisin gur dhiúltaigh an foras d'iarratas breise ó faoi na scéimeanna pobail Gaeilge a fógraíodh i mí Mheán Fómhair 2004. D’aontaigh coiste sealbhaithe agus úsáide an fhorais nach raibh an scéim sin oiriúnach le haghaidh maoiniú nuachtáin agus nach bhféadfaí glacadh leis an iarratas da bharr. Cuireadh an cinneadh sin in iúl do bhainistíocht .

Brendan Howlin

Question:

79 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when he plans to introduce regulations requiring all signage and stationery for the 700 public bodies to be translated into Irish; the estimated cost of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33243/04]

My Department is currently working on a draft of such regulations to be made under section 9(1) of the Official Languages Act 2003. The regulations will apply at a date to be fixed to new and replacement signs and will allow existing stocks of stationery to be used up. Furthermore, the regulations will provide that existing signage may be brought into conformity over a period of years on a replacement basis. The additional costs, if any, arising from these regulations insofar as signage and stationery is concerned will, therefore, be marginal.

Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

80 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to recent comments from a person (details supplied) in an assessment for TG4 that the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta be cut in half in view of the fact that there is currently an overlap between the work of its executives and its elected board members; if he has plans to review the process by which the development board is appointed and elected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33253/04]

I am aware of the comments to which the Deputy refers and in this connection I draw her attention to Question No. 103 on the 9 November 2004. As I indicated in my response to that question, I propose to engage in public consultation in relation to the functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta. The Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment until this process is concluded.

Irish Language.

Mary Upton

Question:

81 D’fhiafraigh Dr. Upton den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an raibh aon chruinniú aige leis an Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha i dtaobh stádas na Gaeilge san Aontas Eorpach; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [33236/04]

Mar a thug mé le fios cheana sa Teach, tá tús curtha le próiseas plé le baillstát eile an AE agus leis na hinstitiúidí Eorpacha d'fhonn stádas oifigiúil agus oibre a iarraidh don Ghaeilge san AE faoi Rialachán 1/1958 CEE. Is é an rialachán an ionstraim dlíthiúil a rialaíonn an córas teanga, idir oifigiúil agus oibre, de chuid institiúidí an AE.

Mar is eol don Teachta, d'fhogair mo chomhleacaí, an tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha, ar 24 Samhain go raibh togra foirmiúil curtha ar aghaidh — i bhfoirm dréacht leasú ar Rialacháin 1/1958 CEE — ag iarraidh go dtabharfar stádas mar theanga oifigiúil agus oibre don Ghaeilge.

Tá an plé atá ar siúl faoi láthair le hionadaithe na mballstát eile agus le hinstitiúidí an AE dírithe ar chomhaontú a fháil ar na módúlachtaí praiticiúla maidir leis an gcuspóir sin. Mar a thug mé le fios chomh maith sa Teach seo cheana, ní bheadh sé cuí domsa aon tagairt phoiblí a dhéanamh maidir le sonraí na gcainteanna sin sula dtagann siad chun críche.

Departmental Programmes.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

82 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will expand the RAPID programme to include increased numbers of disadvantaged communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33265/04]

As I have stated previously, I have no plans to expand the RAPID programme geographically. However, I am aware that Ballyfermot met the criteria for inclusion in strand I of the RAPID programme but was omitted due to its inclusion in the URBAN II programme. I am examining this apparent anomaly at present.

Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Dan Boyle

Question:

83 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reason that a quarry owned by a company (details supplied), which received grants from Údarás na Gaeltachta, was believed to be in the Gaeltacht townland of Baile Doite when an agreement on the quarry in May 1993 involving Galway County Council and a high court case both referred to the quarry as being in the non-Gaeltacht townland of Ballynahallia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33278/04]

I wish to remind the Deputy that this is not a matter for me in the first instance as it relates to the day to day operations of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

As my response to Question No. 76 from the Deputy on 9 November 2004 indicated, this is a case of mistaken topography. The position is that Údarás na Gaeltachta paid a grant to the company on the incorrect understanding that the company was operating within the Gaeltacht boundaries. As soon as the error came to light in early 2002, new improved procedures were put in place to avoid any similar recurrence. The Comptroller and Auditor General has indicated that, following further examination of the matter in the context of the interim 2004 accounts, no further action is proposed in the case.

National Drugs Strategy.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

84 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if a company (details supplied) has issued its report to the steering group in charge of the review of the national drugs strategy 2001-08; the new perspectives and strategies that will be advanced following the extensive consultations undertaken for the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33259/04]

As the Deputy will be aware, the mid-term review of the national drugs strategy is currently under way. The review is examining the progress made to date in implementing the strategy and it will enable priorities for future action to be identified — and a refocusing of the strategy, if necessary — for the remaining period up to 2008.

The review is being overseen by a steering group chaired by my Department and comprising representatives from a number of Departments and agencies who are involved in implementing the strategy as well as the community and voluntary sectors. PA Consulting Group has been engaged to assist the steering group in its ongoing work.

The consultants are currently finalising their work and they are scheduled to report to the steering group before Christmas. Following consideration of the various issues by the steering group, I will make recommendations on the way forward to the Cabinet sub-committee on social inclusion. I expect the review to be completed early next year.

Question No. 85 answered with QuestionNo. 56.

Departmental Appointments.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

86 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the percentage of those he has appointed to statutory boards and bodies since 1 January 2004 that are women; if this percentage meets Government requirements on female representation on such boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33261/04]

The six appointments made since 1 January 2004 to statutory boards and bodies under my Department's aegis, three are women. This percentage — 50% — exceeds Government requirements on female representation on such boards.

Implementation and Advisory Group.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

87 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of meetings of the implementation and advisory group that have been held since June 2002; and the programme of work that this group has followed. [33283/04]

The implementation and advisory group, IAG, first met on 20 July 2001 and has met 32 times in total since it was established. Some 21 of those meetings have taken place since June 2002.

Issues arising from the implementation of the main recommendations in the White Paper on voluntary activity, to which the IAG has provided significant input, include the funding scheme to support the role of federations, networks and umbrella bodies — funding currently stands at €1.83 million per annum over three years to 33 projects; the funding scheme for training and supports in the community and voluntary sector — funding was €670,000 in year one and stands at €580,000 for years two and three to 23 projects; funding for anti-poverty networks provided under the White Paper was transferred to my Department from the Combat Poverty Agency earlier this year and currently stands at €1,430,650 for ten networks; preparation of a manual of best practice principles for the sector, which is being brought forward by the Combat Poverty Agency on behalf of the IAG and should be completed early next year; and in relation to volunteering, production of a report making a number of practical recommendations as to how issues in Tipping the Balance might be progressed. The White Paper indicated that a review of the IAG should take place after three years. That review process is under way.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

88 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Taoiseach the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33041/04]

The number and value of contracts awarded by my Department in respect of public relations since June 2002 are detailed below:

Year

Number of Contracts

Value of Contract

2004

2

17,100

2003

1

60,000

2002

0

0

The contracts related to Ireland's Presidency of the EU — awarded in 2003 for €60,000, the publication of the national disability strategy in 2004 — awarded in 2004 for €12,100, and the promotion of the affordable housing initiative, including assistance with general communications issues and interaction with those in the relevant target groups around the country — awarded in 2004 for a total of €5,000.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

89 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Taoiseach the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33056/04]

The number of staff currently employed in the Government press office, their grade and remuneration is set out in the table below:

Grade

Remuneration €

Government Press Secretary

109,244

Assistant Principal

60,467

Press Officer

44,936

Press Officer

43,751

Clerical Officer

23,393

Clerical Officer

24,351

All of the above staff, with the exception of the Government press secretary, are civil servants.

Paul McGrath

Question:

90 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Taoiseach the number of civil servants and other staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33071/04]

The number of staff currently employed in my constituency office, their grade and remuneration is set out in the table below.

Grade

Remuneration €

Personal Assistant

43,751

Personal Assistant

46,119

Personal Secretary

30,094

Staff Officer

36,930

Staff Officer (work-sharer)

15,914

Clerical Officer

24,351

Clerical Officer

22,435

Clerical Officer

22,435

All of the above staff, with the exception of the personal secretary, are civil servants.

Departmental Funding.

Dermot Fitzpatrick

Question:

91 Dr. Fitzpatrick asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when it is proposed that a centre (details supplied) with 45 constituent organisations and 350 other voluntary and community groups which benefit from the services of the centre, will receive a guarantee from her that the centre’s financial future is secure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33384/04]

Dermot Fitzpatrick

Question:

92 Dr. Fitzpatrick asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when the review of a centre (details supplied) which was announced in June 2004 will be concluded; if she will provide interim funding pending the outcome of the review; if that review has been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33385/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 and 92 together.

The issue of core funding for the Carmichael centre will be addressed as part of a review of the work of the centre. A consultant has been engaged by the Eastern Regional Health Authority to conduct this review. It is expected that the consultant's report will be available by the end of January-beginning of February 2005. In the interim the Northern Area Health Board will continue to fund the operation of the Carmichael centre.

Health Board Staff.

John Perry

Question:

93 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Question No. 167 of 16 November 2004, if her attention has been drawn to the fact that agreement and not consultation with staff on their redeployment in the HSE is a major issue; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that there is a lack of confidence generally due to lack of communication with staff and so on and failure to appoint the HSE chairman; the steps that will be taken to address these issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33004/04]

I have been informed by the executive chairman of the interim Health Service Executive that a special communication was issued to all health service employees in November. In this communication, the chairman stated that no one will be expected to move to an area outside his or her existing region without consultation and agreement.

Following the publication of the special communication, the executive chairman and members of the change management team embarked on a series of briefings in each of the four new regional areas — Cork, Galway, Tullamore and Kells. IMPACT trade union instructed its members not to attend the briefing sessions and consequently the attendances were lower than had been intended. However, copies of the communication have been distributed widely right through health boards, voluntary agencies and those agencies scheduled to be streamlined in January.

The communication was in the form of a Link magazine and was the 11th issue of the Link so far this year. As well as the Link magazine, the executive chairman and members of the change management team have been involved in briefing sessions, meetings and working groups with staff right across the health service. The newly appointed national directors will now play an important role in communicating with staff.

Last month I announced that the executive chairman of the interim executive will step aside to take up the position of interim chief executive officer of the executive from 1 January 2005. I have consequently recently announced that I have decided to appoint an existing member of the interim executive, Mr. Liam Downey, to the position of chairperson of the Health Service Executive.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Michael Ring

Question:

94 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for an MRI scan. [33040/04]

The provision of hospital services for people living in County Mayo is a matter for the Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the position in relation to this case and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

95 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by her Department since June 2002. [33042/04]

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

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

96 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of civil servants and other staff in her press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33057/04]

There are five staff working in the press office in the Department. All of these staff are civil servants. Their grades and remuneration are set out below:

Number of Staff

Grade

Remuneration per annum

1

AO

40,742

1

EO

42,265

1

EO

27,057

1

CO

27,681

1

CO

24,351

Paul McGrath

Question:

97 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of civil servants and other staff employed in her constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33072/04]

There are 7.5 staff employed in my constituency office, 4.5 of whom are civil servants. Set out below are details of grades and remuneration for each of these staff.

Civil Servants

Number of Staff

Grade

Remuneration per annum

1

HEO

43,568

1

CO

32,298

1

CO

25,310

1

CO

24,351

0.5

CO

11,218

Other Staff.

Number of Staff

Grade

Remuneration per annum

1

Personal Assistant

51,119

1

Personal Assistant

50,065

1

Personal Secretary

46,119

Hospital Accommodation.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

98 Mr. Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the status of the ten extra beds proposed for Monaghan General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33090/04]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

99 Mr. Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the status of the 19 extra beds proposed for Cavan General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33091/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98 and 99 together.

My Department has approved revenue funding of €500,000 to commission ten additional day beds at Monaghan General Hospital. These beds are designed to facilitate the development of surgical services across the Cavan-Monaghan Hospital group. The commissioning of these beds is to be progressed by the North Eastern Health Board.

On 13 December 2004, my Department received a proposal from the board for the provision of an additional 19 beds and additional theatre capacity at Cavan General Hospital. This submission will be considered in the context of the reconfiguration of services across the Cavan-Monaghan Hospital group.

Services for People with Disabilities.

John McGuinness

Question:

100 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Question No. 241 of 19 October 2004, if a reply will issue immediately; if action will be expedited in the case to resolve the issue raised; if the appropriate supports and educational training will be put in place for the person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33106/04]

The provision of health services for people with a physical and-or sensory disability is a matter for the health boards and the Eastern Regional Health Authority in the first instance. Accordingly, a further copy of the Deputy's Question on 19 October 2004 has been forwarded to the regional chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority with a request that he examine the matter raised as a matter of urgency and reply directly to the Deputy.

David Stanton

Question:

101 Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of full-time residential care places nationally funded by her Department in 2004 for persons with intellectual disability; the number of persons on the waiting list for such a service; the number of day care places nationally; the number of persons on the waiting list for such services; the number of respite places nationally; the number of persons on the waiting list for such services; the number of persons deemed to be inappropriately placed and in need of appropriate service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33119/04]

The most up-to-date information available to my Department concerning services for persons with an intellectual disability is contained in the national intellectual disability database committee's annual report for 2004 which was published on 26 November 2004.

This report states that in 2004, 23,843 people with intellectual disability are receiving services. This accounts for 93.8% of the total population registered on the database and is up from 91.8% in 2003. A summary of the overall level of service provision in 2004 is as follows:

Attending services on a day basis

15,709

Receiving five or seven day residential services

7,619

Resident in a psychiatric hospital

474

Receiving residential support services only

41

Total

23,843

Furthermore, 4,415 day attenders and 483 full-time residents receive residential support services in addition to their principal service. Some 7,936 full-time residents receive a day service in addition to their full-time residential service.

The 2004 report indicates that 1,893 new residential and 347 new day places are required over the period 2005 to 2009 to meet the needs of those who are without any service and those who are without a major element of service such as day or residential service. Some 1,763 people also require access to residential support services — respite — over the same period. Details of the numbers of people who require a service change over the same period are also outlined in the report.

The data from the national intellectual disability database for 2004 identify 474 individuals with intellectual disability — all aged 20 or over — accommodated in psychiatric hospitals. Of this group, 315 individuals have service requirements in the period 2005-09, of whom 286 have an appropriate alternative residential facility identified for them and two require residential support services to assist them to live semi-independently in the community; 24 have identified day service requirements, two of whom also require a residential support service and one of whom also requires increased support within a psychiatric hospital; three require increased support within a psychiatric hospital; and 27 of the 315 individuals who require services will continue to reside within the psychiatric hospital. My Department has arranged for a copy of this report to be sent to the Deputy.

David Stanton

Question:

102 Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of rehabilitative training places available nationally funded by her Department in 2004 to persons with a disability; the number of hours of home and personal assistance available in 2004 to persons with physical and sensory disability; the number of persons with significant disability currently in inappropriate settings who will need to be given an appropriate service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33120/04]

The number of rehabilitative training places nationally funded by my Department in 2004 is 2,565. The figures for the number of hours of home supports and personal assistant services available in 2004 are not available to my Department.

The number of people with an intellectual disability currently residing in psychiatric hospitals who require alternative accommodation is 315. The current identified need for alternative residential accommodation for people with a physical or sensory disability relates to 106 people. However, this figure is subject to amendment as work on the finalisation of the national physical and sensory disability database is ongoing.

Seán Ryan

Question:

103 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the way in which she proposes to provide for the needs of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33124/04]

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

Departmental Appointments.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

104 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the status of the provision of the chief dental officer in her Department; and if an officer will be appointed without further delay. [33152/04]

As the Deputy is aware, the health services are currently undergoing major restructuring and the post of chief dental officer is being considered in the context of this restructuring. In the meantime, Dr. Margaret Shannon, former assistant chief dental officer with the Department, has been seconded to the Department from the South Western Area Health Board as a dental adviser.

Physical Education Facilities.

James Breen

Question:

105 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the discussions that have taken place between her Department and the Department of Education and Science in providing resources for physical education facilities in schools to prevent the increase of obesity in young children. [33159/04]

The national task force on obesity established in March of this year to address the growing levels of obesity in Ireland is cognisant of the fact that a societal approach and cross sectoral working are required to identify solutions to halt the rise and reverse the prevalence of obesity in society. The task force has conducted an extensive consultation process which included the Department of Education and Science and that will be reflected in the final report. The task force is due to present a strategy document by the year end.

Nursing Home Subventions.

James Breen

Question:

106 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason subvention rates and qualifications differ in parts of the country. [33160/04]

James Breen

Question:

107 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason subvention does not cover the costs of the services of community occupational therapist, social worker or physiotherapist. [33161/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 107 together.

The nursing home subvention scheme was introduced to help with the cost of private nursing home care and was never intended to cover full cost of private nursing home care. In accordance with nursing home (subvention) regulations 1993, three rates of subvention are payable on a weekly basis as follows: medium dependency, €114.30; high dependency, €152.40; and maximum dependency, €190.50. The subvention rates are statutorily based and were increased by 25% with effect from April 2001.

Under the terms of section 22.3 and 22.4 of the nursing home (subvention) regulations, a health board may, at its discretion, pay more than the maximum rate of subvention in particular circumstances such as, for example, where an individual's personal funds are exhausted or where an individual is unable to meet the gap between the nursing home charge and the amount which he-she can contribute. The application of these provisions is a matter for the individual health board concerned in the context of meeting increasing demands for subvention within the board's revenue allocation as notified in the letter of determination. This is in keeping with the provisions of the Health (Amendment) (No. 3) Act 1996.

Health Board Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

108 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Question No. 106 of 1 December 2004, the reason the matter was referred to the ERHA for reply when the subject matter related directly to her responsibility; and if she will provide a reply to the question. [33162/04]

The Eastern Regional Health Authority has been allocated revenue funding of €3.597 billion in its letter of determination for 2005. The development of dermatology services in the region is a matter for consideration by the authority in the first instance. My Department has therefore requested the regional chief executive of the authority to investigate this matter and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Damien English

Question:

109 Mr. English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will receive speech therapy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33164/04]

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

John Perry

Question:

110 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that six persons with disabilities (details supplied) are being made redundant in County Sligo due to the fact that a contract is being awarded to a company in Belfast for the servicing and repair of wheelchairs, aids and appliances; if the necessary funding will be allocated to the North Western Health Board to continue this service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33169/04]

The centre referred to by the Deputy is operated by the North Western Health Board. Accordingly, my Department has 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.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Damien English

Question:

111 Mr. English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who are on waiting lists to see consultants at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan; the length of time each of the patients has been on the waiting list; the estimated time each will be on the list before seeing a consultant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33175/04]

Responsibility for the provision of services at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, rests with the North Eastern Health Board. My Department has, therefore, requested the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply directly to him.

John Perry

Question:

112 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if an appointment for a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will be scheduled in Sligo General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33179/04]

Responsibility for the provision of health services to persons living in County Sligo rests with the North Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply to him directly.

Dan Neville

Question:

113 Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the length of psychiatric waiting lists in each health board area for each of the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and to date in 2004. [33181/04]

Responsibility for the issues referred to by the Deputy rests with each of the health boards and the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has therefore asked the regional chief executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the chief executive officer of each health board to investigate the issues raised by the Deputy and reply to him directly.

Hospital Services.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

114 Mr. Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the transportation of seven renal dialysis patients from the Cavan catchment area (details supplied) represents appropriate value for money; if better value for money can be obtained, both socially and economically, by extending the twilight shift to accommodate these patients at Cavan General Hospital’s renal dialysis unit on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., representing an additional 12 hours; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33182/04]

Responsibility for the provision of services at Cavan General Hospital rests with the North Eastern Health Board. My Department has, therefore, requested the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and to reply directly to him.

Health Board Allowances.

Bernard Allen

Question:

115 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; when a final decision will be made on the application; and if the domiciliary care allowance will be awarded from the date that their child was diagnosed as autistic. [33188/04]

The assessment of entitlement to and payment of the domiciliary care allowance is a matter for the relevant health board. Accordingly, a copy of the Deputy's question has been forwarded to the chief executive officer of the Southern Health Board with a request that he examine the query and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

116 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the total legal costs incurred by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service for each of the past five years; the identity and fees of the main two providers of such services for each available year; if all legal tasks contracted were in full compliance with tendering regulations; and if she will provide information on the main five contracts signed during this period. [33189/04]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

117 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the total financial consultancy and audit costs incurred by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service for each of the past five years; the identity and fees of the main two providers of such services for each available year; if all such tasks contracted were in full compliance with tendering regulations; and if she will provide information on the main five contracts signed during this period. [33190/04]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

118 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the total management consultancy costs incurred by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service for each of the past five years; the identity and fees of the main two providers of such services for each available year; if all such tasks contracted were in full compliance with tendering regulations; and if she will provide information on the main five contracts signed during this period. [33191/04]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

119 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the cost per unit of red cells and platelets currently charged by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service to hospitals; the corresponding costs for each of the past five years; and the current corresponding unit costs in Northern Ireland. [33192/04]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

123 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the total expenditure of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service for the most recent year for which figures are available; if she will disaggregate this sum into the major cost headings; the costs, in this regard, incurred by way of travel, domestic and foreign; if she will disaggregate total costs between the Cork and Dublin centres of the organisation; and the costs incurred by central administration. [33196/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116-119, inclusive, and 123 together.

I have requested the chief executive of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service to assemble the information requested by the Deputy and to forward it to her as soon as possible.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

120 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of persons currently identified as having being exposed to the hepatitis C virus as a result of receiving contaminated anti-D products provided by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service; the cumulative investment in hepatology centres established to provide medical services to such cases; and the total amount of compensation paid to date as a consequence of the contamination tragedy. [33193/04]

It is estimated that around 16,000 people have been exposed to hepatitis C as a result of receiving potentially contaminated anti D products. The estimated cumulative cost of the provision of health care services in the designated hepatology centres for persons infected with hepatitis C from blood and blood products administered within the State to date is €61.5 million. The total cost of the hepatitis C and HIV compensation tribunal to December 2003 — including awards of the tribunal and of the High Court on appeal, reparation fund, legal fees and administration — is approximately €545 million.

Appointments to State Boards.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

121 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the chairperson of any State board reporting to her has acted as a consultant to her Department at any time during such person’s tenure as chair of any of the said boards; and if so, if she will give details of each such incident. [33194/04]

As the comprehensive information requested by the Deputy is not readily available in my Department, I am having the necessary inquiries made and I will revert to the Deputy in the matter as quickly as possible.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

122 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the position of chief executive of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is currently filled on a permanent or temporary basis; if on a temporary basis, the tenure of the incumbent; if any senior staff member of her Department played a role in the most recent filling of this position; and if so, the nature and jurisdiction of that role. [33195/04]

At its meeting on 10 March 2004, the board of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, IBTS, appointed a chief executive for the duration of the transition period leading to the integration of the IBTS into the Health Service Executive. My Department agreed the proposed appointment on that basis as part of the implementation of the health reform programme.

Question No. 123 answered with QuestionNo. 116.

Medical Collection System.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

124 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if, further to Question No. 204 of 20 October 2004, the health boards have completed their evaluation of the implications of introducing an appropriate system for the collection of bodily fluids; if not, when she anticipates the evaluation will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33219/04]

Discussions with health board officials have taken place regarding the methods of collection of blood and other samples from general practitioner practice premises. A number of differing methods are in operation which the health boards will take into account in their evaluation.

Child Care Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

125 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason there is no occupational therapy for paediatrics employed at the county clinic, James Green, Kilkenny; the arrangements which can be made for such a service to be provided in the case of a person (details supplied); if a decision in the case will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33257/04]

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

Nursing Home Subventions.

Dan Neville

Question:

126 Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she has plans with the Department for Social and Family Affairs to co-ordinate the methods of calculation of capital means in relation to means tested benefits available from her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33272/04]

A working group comprising of all stakeholders has been established by my Department to review the nursing home subvention scheme. The objective of the review is to develop a scheme which will be transparent, offer a high standard of care for clients, provide equity within the system to include standardised dependency and means testing. It should also be less discretionary, provide both a home and nursing home subvention depending on need, be consistent in implementation throughout the country and financially sustainable, and draw on experience of the operation of the existing scheme. At this stage it is not proposed to make any changes to the scheme, including the method of assessing capital means, pending the outcome of the review.

Appointments to State Boards.

Martin Ferris

Question:

127 Mr. Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the fact that the current chief executive officer of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland is a board member of the International Life Science Institute which is funded by companies with a direct interest in the promotion of genetically modified food, it represents a conflict of interest. [33332/04]

The International Life Sciences Institute, ILSI, is a global scientific organisation which supports research and publishes works on issues relating to food safety and nutrition. The institute's headquarters are in Washington, USA. It also has a European branch based in Brussels.

The current CEO of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, FSAI, who took up this position on 28 June last, was formerly a board member of ILSI International and of ILSI Europe. He resigned from the board of ILSI International on his appointment to the FSAI and his final meeting as treasurer and board member of ILSI Europe was on 29 September 2004. The board of the FSAI was at all times aware of the position and, accordingly, I do not consider that any conflict of interest arises.

Health Board Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

128 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason orthodontic treatment has not been arranged in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow in view of the fact that the person was placed on a waiting list having been assessed at the age of 12 years; if she will insist on an investigation into the matter to discover the way in which the original paperwork was misplaced and expedite the treatment required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33333/04]

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

Hospital Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

129 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if transport will be provided for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [33369/04]

The provision of hospital services for people living in County Mayo is a matter for the Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the position in relation to this case and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Board Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

130 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will urge an end to this dispute. [33391/04]

Responsibility for the case raised by the Deputy rests with the North Western Health Board. I understand the board has discussed the current position with the Deputy and that the Deputy is satisfied that the outcome meets his requirements.

Hospital Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

131 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called back to Merlin Park Hospital in Galway. [33392/04]

The provision of hospital services for people living in County Mayo is a matter for the Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the position in relation to this case and to reply directly to the Deputy.

General Practitioner Co-operatives.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

132 Mr. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if funding was made available to her Department in budget 2005 to fund the setting up of an out of hours doctors co-operative in north Cork; and if provision has been made, when funding will become available. [33402/04]

The letters of determination giving details of their funding allocations for 2005 have been issued to health boards. Funding in respect of out of hours was included in these amounts. It should be noted that decisions on the areas for expansion within a particular board of any service, including out of hours services, are made by the chief executive officer of the board bearing in mind a range of issues, including priority, service provision requirements and funding available.

Genetically Modified Organisms.

Michael Lowry

Question:

133 Mr. Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a feasibility study or market analysis has ever been conducted on consumers’ view of genetically modified food either here or in the European Union; her views on whether such a study will greatly enhance the debate on the real need of genetically modified products due to the conclusion of many experts that consumers do not want genetically modified products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33407/04]

The most recent survey carried out by the European Commission on the subject of genetically modified organisms, GMOs, was Eurobarometer 55.2 in May-June 2001 which looked at European citizens' experience and perception of science and technology. Results of the EU survey indicated an uncertainty among consumers towards GM foods but displayed a strong demand for information to facilitate the right of the consumer to choose whether to buy GM foods.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland's, FSAI, food safety consultative council, FSCC, undertook a consumer attitudes to food safety in Ireland survey in 2002. In this survey it was found that, when unprompted, consumers' concerns regarding GM foods were at a very low percentage level — 5%. When specific safety concerns were prompted, the level of concern rose significantly to 62%. However, those concerns were often vague or unspecified.

In the intervening period there have been significant developments. For example, during 2004, the European Union's new regulatory framework for GMOs entered into force with the consequent lifting of what was referred to as the moratorium on new GMOs. In response to consumer concerns, the EU has developed a robust safeguard system of legislation covering the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment, the introduction of regulations on GM food and feed, traceability and labelling of GMOs, transboundary movement of GMOs and guidance on the co-existence of GM and conventional crops.

These developments have paved the way for a high level of consumer, public health and environmental protection as they require the rigorous pre-marketing assessment of GM food and feed and include safeguard measures on labelling and traceability. The safety of GM products is independently assessed by the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, on a case by case basis and GM food is now required to be clearly labelled, thus ensuring greater consumer confidence and choice.

Ireland, in common with other member states and as required by EU rules, applies EU legislation on GM foods. This legislation is in the form of EU regulations which are directly applicable to and binding on each member state. At present, Ireland has no additional national legislation on GM foods. However, my Department is working on introducing provisions into national legislation which will allow for enforcement measures, including penalties, in the case of non-compliance with the recently adopted regulations.

The FSAI is the competent authority in Ireland for the enforcement of legislation governing GM food and carries out regular surveys of the marketplace to ensure compliance with GM food legislation. The results of these surveys have been published with national media coverage and also on the FSAI website. The FSAI, through its GMO and novel foods sub-committee, assesses dossiers from EFSA regarding application for authorisation within the EU of GM foods and, consequently, feeds into the decision making process at EFSA.

The FSAI has published a leaflet on food safety and genetically modified foods which is being updated to take account of new legislation. In addition, the FSAI, in conjunction with Departments and industry organisations, is formulating a guidance note for industry which will highlight the legislation with regard to GMOs.

The public has access to unbiased information on GM foods from the FSAI and can also access information from each of three Departments — Health and Children, Agriculture and Food and Environment, Heritage and Local Government — on any aspects of GMOs within the remits of these Departments. This has resulted in requests for information from concerned individuals and groups either directly or through their local representatives in the Dáil. I am satisfied that appropriate arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of authorised GM foods or foods containing GM ingredients placed on the market in Ireland.

Health Board Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

134 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason home help for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has been discontinued. [33536/04]

As the Deputy will be aware, the provision of health services in the Mayo area is, in the first instance, the responsibility of the Western 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.

Anti-Microbial Resistance.

Enda Kenny

Question:

135 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the breakdown of funding provided to each health board under the strategy for the control of anti-microbial resistance here for each of the years 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33537/04]

The strategy for the control of anti-microbial resistance in Ireland, SARI, was launched in June 2001. Since then, approximately €16 million in funding has been made available by my Department to health boards under the strategy, of which approximately €4.5 million has been allocated in the current year. In addition, once-off funding of €565,000 was allocated in 2003 to fund special initiatives and measures recommended by the national SARI committee.

It is at the discretion of each health board CEO, in consultation with his or her respective regional SARI committee, to prioritise measures to be taken in his or her region to implement the recommendations of the SARI report. The amounts set out in the following table are net of the following non-pay inflators: 2002, 3.5%; 2003, 2.8%; and 2004, 2.8%.

Allocation

Board

2001

2002

2003

2004

ERHA

907,863

1,567,863

1,567,863

1,567,863

MHB

152,369

257,369

257,369

257,369

MWHB

215,855

375,855

375,855

375,855

NEHB

215,855

370,855

370,855

370,855

NWHB

146,020

253,020

253,020

253,020

SEHB

272,994

472,994

472,994

472,994

SHB

380,921

658,921

658,921

658,921

WHB

247,599

426,599

426,599

426,599

Total

2,539,476

4,383,476

4,383,476

4,383,476

Disabled Drivers.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

136 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance if the guidelines for qualification for the primary medical certificate for disabled passengers and drivers will be amended to extend the specific categories for which applicants will be entitled to the certificate. [33005/04]

The disabled drivers and disabled passengers (tax concessions) scheme is open to people with disabilities who meet the specified criteria and have obtained a primary medical certificate to that effect. The senior area medical officer attached to the relevant local health board is responsible for both the medical assessment and the issue of the medical certificate.

The medical criteria for the purposes of the tax concessions under this scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. Six different types of disablement are listed under the regulations and a qualifying person must satisfy one or more of them. The six types of disablement are as follows: persons who are wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs; persons who are wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs; persons without both hands or without both arms; persons without one or both legs; persons wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg; persons having the medical condition of dwarfism who have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

An individual who qualifies under the medical criteria as set out above is issued with a primary medical certificate. Possession of a primary medical certificate qualifies the holder for remission or repayment of vehicle registration tax, a repayment of value added tax on the purchase of the vehicle and a repayment of VAT on the cost of adaptation of the vehicle. Repayment of the excise duty on fuel used in the motor vehicle and exemption from annual road tax to local authorities are also allowed.

An interdepartmental review group was established to review the disabled drivers and disabled passengers (tax concessions) scheme. The group examined all aspects of the scheme, including the qualifying medical criteria. Its report was published on my Department's website in early July and copies have been placed in the Oireachtas Library. As agreed by Government in June, I will consider the report on an ongoing basis in the overall budgetary context, having regard to the existing and prospective cost of the scheme.

Decentralisation Programme.

Enda Kenny

Question:

137 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the locations in respect of which the Office of Public Works has entered into contractual arrangements relating to the acquisition of sites or property in the context of the decentralisation programme as announced in December 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33006/04]

To date, nine property solutions on the decentralisation programme have been agreed in principle. I also confirm that of the order of a further 20 locations are at an advanced stage in the acquisition process. The locations where solutions have been identified are as follows: Carlow, Longford, Newcastle West, Athlone, the Curragh, Sligo, Dundalk, Furbo and Donegal. With regard to Carlow, Longford and Newcastle West, the Chief State Solicitor is processing contract documents in respect of sites and it is expected that the associated acquisition phase will be completed as quickly as possible. Contract documents for Donegal are awaited from the vendor.

State owned land will accommodate the decentralised buildings scheduled for Athlone, the Curragh and Sligo, while the proposed location of the Dundalk building will be on land at the Dundalk Institute of Technology. It is proposed to locate the staff relating to Furbo in an extension to an existing building. I also confirm that the balance of the sites for the remaining locations in the programme are being proactively pursued by the Office of Public Works.

Liam Aylward

Question:

138 Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding Thomastown in County Kilkenny as a decentralised location following the recent reports by the decentralisation implementation group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33007/04]

The report of the decentralisation implementation group entitled, selection of organisations-locations for inclusion in the first phase of moves, published on 24 November 2004 gave details of the locations to be included in the first phase of moves. Thomastown, however, is not among these locations. The full contents of the group's report, including the criteria used to select the first phase locations can be accessed atwww.finance.gov.ie. The implementation group will report again in spring 2005 on those locations and organisations not covered in the current report.

Liam Aylward

Question:

139 Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to Kilkenny as a decentralised location following the recent reports by the decentralisation implementation group; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The report of the decentralisation implementation group entitled Selection of Organisations/Locations for Inclusion in the First Phase of Moves published on 24th November 2004 gave details of the locations to be included in the first phase of moves. Kilkenny, however, is not among these locations. The full contents of the group's report, including the criteria used to select the first phase locations, can be accessed atwww.finance.gov.ie. The implementation group will report again in spring 2005 on those locations and organisations not covered in the current report.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Joe Costello

Question:

140 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Finance the number of off-licence premises in each of the Twenty-six Counties and the types of licence in each case; the number of new licences which have been granted in each county and the type of licence granted in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33018/04]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners as follows regarding the information requested. It is regretted that some of the information requested regarding licences issued in counties Galway and Roscommon in the last five years is not immediately available. However, this is being compiled and will be sent directly to the Deputy over the next number of days.

Existing Licences

New licences issued 2000-2004

County

Type of Licence

Total

00

01

02

03

04

Total past 5 years

Leitrim

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

Wine Off

26

2

5

2

6

6

21

Total

28

21

Longford

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

9

0

1

0

0

0

1

Wine Off

13

0

1

2

1

6

10

Total

22

11

Sligo

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

10

0

0

2

0

0

2

Wine Off

45

7

3

6

11

1

28

Spirit and Beer

1

0

0

0

1

0

1

Total

56

31

Mayo

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

21

1

3

3

2

2

11

Wine Off

110

0

5

61

24

14

104

Spirit and Beer

2

0

0

1

1

0

2

Spirit and Wine

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Spirit Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

135

117

Louth

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

21

0

0

2

1

20

23

Wine Off

41

0

0

6

8

28

42

Total

62

65

Cavan

Wine Retailer Off

55

5

4

6

7

10

32

Spirit Retailer Off

12

1

1

0

2

1

5

Beer Retailer Off

11

1

1

0

2

1

5

Total

78

42

Monaghan

Wine Retailer Off

40

1

4

2

8

8

23

Spirit Retailer Off

12

0

1

1

2

2

6

Beer Retailer Off

12

0

1

1

2

2

6

Cider Retailer Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

65

35

Westmeath

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

19

2

1

5

2

0

10

Wine Retailer Off

45

12

10

15

5

1

43

Total

64

53

Offaly

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

15

1

3

2

1

0

7

Wine Retailer Off

38

9

7

5

5

0

26

Total

53

33

Donegal

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

25

1

2

5

4

0

12

Wine Retailer Off

116

12

8

17

9

17

63

Spirit and Beer

1

0

0

0

0

1

1

Spirit Off

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

Cider Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

147

76

Cork

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

96

0

5

6

15

13

39

Wine Off

180

11

31

22

56

28

148

Cider Off

1

1

1

1

1

1

5

Total

277

192

Dublin

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

276

19

10

9

21

21

80

Spirit and Beer

2

0

0

0

1

0

1

Wine Off

346

17

30

52

69

57

225

Beer and Wine

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

Cider Off

1

0

1

0

0

0

1

Total

632

307

Limerick

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

40

1

6

7

1

5

20

Spirit and Beer Off

2

0

0

0

0

1

1

Wine Retail Off

70

1

9

18

15

19

62

Cider Retail Off

2

0

0

0

1

0

1

Total

114

84

Clare

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

18

1

0

2

2

4

9

Spirit and Beer Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Wine Retail Off

48

0

8

16

11

10

45

Cider Retail Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

66

54

Kerry

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

30

0

4

4

5

2

15

Spirit and Beer Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Wine Retail Off

75

1

6

22

23

18

70

Cider Retail Off

2

0

1

0

0

0

1

Total

107

86

Carlow

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

10

0

0

5

4

5

14

Spirit and Beer Retailer Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Wine Retailer Off

24

1

1

5

6

17

30

Beer Retailer Off

1

1

0

0

0

0

1

Spirit Retailer Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Cider Retailer Off

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

Total

36

46

Kildare

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

41

0

2

4

2

1

9

Spirit and Beer Retailer Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Wine Retailer Off

81

3

9

11

17

4

44

Beer Retailer Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Spirit Retailer Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Cider Retailer Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

122

53

Kilkenny

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

13

0

1

6

0

5

12

Spirit and Beer Retailer Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Wine Retailer Off

22

0

2

6

4

7

19

Beer Retailer Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Spirit Retailer Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Cider Retailer Off

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

37

31

Laois

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

10

2

1

1

1

2

7

Wine Retailer Off

34

0

6

8

6

10

30

Total

44

37

Meath

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

27

1

1

4

3

4

13

Wine Retailer Off

71

1

10

5

11

15

42

Total

98

55

Tipperary

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

38

0

2

11

6

4

23

Wine Retailer Off

70

1

19

20

16

13

69

Beer Retailer Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Spirit and Beer Retailer Off

1

1

0

0

0

1

2

Spirit Retailer Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

111

94

Waterford

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

25

0

0

10

9

6

25

Wine Retailer Off

40

2

5

17

9

9

42

Beer Retailer Off

1

2

1

1

0

0

4

Cider Retailer Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

67

71

Wexford

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

17

0

0

11

3

2

16

Wine Retailer Off

71

0

6

24

18

18

66

Beer Retailer Off

1

1

1

0

0

0

2

Spirit Retailer Off

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

90

84

Wicklow

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

19

0

1

4

2

6

13

Wine Retailer Off

57

2

4

12

16

13

47

Beer Retailer Off

0

0

2

0

0

0

2

Total

76

62

Galway

Sprit, Beer and Wine Off

38

Wine Retailer Off

210

Total

248

Roscommon

Spirit, Beer and Wine Off

8

Wine Retailer Off

42

Total

50

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

141 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33043/04]

My Department did not award contracts solely for public relations projects in the period mentioned by the Deputy. It did, however, award two contracts in the period which, while mainly for other purposes, involved a public relations element. One involved advertising expenditure, as well as public relations, for the e-tenders website, while the other involved project and event management, as well as public relations, for the informal ECOFIN. The amount paid to date in respect of public relations under the first of these contracts was €24,103, while the amount paid in respect of public relations under the other contract is estimated at €23,700.

The NDP-CSF information unit, which operates under the aegis of my Department and is part funded by the European Union, awarded one public relations contract in the period mentioned. The objective of this contract was to raise awareness and increase understanding of the national development plan and the Community Support Framework 2000-2006 as there is a legal requirement on member states to raise public awareness of the role of EU Structural Funds. The value of the contract awarded was €253,000 and €148,136 has been paid out on foot of it to date.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

142 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33058/04]

The staffing, grade and remuneration of the Department of Finance press and information office is set out as follows. The actual pay of individuals is not given as this is deemed to be personal information.

Press and Information Office.

Grade / Title

Number

Salary Range

Press Officer

1

€60,467 —€75,610 (in receipt of allowance equivalent to 10% of salary)

Higher Executive Officer

1

€41,389 —€51,192

Executive Officer

1

€25,704 —€40,669

Clerical Officer

1

€20,520 —€33,274

In addition to the above there are four clerical officers who provide typing and administrative support services to my private office, the constituency office and to the Department of Finance press office.

Paul McGrath

Question:

143 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of civil servants andother staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33073/04]

The staffing, grade and remuneration of my constituency office is set out. The actual pay of individuals is not given as this is deemed to be personal information.

Constituency Office — Dublin

Grade / Title

Number

Salary Range

Executive Officer

1

€25,704 —€40,669

Staff Officer

1

€29,391 —€39,118

Constituency Office — Tullamore.

Grade / Title

Number

Salary Range

Personal Secretary

1

€19,499 —€37,621

Personal Assistant

1

€39,035 —€49,529

In addition to the above there are four clerical officers who provide typing and administrative support services to my private office, the constituency office and to the Department of Finance press office.

Government Expenditure.

Denis Naughten

Question:

144 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the draw-down of funding in the BMW region under each funding category in each year of the NDP; the corresponding figures for the initial projected spend in each category in each year; the estimated outturn figures for 2004 in each category and the initial projected outturn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33097/04]

The table sets out the estimated actual annual NDP expenditure and original forecast under various categories of expenditure within the BMW region for the period 2000 to 2003 and an adjusted forecast for the half year to June 2004.

Infrastructure

Human Resources Development and Social Inclusion

Agriculture & Forestry

Productive Sector

Total

€ million

€ million

€ million

€ million

€ million

2000

Expenditure

867

451

19

79

1,416

Forecast

1,066

595

99

281

2,041

2001

Expenditure

1,190

503

16

155

1,864

Forecast

1,335

614

104

404

2,457

2002

Expenditure

1,292

505

40

182

2,019

Forecast

1,568

608

106

440

2,722

2003

Expenditure

1,292

580

50

181

2,103

Forecast

1,528

604

108

472

2,712

2004 (to end June 2004)

Expenditure

429

275

24

57

785

Forecast

753

290

55

250

1,348

Cumulative January 2000 to end June 2004

Expenditure

5,070

2,314

149

654

8,187

Forecast

6,250

2,711

472

1,847

11,280

Departmental Surveys.

Enda Kenny

Question:

145 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the assessments which have been carried out on the extent of asbestos in public buildings here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33197/04]

The Office of Public Works is engaged in an ongoing survey of approximately 6,000 State buildings, including Government offices, schools and Garda stations, to determine the location type, form and condition of any asbestos present. To date in excess of 3,000 surveys have been completed. Based on the knowledge of OPW staff, buildings most likely to contain deteriorating asbestos were prioritised for early inspection. It is intended to complete the balance of surveys next year.

Garda Stations.

Michael Ring

Question:

146 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works will proceed with the purchase of land from a GAA club (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33221/04]

The Commissioners of Public Works have agreed terms with the GAA club in Ballindine and another party to form a suitable site for a new Garda station. The commissioners will proceed with these acquisitions in accordance with the priority accorded it by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and subject to the availability of funding in 2005.

Tax Code.

Paul McGrath

Question:

147 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to reduce excise duty on rapeseed oil and other such products in the context of encouraging alternative energy sources, as is the practice in other EU countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33255/04]

The Deputy may be aware that section 98(a) of the Finance Act 1999, as inserted by section 50 of the Finance Act 2004, provides for the introduction of a scheme for excise tax relief for biofuels. The purpose of the scheme is to allow qualified and conditional relief from excise of biofuel used in approved pilot projects for either the production of biofuel or the testing of the technical viability of biofuel for use as a motor fuel.

The details of the scheme, which includes pure plant oil, biodiesel and bioethanol, are being finalised in conjunction with the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. The European Commission has confirmed that the scheme would represent a State aid and consequently its approval is required. The EU energy tax directive 2003 envisages such tax relief and the Commission has approved schemes for excise relief of biofuel in other EU member states. My Department, together with the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, has had a number of meetings with European Commission officials in respect of this and it is expected that a formal application for Commission approval will be made shortly and, assuming approval is granted, the necessary commencement order will then be signed.

Pension Provisions.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

148 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the pension entitlements which have accrued or will be issued to a person (details supplied). [33304/04]

The award of pension entitlement is subject to the sanction of the Minister of Finance. I have asked the Commissioners of Public Works to make inquiries as to eligibility in this case. I shall communicate directly with the Deputy when the information is to hand. Any entitlement would, however, be preserved until 2015, the date on which the former employee would have reached his normal retirement age.

Decentralisation Programme.

Jack Wall

Question:

149 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding decentralisation for Athy, County Kildare; the position regarding land or property acquisition for the provision of facilities for his Department; the number of staff who have indicated an interest in the Athy option; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33379/04]

The report from the decentralisation implementation group dated 19 November 2004 did not include Athy, County Kildare, as a location in the first phase of moves. A further report will issue from the group in spring 2005 dealing with all remaining locations, including Athy. I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the Office of Public Works is examining a number of proposals on a suitable site in Athy. The data from the central applications facility published in September showed that a total of 134 persons have applied for decentralisation with the Revenue Commissioners to Athy as their first choice.

Jack Wall

Question:

150 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding decentralisation for Kildare town, County Kildare; the position regarding land acquisition for the provision of facilities for his Department; the number of staff who have indicated an interest in the Kildare option; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33380/04]

The report from the decentralisation implementation group dated 19 November 2004 did not include Kildare town, County Kildare as a location in the first phase of moves. A further report will issue from the group in spring 2005 dealing with all remaining locations, including Kildare town. My Department, the Revenue Commissioners and the Office of Public Works are in the process of preparing a brief of requirements for accommodation of the units decentralising to Kildare town. When the brief is finalised the process of pursuing a property solution will be progressed by the Office of Public Works.

The data from the central applications facility published in September showed that a total of 35 persons have applied for decentralisation to Kildare town with my Department and a total of 120 persons have applied for decentralisation to Kildare town with the Revenue Commissioners as their first choice.

Paul McGrath

Question:

151 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if it is possible for persons employed by An Post who are former employees of the Department of Post and Telegraphs and still holding Civil Service status to transfer to another Government Department under the proposed scheme of decentralisation. [33386/04]

All applications to participate in the decentralisation programme must be submitted through the central applications facility launched in May 2004. The creation of the central application facility was recommended by the decentralisation implementation group in its March 2004 report. In paragraph 2.13 of the report, the implementation group recommended that applications would be invited from all civil servants, staff of all non-commercial State sponsored bodies and the two commercial State companies included in the programme. Staff of the remaining commercial state companies, including An Post, are not eligible to participate in the programme.

Tax Code.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

152 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance if he has proposals to relax the tax on soft drinks in public houses; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a pint of water is now 50% more expensive than a pint of stout (details supplied) in a public house; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33388/04]

In so far as there is a difference between the price of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages in public houses, the margin referred to by the Deputy is not due to taxation. Soft drinks, fruit juices and bottled water are subject to VAT at the standard rate of 21%. This VAT rate is also applicable to alcoholic beverages. However, alcoholic beverages are also subject to excise duties which amount to approximately 47 cent for a pint of stout. Therefore, tax is not the main determinant of price with regard to these products. I have no plans to reduce to the current VAT rate applicable to soft drinks, fruit juices and bottled water.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

153 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the social welfare payments which are taxable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33538/04]

Subject to the exemptions and partial exemptions outlined, the social welfare payments listed are taxable. It should be noted that where a social welfare payment is taxable, the extent, if any, to which taxation will actually arise in any given case will depend on the level of other income a recipient and his or her spouse, where applicable, have in the same tax year. If there is no other income in addition to the social welfare payment, the existing personal tax credits and exemption limits can generally be expected to ensure that there is no tax to be paid on the social welfare income.

Taxable Social Welfare Payments

—Old age pension (contributory)

—Old age pension (non-contributory)

—Retirement pension

—Widow's-widower's pension (contributory)

—Widow's-widower's pension (non-contributory)

—Blind person's pension

—Orphan's allowance (contributory)

—Orphan's pension (non-contributory)

—Disablement benefit (taxable only if payable in the form of periodic payments and not taxable if paid as a once off gratuity)

—One-parent family payment

—Disability benefit

—Interim disability benefit

—(Occupational) injury benefit

—Carer's allowance

—Carer's benefit

—Unemployment benefit

—Invalidity pension

—Disablement pension

—Unemployability supplement (payable with disablement pension)

—Constant attendance allowance (payable with disablement pension)

Notes on exemptions and partial exemptions:

The special tax exemption in relation to unemployment benefit payable to systematic short time workers was extended in the recent budget to 31 December 2006. The child dependant amounts which are payable with most of the payments set out are also taxable with the exception of the child dependant amounts payable with unemployment benefit, disability benefit, interim disability benefit and occupational injury benefit, that is, the child dependant amounts payable with these four benefits are exempt from tax. As regards unemployment benefit, the first €13 per week is exempt from tax. The first six weeks of disability benefit, occupational injury benefit and interim disability benefit in any tax year are exempt from tax.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

154 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the breakdown and total of tax credits and total income tax bill that will apply in 2005 to employees in respect of persons (details supplied), without reference to PRSI, health levies or any tax credits other than single, married and employee credits. [33539/04]

The position as regards the three scenarios mentioned by the Deputy is as follows. In the case of a single person earning €24,000, the individual will be entitled to the single person's tax credit of €1,580 and the employee tax credit of €1,270, giving total tax credits of €2,850. The total income tax bill for 2005 will be €1,950.

In the case of a married couple with one income earning €40,000 the couple will be entitled to the married person's tax credit of €3,160 and one employee tax credit €1,270 in respect of the working spouse, giving total tax credits of €4,430. The total income tax bill for 2005 will be €3,922.

In the case of a married couple with two incomes, one €40,000 and one €15,000, the couple will be entitled to the married person's tax credit of €3,160 and two employee credits totalling €2,540, that is, €1,270 by two, giving total tax credits of €5,700. The total income tax bill for 2005 will be €5,652. It is assumed in this case that the spouses are jointly assessed for tax. The calculations as regards the three scenarios are as follows.

Scenario 1 — Single person earning €24,000 per annum.

Taxable income

€24,000

Tax due

€24,000 @ 20% = €4,800

Less tax credits:—

Single person’s tax credit

€1,580

Employee credit

€1,270

Total of tax credits

€2,850

Total income tax bill

€1,950

Scenario 2 — Married couple with one income earning €40,000 per annum.

Taxable income

€40,000

Tax due

€38,400 @ 20% = €7,680

€1,600 @ 42% = €672

€8,352

Less tax credits:—

Married person’s tax credit

€3,160

Employee credit

€1,270

Total of tax credits

€4,430

Total income tax bill

€3,922

Scenario 3 — Married couple with two incomes, one of €40,000 per annum and one of €15,000 per annum. It is assumed the spouses are jointly assessed for tax.

Taxable income

€55,000

Tax due

€53,400 @ 20% = €10,680 (See Note)

€1,600 @ 42% = €672

€11,352

Less tax credits:—

Married person’s tax credit

€3,160

Employee credit X 2

€2,540

Total of tax credits

€5,700

Total income tax bill

€5,652

Note: Where both spouses are working, the first €38,400 of taxable income is chargeable to tax @ 20% and this €38,400 may be increased by the lesser of €20,400 or the amount of the taxable income of the spouse with the smaller income. In scenario 3, the 20% rate band of €38,400 is extended to cover the other spouse’s income of €15,000 giving €53,400 (€38,400 + €15,000) taxable only at 20%.

Marine Accidents.

Joe Costello

Question:

155 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the contents of the marine casualty investigation board report on a vessel (details supplied) published in 2003; if his attention has further been drawn to the allegations contained therein; if he intends to refer the report to the Garda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33013/04]

The tragic incident involving the loss of the fishing vessel theLisa Selina and its crew was investigated by the marine casualty investigation board under the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000. A report on the matter was published by the board on 13 July 2004 following legal vetting and the application of natural justice procedures. The report is available on the Internet at www.mcib.ie and a printed copy is also available free of charge to anyone who requests one.

The main purpose of the board's investigation is to establish the cause or causes of a marine casualty with a view to making recommendations to me for the avoidance of similar marine casualties. Investigations carried out by the MCIB do not attribute blame or fault. While it is not clear what allegations the Deputy is referring to in this case, the Garda is free to undertake an independent investigation into any marine casualty incident and pursue whatever course of action it considers appropriate.

Six recommendations were made to the Department for follow up action to prevent a recurrence of similar casualties. Issuing marine notices and drawing the industry's attention to the various recommended actions and dangers highlighted in the report have implemented four of these recommendations. The Department is considering the implementation of the two remaining recommendations as part of the overall policy for effective enforcement to bring about compliance with the various regulatory regimes in place for fishing vessels.

Fisheries Protection.

Martin Ferris

Question:

156 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of foreign fishing vessels which have been boarded by the Naval Service in the sea area between 11° W and 14° W off the south west coast; and the number of these that were caught using illegal nets. [33037/04]

The Irish Naval Service has boarded 194 non-Irish fishing vessels so far in 2004 in the area between 11° W and 14° W off the south west coast. None of these fishing vessels was caught using illegal fishing gear.

Martin Ferris

Question:

157 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will make a statement on the use of illegal mesh nets by non-national fishing boats in Irish waters. [33038/04]

The use of various sized meshes to capture fish in different fisheries is laid down under European Community law. The mesh sizes proscribed are an important part of the technical conservation measures laid down under the European Common Fisheries Policy. These rules apply to all European fishing vessels fishing in Community waters. Officials from the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and officers from the Irish Naval Service perform checks on fishing gear to ensure it is being used legally.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

158 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33044/04]

My Department has not awarded any contracts for public relations projects since June 2002.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

159 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33059/04]

The number of civil servants and other staff currently employed in the press office, which covers the Minister, Minister of State and Department generally, is as follows:

Title

Number

Grade/ Grade Equivalent

Remuneration

Press Adviser

1

Principal Officer

PO salary scale (full PRSI) €75,780 (min) to €93,733 (2nd long service increment)

Higher Executive Officer

1

Higher Executive Officer

HEO salary scale €39,035 (minimum) to €49,529 per annum (second long service increment)

Executive Officer

2

Executive Officer

Executive Officer salary scale (full PRSI) €27,057 (minimum) to €42,805 (second long service increment)

Clerical Officer

1(2 work-sharing)

Clerical Officer

Clerical Officer salary scale €19,493 (minimum) to €31,612 (second long service increment)

Clerical Officer

1

Clerical Officer

Clerical Officer salary scale (full PRSI) €20,520 to €33,274 (second long service increment)

Paul McGrath

Question:

160 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of civil servants and other staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33074/04]

The number of civil servants and other staff currently employed in my constituency office is as follows:

Title

Number

Grade/ Grade Equivalent

Remuneration

Personal Assistant

1

Higher Executive Officer

HEO salary scale €39,035 (minimum) to €49,529 (second long service increment)

Personal Secretary

1

Secretarial Assistant

Secretarial Assistant salary scale €19,499 —€37,621 per annum (second long service increment)

Clerical Officer

3

Clerical Officer

Clerical Officer salary scale (full PRSI) €20,520 to €33,274 (second long service increment)

Inland Fisheries.

Enda Kenny

Question:

161 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if a consultancy report (details supplied) has been published on inland fisheries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33133/04]

My predecessor appointed consultants to undertake a high level review of the inland fisheries sector. The consortium of consultants is led by Farrell Grant Sparks Consulting and comprises the centre for environment, fisheries and aquaculture science and the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, NUI, Maynooth.

The review will deliver a root and branch examination of the State's role and objectives in the inland fisheries sector. The consultants are required to evaluate the adequacy of the current model for the governance of inland fisheries sector; to define the current relationship between the Government, the Departments and the inland fisheries sector and suggest new more effective models; and to recommend a structure which will contribute to the optimum development of the inland fisheries resource.

I am advised by the independent steering group, established by the Minister to oversee the work of the consultants, that while the complex review is not yet complete, the process is coming to a close and the consultants expect to present their report to me early in the new year. While I appreciate that previous indications were that I expected to receive this report before now, I am sure the Deputy will nevertheless agree that, given the size and complexity of the task assigned to them, it is important that the consultants be allowed the necessary time to deliver a report which fully and comprehensively addresses all the issues. I have asked the steering group to ensure, however, that there is no undue delay in the process.

Pension Provisions.

Enda Kenny

Question:

162 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when retired workers from An Post will receive retrospective payments from 1 November 2003, under Sustaining Progress; the efforts being made to have these payments made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33134/04]

Damien English

Question:

167 Mr. English asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if An Post will be instructed to pay the 3% increase in the pensions of retired An Post pensioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33176/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 167 together.

I acknowledge the difficulties created for pensioners by the current position in An Post, which I regret. Authority to implement pension increases was delegated to An Post by the Department on 26 May 1989. Traditionally, An Post has granted increases to serving staff in line with national pay agreements. Increases to pensioners have then subsequently been applied in line with increases granted to serving staff.

The current position arises because of the ongoing failure of management and unions to agree payment and productivity terms in light of the current financial position of An Post. Due to the non-payment of Sustaining Progress increases to serving employees in An Post, the company had decided that pensioners would not be paid the increases, as the practice has been to maintain parity between pay and pensions. Notwithstanding this position, I have expressed my concern to the board and management of An Post about the position regarding pensioners and discussions between relevant Departments and officials on the matter are ongoing.

Postal Services.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

163 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will make a statement on the decision of An Post to discontinue the special delivery service from January 2005; the reasons for this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33136/04]

There have been heavy losses in recent years at An Post's parcel delivery subsidiary, the special delivery service or SDS. These losses amounted to €18 million over a three year period to 2003, with losses of €12 million in 2003 alone. Further losses, forecast at €10 million, are likely to be sustained in 2004. In these circumstances, the board of An Post at its July meeting decided to close SDS and to re-integrate the parcels business into the letter post division. A total of 180 SDS jobs will be re-integrated into letter post and an entirely voluntary redundancy package will be introduced for an anticipated 270 job losses. The redundancy package will be funded by property disposals.

It is my understanding that, following a request from ICTU, the national implementation body held a hearing to determine whether the company breached the partnership terms of Sustaining Progress in making its decision to reintegrate SDS. The national implementation body, as part of its determination proposed that an independent facilitator be agreed to share the financial details and institute a process for information sharing. Mr. Peter Cassells has been appointed as facilitator and the process has been up and running for some time.

I stress that both An Post management and the Communications Workers' Union have agreed that issues arising from the closure of SDS would be handled through the national implementation body process. Any unresolved issues arising from this process can be referred to the Labour Relations Commission and-or Labour Court, as appropriate.

Coastal Protection.

Pat Breen

Question:

164 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will allocate funding to Clare County Council for remedial measures to protect the road at Ross Bay, Kilbaha, County Clare from the sea; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33137/04]

Responsibility for coast protection rests with the property owner, whether it be a local authority or a private individual. In July 2002 my Department requested all coastal local authorities to submit proposals, in order of priority, for consideration in the context of the 2003-06 national coast protection programmes. Clare County Council submitted a number of proposals for coast protection works, including proposed works at Ross, Kilbaha, estimated at €600,000. This proposal was number seven in the county council's order of priority. There was no Exchequer funding for this project in 2004. The question of funding this proposal in the post-2004 period will be considered in the context of the Exchequer allocation for coast protection works and overall national priorities.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

165 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the criteria his Department applied when establishing priorities for coastal protection projects; if there is a priority regime in place which promotes the protection of county roads over the protection of individual homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33155/04]

Primary responsibility for coast protection rests with the property owner, whether it be a local authority or a private individual. The priority is to safeguard human life and protect public property, including roads and other public infrastructures and amenities. My Department has no funding available for the protection of private property.

In July 2002 the Department invited all coastal local authorities to submit proposals, in order of priority, for consideration in the 2003-06 period. All proposals received are carefully examined in the Department in accordance with priority criteria as follows: protect public safety, public property or infrastructure; protect areas of socio-economic, tourism or recreational importance; support the economic development or increase the economic potential of coastal regions; provide essential protection for areas or features of environmental or heritage significance; and avert the need for costly remedial works at a later stage.

Telecommunications Services.

John Perry

Question:

166 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if, with regard to the recent highly publicised announcements of broadband facilities, the level of service, in particular, the repair facility will be maintained for non-broadband customers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33172/04]

The level of service and repair facilities for telecommunications customers is an operational matter for the private sector and I have no function in the matter.

Question No. 167 answered with QuestionNo. 162.

Mobile Telephony.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

168 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he has used his directive prerogative to encourage an improvement in the quality and coverage of mobile telephone services throughout the country; if he has given direction to the regulator in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33180/04]

The Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg as the independent regulator of the sector, has the responsibility under the transposed European regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services, and the Communications (Regulation) Act 2002, to regulate the electronic communications sector, including the areas raised by the Deputy. It has statutory independence in carrying out this function.

As Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, I have responsibility for overall strategic policy and legislation in the sector. In this regard section 13 of the Communications (Regulation) Act 2002 allows me to issue policy directions to ComReg, in the interest of the proper and effective regulation of the electronic communications markets. However, actual regulatory interventions or decisions relating to operators, such as quality and coverage, are the responsibility of ComReg, the independent regulator. In March 2004 my predecessor issued policy directions including a direction on competition. These directions can be viewed on my Department's website atwww.dcmnr.ie.

Seamen’s Memorial.

John Perry

Question:

169 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his plans for a public recognition by way of a memorial to acknowledge the sacrifice made by Irish seamen (details supplied) to ensure supplies into the country and to protect Ireland’s wartime neutrality. [33217/04]

A memorial committee was established in 1977 to honour the seamen lost while serving on Irish ships during the Emergency, 1939 to 1946. The committee consisted of members of the Irish Association of Master Mariners, the Maritime Institute of Ireland, the Marine, Port and General Workers' Union and the Seamen's Union of Ireland. A site for the memorial, on City Quay in Dublin, was provided by Dublin Corporation and on Sunday 6 May 1990, the official opening of the memorial took place, presided over by the then President of Ireland, Dr. Patrick Hillery. The memorial consists of a 20 foot high monolith of Wicklow granite, fronted by a 17 foot anchor, and it bears the names of the seafarers and ships lost during the Emergency, including the crew of the Irish registered vessel, theIrish Pine.

I recognise the enormous sacrifice made by Irish seafarers who contributed towards maintaining supplies into Ireland during the Emergency period. I will give consideration to the form of any further recognition that might be warranted particularly with regard to the tragic loss on 15 November 1942 of the 33 crewmen of theIrish Pine. I will consult as necessary and I will revert to the House in this regard as soon as practicable.

Telecommunications Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

170 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the position regarding discussions with Eircom on continuing the 999 emergency telephone service; and if he will guarantee the availability of this service into the future. [33271/04]

Discussions are ongoing with Eircom and other telecommunications operators on the funding of the emergency call answering service. These discussions only relate to the funding of the service. Eircom has confirmed that there has been no change in the level and quality of the emergency call answering service.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

171 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when he will announce the details of the extra 140 MW recently approved by the EU under AER VI. [33461/04]

I announced the allocations, by category and by applicants, of the remaining unallocated AER VI support yesterday, Monday 13 December. Full details of the successful applicants and the allocations are available on my Department's website atwww.dcmnr.ie.

Postal Services.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

172 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to An Post’s efforts to contract out postal deliveries, particularly in rural areas; and his views on whether this will inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of daily deliveries in rural areas. [33462/04]

The universal service obligation which includes nationwide delivery requirements is enshrined in EU and Irish law. It is, therefore, a statutory requirement for An Post as the designated universal service provider. The issue of detailed arrangements for delivery of mail on a nationwide basis is separate and one which does not dilute in any way the universal service obligation imposed on An Post. As part of the process of restructuring, aimed at improving the efficiency of postal services, An Post has in mind a pilot project with regard to "owner drivers". The matter is an operational one for consideration by the board and management of An Post and, therefore, one for which I have no function.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

173 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he intends to fund the social elements in An Post services to ensure that these services will continue in rural areas. [33463/04]

The Government is committed to a viable and sustainable nationwide post office network. To further this objective, the Government has already provided an equity injection of €12.7 million for An Post to facilitate the modernisation of the post office network. The equity injection was paid to the company in 2003 and with this in mind, the Government is not considering providing a subsidy or subvention towards the post office network.

As a practical commitment to the future of the post office network, An Post continues to pursue new business opportunities. Additional business won includes bill paying facilities for the ESB, telephone top-ups through its Postpoint service and a contract with the AIB under which the bank's customers can access their accounts through the network. Further opportunities from both the public and private sectors are being actively explored by the company with a view to bringing on stream additional services at the post office counter, wherever possible.

The long-term future of the post office network can only be secured by meeting the needs of customers. In this regard, I have asked the Irish Postmasters Union and An Post to work in partnership with a view to securing existing business and to pursuing new business opportunities as they arise. As outlined above, that strategy is being followed with some success by the company.

Regarding rural postal services, the universal service obligation which includes nationwide delivery requirements is enshrined in EU and Irish law and, therefore, it is a statutory requirement for An Post as the designated universal service provider. Arising from the universal service obligations imposed on An Post, part of the postal market is still solely reserved to the company.

Border Road Closures.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

174 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, further to Question No. 184 of 7 July 2004, the position as regards a location (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33024/04]

I am aware that the closure of the section of Cannings Lane, off Coney Road, which lies in Northern Ireland, continues to be a matter of concern to the citizens of Muff, County Donegal, as it is to the Deputy. My Department has raised this matter on numerous occasions with the relevant Northern Ireland authorities and with the British Government through the British-Irish intergovernmental secretariat. We will continue to do so but a particular difficulty is that a way forward on the issue between the relevant authorities and the landowner in question has not yet been found.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

175 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33045/04]

There was no expenditure on public relations in 2002 by the Department of Foreign Affairs. While no public relations consultants or companies were employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2003 and 2004, a design company was employed, following a tendering process, by Development Co-operation Ireland, a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The company was paid €46,201.50 in 2003 for work on the design and printing of various publications.

A design company was also employed by the Department, following a tender process, for work relating to the design and branding for the EU Presidency and the launch of the Presidency logo. The company was paid €43,461.37 in 2003 for this work. The same company was paid €23,466.74 in 2004 for a promotion campaign for the EU Presidency website. The greater part of this amount was for the purchasing of media advertising space in national newspapers and on local radio.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

176 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33060/04]

The table below sets out the number of personnel working in the Department's press office, their grades and pay scales:

Grade

Number

Pay scale

Counsellor

1

€71,990 —€89,047

First Secretary

1

€55,057 —€68,651

Third Secretary

2

€29,456 —€52,136

Clerical Officer

2

€20,520 —€33,274

Total

6

I have also appointed a press adviser, under terms and conditions of employment set by the Minister for Finance. The applicable pay scale is principal officer standard, that is, €71,990 —€89,047.

Paul McGrath

Question:

177 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of civil servants and other staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33075/04]

The following table sets out the number of personnel in my constituency office, their grades and pay scales:

Grade

Number

Pay scale

Personal Assistant (non-established)

1

€39,035 —€49,529

Executive Officer

1

€27,057 —€42,805

Clerical Officer

4

€20,520 —€33,274

Total

6

Diplomatic Representation.

John Perry

Question:

178 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he plans to establish a consulate in Belgrade, in view of the tourism potential in this region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33173/04]

Ireland opened diplomatic relations with what is now the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in April, 1977 and our ambassador to Hungary is accredited there on a non-resident basis. An honorary consul was appointed in Belgrade in December, 2003. The opening of resident Irish missions abroad is considered by the Government on an ongoing basis. As the Deputy will appreciate, however, there are constraints on Government expenditure and limits on the resources that can be made available for new missions. Any expansion of our diplomatic network must take this into account and must be based on a thorough assessment of the costs and benefits involved. At present there are no plans to open a consulate or resident mission in Belgrade.

Human Rights Issues.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

179 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the detention of a person (details supplied) in Zimbabwe; if he will raise this matter with the Government of Zimbabwe and at the GAERC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33222/04]

I am aware of the decision of the Zimbabwean Parliament on 28 October 2004 to impose a sentence of 12 months imprisonment with labour on Roy Bennett, the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, Member of Parliament for Chimanimani constituency. While not condoning the action for which Mr. Bennett was sentenced, the sentence imposed is clearly disproportionate to the offence committed. This, I understand, would normally attract a maximum fine of approximately €12, had it been tried in an ordinary Zimbabwean court. The severe sentence imposed on Mr. Bennett, which results from an action by the Zimbabwean Parliament rather than the Government, forms part of an overall pattern of harassment, intimidation and violence which opposition politicians and supporters have faced in Zimbabwe for some years now. Regrettably, the overall human rights situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, with arbitrary arrests and political violence continuing while legislation has just been enacted by the Zimbabwean Parliament which will impose serious restrictions on the activities of human rights NGOs operating in Zimbabwe. Ireland and its EU partners continue to take the lead in highlighting the serious human rights situation in Zimbabwe, including through tabling a resolution on the issue at the recent session of the UN General Assembly. The EU will continue to press for the repeal of repressive legislation and an end to attacks on basic freedoms by the Zimbabwean authorities. Such political reforms are crucial if there is to be any prospect of free and fair parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe next March, carried out in accordance with the principles and guidelines on democratic elections adopted by the SADC, Southern African Development Community, summit in Mauritius last August and with which the Zimbabwean Government has said it will comply.

United States Deportations.

John Deasy

Question:

180 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of ongoing deportation cases of Irish citizens from the United States that are being dealt with by his Department; and the number of Irish citizens that have been deported each year for the past five years from the United States. [33305/04]

My Department is aware of eight Irish nationals awaiting deportation from the United States. Figures published by the US Office of Immigration Statistics report that 290 Irish nationals were deported from the United States between 1999 and 2004. Of these, 191 were categorised by the United States authorities as "non-criminal" deportations and are likely to have arisen from immigration offences. The embassy in Washington and our network of consulates continue to work closely with Irish citizens in vulnerable circumstances in the United States. Through the ongoing efforts of our embassy and my own contacts and those of my Cabinet colleagues with political leaders in the United States, I will continue to encourage and support measures that would benefit Irish citizens in the United States.

Irish Prisoners Abroad.

Michael Lowry

Question:

181 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the plight of a person (details supplied) imprisoned in the UK; if he will raise the matter with the British Prime Minister; his strategy to ensure the release of the person involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33414/04]

I am aware of this case and, on my instructions, the case continues to be closely monitored by my Department through the Irish Embassy in London. The embassy in London remains in contact with both the person himself and his solicitor. A diplomatic officer from the embassy made a recent visit on 25 November 2004 to him at HMP Gartree. I understand he informed the diplomatic officer that he is receiving treatment for his medical problems at an outside hospital, that the treatment is ongoing and that the prison authorities are fully responsive and helpful in this regard. I also understand that the solicitor is still seeking appropriate grounds on which either to lodge an appeal against conviction or to seek to have the case reopened. This is against the background where the person in question pleaded guilty at his original trial and was given a mandatory sentence. I can assure the Deputy that my Department will continue to keep in contact with the person concerned, his solicitor and his family, and to provide all appropriate consular assistance and advice. I will consider whether there is any further action that I might take when the legal position has been clarified.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

182 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33046/04]

Since the establishment of my Department in June 2002 the following contracts have been awarded for public relations projects. I set out hereunder the details requested in respect of the public relations contracts:

PR Consultant

Service Provided

Year

Value of Contract

Kate Bowe PR Ltd.

Irish Festival in China Provision of Public Relations Management Services

2003/4

71,623.93 (paid to date)

Siobhán Colgan

EU Presidency Cultural Programme Public Relations Management Services Contract term 7 months

2003/4

32,777.53

Murray Consultants

PR Consultants for the Department.

2003/2004

101,667.92 (paid to date)

Murray Consultants

PR Consultants for the Department (New Contract with effect from 1 December 2004).

2004/2005

4,500 per month retainer

Kate Bowe PR Ltd.

Public relations costs for “ReJoyce” Festival

2004

4,800

Fleishman — Hilliard Saunders

Public relations costs for “ReJoyce” Festival

2004

128,581

Brenda O’Hanlon

Public Relations for the National Library (Contracts x 3)

2002/03/04/05

60,662.72 (paid to date)

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

183 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33061/04]

The staffing of my Department's press office consists of one higher executive officer, one executive officer and one part-time clerical officer, 50%, all of whom are established civil servants. They all receive the appropriate remuneration applicable to their grades.

Paul McGrath

Question:

184 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of civil servants and other staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33076/04]

There are 6.2 staff currently employed in my constituency office. The grade breakdown is as follows: 2 Executive officers 3.2 Clerical officers, job-sharing 1 Personal secretary The staff at executive and clerical officer grade are paid at the appropriate rate of remuneration applicable to the grades, and my personal secretary receives the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas secretarial assistant salary along with a 10% attraction allowance. The executive and clerical officers are all established civil servants.

Sports Capital Programme.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

185 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the assistance or grants which are available to a community group hall (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33147/04]

It is open to the project in question to apply for funding in respect of sports-related elements of the project under the national lottery-funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department. The programme allocates funding to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The programme is advertised on an annual basis. Applications for funding under the 2005 sports capital programme were invited in the press on 5 and 6 December last. Application forms and guidelines, terms and conditions for the programme are available either directly from the sports capital unit of my Department or on-line from my Department's website,www.dast.gov.ie. The deadline for receipt in my Department of application forms and all necessary supporting documentation is 5 p.m. on Friday, 4 February 2005.

Dan Neville

Question:

186 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when application forms and specifications are available for 2005 in relation to the capital grants for sport and recreational facilities. [33151/04]

Applications for funding under the 2005 sports capital programme were invited through advertisements in the press on 5 and 6 December last. Application forms and guidelines, terms and conditions for the programme are available either directly from the sports capital unit of my Department or on-line from my Department's website, www.dast.gov.ie. The deadline for receipt in my Department of application forms and all necessary supporting documentation is 5 p.m. on Friday, 4 February 2005.

Decentralisation Programme.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

187 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when the decentralisation of his Department to Killarney will take place; the number of staff of the various grades who have applied for positions in Killarney; and the number of staff required for the decentralisation. [33223/04]

According to the latest report from the decentralisation implementation group, chaired by Mr. Phil Flynn, my Department is listed in table 1 to be included in the first phase of moves. It is expected that the building work on the new premises will commence in the last quarter of 2005 and be completed in the first quarter of 2007 with the transfer of staff to follow in mid-2007. Details in regard to the number of staff in the various grades who have applied for decentralisation to Killarney are set out in the following table. Under the programme of decentralisation, 140 posts in my Department will be transferring to Killarney.

Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Grade

Number

Civil Service- Accountant/Auditor/Financial Accountant

1

Professional Accountant Grade 1

1

Senior Auditor

0

Trainee Auditor

1

Civil Service — Agriculture

Assistant Agricultural Inspector

1

Civil Service — Clerk

Clerk 1

7

Civil Service — Engineer

Engineer Grade II

0

Civil Service — General Administration

Administrative Officer

3

Assistant Principal Higher

5

Assistant Principal

20

Clerical Officer

41

Executive Officer

38

Head Service Officer

1

Higher Executive Officer

31

Principal

2

Principal Higher

2

Service Officer

1

Staff Officer

3

Civil Service — Inspectors

Inspector

1

Civil Service — IT

Clerical Officer

1

Executive Officer — Junior System Analyst

1

Higher Executive Officer — System Analyst

1

Staff Officer — Senior Programmer

1

Civil Service — Mapping

Superintendent Mapping and Applotment

1

Civil Service — Miscellaneous

Statistician

3

Tax Officer

0

Civil Service Prison Service

Assistant Governor Works

1

Prison Officer

1

Public Service — General/Admin

ADM Grade 3

2

ADM Grade 5

0

Higher Executive Officer

1

Principal

1

Total

173

Fuel Prices.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

188 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the price of oil in euro terms continues to fall; when he expects the consumers of home heating oil will enjoy the benefits of this decrease; the steps his Department will take to ensure these benefits are passed on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32999/04]

There are no price controls in place on home heating oil and I am not in a position to force suppliers to reduce the price when input costs fall. Notwithstanding this, I believe suppliers have an obligation to pass on reductions in raw material costs in the form of lower prices. I think this is particularly so because there is a perception that suppliers are sometimes quick to pass on price increases when costs move in the opposite direction. The most effective form of price control is competition in the market place and it is the responsibility of my Department, the Competition Authority and the Director of Consumer Affairs to ensure that the market operates fairly and to the benefit of all consumers. I urge consumers to make themselves aware of the prices charged by the various suppliers of this product so that they can avail themselves of the best prices.

If the Deputy is aware of any factors that might be inhibiting competition in the market for home heating oil, I would be delighted to hear from her and I will certainly arrange for her concerns to be passed on to the Competition Authority or other appropriate enforcement agencies.

Community Employment Schemes.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

189 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of community employment scheme participants who have been employed by the same employer for 104 weeks or more and have had their contract terminated due to redundancy arising from the withdrawal of a community employment place; the number of these participants who have been paid their entitlements to statutory redundancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33000/04]

I am informed by FÁS that the information being sought could not be collated in the time available. When it comes to hand I shall communicate with the Deputy.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

190 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason persons (details supplied) in County Cork, who were employed in a community employment scheme, paid a class A PRSI contribution, worked for more than 104 weeks for the same employer and had their contracts terminated due to the withdrawal of the community employment places, were not paid redundancy under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 to 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33001/04]

I am informed by FÁS that the persons to whom the Deputy refers were replaced on the expiry of their employment with Cork City VEC. The legal advice available is that redundancy does not arise in such a situation.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

191 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33047/04]

From June 2002 until the current date, three public relations companies have been engaged by my Department. Peter G White Ltd. was paid €1,270.50 for the provision of advice on media strategy on behalf of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board prior to its establishment on a statutory basis.

The Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs engaged the services of Caden Communications in 2002, 2003 and 2004 as communications adviser to the Director of Consumer Affairs, and to provide ongoing public relations advice. This contract was renewed in September 2003 following a competitive tendering process. Payments to Caden Communications for these services amounted to €22,633.49 from June to December 2002, €44,032.76 in 2003, and €58,261.50 in 2004.

Carr Communications provide advice to the Companies Registration Office on a number of matters. Since 2002, €87,643 has been paid to this company for public relations services.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

192 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33062/04]

There is one principal officer with four support staff employed in the press and media relations office of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. All the staff concerned are civil servants with the breakdown of grades and remuneration outlined in table 1 below. The principal officer has administrative responsibility for the staff of the Minister's office, offices of the Ministers of State, Freedom of Information Act and for the Personal Injuries Assessment Board liaison unit.

Table 1

Grade breakdown

Salary Scale

1 Principal Officer

€75,780 —€93,733 Class A PRSI €71,990 —€89,047 Class B PRSI

1 Higher Executive Officer

€41,090 —€52,136 Class A PRSI €39,035 —€49,529 Class B PRSI

1 Executive Officer

€27,057 —€42,805 Class A PRSI €25,704 —€40,669 Class B PRSI

2 Clerical Officers

€20,520 —€33, 274 Class A PRSI €19,493 —€31,612 Class B PRSI

Following my appointment as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on 29 September 2004, I have also appointed a press adviser, principal officer scale, whose other terms and conditions of employment have not yet been finalised and will require the formal approval of the Minister for Finance.

Paul McGrath

Question:

193 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of civil servants and other staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33077/04]

There are three civil servants, one personal secretary and two personal assistants currently employed within my constituency office as outlined in table 1 below. The three civil servants are based in the Department's offices in Kildare Street and the personal secretary and personal assistants are based in my constituency office in Cork.

Table 1

Grade Breakdown

Salary Scale

1 Personal Secretary

€19,498 —€37,620 (Secretarial Assistant pay scale)

2 Personal Assistants (including 1 work sharer)

€20,520 —€33,274 Class A PRSI €19,493 —€31,612 Class B PRSI (Clerical Officer pay scale)

1 Staff Officer

€30,937 —€41,172 Class A PRSI €29,391 —€39,118 Class B PRSI

3 Clerical Officers

€20,520 —€33,274 Class A PRSI €19,493 —€31,612 Class B PRSI

Work Permits.

John McGuinness

Question:

194 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a decision will be expedited in relation to a work permit renewal (details supplied). [33108/04]

The work permit section of my Department has recently made a decision to refuse the application for a work permit in this case on the following grounds: from documentation submitted in support of this application it appears that the employee in question received less than the wage specified on last year's work permit application. Under those circumstances the issuing of a work permit could not be justified. The employer has been notified of this decision and of the right of appeal.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

195 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of the work permit application from a company (details supplied) in County Wexford; when a decision will be made on the permit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33125/04]

There is no record in my Department of a valid work permit application in this case. Work permit applications, which are incorrect or incomplete, are not regarded as valid applications and are returned to the employer for completion.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

196 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to put measures in place to improve the health of the workforce and to prevent accidents in the workplace in view of the fact that 1,286,100 days were lost due to accidents and illnesses in the workplace in 2003. [33127/04]

This Government's commitment to ensuring appropriate standards of health and safety in Irish workplaces is manifested in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2004, which is currently before the House. The Bill when enacted will update, repeal and replace the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 and will provide a modern legal framework to guarantee best international practice in regard to health and safety in Irish workplaces.

The Bill aims at striking an appropriate balance between imposing duties, encouraging better consultation at workplace level on occupational safety and health matters, providing for an improved focus on better prevention systems and practices and the possible application of increased fines and penalties, where warranted. Enactment of the Bill will provide the means to continue the downward trend in the rate of accidents in the Irish workplace which has reduced from 1,499 accidents per 100,000 workers in 1992 to 738 per 100,000 workers in 2003, against a background of a rising workforce, [Source: occupational injury claims — Department of Social and Family Affairs]. The Health and Safety Authority is the State body charged with overall responsibility for administration, enforcement and promotion of workplace safety and health and I will continue to work closely with the authority in advancing its broadly based prevention programmes, like for example its prevention strategy, published this year covering the various aspects of administration, advice, information, promotion and enforcement in this critical aspect of employment and workplace activity.

Job Creation.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

197 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the total number of new jobs announced by companies located in County Donegal during 2005; and the efforts being made to create more employment in the county. [33331/04]

The issue of announcements of the creation of new jobs is a matter for the companies concerned in the first instance. Of course companies may also choose not to announce the creation of new jobs. Thus, many more jobs can be created than formal announcements would indicate. Where jobs are being created in companies that are clients of the development agencies under the aegis of my Department, a ministerial announcement may be made at the company's request. These agencies are IDA Ireland, which markets individual areas as a location for additional foreign direct investment; Enterprise Ireland, which concentrates on the development of indigenous industries; and the city and county enterprise boards, which have primary responsibility for the regional promotion of indigenous industry in the micro-enterprise sector. Job announcements in respect of Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies in Donegal would be a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cuív.

The Forfás annual employment survey records jobs gained and lost in any one year in the companies supported by the development agencies for which I have responsibility. The survey for 2004 is currently being completed and specific data should be available for Donegal after January 2005. The figures for 2003 show that there were 141 new jobs created in the Letterkenny, Laghey, Buncrana and Donegal town areas. The development agencies assure me that they are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to secure additional investment and jobs for the people of Donegal.

Enterprise Ireland continues to work with its client companies in the county to assist them grow their sales and exports and improve innovation so that they can compete globally. Direct support amounting to €15 million has been approved for client companies in the north-west region since January 2000, of which approximately €10 million is for companies in County Donegal. To date in 2004, Enterprise Ireland has approved funding of over €1.5 million and also paid over €1.5 million to companies in County Donegal.

The IDA is actively marketing all areas of Donegal for new investment and jobs and has invested significant moneys in developing a business park to international standards in Letterkenny and companies locating in this park will recruit from the wider Donegal area. This is in line with the national spatial strategy and the designation of Letterkenny as a gateway location.

The Donegal County Enterprise Board continues to be active in helping new and existing micro-enterprises in the county. To date the board has approved a total of €645,470 in funding to 26 projects that will assist in the creation of 66 net new jobs for the region.

Community Development.

Enda Kenny

Question:

198 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount from the family services project that has been allocated to RAPID areas in 2002, 2003 and 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32987/04]

The RAPID programme is a cross-departmental initiative under the aegis of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. There is no specific funding provided for the RAPID, revitalising areas by planning, investment and development, programme in my Department. My Department has responsibility for the operation of the family services project, and moneys which are available through this programme under the National Development Plan 2000-2006, can be applied in RAPID areas.

My Department has expended family services project funding within RAPID areas over the years 2002 to 2004 as follows: 2002 €414,691; 2003 €449,723; *2004 €427,610 (*Year to date).

My Department is represented in the implementation and monitoring committees of the RAPID programme, as part of its role in relation to poverty and social exclusion.

In line with the RAPID programme's objective of using existing structures and resources to poverty progress its aims, the resources available under the services already outlined will continue to form the basis of my Department's contribution to supporting the programme.

Enda Kenny

Question:

199 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount from the school meals programme that has been allocated to RAPID areas in 2002, 2003 and 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32988/04]

The school meals programme operated by my Department gives funding towards provision of food services for disadvantaged school children through two schemes. The first is the urban school meals scheme, currently operated by 35 local authorities. The Department jointly funds the food costs with these local authorities, who also manage and fund the administration of the scheme. The second is the school meals local projects scheme, through which funding is provided by my Department to a number of schools and voluntary community groups in both urban and rural areas for specific school meals projects.

My Department is working with the Department of Education and Science to extend the school meals programme. In this regard the Department of Education and Science is using its schools completion programme and Giving Children an Even Break initiative to target disadvantaged schools. It is actively promoting the school meals programme through the local schools completion programme co-ordinators.

A total of €3.19 million has been issued so far this year to schools in RAPID areas. The equivalent totals for 2003 and 2002 were €2.61 million and €1.7 million respectively. A breakdown of these amounts for strand 1 and strand 2 RAPID areas is set out in the tabular statement as follows:

Local Projects in Strand 1 Rapid Areas

2002

2003

2004

Cork City

10,199

23,331

93,114

Dublin City

385,830

758,792

847,023

Limerick City

13,825

61,098

411,067

Dundalk and Drogheda, Co. Louth

106,890

56,320

306,463

Waterford City

6,561

28,332

58,154

Bray, Co. Wicklow

5,547

17,957

30,684

Local Projects Strand 1

Sub Total

528,852

945,830

1,746,505

Local Projects in Strand 2 Rapid Areas

2002

2003

2004

Co. Carlow

28,696

33,214

40,660

Co. Cavan

6,000

17,173

22,663

Co. Clare

4,722

8,347

8,248

Co. Galway

2,155

14,360

19,257

Co. Kerry

12,228

5,252

8,724

Co. Kildare

16,660

1,360

11,699

Co. Kilkenny

11,388

20,139

55,278

Co. Longford

5,660

10,435

Co. Meath

1,750

13,461

Co. Sligo

3,720

26,459

Co. Tipperary

57,821

39,650

113,300

Co. Westmeath

9,242

9,750

Co. Wexford

40,062

32,325

70,717

Local Projects Strand 2

Sub total

179,732

192,192

410,651

Local Projects

Total

708,584

1,138,022

2,157,156

Urban School Meals Administered by Local Authorities in Strand 1 Rapid Areas

2002

2003

2004

Bray

4,657

18,509

20,299

Cork

30,840

199,310

82,500

Drogheda

7,812

1,121

0

Dublin City Council

672,014

890,279

657,524

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

17,157

30,109

29,487

Fingal County Council

55,149

77,714

32,906

South Dublin CC

107,946

154,670

116,840

Limerick

54,925

50,064

54,760

Waterford

9,145

11,277

12,491

Urban Scheme Strand 1

Sub total

959,645

1,433,053

1,006,807

Urban Schools Meals Administered by Local Authorities in Strand 2 Rapid Areas

2002

2003

2004

Athy

1,285

3,360

0

Ballinasloe

1,640

1,247

1,369

Carlow

3,725

5,683

4,993

Carrick on Suir

3,124

0

0

Clonmel

0

2,117

0

Kilkenny

0

0

5,280

Longford

1,237

1,400

1,376

Navan

2,787

3,250

1,488

New Ross

1,907

534

716

Sligo

5,107

3,408

2,406

Tralee

1,422

2,907

3,803

Wexford

4,919

15,877

9,005

Urban Scheme Strand 2

Sub total

27,153

39,783

30,436

Urban Scheme Total

986,798

1,472,836

1,037,243

Overall Total

1,695,380

2,610,858

3,194,399

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

200 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33048/04]

The Department of Social and Family Affairs has not awarded any contracts for public relations projects since June 2002.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

201 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33063/04]

There are three staff in the Department's press office, including the press officer who is a higher executive officer on a pay scale of €39,035 to €49,529, the deputy press officer who is an executive officer with a pay scale of €27,057 to €44,494 and one clerical officer on a pay scale of €20,519 to €33,274. I have also appointed a press adviser on a contract basis for my term of office. The salary for this position is €89,801 together with a private pension contribution of 10% of salary.

Paul McGrath

Question:

202 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of civil servants and other staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33078/04]

There are a total of six full-time administrative staff assigned to deal with matters in my constituency office. There are four established civil servants, one executive officer on a pay scale of €25,704 to €38,079 and three clerical officers on a pay scale of €20,519 to €33,274. I have also appointed, on a contract basis for my term of office, two non-established civil servants, a personal secretary and a personal assistant. The annual salary for my personal secretary is €37,621. My personal assistant is on secondment from the Department of Education and Science. My Department will recoup on an annual basis the cost of a replacement teachers' salary, allowances, PRSI contributions and superannuation contributions. This will be in the region of €31,800.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

203 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be awarded the one parent family allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33184/04]

There is a statutory obligation, on all claimants of one-parent family payment to satisfy, and continue to satisfy, the conditions for entitlement to the payment. As indicated in previous replies, payment was disallowed in this case on the grounds that the person concerned had failed to disclose all her means. The person concerned subsequently informed the Department that she had changed address and she provided some documentation on her means. The application has been referred to a local officer who has interviewed the person concerned at her new address regarding her means. However, as all the information required to finalise inquiries was not available to the local officer, investigations are ongoing. On completion of the necessary inquiries a decision will be made and she will be notified of the outcome.

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.

Pat Breen

Question:

204 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will provide increased funding to ECAT in his budget for 2005; and the amount of funding to be allocated and when; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33187/04]

My Department's free travel scheme is available to all people living in the State aged 66 years, or over; to all carers in receipt of carer's allowance; and to carers of people in receipt of constant attendance or prescribed relative's allowance. It is also available to certain people with disabilities and people who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments.

The Department of Transport is addressing the issue of transport in rural areas through the rural transport initiative, RTI. Area Development Management Limited, is managing this scheme on behalf of that Department. My Department has contributed €500,000 to the RTI each year since 2003 and I have secured €500,000 for the initiative for 2005 and 2006. This is to ensure that free travel pass holders continue to have access to community-based transport services.

The organisation referred to by the Deputy is one of 34 pilots participating in the RTI. Payments are made to the 34 groups by ADM, based on estimated free travel passenger journeys. I have been informed by ADM that ECAT were allocated funding in 2004 based on their estimated number of free travel passenger journeys. When actual passenger journey details are available in January 2005 ADM hopes to be in a position to review the payments position and to make any adjustment necessary in respect of 2004 for all of the groups.

Mary Upton

Question:

205 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 is entitled to a free travel pass. [33206/04]

The person concerned is in receipt of a companion free travel pass which allows any person aged 16 or over to accompany her free of charge when travelling.

Restrictions apply to the scheme on Dublin Bus and on Bus Éireann city services in Cork and Limerick because of pressure on bus capacity at peak commuter times. These bus companies also have concerns about their inability to cater for the increase in commuters if such restrictions were to be lifted for free travel passholders. There are no time restrictions on DART or other rail services. My Department, in consultation with CIE, has arranged in a very small number of exceptional cases to issue a temporary unrestricted pass for a period of up to six months to facilitate unavoidable hospital appointments and to enable the passholder to re-arrange appointments outside of the peak hours. Any extension to these very limited arrangements would present significant problems for CIE services.

The person concerned was issued with a temporary unrestricted pass in November 2001 and this expired on 29 May 2002. On an exceptional basis and in view of the circumstances of the case a further temporary unrestricted pass was issued in June 2002, which expired on 31 December 2002. When this special pass was issued to her she was advised by the Department that she should seek to re-arrange her hospital appointments to enable her to travel outside peak times after the pass expiry date. It is not possible to issue a further unrestricted pass in this case.

Social Welfare Code.

Dan Neville

Question:

206 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he has plans with the Department of Health and Children to co-ordinate the methods of calculation of capital means in relation to means-tested benefits available from his Department. [33274/04]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the assessment of capital in the means tests applying to the nursing home subvention operated by the Department of Health and Children and the old age pension scheme operated by my Department.

On budget day, I was pleased to announce that the amount of capital disregarded for means test purposes for all social welfare schemes, except supplementary welfare allowance, will be increased from €12,694.38 to €20,000, an increase of over €7,300. It is estimated that approximately 12,000 claimants will gain as a result of the improvement. This measure, which takes effect from June 2005, will cost €5.1 million in a full year.

I introduced this improvement in the context of the overall Government strategy to encourage a regular savings culture among the population in general. As part of this strategy, the innovative special savings investment accounts were introduced in 2001 and these accounts have been opened by a very large number of people, including pensioners and other social welfare recipients. The new arrangements are designed to ensure that the social welfare means testing arrangements do not act as a disincentive to claimants to become savers or to harshly penalise those who have been regular savers in the past.

The enhanced disregard applies to all capital regardless of where it is held, be it in an SSIA, a credit union, with An Post or any other account with a bank or other financial institution. For means testing purposes, capital also includes stocks and shares and the capital value of property, other than the family home. The arrangements, including the underlying criteria, for assessing the value of capital for access to the nursing home subvention scheme is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Question:

207 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding the issuing of free travel passes to enable persons who do not have access to a public transport service to avail of taxis; the meetings which have taken place on this matter; the progress made; and the plans of the Government to introduce these passes. [33306/04]

The free travel scheme is available to all people living in the State aged 66 years, or over, to all carers in receipt of carer's allowance and to carers of people in receipt of constant attendance or prescribed relative's allowance. It is also available to certain people with disabilities and people who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments.

The scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann and Luas as well as services provided by over 80 private transport operators. The vast majority of private contractors providing services under the scheme operate in rural areas.

I am always willing to consider applications from licensed private transport operators who may wish to participate in the free travel scheme. However, while my Department pays transport providers to operate the free travel scheme, it is not in a position to provide transport services where none exist.

Various alternatives to the existing system, including the use of vouchers, have been examined. A study published in 2000 under the Department's programme of expenditure reviews concluded that a voucher type system, which would be open to a wide range of transport providers including taxis and hackneys, would be extremely difficult to administer, open to abuse and unlikely to be sufficient to afford an acceptable amount of travel. This position remains unchanged.

The issue of access to public transport in rural areas is being addressed at present through the rural transport initiative, which is being managed by Area Development Management, ADM, on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Transport. My Department contributes annually to the initiative to ensure that free travel pass holders continue to have full access to community-based transport services.

Significant improvements have been made to the free schemes, including the free travel scheme, in recent budgets both in terms of the qualifying conditions and the coverage of the schemes. I will continue to review the operation of these schemes with a view to identifying the scope for further improvements as resources permit.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

208 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the direct provision allowance is €19.10 for an adult and €9.60 for a dependent child; if this rate of payment has not increased since it was introduced in 1999; and if so, the reason therefore; the way in which he ensures that the other needs of children are met, such as clothing and educational materials; the efforts that are made to ensure that asylum seekers are not at risk of poverty; and if he will report on the success of these efforts. [33337/04]

Asylum seekers are catered for under the direct provision system operated by the Reception and Integration Agency of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Through this service they are provided with accommodation and other facilities to meet their basic living needs. An allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child is payable weekly to people in direct provision facilities. These rates were set in 1999. Payment of the direct provision allowance is being made on an administrative basis by health board community welfare officers through the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. This is an interim measure, pending finalisation of arrangements for the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to take over payment of the allowance along with its management of accommodation and related services for asylum-seekers. Similar arrangements are being finalised with the Department of Health and Children for that Department to take over responsibility for payments to unaccompanied minors. The question of the appropriate rate of direct provision allowance would be a matter for consideration in the context of the overall provision for asylum-seekers in the direct provision system.

Asylum-seekers and their families in direct provision are not considered to be at a higher risk of poverty than persons who depend on social welfare scheme payments, given the standard of goods and services provided through the direct provision system. In addition to the direct provision facilities, it is open to any asylum-seeker to seek assistance for a particular once-off need by way of an exceptional needs payments through the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

John Cregan

Question:

209 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the way in which the criteria used to refuse the Christmas bonus to a person (details supplied) can be justified in a case in which a person is clearly a long-term recipient of State welfare; if he will make the necessary changes in the rule in order that such persons will not be excluded from Christmas bonus payments; and if, in the circumstances, the Christmas bonus will be awarded to this person. [33370/04]

The person concerned applied for unemployment assistance on 24 August 2004, having previously been in receipt of supplementary welfare allowance. To date he has received unemployment assistance for 100 days only. For unemployment assistance the bonus is limited to those persons who in any continuous period of unemployment have been in receipt of unemployment assistance or benefit for a period not less than 390 days. He is not therefore entitled to receive a Christmas bonus. There are no proposals to change the current regulations relating to Christmas bonus payments.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

210 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he has considered the need to update the means test for farm assist in view of the fact that farm organisations claim that at least 6,000 extra farmers are eligible but the assessment procedure does not accurately reflect their income position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33479/04]

Farm assist is a means-tested scheme providing weekly income support to low-income farmers. The assessment of means for the purpose of qualifying for farm assist is designed to reflect the actual net income, which is calculated as gross income less any expenses necessarily incurred from farming. This is based on normal output and costs appropriate to normal stock levels, capacity and market trends. While the income and expenditure figures for the preceding year are generally used as an indicator of the position, account is taken of loss of income due to exceptional circumstances such as the foot and mouth crisis in 2001 or the adverse weather conditions which effected many farmers early in 2002 so as to ensure that the assessment accurately reflects the current situation.

For the purpose of determining the rate of farm assist payable, deductions are allowed from net income in respect of qualified children, with the balance assessed at 70%. In this regard, the means test is more favourable than the scheme's predecessor, the unemployment assistance scheme for small-holders. In addition, income from the rural environment protection scheme is assessed separately, with the first €2,539 and 50% of the balance disregarded, while 40% of net pay from insurable employment and almost €12,700 of capital are also disregarded.

Significant improvements were announced in budget 2005, which will benefit those on farm assist and other social welfare payments, from January 2005. These include a €14 weekly increase in farm assist for a single person, and up to €23.30 per week for a married person. In addition, the capital disregard in the means assessment will increase from under €12,700 to €20,000, from June 2005.

Currently, almost 8,400 farm assist cases are in payment, receiving an average weekly payment of €145.15. It is considered that the current procedures are effective from the perspective of both policy and administration, in achieving the aim of reflecting the normal level of commercial activity on the farm, while having sufficient flexibility to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

To increase awareness of the scheme, the Department undertook a publicity campaign in 2002 which included radio and press advertising, including specialist farming publications, and the production and showing around the country of a promotional video on the scheme. More generally, the network of social welfare offices throughout the country provides information to members of the public on the range of schemes and services available, including the farm assist scheme. Information leaflets and applications forms for farm assist are available at these offices. In addition, social welfare inspectors in rural areas promote the scheme when meeting the public in the course of their duties.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

211 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number that are receiving farm assist on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33485/04]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following table.

I am satisfied that the farm assist scheme, which was introduced on 7 April 1999, has brought about a worthwhile improvement for low income farmers and particularly for those who are at the lower end of the farm income spectrum.

Farm Assist Recipients — Breakdown by County at 3 December 2004.

(It should be noted that the figures have been compiled from data that is maintained on a local office catchment area basis and these do not correspond exactly with county boundaries.)

County

Number of Cases

Carlow

61

Cavan

307

Clare

438

Cork

597

Donegal

1,178

Dublin

12

Galway

901

Kerry

655

Kildare

45

Kilkenny

128

Laois

88

Leitrim

227

Limerick

210

Longford

111

Louth

68

Mayo

1,547

Meath

56

Monaghan

417

Offaly

83

Roscommon

326

Sligo

345

Tipperary

220

Waterford

45

Westmeath

87

Wexford

171

Wicklow

56

Total

8,379

Rural Transport Initiative.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

212 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport his views on the recommendation in the report by a company (details supplied) that the rural transport initiative increase its services; if he will provide the additional €2 million to help it provide the current level of service and in order that no further cutbacks are necessary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33002/04]

Denis Naughten

Question:

217 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Transport if he will increase the funding provided for the RTI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33103/04]

Michael Lowry

Question:

222 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 186 of 2 December 2004, if he will provide a substantial increase in funding to the RTI in north Tipperary; if he will visit the RTI in question to view first hand the valuable service provided in an isolated and remote part of north Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33411/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212, 217 and 222 together.

I have already announced that the RTI allocation for 2005 is €3.45 million which represents an increase of 15% over the 2004 total or more than 12% when account is taken of inflation effects. This increase will result in an overall funding commitment of more than €12 million for the RTI to the end of 2005 and is all the more impressive when it is borne in mind that a total of €4.4 million was provided for the RTI when the initiative was first proposed in the national development plan. In addition, funding is also available to the scheme from the Department of Social and Family Affairs in respect of free travel and from health boards and from other interests who support it. While I am very happy to allocate substantially increased funding to the rural transport initiative, I am keen to ensure that we get value for money for these financial resources. Accordingly my officials will work with Area Development Management Limited, ADM, which administers the scheme, on ways in which the impact of this funding might be maximised in the light of the recent independent evaluation of the programme.

In administering the RTI on behalf of my Department, ADM makes specific allocations to individual RTI projects from funding provided under my Vote. ADM has sole responsibility in deciding on the individual RTI allocations and neither I nor my Department has any function in the matter. Similarly neither I nor my Department has any function in relation to the number and level of services provided by individual RTI projects. I will bear in mind Deputy Lowry's request for me to visit the scheme in north Tipperary at some stage in the future.

Road Safety.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

213 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport when he expects the report into the instance of late night road accidents will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33003/04]

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, MBRS, 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 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 or not 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 relation to 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 vehicle late night crashes. I expect to receive a copy of the report in the near future.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

214 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Transport the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33049/04]

My Department has not awarded any contracts for public relations projects from the period June 2002 to present.

My Department has, on occasions, employed outside professional public relations advice. Tony O'Brien Communications was employed in August-September 2004 to assist my Department with media relations and was paid a fee of €5,920. Laurie Cearr Associates was engaged for the organisation and management of public relations activities in October 2002, and April, August and September 2004 and was paid a total of €8,880 in fees in respect of this work.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

215 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Transport the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33064/04]

The following tables provide the information requested by the Deputy. The salary costs are based on current salary scales.

Office

Total Staff

Grade/Job Title

Salary Scale Cost per Annum

Press Office

1

Press Officer (Ministerial Appointment)

€71,990 —€89,047

Press Office

1

Higher Executive Officer

€41,090 —€52,136

Press Office

2

Clerical Officer

€20,520 —€33,274

Paul McGrath

Question:

216 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Transport the number of civil servants and other staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33079/04]

The following tables provide the information requested by the Deputy. The salary costs are based on current salary scales.

Office

Total Staff

Grade/Job Title

Salary Scale Cost per Annum

Constituency

1

Personal Administrative Assistant

€39,035 —€49,529

Constituency

1

Personal Assistant

€39,035 —€49,529

Constituency

1

Personal Secretary

€19,768 —€38,140

Constituency

.5

Executive Officer

€27,057 —€42,805

Constituency

1

Staff Officer

€30,937 —€41,172

Constituency

1

Clerical Officer

€20,520 —€33,274

Total

5.5

Question No. 217 answered with QuestionNo. 212.

Motor Vehicle Registration.

Phil Hogan

Question:

218 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Transport when the registration of a vehicle will be completed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33150/04]

The registration of motor vehicles is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners.

Irish Aviation Authority.

John Curran

Question:

219 Mr. Curran asked the Minister for Transport the Act of the Oireachtas under which the Irish Aviation Authority issued a direction (details supplied) which created a restricted area around a privately owned aerodrome at Weston, Lucan, County Dublin. [33204/04]

The Irish Aviation Authority (Aerodromes and Visual Ground Aids) Order, SI 334 of 2000 empowers the Irish Aviation Authority to direct the licensee of an aerodrome licensed for public use to prepare a safeguarding map for lodging with the relevant local authority. The current relevant "Notice to Aerodrome Licence Holders" is NR T.02 issue 4, date 02.09.04.

It is a matter for the local authorities to adopt the safeguarding maps into their county development plans. The responsibility for proper planning and development is a matter for the relevant local authority.

Driver Testers.

John Deasy

Question:

220 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Transport his views on the fact that, due to the changes whereby a driver tester no longer checks for the presence of a motor tax disc, these testers will now be carried in vehicles that are illegally on the road; his further views on whether, under the rules of the road, a vehicle should be properly taxed before it is taken out on the road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33300/04]

Under the Road Traffic Acts the role of a driver tester is to assess the driving competency of candidates presenting for a driving test. A driver tester has no enforcement function in relation to the validity of motor tax discs and is not empowered to refuse to conduct a test on the basis of an invalid tax disc. This position has been confirmed by legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General. The enforcement of motor tax law is a matter for the Garda Síochána.

Rail Network.

Jack Wall

Question:

221 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Transport when the necessary funding will be provided to upgrade the Waterford to Dublin train lines to permit the provision of additional train services; if his attention has been drawn to the serious concerns of commuters in relation to the present service on the line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33368/04]

I am informed by Irish Rail that the renewal of track and signalling on the Waterford to Dublin line was completed earlier this year with the support of Exchequer funding. All track work along the route is now continuous welded track. All this investment has laid an excellent foundation for further improvements to services along the route. Already Irish Rail has reduced the journey time on the route significantly and I am informed by the company that, from yesterday, there is an additional service from Heuston to Carlow, servicing Athy, leaving Dublin at 19.45 hours.

The next step is to provide new rolling stock on the route. Irish Rail has recently submitted proposals to my Department for funding for the purchase of a fleet of 120 intercity railcars to operate on its intercity network. The provision of these new trains will allow Irish Rail to offer two-hourly services on all intercity routes from December 2007. Additional frequencies and better connections will also be provided over the entire intercity network as a result.

Question No. 222 answered with QuestionNo. 212.

Air Services.

Michael Lowry

Question:

223 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Transport if a timeframe has been established for the EU-US open skies negotiations to begin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33415/04]

Michael Lowry

Question:

224 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Transport the mandate he has given his officials travelling to the US for discussions on the US-Irish bilateral agreement; if the mandate he has given them includes safeguarding Shannon Airport and the economies of the west of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33416/04]

Michael Lowry

Question:

225 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Transport if a delegation from his Department has travelled or is planning to travel to the United States to commence discussions on the Irish-US bilateral agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33417/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 to 225, inclusive, together.

No definite timeframe has been established for the resumption of EU-US talks. The general expectation is that they will not resume before next February.

As I indicated in answer to Question No. 61, of 7 December, officials from my Department will meet with US officials to explore what adjustments to the current Ireland-US arrangements are possible. That meeting is taking place today in Washington.

Proposed Legislation.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

226 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Transport his legislative proposals to regulate motor insurance premiums; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33439/04]

Following setting up of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority the Government decided that the following arrangements should apply in regard to responsibility for motor insurance issues. The authority has overall responsibility for the regulation and supervision of financial services including insurance companies. The Minister for Finance, as part of his IFSRA-related responsibilities, will deal with general policy issues relating to regulation of the insurance sector.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, as part of its general responsibilities, retains an interest in the impact of insurance costs on the general competitiveness of industry. The Competition Authority also has a role in the competitiveness of the insurance market and the impact of mergers on it.

The Minister for Transport will deal with general policy in relation to the availability and cost of compulsory motor insurance. The actual transfer of the relevant functions to the Department of Transport will take place over the coming weeks as the necessary staff resources are put in place.

One of the first tasks for the Department of Transport, in respect of its additional insurance functions, will be to review the final report of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board paying particular attention to its many recommendations. The outcome of the review will inform my approach to building on the success of the Tánaiste and former Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment's insurance reform programme as evidenced by recent CSO data. This data shows that there was a reduction of 19.2% in car insurance premia between the months of April and October 2004.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

227 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33050/04]

My Department has not directly engaged any public relations consultants since its establishment. The national advisory committee on drugs is an independent non-statutory body that operates under the aegis of my Department and is funded from the Department's Vote.

The national advisory committee on drugs has engaged Montague Communications to handle media relations and manage events including research launches and dissemination seminars. In this regard, since June 2002, they have been paid the sum of €143,072.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

228 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33065/04]

Five staff are employed in my Department's press and information office as follows: one media adviser on the pre-1995 principal officer standard salary scale, €71,990 to €89,047; one administrative officer on the post-1995 AO standard salary scale, €29,456 to €52,136; one executive officer on the post-1995 EO standard salary scale, €27,057 to €42,805; one clerical officer on the pre-1995 CO standard scale, €19,493 to €31,612 — this officer is a 50% job sharer and is being paid at half rate; and one clerical officer on the post-1995 CO standard scale, €20,520 to €33,274.

Paul McGrath

Question:

229 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of civil servants and other staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33080/04]

There are four staff members currently employed in my constituency office, as follows: one personal assistant on the higher executive officer pre-1995 standard scale, €39,035 to €49,529; one executive officer on an off-scale point of the pre-1995 EO standard scale, €25,704 to €40,669; one clerical officer on the pre-1995 CO standard scale, €19,493 to €31,612; and one clerical officer on the post-1995 CO standard scale, €20,520 to €33,274.

Grant Payments.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

230 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the criteria by which funding was allocated under the recent improved co-ordination of local community schemes; and the reason no project or programme in Dublin south east met the necessary criteria. [33093/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question Nos. 371 on 30 November 2004. Based on the assessment of the external consultant of the proposals received, Dublin South County Development Board was one of those county development boards to which I referred in that reply where I was unable to commit funding.

I confirm that a meeting has taken place between my Department and representatives of the county development board. The county development board has confirmed that further to that meeting, it is working on an updated submission. I hope, subject to receipt of appropriately focused proposed measures, to be in a position to support these proposals when they are received in my Department.

Harbours and Piers.

Enda Kenny

Question:

231 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, in view of new funding available to each Department, he will consider reinstating the €600,000 grant to a pier (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33135/04]

My Department is currently implementing a seven-year plan to build or improve strategic Gaeltacht piers under the national development plan. Under this scheme, grants of up to 100% of cost are available to help build or improve strategic Gaeltacht piers.

Downings pier has been recognised by my Department as having potential for development under the Gaeltacht strategic piers scheme administered by my Department. However, the estimated cost of development works on the Downings pier is in the region of €10 million. A project of this size does not come under the remit of my Department's scheme. In 2002 it was indicated to the local committee that €500,000 would be available to carry out the necessary preliminary studies on condition that the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources was willing to substantially fund the project in partnership with my Department. It is my understanding that due to other commitments that Department has been unable to fund the project to date. Therefore my Department has had no option but to suspend the proposed provision of moneys.

Community Development.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

232 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the assistance or grants which are available to a community group hall (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33145/04]

The programme of grants for locally-based community and voluntary organisations offers two schemes of once-off grants. The scheme of equipment and refurbishment grants provides essential physical supports for the local community and voluntary sector, while the scheme of education, training and research grants is aimed at enhancing the capacity of local communities. The maximum grant available under the scheme of equipment and refurbishment grants in 2004 was €50,000.

This year's programme is now closed. However, it is intended to advertise the programme again early in 2005.

Rural Social Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

233 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if rural social scheme participants will qualify for increased payment rates when the rates on FÁS schemes are increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33220/04]

Participants on the rural social scheme will receive increased payment rates equivalent to the increased payments provided to community employment scheme participants. A small number of participants on the rural social scheme are in receipt of disability allowance and receive payment each week directly from the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Therefore they will receive the increase announced by my colleague, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

Departmental Programmes.

Dan Boyle

Question:

234 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if a review of the RAPID programme is to be initiated; and if so, when. [33302/04]

While there are no plans at present to carry out a formal review of the RAPID programme, my Department regularly receives updates on the implementation of the RAPID programme. These updates include informal updates, reports for regular Department liaison meetings with ADM Limited, and reports prepared by the national co-ordinator for the RAPID national monitoring committee, which oversees the operation of the RAPID programme.

Rural Social Scheme.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

235 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of persons on farm assist who have accepted jobs on the rural social scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33485/04]

There are currently 262 participants on the rural social scheme who were previously in receipt of farm assist payments.

Rural Housing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

236 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, having regard to his previous pronouncements on the issue, he has satisfied himself that An Taisce’s objection to housing for rural dwellers has abated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33514/04]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 93 of 9 November 2004 in relation to rural housing.

The expression of views by An Taisce on this issue is a matter for that organisation.

Question No. 237 answered with QuestionNo. 56.

Departmental Programmes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

238 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the original intention in respect of expenditure under the RAPID programme; the extent to which such moneys have been spent to date under these headings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33516/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

239 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which the RAPID programme has developed or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33518/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

240 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the types of works originally envisaged as being eligible for support under the RAPID programme; if this level of support has been provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33519/04]

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

No specific budget was allocated to the RAPID programme. However, it was stated at the time that "Under the national development plan up to €15 billion has been earmarked for social inclusion measures, to be spent on development measures over the next five years. The RAPID programme will prioritise the 25 identified areas and frontload a significant share of this money to them over the next three years."

Grant Payments.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

241 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which applications for grant aid or other financial support from County Kildare have received consideration in the past two and a half years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33520/04]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that details of applications for grant aid or other financial support for County Kildare, since June 2002, are set out in the following Appendix. Appendix Under the Ireland-Wales INTERREG III Programme one application has been approved from County Kildare under the rural development and diversification measure. The grant approved for this project was €245,420.

Under the farm relief services measure of the NDP programme €2,120 has been spent to date by farm relief services limited on the training of operators in County Kildare.

The rural social scheme, launched by my Department on 17 May last, which aims to provide income support for farmers and fishermen who are currently in receipt of long term social welfare payments, will be implemented in Kildare by Kildare European Leader II Teo. The company is at an advanced stage regarding the implementation of the scheme, and has received a high level of interest. It is expected that the scheme will be launched in January 2005.

North west Kildare is one of the areas targeted for intervention under my Department's community development programme and officials from my Department are currently examining the possibilities with regard to such intervention. To this end, discussions are currently taking place with local development agencies and community organisations to assess the most appropriate structure for delivery of a community development project in the area.

The local development social inclusion programme is delivered in County Kildare by OAK Partnership and Action South Kildare Community Partnership. Funding totalling €3,069,823 was allocated to these groups under this programme in the period from January 2002 to December 2004.

Athy is one of the 45 RAPID areas, selected for priority attention. Funding of €33,000 has been provided by my Department to the Athy area implementation team to date to support it in the preparation and development of their plan and the implementation of the programme. None of the proposals included in the Athy RAPID plan fell directly within the remit of my Department. However, as the Deputy will be aware, I announced details of a number measures to be co-funded under RAPID earlier this year. Funding of €20,000 was allocated by my Department, with matching funding provided by Athy Town Council to support works under the local authority housing estate enhancement scheme. Under the RAPID playgrounds scheme, my Department allocated €30,000 to Athy, with a further €30,000 from the Department of Health and Children for playground development in the area. In addition, my Department has allocated top-up funding of €505,600 to three successful projects in Athy, in addition to funding allocated by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism under the Sports Capital Programme 2004.

In 2004, funding of €76,500 has been approved to support proposals for improved cohesion in the delivery of local and community services by agencies in County Kildare. The funding will be administered by Kildare County Development Board.

The Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board was established in June 2002 to oversee the disbursement of moneys from the dormant accounts fund for community and societal benefit. Funding may be provided for programmes or projects that are designed to assist the personal, educational and social development of persons who are economically, educationally or socially disadvantaged or persons with a disability.

To date the board has approved 318 projects totalling almost €30 million including seven projects in County Kildare. The details are as follows:

Grant Amount

Name of Group

460,000

KARE

151,555

Hospitaller Order of St. John of God

51,500

Board of Management, Scoil Phádraig Naofa

300,000

Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary

98,456

Kildare Youth Services (Curragh Youth Project)

58,775

Athy Youth Project

30,000

Athy Travellers Support Group Limited

The Leader programmes are delivered in County Kildare by Kildare European Leader Teo. Full details of all projects in County Kildare are published in its annual report and are available on their websitewww.kelt.ie.

The programme of grants for locally-based community and voluntary organisations offers two schemes of once-off grants: the scheme of equipment and refurbishment grants provides essential physical supports for the local community and voluntary sector and the scheme of education, training and research grants is aimed at enhancing the capacity of local communities.

Number of applications

Year

Grants

2002

Details of grants paid to voluntary and community groups in 2002 are available in the Dáil Library for the information of members.

2003

13 grants made — details available on Department’s websitewww.pobail.ie.

2004

18 made to date, details published on Department’s websitewww.pobail.ie.

The scheme of community support for older people provides funding to support initiatives to improve the security of older people in their homes.

Number of applications.

Year

Grants

2002

Details of grants paid in 2002 are available in the Dáil Library for the information of members.

2003

11 grants made—details available on Department’s websitewww.pobail.ie.

2004

Applications for 2004 are being finalised

The White Paper on a framework for supporting voluntary activity and for developing the relationship between the State and the community and voluntary sector was published on 13 September 2000. Since then a programme of work to implement key recommendations in the White Paper has been taking place. One of the main achievements to date is the funding scheme to support the role of federations, networks and umbrella bodies. Under this scheme two groups in Kildare are funded over a three-year period from December 2003 to December 2006: Breaking Through in Leixlip has been allocated funding of €198,000 over three years at €66,000 per year; Accord has been allocated funding of €141,000 over three years at €47,000 per year.

My Department, supported by Area Development Management, ADM, Limited, co-ordinates the implementation of the programme. While I can provide information regarding allocations made by my Department to RAPID areas, it is neither practicable nor possible to quantify total spend on RAPID across all Departments. As regards the development of the RAPID programme, I draw the Deputy's attention to my reply to Question No. 44 of today.

National Drugs Strategy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

242 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which he can offer support to communities combating drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33521/04]

As the Deputy is aware, my Department has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008. The strategy contains 100 individual actions, under the four pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research, to be implemented by a range of Departments and agencies. It also has responsibility for the work of the 14 local drugs task forces and the young people's facilities and services fund.

To date more than €80 million has been allocated or spent to implement the various projects contained in the two rounds of plans of the local drugs task forces, a further €12.8 million has been allocated to projects under the premises initiative which is designed to meet the accommodation needs of community based drugs projects and approximately €75 million has been allocated or spent under the first two rounds of funding from the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund.

The Deputy should also note that under the strategy, regional drugs task forces have been established throughout the country. The regional drugs task forces are currently developing their regional plans which I hope to be in a position to submit to the Cabinet committee on social inclusion for approval in early 2005. A sum of €5 million per annum has been earmarked by my Department to fund these plans.

Grant Aid.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

243 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of headings under which applicants can qualify for grant aid from his Department; the qualification criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33522/04]

The headings under which applicants can qualify for grant aid from my Department are given in the following appendix.

I am also pleased to inform the Deputy that the qualification criteria are published in my Department's FOI section 16 manual which is available on my Department's websitewww.pobail.ie.

In respect of the newly introduced rural social scheme, to be eligible an applicant must be in receipt of farm assist or has been allocated a valid herd or flock number from the Department of Agriculture and Food and be in receipt of one of the following allowances from the Department of Social and Family Affairs — unemployment assistance, unemployment benefit, if previously on community employment scheme, disability allowance. A self-employed fisherman is eligible if his or her fishing boat has been entered in the register of fishing boats or has been issued with a fishing licence for fishing for salmon at sea from the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and he or she is in receipt of one of the following allowances from the Department of Social and Family Affairs — unemployment assistance, unemployment benefit, if previously on community employment scheme, disability allowance.

Appendix

(a) Schemes to support Community Development and Voluntary Groups

The community development support programmes — designed to mobilise the capacity of disadvantaged communities to participate in mainstream local development, training, education and employment opportunities. Grants for locally-based community and voluntary organisations — designed to enhance the effectiveness of local communities through the funding of voluntary and community organisations in disadvantaged areas and the promotion of community development education and training activity. Scheme of community support for older people — designed to direct funding to initiatives to improve the security of vulnerable older people.

Funding scheme to support the role of federations, networks and umbrella bodies in the community and voluntary sector — designed to support national representative federations, networks and umbrella bodies in the community/voluntary sector in providing support to their member groups. This scheme is currently closed to applications.

Funding scheme for training and supports in the community and voluntary sector — designed to develop support and training availability across the community and voluntary sector. This scheme is currently closed to applications.

(b) Rural Development Schemes

The CLÁR programme — a targeted investment programme for disadvantaged rural areas.

The rural development fund — provides finance for policy-oriented research, evaluations and pilot actions in rural development.

Leader — the Department oversees the delivery of the Leader programme, which promotes and supports the economic and social development of rural areas by contributing to rural development policy and implementing appropriate programmes. Comprises the Leader+ and Leader national rural development programmes, area-based initiative.

INTERREG — designed to fund actions and initiatives aimed at developing and strengthening the rural economy in the cross borderregion.

PEACE II — promotes peace and reconciliation by funding actions and strategies which promote cross-border agriculture and rural development co-operation and diversification.

Rural social scheme — aims to provide income support for farmers and fishermen who are currently in receipt of long-term social welfare payments, and to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. This scheme will allow those low-income farmers and fishermen who are unable to earn an adequate living from their farm holding/fishing, to earn a supplementary income. At local level the rural social scheme is managed on behalf of the Department by the Leader groups and in the Gaeltacht by the Leader groups in conjunction with Údarás na Gaeltachta; and although it is independent of the FÁS community employment scheme, it complements community employment, in areas where both schemes are in operation.

Farm relief services — designed to finance actions aimed at the improvement and diversification of the farm relief services.

Through its offices in Na Forbacha, County Galway the Department administers a variety of schemes designed to support the social and infrastructural development of the Gaeltacht and inhabited offshore islands as well as a number of schemes to support the Irish Language.

(c) Gaeltacht Schemes

Gaeltacht infrastructural improvement schemes — addresses local infrastructural issues in order to help sustain Gaeltacht populations so as to preserve and strengthen the Irish language.

(d) Inhabited offshore island schemes

Capital grants for economic and social development on offshore islands — funds road works, marine works, coastal erosion, water schemes, community projects, feasibility studies, general improvement works. Grants towards current costs — funds transport services to certain islands.

(e) Irish Language Schemes

Schemes to support the promotion and maintenance of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht include Gaeltacht housing grants scheme, Scéim labhairt na Gaeilge, Irish summer colleges scheme, Gaeltacht courses for adults, scéim spreagadh na Gaeilge, summer camps scheme, language assistants scheme, various social and cultural support schemes in the Gaeltacht.

(f) Ciste na Gaeilge

Under Ciste na Gaeilge, which supports the promotion of the Irish language outside the Gaeltacht, the Department provides support to Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge and to certain Irish language projects outside the Gaeltacht.

The Department, also from its head office in Dublin, oversees and co-ordinates the delivery of the following programmes:

(g) Other programmes

The RAPID programme — targets the 45 areas with the greatest concentration of disadvantage around the country, for priority funding under the national development plan and better co-ordination of service delivery at local level.

National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008 — co-ordinating the implementation of the 100 actions from the Strategy, including operation of the young people's facilities and services fund, under the direction of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Social Inclusion.

Local Development Social Inclusion Programme — administered on behalf of the Department by ADM Limited — designed to counter disadvantage and to promote equality and social and economic inclusion. Funds and supports partnerships, community groups and employment pacts.

Peace and Reconciliation, PEACE II — administered on behalf of the Department by ADM Limited-CPA, aims to support economic and social projects that address the legacy of the conflict or that takes opportunities arising from peace.

National Drugs Strategy.

Tony Gregory

Question:

244 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on recent seizures of crack cocaine in Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33477/04]

My Department has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008. The strategy aims to tackle the drug problem in the most comprehensive way ever undertaken in this country and contains 100 individual actions, under the four pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research, to be implemented by a range of Departments and agencies.

In this regard, issues regarding supply reduction are primarily the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, from whom I understand there has been just one seizure this year to date, which has, upon analysis, been confirmed as freebase, crack, cocaine. This seizure was made in March in the Rathgar area of the city. The amount of crack cocaine seized was just over two grams in weight. I have also been informed that there have been a small number of other seizures whose drug type has yet to be confirmed through analysis. The Government views this situation very seriously and continues to monitor it closely.

Question No. 245 answered with QuestionNo. 64.

Cattle Identification Scheme.

John Perry

Question:

246 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the inspection of a herd of a person (details supplied) will be postponed until after Christmas 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32992/04]

EU regulations require detailed checks regarding identification and registration of animals.

These applicants were selected randomly for on-farm inspection under the 2004 suckler cow premium scheme and were notified in writing of the inspection intended for 25 November 2004. They sought deferment of the inspection because one joint applicant was over 80 years old and the other was ill. When my Department proposed to them the date of 10 December 2004 for carrying out the inspection that had been deferred originally, an open-ended medical certificate was submitted in respect of the younger joint applicant which stated that she was unable to engage in physical work and submission of the herd register and the passports of the relevant cattle before 10 December was promised. On receipt of the register and passports, however, it was not possible to complete an inspection attempted on 10 December.

My Department faces a difficulty in this case in that the inspection must be completed notwithstanding that an open-ended medical certificate has been submitted. In order to resolve this difficulty, my Department proposes as an exceptional measure to offer to the joint herd owners an inspection in early January 2005. My Department will contact the joint herd owners with this offer.

Irish Horse Board.

Denis Naughten

Question:

247 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the funding provided by her Department to the Irish Horse Board in each year since 1989; the corresponding figures in EU funding provided to the board; the funding under each category to be provided in 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32993/04]

The interim Irish Horse Board was set up in 1992 and the assets and liabilities of the Interim Horse Board were assumed by the Irish Horse Board in 1993. The following table provides details of the funding provided by my Department to the Irish Horse Board by way of grant aid for the promotion and development of the sport horse industry and for the implementation of equine schemes under the Operational Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development, OPARDF, 1994-1999 and the National Development Plan 2000-2006. My Department recouped 75% of the funding provided to the Irish Horse Board for OPARDF schemes from the EU. Moneys paid under the National Development Plan 2000-2006 are funded wholly by the Exchequer.

Year

DAF GRANT

OPARDF / NDP

Total funding from DAF

A

B

C =(A+B)

1992

95,230

0

95,230

1993

95,230

0

95,230

1994

95,230

0

95,230

1995

95,230

461,725

556,955

1996

142,845

524,042

666,887

1997

142,845

502,983

645,828

1998

190,460

419,709

610,169

1999

253,947

371,163

625,110

2000

323,783

123,451

447,234

2001

584,080

418,259

1,002,339

2002

600,000

686,218

1,286,218

2003

560,000

433,341

993,341

2004 (est.)

525,000

455,500

980,500

2005 (est.)

825,000

530,000

1,355,000

Since 1992 the Irish Horse Board, with the assistance of my Department, has completed a valuable programme of work focusing the industry on the need to breed quality horses and seeking to achieve the improvement of the Irish sport horse through performance testing and training regimes. The Irish Horse Board also assists in the marketing of sport horses in the international market place. A measure of the success achieved by the Irish Horse Board to date is that the Irish sport horse studbook has topped the rankings in the 2003-2004 World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses eventing rankings for the ninth successive year and the Irish sport horse studbook was placed overall sixth in the 2002-2003 World Breeding Federation Sport Horses show jumping rankings.

Departmental Funding.

Enda Kenny

Question:

248 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the amount of funding that has been allocated to Teagasc for 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33029/04]

My Department's allocation to Teagasc for capital and non-capital purposes in 2005 amounts to €122.5 million. The amount for non-capital purposes is €118 million and for capital development purposes the allocation is €4.5 million. These are substantial resources and are a clear indication of the Government's continuing commitment to supporting Teagasc activities.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

249 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by her Department since June 2002. [33051/04]

There have been no contracts awarded by my Department for public relations projects since June 2002.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

250 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of civil servants and other staff in her press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33066/04]

The equivalent of six staff work full-time on media communication duties in my Department. The grade and remuneration of the staff is as follows:

Grade

Number

Salary Scale

Press Adviser (non Civil Servant)

1

€83,707.00 i.e maximum of Principal Officer standard scale

Assistant Principal

1

€55,057 —€68,651 i.e Standard Scale

Higher Executive Officer

.5

€39,035 —€49,529 i.e. Standard Scale

Executive Officer

2

€25,704 —€40,669 i.e Standard Scale

Executive Officer

.5

€27,057 —€42,805 i.e. Full PRSI Scale

Clerical Officer

1

€20,520 —€33,274 i.e Full PRSI Scale

The duties of the press office include: provision of comprehensive service to national, provincial press, specialised farming press, national TV and radio as well as local radio stations; advertising Department's schemes and activities; liaising with other Departments; emergency planning-press element; servicing of Department's website and aertel pages; monitoring of national and provincial press for Department.

Paul McGrath

Question:

251 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of civil servants and other staff employed in her constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33081/04]

The following table gives the breakdown of staff employed on constituency work in my office:

Minister's Office Staff

Grade

Number

Salary Scale

Personal Assistant

1

€41,389 —€51,192 i.e Higher Executive Officer Higher Scale

Personal Secretary

1

€19,499 —€37,621 i.e. Secretarial Assistants salary scale + 10% higher duty allowance

Clerical Officer

1

€20,402 —€32,298 i.e. CO Higher Scale.

Clerical Officer

2

€20,402 —€32,298 i.e CO Higher Scale €20,520 —€33,274 i.e Full PRSI Scale

Clerical Officer

1

€20,520 —€33,274 i.e. Full PRSI Scale

Grant Payments.

Denis Naughten

Question:

252 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the spend and number of grant approvals under the CFP in the years 2002 and 2003; the expected out-turn and grant approvals for 2004; the over-run or underspend for the scheme in each year concerned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33098/04]

The current scheme in place in Ireland which provides aid for investments to control farm pollution is the farm waste management scheme, which came into operation in February 2001. Residual payments under the preceding schemes, such as the control of farm pollution scheme would have continued after that date. The following table sets out details of the expenditure, approvals and excess-savings for each of the years concerned:—

2002

2003

2004 (estimated)

Expenditure

€14.748m.

€22.290m.

€16.461m.

Savings (minus;) / Excess (+)

-€22.133m.

+€1.700m.

-€15.439m.

Approvals Issued

2,231

1,903

2,750

Grant Aid.

Denis Naughten

Question:

253 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the plans she has to review the level of grant aid provided to farmers under the CFP scheme in view of the increasing cost of steel and the demands which will be placed on farmers due to the nitrates directive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33099/04]

The recommendations of the Brosnan report in regard to the implementations of the nitrates directive and the question of increased funding for the farm waste management scheme are under consideration. An action programme for the implementation of the directive in this country has been submitted to the EU Commission and its response is awaited.

My Department has introduced revised standard costing, which reflect increased costs including that of steel in respect of all approvals issued under the scheme as and from 13 September 2004.

Grant Payments.

Denis Naughten

Question:

254 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the status of the guidelines for cross compliance under the single farm payment scheme; if penalties are imposed on farmers, if these will be reimbursed to the EU or Department of Finance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33100/04]

As part of the preparations for the new single payment scheme my Department has prepared a consultative document on cross-compliance and has made it available to interested organisations. This document takes account of the requirements laid down in the EU regulations on cross compliance and sets out Ireland's proposed approach to the obligations that should be respected by farmers receiving direct payments under the single payment scheme.

Under cross compliance requirements any farmer receiving direct payments must respect the various statutory management requirements set down in EU legislation, directives and regulations, on the environment, food safety, animal health, and welfare, and plant health and must maintain the farm in good agricultural and environmental condition.

It will be necessary to carry out on-farm visits to ensure that farmers respect cross compliance requirements. In general the rate of inspection required for cross-compliance is 1% of those farmers to whom the relevant statutory management requirements or good agricultural and environmental conditions apply. However, at least 5% of producers must be inspected under the animal identification and registration requirements of cross compliance as this is the level prescribed under the relevant regulations.

Where breaches of cross compliance provisions are detected the level of penalty to be applied will be determined on the basis of an assessment of the importance of the non- compliance set out in the control report following the on-farm inspection. If the non-compliance is due to negligence then, normally, the penalty is 3% of the aid for the year in question. However taking account of the permanence, extent or severity of the non-compliance the 3% penalty may be reduced to 1% or increased to 5%. If repeated non-compliance is found then the penalty established will be multiplied by three up to a maximum of 15% of the aid.

If intentional non-compliance is found then the penalty is 20% of the direct payments referred to under Council Regulation 1782/93 for the year in question. However, on examination of the control report and taking account of the permanence, extent or severity of the non-compliance the 20% may be reduced to 15% or increased to 100%. Most of the statutory management requirements have been in place for some years and generally farmers are aware of the various requirements.

In the light of submissions which my Department has received in response to its consultative document and, following consultations with interested bodies, my Department will publish in the new year, a detailed information booklet on cross-compliance requirements for the assistance of applicants under the single payment scheme.

Member states may retain 25% of the amounts resulting from the application of cross compliance penalties and the balance must be credited to the EAGGF guarantee section.

On Farm Inspections.

Denis Naughten

Question:

255 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of her officials who carried out on farm inspections in 2004; the projected numbers for 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33101/04]

I understand the Deputy is referring to the EU direct payment, REPS and the on-farm investment schemes. In 2004, 446 inspectors have been involved in on-farm inspections. It is not envisaged there will be any significant change in 2005 in the numbers of such personnel, although the nature of this work will naturally be affected by the single payment scheme and the simplified procedures which its application will involve. The situation after 2005 will be kept under review in the light of precise inspection requirements.

Environmental Policy.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

256 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if her attention has been drawn to the growing concerns of the forestation programme in the catchment area of the Great Western Lakes and that this is the alleged cause of serious pollution in the lakes; her plans for the cessation of all conifer forestry within the catchment area of the Great Western Lakes; if all EU grant aid for conifer forestry will be suspended on peat lands in the censored areas surrounding the Great Western Lakes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33154/04]

I am aware of the concerns expressed about the alleged impact of forestry on the lakes mentioned. A delegation from the Carra, Mask and Corrib Water Protection Group met on 24 November 2004 with the responsible Ministers, including myself and the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The group expressed their views as to the algal problem in Lough Corrib. Following the meeting, arrangements were put in place for officials from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, my Department and Coillte Teoranta to meet the local group to discuss their concerns and proposals in more detail. I understand a date of 17 January 2005 has now been agreed for this meeting.

Until the true cause of the problems on these lakes is known, it is premature to talk in terms of a blanket ban on afforestation. I have no scientific evidence available to me to justify the cessation of all conifer planting in the area. As regards my policy on the afforestation of peat lands, my Department has very strict procedures in place. These procedures effectively rule out grant aid for planting on intact raised bogs of the midlands, or the impoverished, oligotrophic deep blanket peats of the west. In addition, areas protected, or listed for protection, under the habitats directive are not considered for grant aid without the prior agreement of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Grant Payments.

Dan Neville

Question:

257 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when the headage grant will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [33167/04]

The holding of the person named was selected for an on-the-spot inspection. The results of this inspection have now been finalised and the 2004 area aid application for the person named has been fully processed with an area determined for payment purposes of 87.86 hectares.

Payment of his full entitlement under the 2004 area based compensatory allowance scheme on the maximum of 45 hectares will issue shortly.

John Perry

Question:

258 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the single payment force majeure will be granted to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33168/04]

An application for consideration under theforce majeure-exceptional circumstances measure of the single payment regulations was submitted by the person named on 22 January 2004. The person named was notified on 29 April 2004 that the circumstances outlined by him did not satisfy the criteria for force majeure-exceptional circumstance under article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No.1782/2003 and was advised that he could appeal this decision to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee who would carry out a full review of the circumstances outlined.

The application for consideration offorce majeure-exceptional circumstances related only to TB restriction from November 1999 to March 2000 and made no reference to medical circumstances affecting the person named. The option of appealing the single payment unit decision was not availed of. However, if the person named wishes to put forward medical circumstances for consideration, then he should do so as soon as possible.

Michael Ring

Question:

259 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when details will be announced for the 2005 national reserve; the criteria for application; when application forms will be available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33218/04]

I will be in a position shortly to invite applications to the 2005 single payment national reserve. Full details of the eligibility criteria and terms and conditions governing the national reserve will be announced at the same time.

Departmental Investigations.

Denis Naughten

Question:

260 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason her Department settled a case in the courts with a company (details supplied), in view of the Department’s vigorous defence of the case during the nine week hearing; the total liability to the State; the legal cost involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33248/04]

The case in question was settled without any admission of liability, on the advice of senior counsel and with the approval of the office of the Attorney General. The settlement details are subject to a confidentiality clause which binds both parties involved. However, the financial details of the settlement will be open to scrutiny in the same way as all other expenditure of funds by my Department.

I can say that no costs have been determined as yet and they will in due course be subject to taxation before the taxing master.

Plant Diseases.

John Deasy

Question:

261 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the details of the survey carried out by her Department on the presence here of the disease, phytophthora ramorum (details supplied); the steps she intends to take to prevent the spread of this disease; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33297/04]

Phytophthora ramorum was first detected in the EU in 2000. It has been found to be damaging rhododendron and viburnum plants and may possibility affect other species.

Following the discovery of the disease in the UK in May 2002, the European Commission introduced emergency measures that came into force on 1 November 2002. These measures included the application of the plant passport system to plants of rhododendron spp, other than rhododendron simsii, and plants of viburnum.

In Ireland the fungus has been found at three locations in the wild on rhododendron only. Some 31 incidences have occurred in garden centres-nurseries on rhododendron and viburnum. All plants that tested positive have been or are in the process of being removed and destroyed. To date there have been no positive findings on oak or any other tree species.

There are a number of control mechanisms in place to prevent the introduction and spread of sudden oak death in Ireland. A Statutory Instrument (SI 578 of 2004) was recently signed to give effect to Commission Decision 2004/426 on provisional emergency measures to prevent introduction and spread of this disease. This legislation provides for controls on the movement of rhododendron and viburnum within the EU including from the UK through the plant passport system; for import controls into the EU on susceptible plants and wood from areas of the USA where the disease is known to occur; and a provision for official surveys for the fungus to be carried out in all member states. I am increasing our levels of vigilance and surveillance and mechanisms are in place to isolate, manage and where possible eradicate any instances found in Ireland.

Table: Monitoring results for the presence of Phytophthora ramorum on the territory of the Member States in 2004

Nurseries and Garden Centres

Public Green Sites (Parks, . . .)

Forestry Sites

Country

No. of visual inspections and list of species involved*

No. of laboratory analyses of samples taken and list of species involved*

No. of outbreak sites and list of the species involved*

No. of visual inspections and list of species involved*

No. of laboratory analyses of samples taken and list of species involved*

No. of outbreak sites and list of the species involved*

No. of visual inspections and list of species involved*

No. of laboratory analyses of samples taken and list of species involved*

No. of outbreak sites and list of the species involved*

Ireland

42

42

3

211

211

1

285

285

1

*See following for list of species involved.

Table of Results for 2004.

All areas

Garden Centre/ Nurseries

Public/ Private Parks

Forest/ Wild

Number of Samples

538

42

211

285

Number Positive Samples

12

7

3

2

Number Sites Inspected

118

17

41

60

Number Outbreak Sites

5

3

1

1

Positives only found onRhododendron spp. in 2004.

List of Species.

Number Samples

Species

All Areas

Nurseries and Garden Centres Public Sites

Public Green Sites (Parks, . . .)

Forestry Sites

Arbutus

1

1

Azalea

1

1

Camellia

9

2

7

Castanea

1

1

Pieris

1

1

Quercus

13

4

9

Rhododendron

468

30

191

247

Viburnum

42

7

35

Vaccinium

3

3

Grant Payments.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

262 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason the special beef premium or the suckler cow grant has not been awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33298/04]

The person named has to date submitted four applications under the 2004 EU special beef premium scheme, one on 23 February 2004 in respect of ten animals, one on 7 May 2004 in respect of 14 animals, one on 30 September 2004 in respect of three animals and one on 5 November 2004 in respect of 11 animals. In any given year, advance payments cannot begin before 16 October. Furthermore the two month regulatory retention period must have expired before such payments can commence.

Under my Department's computer-based risk analysis programme, the herd of the person named was selected for an on-farm inspection, which was carried out on 15 November 2004. The results of the inspection have now been input and the 60% advance payments due in respect of the applications lodged in February and May will issue in the coming days. Advance payments in respect of applications lodged in September are scheduled to commence next week. Advance payments in respect of applications lodged in November are scheduled to commence in February.

The person named applied for premium on 18 animals under the 2004 suckler cow premium scheme. The results of the inspection carried out on 15 November 2004 have now been updated and this case has been processed for payment of the 60% advance instalment, which will issue within the week.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

263 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the payments received by a person (details supplied) in County Galway in respect of ewe premium, suckler cow grant, special beef premium and extensification for the years 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33299/04]

Payments to the person named together with the jointly registered herdowner were as follows:

1997 extensification premium

1,175.77

1998 extensification premium

1,244.69

1999 extensification premium

1,247.96

2000 extensification premium

1,122.00

2001 extensification premium

1,386.00

2002 extensification premium

1,520.00

1997 special beef premium

1,084.16

1998 special beef premium

1,342.71

1999 special beef premium

1,373.98

2000 special beef premium

628.55

2001 special beef premium

1,240.20

2002 special beef premium

1,050.00

1997 suckler cow premium

2,136.66

1998 suckler cow premium

1,958.61

1999 suckler cow premium

2,136.66

2000 suckler cow premium

2,245.76

2001suckler cow premium

2,505.96

2002 suckler cow premium

2,689.80

1997 ewe-rural world premium scheme

10,946.34

1998 ewe-rural world premium scheme

14,013.45

1999 ewe-rural world premium scheme

13,621.92

2000 ewe-rural world premium scheme

11,600.76

2001 ewe-rural world premium scheme

330.28

2002 ewe-rural world premium scheme

3,220.00

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

264 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive her first year’s payment of REP scheme three. [33323/04]

Payment dated 9 December 2004 has issued to the person named.

Michael Ring

Question:

265 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be notified of his entitlements under the single payment scheme following his appeal for consideration of force majeure-exceptional circumstances which was submitted in March 2004; and when this appeal will be finalised. [33324/04]

The circumstances put forward in thisforce majeure application relate to a discrepancy between the commonage forage area declared by the person named in 2001 and 2002 and that found by the area aid unit following re-digitisation. However, this discrepancy did not affect production during the reference years and consequently has no effect on the total amount of the single farm payment due to the person named.

A letter explaining this position and a statement of provisional entitlements are due to issue to the person named this week.

Environmental Policy.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

266 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will make available to the public the statistical breakdown distinguishing between afforestation on peat soils and those planted on mineral soils according to the grant application forms as per her recent reply to this Deputy. [33326/04]

As the Deputy is aware, a recent report by the European Environmental Agency, based on satellite imagery, suggested that 84% of planting since 1990 has taken place on peatlands. This figure simply does not correspond in any way to the information available to my Department. Earlier examinations indicate a much lower figure to that quoted in the EEA report.

The Forest Service is currently conducting further analyses of all the available information on the breakdown between afforestation on peat soils and those planted on mineral soils. These analyses will include information taken from grant application forms, but more importantly will make use of scientifically obtained soils data. I will be very happy to make public all the relevant information once the investigation is complete.

Forestry Sector.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

267 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she can give an assurance that the review and appraisal of Ireland’s forestry development strategy by a company (details supplied) commissioned by her predecessor and presented in September 2004 will inform the negations with the European Commission for forestry funding under CAP 2006 — 2012; and the implications of any changes for the forestry sector. [33327/04]]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

268 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the changes in policy since the publication in 1996 of Growing for the Future: a Strategic Plan for the Development of the Forestry Sector in Ireland, which will form the basis of Ireland’s application for forestry funding 2006-2012. [33328/04]

I propose to take Questions No. 267 and 268 together.

Ireland's application for forestry funding under the new rural development council regulation 2007-2013 will be determined when the regulation is finally agreed in Brussels. At this stage, negotiations on the regulation are continuing and a final decision is not expected to be taken by Council of Ministers for several months.

The 1996 strategic plan, Growing for the Future, contains the main framework of forestry policy in Ireland at present. Policy is being reviewed in the light of the recent report, A Review and Appraisal of Ireland's Forestry Development Strategy. I assure the Deputy that this report is being used extensively to inform the negotiations with the EU Commission on the draft rural development regulation.

Regarding forestry, our main concerns with the draft regulation are the proposed reduction in rates of aid for planting, from 100% to 40%, the proposed reduction in both the farmer and non-farmer rate of premiums and the reduction in the premium payment period, from 20 years to 10 years.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

269 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when persons (details supplied) in County Mayo will be notified of their entitlements under the inheritance measure of the single payment scheme. [33329/04]

The persons named have submitted an application for consideration in respect of the inheritance measure of the single payment scheme. Following an examination of the documents submitted, the persons named have been requested to submit additional information to substantiate their claim. On receipt of the outstanding documentation a final decision on the matter will issue to the named persons.

John Deasy

Question:

270 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Waterford; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33341/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herd owners in County Waterford under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

357

No. of successful applicants

66

No. of unsuccessful applicants

255

No. awaiting decision

36

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

58

No. of successful appeals

Nil

No. of unsuccessful appeals

38

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

20

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

29

Incapacity

91

Disaster

3

Destruction

8

Disease in herd

72

Other exceptional circumstance

181

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 45force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Phil Hogan

Question:

271 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Kilkenny; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33342/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herd owners in County Kilkenny under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

434

No. of successful applicants

88

No. of unsuccessful applicants

287

No. awaiting decision

59

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

65

No. of successful appeals

2

No. of unsuccessful appeals

39

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

24

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

38

Incapacity

96

Disaster

5

Destruction

2

Disease in herd

99

Other exceptional circumstance

237

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 70force majeure applications under the 2nd tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Phil Hogan

Question:

272 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Carlow; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33343/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing of force majeure applications received from herd owners in County Carlow under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

183

No. of successful applicants

33

No. of unsuccessful applicants

130

No. awaiting decision

20

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

37

No. of successful appeals

1

No. of unsuccessful appeals

19

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

17

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

25

Incapacity

63

Disaster

0

Destruction

1

Disease in herd

26

Other exceptional circumstance

84

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 40force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

273 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Offaly; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33344/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herd owners in County Offaly under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

382

No. of successful applicants

54

No. of unsuccessful applicants

246

No. awaiting decision

82

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

51

No. of successful appeals

Nil

No. of unsuccessful appeals

42

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

9

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

44

Incapacity

88

Disaster

4

Destruction

2

Disease in herd

81

Other exceptional circumstance

210

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 50force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

274 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Laois; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33345/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herd owners in County Laois under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

478

No. of successful applicants

35

No. of unsuccessful applicants

302

No. awaiting decision

141

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

51

No. of successful appeals

3

No. of unsuccessful appeals

37

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

11

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

62

Incapacity

119

Disaster

6

Destruction

5

Disease in herd

62

Other exceptional circumstance

273

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 65force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Paul McGrath

Question:

275 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Westmeath; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33346/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herd owners in County Westmeath under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

369

No. of successful applicants

69

No. of unsuccessful applicants

261

No. awaiting decision

39

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent single payment appeals committee

57

No. of successful appeals

1

No. of unsuccessful appeals

27

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

29

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force Majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

34

Incapacity

89

Disaster

4

Destruction

1

Disease in herd

112

Other exceptional circumstance

171

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 55force majeure applications under the 2nd tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Billy Timmins

Question:

276 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Wicklow; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33347/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herd owners in County Wicklow under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

203

No. of successful applicants

22

No. of unsuccessful applicants

137

No. awaiting decision

44

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

30

No. of successful appeals

7

No. of unsuccessful appeals

17

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

6

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

25

Incapacity

45

Disaster

1

Destruction

4

Disease in herd

39

Other exceptional circumstance

111

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 35force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

277 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Kildare; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33348/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herd owners in County Kildare under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

233

No. of successful applicants

39

No. of unsuccessful applicants

143

No. awaiting decision

51

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

32

No. of successful appeals

Nil

No. of unsuccessful appeals

16

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

16

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

18

Incapacity

52

Disaster

6

Destruction

3

Disease in herd

31

Other exceptional circumstance

138

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 30 force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

278 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Louth; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33349/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Louth under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

349

No. of successful applicants

34

No. of unsuccessful applicants

280

No. awaiting decision

35

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

18

No. of successful appeals

Nil

No. of unsuccessful appeals

7

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

11

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

25

Incapacity

42

Disaster

8

Destruction

2

Disease in herd

238

Other exceptional circumstance

70

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category. My Department has also received in excess of 30force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Damien English

Question:

279 Mr. English asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Meath; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33350/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Meath under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

502

No. of successful applicants

87

No. of unsuccessful applicants

188

No. awaiting decision

227

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

37

No. of successful appeals

Nil

No. of unsuccessful appeals

28

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

9

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

56

Incapacity

125

Disaster

9

Destruction

2

Disease in herd

143

Other exceptional circumstance

250

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 85force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Tom Hayes

Question:

280 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Tipperary; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33351/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Tipperary under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

1,498

No. of successful applicants

249

No. of unsuccessful applicants

1,013

No. awaiting decision

236

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

151

No. of successful appeals

9

No. of unsuccessful appeals

102

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

40

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

89

Incapacity

285

Disaster

32

Destruction

11

Disease in herd

345

Other exceptional circumstance

736

My Department has also received in excess of 100force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

281 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Monaghan; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33352/04]

Seymour Crawford

Question:

296 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for the single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Monaghan; the number who have been successful or refused, appealed successfully or otherwise; the number still awaiting a decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33483/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 281 and 296 together.

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Monaghan under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

436

No. of successful applicants

55

No. of unsuccessful applicants

203

No. awaiting decision

178

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

40

No. of successful appeals

3

No. of unsuccessful appeals

33

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

4

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by Category.

Number

Death of applicant

46

Incapacity

92

Disaster

12

Destruction

1

Disease in herd

125

Other exceptional circumstance

204

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 90force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

282 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Cavan; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33353/04]

Seymour Crawford

Question:

297 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for the single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Cavan; the number who have been successful or refused, appealed successfully or otherwise; the number still awaiting a decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33484/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 282 and 297 together.

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Cavan under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

459

No. of successful applicants

103

No. of unsuccessful applicants

321

No. awaiting decision

35

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

78

No. of successful appeals

3

No. of unsuccessful appeals

38

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

37

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

28

Incapacity

103

Disaster

3

Destruction

1

Disease in herd

174

Other exceptional circumstance

171

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 90force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

283 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Donegal; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33354/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Donegal under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

512

No. of successful applicants

28

No. of unsuccessful applicants

250

No. awaiting decision

234

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

44

No. of successful appeals

1

No. of unsuccessful appeals

24

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

19

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

65

Incapacity

130

Disaster

8

Destruction

3

Disease in herd

53

Other exceptional circumstance

287

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 95force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

John Perry

Question:

284 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Sligo; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33355/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Sligo under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

484

No. of successful applicants

100

No. of unsuccessful applicants

292

No. awaiting decision

92

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

73

No. of successful appeals

5

No. of unsuccessful appeals

45

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

23

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

53

Incapacity

148

Disaster

3

Destruction

2

Disease in herd

96

Other exceptional circumstance

230

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category. My Department has also received in excess of 75force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

John Perry

Question:

285 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Leitrim; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33356/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in Leitrim under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

331

No. of successful applicants

54

No. of unsuccessful applicants

210

No. awaiting decision

67

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

38

No. of successful appeals

2

No. of unsuccessful appeals

27

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

9

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

53

Incapacity

92

Disaster

0

Destruction

1

Disease in herd

68

Other exceptional circumstance

139

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 55force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Denis Naughten

Question:

286 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Roscommon; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33357/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Roscommon under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

679

No. of successful applicants

152

No. of unsuccessful applicants

431

No. awaiting decision

96

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

84

No. of successful appeals

2

No. of unsuccessful appeals

46

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

36

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

73

Incapacity

190

Disaster

10

Destruction

4

Disease in herd

143

Other exceptional circumstance

325

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 125force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Denis Naughten

Question:

287 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Longford; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33358/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Longford under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

250

No. of successful applicants

33

No. of unsuccessful applicants

187

No. awaiting decision

30

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

48

No. of successful appeals

1

No. of unsuccessful appeals

29

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

18

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

24

Incapacity

78

Disaster

5

Destruction

2

Disease in herd

54

Other exceptional circumstance

118

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 40force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Enda Kenny

Question:

288 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Mayo; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33359/04]

The following is the up to date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Mayo under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

1,214

No. of successful applicants

145

No. of unsuccessful applicants

786

No. awaiting decision

283

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent Single Payment Appeals Committee

83

No. of successful appeals

3

No. of unsuccessful appeals

28

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

52

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

183

Incapacity

375

Disaster

12

Destruction

4

Disease in herd

179

Other exceptional circumstance

591

Some farmers in their applications requested consideration under more than one category.

My Department has also received in excess of 120 force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

289 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Galway; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33360/04]

The following is the up-to-date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Galway under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

1,181

No. of successful applicants

189

No. of unsuccessful applicants

797

No. awaiting decision

195

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

193

No. of successful appeals

10

No. of unsuccessful appeals

102

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

81

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows.

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

160

Incapacity

343

Disaster

22

Destruction

8

Disease in herd

167

Other exceptional circumstance

583

Some farmers requested consideration under more than one category. My Department has also received in excess of 160force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to begin in the next couple of weeks.

Pat Breen

Question:

290 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Clare; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33361/04]

The following is the up-to-date position on the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Clare under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

637

No. of successful applicants

99

No. of unsuccessful applicants

508

No. awaiting decision

30

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent single payment appeals committee

167

No. of successful appeals

9

No. of unsuccessful appeals

131

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

27

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows.

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

83

Incapacity

178

Disaster

10

Destruction

3

Disease in herd

116

Other exceptional circumstance

306

Some farmers requested consideration under more than one category. My Department has also received in excess of 100force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to begin in the next couple of weeks.

Dan Neville

Question:

291 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Limerick; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33362/04]

The following is the up-to-date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Limerick under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

714

No. of successful applicants

105

No. of unsuccessful applicants

442

No. awaiting decision

167

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the Independent single payment appeals committee

84

No. of successful appeals

2

No. of unsuccessful appeals

36

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

46

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

58

Incapacity

172

Disaster

15

Destruction

8

Disease in herd

170

Other exceptional circumstance

359

Some farmers requested consideration under more than one category. My Department has also received in excess of 115force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to begin in the next couple of weeks.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

292 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Cork; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33363/04]

The following is the up-to-date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Cork under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year.

Number

No. of cases received

1,662

No. of successful applicants

271

No. of unsuccessful applicants

1,245

No. awaiting decision

146

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

320

No. of successful appeals

18

No. of unsuccessful appeals

170

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

132

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows.

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

145

Incapacity

474

Disaster

17

Destruction

18

Disease in herd

349

Other exceptional circumstance

870

Some farmers requested consideration under more than one category. My Department has also received in excess of 280force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

293 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of applications under the force majeure scheme for single farm payment which have been received to date from persons in County Wexford; the number which have been successful, refused, appealed successfully or otherwise, respectively; the number still awaiting a decision; and the cases that have been decided under different subject areas. [33364/04]

The following is the up-to-date position regarding the processing offorce majeure applications received from herdowners in County Wexford under the single payment scheme during the earlier application period this year:

Number

No. of cases received

482

No. of successful applicants

58

No. of unsuccessful applicants

371

No. awaiting decision

53

No. of applicants who submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee

103

No. of successful appeals

10

No. of unsuccessful appeals

74

No. of applicants awaiting a decision

19

The breakdown of applications received under the different subject areas is as follows:

Force majeure applications by category.

Number

Death of applicant

48

Incapacity

125

Disaster

2

Destruction

4

Disease in herd

85

Other exceptional circumstance

271

Some farmers requested consideration under more than one category. My Department has also received in excess of 65force majeure applications under the second tranche of this measure, which closed on 29 October 2004. Processing of these applications is expected to commence in the next couple of weeks.

Genetically Modified Organisms.

Michael Lowry

Question:

294 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her views on whether it is in Ireland’s best interest to establish Ireland as a genetically modified free zone in order to maintain competitive advantage and the reputation built up over many years by Bord Bia, in view of her views on Ireland’s clean green image; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33408/04]

Michael Lowry

Question:

295 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if her attention has been drawn to the fact that EU consumers are voting with their feet by not purchasing food products associated in any way with genetically modified crops; if Irish food products are in danger of losing competitive advantage in a highly competitive EU and worldwide market due to the potential impact which genetically modified crops would have on Ireland’s reputation of high quality food; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33409/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 294 and 295 together.

The position on GM production is that the EU legislative framework, put in place by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers and which is binding on all member states, provides for controls along the whole supply chain which ensure that only food which meets the highest standards of food safety can be grown and marketed. It is not permissible, under that legislative framework, for Ireland, or any member state, to declare itself a GM-free zone. The stringent traceability and labelling requirements for GM food within the EU ensures that that the consumer is fully informed of the presence of GM foods being sold and can accordingly exercise their choice in its purchase. While the production of GM crops in Ireland is not anticipated for the foreseeable future, with all the necessary controls in place any such production will not impact adversely on the image Irish food currently enjoys on the world's markets.

Question No. 296 answered with QuestionNo. 281.
Question No. 297 answered with QuestionNo. 282.

Crime Levels.

Joe Costello

Question:

298 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has viewed a television programme (details supplied) on crime in Limerick; his views on the statement of the State solicitor for Limerick that the level of crime in Limerick has become a cancer in society, that criminal elements are a Mafia and that he, the State solicitor, has been seriously intimidated as have other servants of the State, including gardaí; his further views on whether he has any idea of the level of serious crime here or the action to take in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33009/04]

There is a specific problem of criminal activity in Limerick which in recent years has been driven by a small number of feuding criminal families in small pockets of the city and is motivated by the illegal drugs trade. As the programme clearly highlighted, the gardaí in Limerick have had considerable success in tackling these feuding criminal elements and a substantial number of gang members have been prosecuted and are in custody. Many of these are serving long sentences, including sentences for violent disorder, drug trafficking and life sentences for murder.

Policing strategies in place have been effective and are paying dividends. These strategies are continually being reviewed and evaluated. While I view with the utmost seriousness any attempts at intimidation of the gardaí or any other personnel operating in the criminal justice sphere, I am informed by the Garda authorities that attempts at intimidation have not prevented the Chief State Solicitor or the gardaí from carrying out their professional duties or enforcing the law. I am planning a number of relevant legislative amendments in the context of the Criminal Justice Bill 2004. The first of these is provided for in Part 3 of the Bill. These provisions will allow the courts to admit in certain specified circumstances previous witness statements where a witness recants or refuses to testify at trial. Given that such refusal to co-operate may arise from intimidation, the provision is designed to ensure that witness statements might still be available to the courts even though the witness subsequently refuses to co-operate. Other initiatives, which I will propose by way of amendments to the Bill, will make it an offence to participate in or contribute to the activities of a criminal organisation and will strengthen existing provisions for minimum mandatory sentences for drug trafficking.

Citizenship Applications.

Joe Costello

Question:

299 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on the contents of the report commissioned by a person (details supplied) on the investment for naturalisation schemes and the contents of the review established; the number of persons who were granted passports under the scheme in each year since it began; the amount that was paid to the Exchequer or invested in business here in return for each passport; the name and address and beneficial owner of each business which benefited from the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33010/04]

The report to which the Deputy refers was presented to the then Minister for Justice in January 1995, which is over seven years before I assumed office. In response to Parliamentary Question No. 5 of 17 October 2002, I took the unprecedented step of reporting my findings to the Dáil on the situation giving rise to the commissioning of that report. My response was based not alone on an examination of the report itself but on an examination of the entirety of the original file which I retrieved from the Moriarty tribunal specifically for that purpose.

Furthermore, I sought further legal advice on the matter from the Attorney General and in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 193 of 13 May 2003, I set out in general terms the nature of that advice in so far as it related to the possibility of revoking the certificates of naturalisation in question. I refer the Deputy to the response to Parliamentary Question No. 1 of 25 June 1998 which sets out the outcome of the review carried out by my predecessor on the investment based naturalisation scheme. The report of the review group on investment based naturalisation which I published in August 2002 contains a comprehensive analysis of the investment based naturalisation scheme. It states in paragraph 2.14 that over £100 million worth of investments were made. It has never been the practice of my predecessors in office, irrespective of political persuasion, to disclose publicly the details of the affairs of individuals or companies with whom the Department has transacted business on the assumption of confidentiality. I am not in a position to depart from that practice. Files relating to the naturalisation of 128 persons under the investment based naturalisation scheme are currently with the Moriarty tribunal. My Department has co-operated with the tribunal and that co-operation is recent and ongoing.

There were a total of 107 primary investors naturalised under the investment based naturalisation scheme together with 76 spouses and minor children. In that context, the issuance of passports is a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It has never been the practice in my Department to keep records of the passports issued to or renewed in respect of citizens who have been naturalised, whether under the investment based scheme or otherwise. The fact that any one of the 183 citizens referred to has not applied for a passport or has not applied for a renewal of a passport does not in any way derogate from his or her rights as an Irish citizen.

On coming into office as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I secured Government approval to abolish the scheme of investment based citizenship, which continued the process set in train by my predecessor, Deputy O'Donoghue, to wind up the scheme. The Nationality and Citizenship Bill 2004, which has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and which is currently with the President, contains a provision to ensure that the scheme of investment based naturalisation will not be reinstituted and to rule out and any future such scheme.

Crime Levels.

Joe Costello

Question:

300 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the rampant lawlessness in the Shankhill and Ballybrack area as instanced by correspondence (details supplied); the way in which he proposes to deal with the criminal activities described in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33011/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are aware of the reports regarding anti-social behaviour in the location concerned. The Shankill and Ballybrack areas are the subject of regular foot and mobile patrols by both uniformed and plain clothes gardaí. There are also four community gardaí especially assigned to the area. A superintendent recently met local representatives when public order issues in the area were discussed and I am informed that there has been a reduction in the level of anti-social behaviour in the area.

Local Garda management is satisfied that there are adequate resources to meet the policing needs of the area and will continue to ensure that a concentrated visible presence is maintained in this area.

Garda Deployment.

Joe Costello

Question:

301 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí whose sole work in each of the past five years was the enforcement of road traffic law; the number of members of the Garda Síochána whose sole function at present is the same; the number who will be engaged solely in the enforcement of road traffic law in each of the next four years to the end of 2008; if these gardaí will be trained in Templemore and in the same manner as gardaí who will not be part of the new traffic corps; the reason he has made no provision for recruitment for the new traffic corps in the Estimates for 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33012/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the number of gardaí attached to traffic units in 1998 was 351. The number of gardaí attached to traffic units at the end of 2003 was 520 and the current number for the year to date is 531. In the time available for answering parliamentary questions it has not been possible to compile the information requested by the Deputy in respect of the years 1999 to 2002 inclusive.

The strength of the Garda traffic corps over the next four years will be as set out in the following table:

Year

Number

2005

563

2006

805

2007

1,030

2008

1,200

All recruit gardaí admitted to the Garda College in the year 2005 will receive the same level of training as those currently undergoing training under the student/ probationer education, training and development programme. All personnel assigned to the new traffic corps will have completed the standard training programme.

Each quarter for the next three years, approximately 274 recruits will be taken into the college, amounting to almost 1,100 recruits each year. Taking into account projected retirements, it will lead to a combined organisational strength, of both attested gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,000 as early as 2006. Provision has been made in the 2005 Estimates for the Garda Vote to deal with recruitment of gardaí in that year. It is estimated that the cost for same in 2005 will amount to €11.793 million.

Legal Aid Service.

Joe Costello

Question:

302 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the fees paid to criminal legal aid solicitors for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33014/04]

The fees paid to solicitors under the criminal legal aid and advice schemes in each of the past five years are as follows: 1999 —€9.520 million; 2000 —€12.301 million; 2001 —€11.646 million; 2002 —€12.880 million; 2003 —€16.285 million.

Proposed Legislation.

Joe Costello

Question:

303 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he proposes to introduce legislation to provide for the repatriation of Irish prisoners serving sentences in the Republic of Cuba; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33015/04]

The Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts of 1995 and 1997 is the legislative basis for enabling the repatriation of prisoners to Ireland. While the Act was intended, in the main, to allow for the operation of the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons it also provides, under section 2 of the Act, for the repatriation of prisoners from or to a state, such as Cuba, which is not a party to the convention. There is, therefore, no need to bring forward additional legislation in this area.

Proposals for the conclusion of an agreement between the two Governments to allow for the transfer of sentenced persons were received by my Department from the Cuban authorities earlier this year. I sought and have received advice from the Office of the Attorney General about the proposed agreement and I expect to be in a position to respond on the matter to the Cuban authorities before the end of the month. I expect that an agreement can be put in place in the first half of next year which will allow for sentenced persons in either state to request repatriation.

Juvenile Offenders.

Joe Costello

Question:

304 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his policies on juvenile justice; if he will report on the range of facilities and programmes operated through his Department for young children and persons at risk of offending and for those who have offended; the stage which the work of the project team charged with rationalising and restructuring the State’s service on juvenile justice has reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33016/04]

The Children Act 2001 is a fundamental revision of legislation governing the treatment of children in conflict with the law and non-offending children in need of special care and protection. The considerations behind the Act are prevention, through early intervention, is desirable; diversion, where a child has committed an offence, is the preferred option where society would not be adversely affected; community sanctions should be available where it is necessary to bring a child before the courts; and although appropriate in certain cases, detention for children should be a measure of last resort.

The 2001 Act is comprehensive but complex legislation. For those reasons, it is being implemented on a phased basis, as was envisaged at the time of enactment. Responsibility for implementing the Act lies with the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Education and Science and Health and Children. Despite the complexity of the legislation, significant progress has been made in its implementation to date. A key aim of the Act is to retain the distinction between offending children and non-offending children in need of care and protection by providing two distinctive pathways for addressing their needs — a youth justice route which emphasises a diversionary and restorative justice approach and a welfare route which emphasises care and protection.

With regard to the youth justice route, the part of the Act providing for a diversion programme to replace the Garda juvenile liaison officer, JLO, scheme was brought into operation in May 2002. The objective of the programme, which is also administered by the Garda Síochána, is to divert from committing further offences any child who accepts responsibility for his or her criminal behaviour. The programme introduced the concepts of restorative justice and family conferencing.

In addition to the Garda diversion programme, my Department also funds the Garda youth diversion projects. The projects are community based initiatives to divert young people from becoming involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour. The number of such projects has grown from 12 in 1997 to 64, a growth made possible in part by funding under the National Development Plan 2000-2006. The probation and welfare service also supports 73 projects nationally which offer programmes to offenders and those at risk of offending. Forty six of these specifically target young offenders. There are plans to extend the range of projects which offer services to young offenders and children as part of the implementation of the Children Act 2001.

Within the prison system, facilities and programmes for young offenders are centred mainly at St. Patrick's Institution. A diverse range of services is provided, including individual and group programmes involving education, training, medical and welfare supports. It is important to emphasise, too, that a wide range of educational and support services for young people generally is provided by a number of Departments. While not all are specifically in the area of crime prevention, of course, there are links and co-operation with other Departments on significant cross cutting issues relevant to the area of youth justice.

My Department, for example, continues to participate actively in the framework established by the Government to implement the national drugs strategy. The Department is also represented on the national assessment committee of the young peoples facilities and services fund. This fund was set up by the Government to attract young people at risk into sports, recreational facilities and activities and to divert them away from the danger of substance misuse. Approximately €75 million to date has been provided by the Government to support about 450 facilities and services.

The cross cutting and interdependent nature of the Children Act 2001 reflects a well acknowledged need to begin to join up the thinking and the operation of services for children. With this in mind, I established a project team in my Department charged with examining the scope for rationalising and restructuring the delivery of the State's services in the area of youth justice. Although we have established a sound statutory framework for a modern youth justice system, it is considered that some fresh thinking with regard to the institutional and strategic environment in which it is to be delivered may be helpful.

The project team is consulting with relevant governmental and non-governmental experts in the area, as well as evaluating international developments. An important element, too, is a public consultation process and a notice was placed in the national newspapers calling for submissions before the end of November. A number of submissions were received and they are being considered at present. I expect the project team to report to me before summer next year.

Liquor Licensing Laws.

Joe Costello

Question:

305 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of off-licence premises which have been closed down or have lost their licence in each of the twenty six counties; the type of licence lost in each of the past five years due to the sale of alcohol to minors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33019/04]

It has not been possible to compile the information requested by the Deputy in the timeframe allowed. I will arrange for the information to be forwarded directly to the Deputy at the earliest possible opportunity.

Garda Investigations.

Joe Costello

Question:

306 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on the circumstances surrounding the decision to redesignate the Garda investigation into the death of a person (details supplied) from one of a murder inquiry to one of dangerous driving causing death; if he was in possession of this information when he addressed Dáil Éireann on 28 March 2002 prior to Dáil Éireann voting to establish the Morris tribunal; the reason the information was not made available to the coroner’s inquest into the death of this person seven months later; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33020/04]

In the ordinary course of events the Department is not concerned with the designation of an incident on the Garda computer. The question of how an incident is to be treated is an operational matter strictly within the province of the Garda Síochána. Consequently, the question of informing the Department of a change in this designation does not arise.

The facts of this matter, as I understand it, emerged in the context of the Morris inquiry, which in its current module is examining the Garda investigation into the death of the person concerned. As a result of questions from one of the parties concerning his status as a suspect on the Garda computer, the chairman, Mr. Justice Morris, asked the Garda legal representatives whether this could be checked. The Garda Commissioner subsequently wrote to the party on 19 November 2004 to the effect that the designation of the death on the Garda computer had been changed from "murder/manslaughter" to "hit and run" on 13 February 2002 and that neither party concerned nor an associated party was a suspect.

For its part, the Department was generally aware in late 2002 that the focus of the Garda investigation into the death of the person was on the possibility of a "hit and run" but it only became aware that the designation on the Garda computer had been changed when the content of the commissioner's letter emerged at the tribunal. The change in designation occurred in November 2002 whereas the Morris tribunal had been established in April of that year. While it might have been useful had the Department been aware at that time, it would not have materially altered the approach taken. The situation in Donegal merited the establishment of the tribunal to get to the truth in any event.

All the papers in the Department related to the events in Donegal have been transferred to the tribunal and it is for the tribunal to determine the significance or otherwise of the alteration in the designation. Finally, my Department had no role in and is not in a position to comment on the evidence given at the inquest into the death of the person referred to by the Deputy.

Crime Levels.

Finian McGrath

Question:

307 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if it is the policy to ignore petty crime in the community; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that most citizens have no confidence in reporting so-called petty crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33021/04]

The Government is strongly committed to the reduction of all crime levels in this country through strong and effective crime prevention methods. The Garda Síochána actively encourages people who are victims of any crime to report the offence to the gardaí.

A number of established initiatives pursue this policy. These include Crimestoppers, the Garda confidential telephone line, the "Crimecall" TV programme and Victim Support. The Garda Síochána has also taken steps in partnership with local areas to encourage crime prevention. I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are sufficient measures in place to facilitate the reporting of all offences. These measures include 999 emergency calls, phone calls to Garda stations, visits to Garda stations and the availability of gardaí on mobile and beat patrols. The Garda Síochána public attitude survey 2004 indicates a 79% rate for the reporting of crime, which is high by international standards.

While there are general claims of under reporting of crime, there is no evidence that the level of under reporting now is any greater than in the past or that the proportion of unreported crime in Ireland is any greater than in other jurisdictions. The problems of unreported and unrecorded crime are well documented in the international criminological literature and are in no way unique to this country. Furthermore, the introduction of PULSE has improved the accuracy and comprehensiveness of Garda statistics — for example, the system demands that incidents now have to be recorded before particular actions can be taken.

Steps are, however, being taken to obtain a more accurate estimate of the level of victimisation in Ireland. Following a recommendation of the national crime council, I obtained Government approval to conduct crime victimisation surveys on a regular basis. Following the submission to me in July by the expert group on crime statistics of its recommendations, I decided that the Central Statistics Office would take over responsibility for carrying out these surveys. The surveys will enable us better to understand why some victims chose not to report cases to the Garda and what can be done to reduce the level of under reporting.

Garda Investigations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

308 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the issue of widespread telephone fraud relating to land lines and mobiles has arisen over the past few weeks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33022/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there has been no issue of widespread telephone fraud relating to land lines or mobiles over the past few weeks. The computer crime investigation unit of the Garda bureau of fraud investigation has only received five complaints to date in the year 2004 relating to telephone fraud.

Visa Applications.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

309 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on the holiday visa application of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33035/04]

The visa application in question was assessed on 18 November 2004 and the application was refused. The application was refused because the visa officer could not reasonably be satisfied, on the basis of documentation supplied to my Department, that the applicant would observe the conditions of the visa applied for. In particular, it was felt that the applicant had not displayed evidence of her obligations to return home following the proposed visit.

The decision was advised to New Delhi on 24 November 2004. It is open to the applicant to appeal the decision in writing to the visa appeals officer, immigration and citizenship division, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, quoting the reference and refusal number in the correspondence with the Department.

Drug Seizures.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

310 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in the past three years, the gardaí have seized any heroin here which, upon analysis, was found to contain rat poison; if so, the dates on which the heroin was seized, the quantity that was found to contain the rat poison and the concentration of the rat poison in the heroin. [33036/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that drugs seized by the gardaí are submitted to the forensic science laboratory for analysis and that, to date, there have been no cases of heroin seizures which, upon such analysis, have been found to contain rat poison.

Public Relations Contracts.

Paul McGrath

Question:

311 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number and value of contracts awarded for public relations projects by his Department since June 2002. [33052/04]

Neither I nor my Department's press office has engaged any external public relations consultants since my appointment in June 2002. There have been six contracts awarded for public information projects by my Department since June 2002 at a cost of €279,658.53. These included two contracts totalling €3,573.53, awarded by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, a contract for €12,000 on the national disability strategy, a contract for €149,109 to develop and implement an awareness campaign at Christmas 2002 on the national age card scheme and two contracts totalling €114,976 for the national anti-racism awareness programme, Know Racism. It should be noted that, to date, no payments have been made on the contact on the national disability strategy.

Departmental Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

312 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of civil servants and other staff in his press office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33067/04]

Paul McGrath

Question:

313 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of civil servants and other staff employed in his constituency office; and the grade and remuneration of each. [33082/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 312 and 313 together.

Staff currently employed in my press office are detailed in the following table:

Grade

Remuneration (full time rate)

1 Assistant Principal

€55,057 —€68,651

1 Administrative Officer

€27,981 —€49,529

1 Executive Officer

€25,704 —€40,669

1 Clerical Officer

€19,493 —€31,612

The staff currently employed in my constituency office consist of two executive officers and three clerical officers as detailed in the table below. Of the clerical officer posts, two are staffed by clerical officers who work share.

Grade

Remuneration (full time rate)

1 Executive Officer

€25,704 —€40,669

1 Executive Officer

€27,057 —€42,805

1 Clerical Officer

€20,520 —€33,274

1 Clerical Officer (Work sharing)

€19,493 —€31,612

1 Clerical Officer (Work sharing)

€20,402 —€32,298

1 Clerical Officer (Work sharing)

€20,520 —€33,274

1 Clerical Officer (Work sharing)

€20,520 —€33,274

Asylum Applications.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

314 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 will be re-examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33105/04]

I refer the Deputy to the reply I gave to Question No. 182 on 9 December 2004. The position remains the same.

Residency Permits.

Bernard Allen

Question:

315 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for residency by a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be considered. [33113/04]

An application for permission to remain in the State based on marriage to an Irish national was received from the person concerned in July 2004. Applications of this type are dealt with in chronological order and currently take approximately 16 months to process.

Visa Applications.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

316 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a visa was refused to a person (details supplied); when they will receive formal notification of this visa refusal; and the course of action they have to appeal this decision. [33121/04]

A decision was made by the visa officer who assessed the application on 30 November 2004 and advised to the Department of Foreign Affairs on 2 December 2004. A letter was sent to the applicant on 6 December 2004 informing him that the visa application had not been approved by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The letter also stated that if the applicant wished to know the reason or reasons for the refusal, he or she or a person nominated by the reference on the original application should write or fax within one month of the above date to the visa officer at the immigration and citizenship division, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, quoting the reference and refusal number in the correspondence with the Department. It is open to the applicant to appeal against the refusal by writing to the visa appeals officer at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Ground Rents Abolition.

Paul McGrath

Question:

317 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the situation in relation to the proposed abolition of domestic ground rents, particularly in view of a newspaper report (details supplied). [33123/04]

Paul McGrath

Question:

340 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the situation in relation to the proposed abolition of domestic ground rents, particularly in view of a newspaper report (details supplied). [33429/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 317 and 340 together.

The Government legislation programme, which was published on 28 September 2004, makes provision for a Bill to abolish ground rents. As I stated previously on this matter, 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, especially the land registration system.

Grant Payments.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

318 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the assistance or grants which are available to a community group hall (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33149/04]

As the Deputy may be aware, the equal opportunities child care programme for 2000 to 2006 is a seven year development programme which aims to increase the availability and quality of child care to support parents in employment, education and training. The level of demand for capital grant assistance was such that I considered it important to increase the capital provision for the current programme. Following discussions with my colleague, the Minister for Finance, I was pleased when he made available through the budget an additional capital provision totalling €90 million over the period 2005 to 2009. Of this amount, €50 million will be made available under the current equal opportunities child care programme while the remaining €40 million will flow under its post-2006 phase.

The provision augments increased EU funding of some €12 million which was made available earlier this year in recognition of the progress of the programme. This brings the total funding available for the programme to €499.3 million, including an increased provision for capital developments for which €205 million has been set aside.

I understand from my inquiries that no application for capital grant assistance under the equal opportunities child care programme has been made to my Department by the group referred to by the Deputy. The Deputy may be aware that the group previously received a total of €199,349 in staffing supports under the programme. Should an application be received, it will, of course, be assessed by Area Development Management Limited, which has been engaged by my Department to carry out thorough assessments of all applications for grant assistance against the equal opportunities child care programme criteria on my behalf. Its terms of reference include a requirement for the service to support parents who are in employment or are undertaking education and training with a view to employment. On completion of the assessment process, applications are considered by the programme's appraisal committee, which is chaired by my Department and makes funding recommendations to me before I make a final decision.

Asylum Applications.

John Perry

Question:

319 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made on the application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33170/04]

The query refers to a husband and wife, both of whom are Croatians. The husband arrived in the State on 9 April 2001 and applied for asylum the next day. On 30 April 2001, his wife arrived in the State with their two children and made an application for asylum the next day. Their applications were refused following consideration of their cases by the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The couple are parents of a child who was born in Ireland on 9 May 2002. Subsequently, in accordance with section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, the couple were informed, separately, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of them. They were given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State before an order was made, consenting to the making of a deportation order or making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons they should be granted leave to remain temporarily in the State.

The case files in this case, including all representations submitted, will be considered in due course under section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, and section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, (Prohibition of Refoulement) and the couple will be informed of the decision made in their cases.

Visa Applications.

Pat Breen

Question:

320 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason persons (details supplied) in County Clare were refused visas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33186/04]

The visa applications in question were made to enable the son and daughter of a non-EEA national employed in the State under the work permit scheme to join their mother in Ireland. In general, persons employed in the State under the scheme may be joined by their spouse and minor children after a worker has been employed 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 recourse to public funds. The applications were refused as the mother did not provide detailed payslips and bank statements or her divorce papers in support of the applications.

The applications were re-examined by an appeals officer and, on the basis of the documentation and information provided, it was decided that the original decisions to refuse the visas should be upheld. Each application is entitled to only one appeal. If the applicants still wish to travel, a fresh application with all the relevant documentation must be lodged.

Crime Levels.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

321 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the Garda Síochána annual report for 2003, which indicates that instances of rape and sexual assault increased by 164% in Donegal from 2002 in view of the fact that rapes and sexual assaults are vastly underreported; if his attention has been drawn to this enormous increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33201/04]

A total of 58 rape offences — rape of a female and rape section 4 — were reported in the Donegal division in 2003 and subsequently published in the 2003 Garda Síochána annual report. The total was counted incorrectly as a case involving 34 offences with the same injured party and offender was counted as 34 offences when it should have been counted as one offence in accordance with the Garda crime counting rules. Details of the rules are contained in the annual report. The revised total for the Donegal division is therefore 25 offences, representing an increase of 14% over the 22 recorded in 2002.

Changes in the number of sexual offences recorded from year to year are often the result of the reporting of offences committed years or decades previously. The 34 offences referred to above, for example, were reported in 2003 but occurred many years before. Any increase in crime is unwelcome. While some regions show an increase for the period in question, it is important to note that, overall, the numbers of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault reported to the Garda in 2003, the last full year for which figures are available, represent a significant reduction when compared to the recorded incidents of these crimes in 2002. For example, there was a reduction of 25.5% in reported incidents of rape between 2002 and 2003. In 2002, the number of reported incidents of sexual assault was 1,626, but this had fallen to 1,449 by 2003.

On behalf of the national steering committee on violence against women, my Department has conducted a number of awareness-raising campaigns on various aspects of violence against women in recent years. Recent awareness campaigns have included a poster campaign on domestic violence in 2003 and a campaign in 2002 aimed at highlighting the dangers of drug-assisted rape. The 2002 campaign involved the development of a series of posters which were displayed in pubs, clubs and third level colleges around the country. Follow-up campaigns were undertaken in third level colleges in 2003 and 2004. In addition, my Department has provided funding to a number of rape crisis centres to deliver an awareness programme in schools in their locality.

It may also interest the Deputy to know that my Department has provided joint funding for comprehensive research into attrition rates in rape cases. The research is on the understanding of attrition, early withdrawal, the trial process and identifying possible changes to support complainants in rape cases and is being carried out by the department of law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the rape Crisis Network. The research should provide a greater understanding of why some victims choose not to report cases to the Garda, what can be done about under -reporting and why, of the cases reported, a relatively small percentage result in court hearings.

I understand from the Garda authorities that all gardaí receive training in the investigation of cases of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault. The training is provided by experienced Garda personnel assisted by other professionals such as psychologists, doctors and social workers as well as experts from various non-governmental organisations.

Garda Investigations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

322 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will investigate the case of a person (details supplied); and if there is substance to the allegations. [33202/04]

The case referred to by the Deputy was referred to the Garda authorities for investigation. I understand the complainant has also referred the matter to a number of other organisations for investigation.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a review of all the issues and the content of the complaints received was conducted and that the complainant has consistently failed to co-operate with the gardaí in these matters. I am also informed that the investigations conducted and the documents received to date do not reveal sufficient evidence to sustain the allegations contained therein.

I am also informed by the Garda authorities that inquiries are ongoing into some of the matters outlined in the letter from the complainant dated 1 November 2004 and it is intended to further speak to the complainant on these matters shortly.

Registration of Title.

Denis Naughten

Question:

323 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of a land dealing application (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33247/04]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that the schedule referred to by the Deputy was completed on 7 November 2004. There is a related application for transfer of part to the person concerned, which was lodged on 14 June 1999, pending on one of the folios — dealing No. D1999CR003738J refers. This application is receiving attention in the Land Registry and will be completed as soon as possible.

Garda Equipment.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

324 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a Garda station (details supplied) in County Wexford will receive a replacement Garda car; the reason for the long delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33252/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the vehicle in question, a Toyota Avensis 1.6 attached to Courtown Harbour Garda station, was involved in a collision on 17 November 2004. The complete investigation file into the above collision has not yet been submitted but it is understood the vehicle is a write-off.

In the event of a Garda vehicle being involved in an accident, the Garda driver forwards a completed MT15 form to fleet management section. The MT15 is a preliminary report of the accident, which notifies fleet management section of the occurrence of the accident and the circumstances surrounding that accident. The public service vehicle inspector then assesses the damage to determine the viability of repairing or replacing the vehicle. The normal procedures that apply, should the vehicle be deemed a write-off, is that a new vehicle will be issued as soon as possible, subject to availability. If a new vehicle is not available immediately, a temporary replacement may be issued, pending the availability of new vehicles. I have been further informed that it is likely that new cars may be available before Christmas to enable this car to be replaced.

Child Care Services.

Joan Burton

Question:

325 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide details of the funding provided by his Department for child care from 1997 to date, analysed by year and county; and the percentage of the total awarded to each county both by amounts spent and relative to population. [33273/04]

I wish to draw the Deputy's attention to Developing Childcare in Ireland, which I made available to every Deputy in summer 2004 and which offers a detailed analysis of the development of child care on a county by county basis. It is my intention to make an update available to every Deputy early in 2005.

The first equal opportunities child care programme ran from January 1998 to June 2000 and involved three strands of funding — the capital infrastructure, the employer demonstration project and the community support child care initiative. The total budget for the programme was £11.5 million, or €14.6 million, and in all 123 projects received funding — 90 capital infrastructure projects, 25 community support child care initiative projects and eight employer demonstration initiative projects.

The total funding committed under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000 — 2006 to date is now €323.4 million and this is expected to create over 34,000 new child care places. This includes the new commitment of the first tranche of €10 million from the additional €90 million in capital grant assistance made to me in budget 2005, and I expect to make further announcements of capital grant support to areas where there are gaps in child care service provision in a planned manner as soon as possible.

Garda Press Conference.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

326 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the details of the serving members of the Garda Síochána who were invited to attend the press conference at which the intention to establish a traffic corps was announced; the rank and title of office or other appointment of the gardaí who were invited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33301/04]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the press launch for the establishment of the traffic corps was attended by the commissioner of the Garda Síochána, the deputy commissioner, operations, the chief superintendent and superintendent, Garda national traffic bureau, and the Garda public relations officer.

Legal Aid Service.

Paul McGrath

Question:

327 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the private practitioner scheme emergency legal representation has been abolished with regard to the Legal Aid Board; if so, when the scheme was abolished with regard to the Legal Aid Board; in view of the current waiting lists in various legal aid authorities, the measures he has put in place to assist those on low incomes represent themselves adequately in emergency court appearances such as interim maintenance and custody hearings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33334/04]

The private practitioner's scheme, operated by the Legal Aid Board to supplement the service provided by the board from its law centre network, has not been abolished and is still in operation.

In relation to improving the service to clients of the Legal Aid Board, I am pleased to be able to inform the Deputy that I have allocated a total of €21.362 million to the board for the civil legal aid scheme for 2005, an increase of 16% over its allocation of €18.388 million for 2004. This increased allocation should result in a reduction in waiting times at law centres and an improved service to the board's clients.

Asylum Applications.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

328 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the breakdown of the figure of €350 million, which he says was spent on asylum seekers two years ago; the direct beneficiaries of the largest payments; the amount of it that goes directly to asylum seekers; and the amount of this of which persons who are not allowed to work. [33335/04]

While the costs arising from the provision of services to asylum seekers are primarily a matter for the individual Departments and agencies with responsibility for such services, the most recent information available to my Department indicates that the amount spent on services to asylum seekers for 2003, which also includes immigration functions such as the operation of the deportation process, was in the region of €353 million, spread between a number of Departments and agencies.

Insofar as my Department is concerned, most of the budget on services to asylum seekers would not involve direct payments but would cover costs associated with areas such as the provision of accommodation to asylum seekers by the Reception and Integration Agency; the operation of the asylum determination process carried out by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal; the cost of the provision of legal advice and assistance by the refugee legal service; and the cost of the deportation process.

In 2004, the total cost to my own Department and the asylum agencies of asylum and immigration services was approximately €120 million, which was generally in line with the level of expenditure in 2003. The budgetary allocation would also cover other expenditure items such as the cost of judicial reviews in the area of asylum and immigration, the provision of interpretation and translation services where some 140 languages are provided and other immigration related services such as the processing of visa and citizenship applications.

The remaining balance of the €353 million is made up of expenditure on services to asylum seekers provided by a number of other Departments and agencies, for example, the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the Department of Health and Children and the Department of Education and Science. It would be for the Departments concerned to provide a detailed breakdown of expenditure for their areas of responsibility.

The successful implementation of the Government's asylum strategy has included the operation of the wide-ranging amendments to the Refugee Act 1996 contained in the Immigration Act 2003, which were aimed,inter alia, at streamlining the asylum decision making process. This strategy has had a positive impact in terms of processing times and has contributed to Ireland having the second highest reduction in asylum applications in any EU state in 2003. While any continued reduction in asylum applications can be expected to have an impact on the level of resources allocated to services for asylum seekers in the future, expenditure in this area will have to be maintained at an appropriate level so as to ensure the efficient and effective processing of applications in particular.

In addition, the provision of immigration related services generally will continue to require an adequate level of resources so as to ensure that these also continue to be provided in an efficient and effective manner. This will include resources, for example, for the operation of the deportation process and for the processing of applications for visas and citizenship, all of which have been on the increase in recent years.

As the Deputy is aware, all asylum seekers are prohibited from taking up employment by the Refugee Act 1996. The position in relation to access by asylum seekers to the labour market is set out in my reply to the Deputy's Question No. 429 of 30 November 2004.

Asylum Support Services.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

329 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his Department is responsible for the payment of direct provision allowances; if there is a unit with responsibility for the payment and for the welfare needs of persons living in direct provision. [33336/04]

The Reception and Integration Agency, which operates under the aegis of my Department, is responsible for the provision of accommodation and ancillary services to asylum seekers. In addition, the agency has a co-ordinating role in relation to the provision of services to asylum seekers by other agencies and Departments, including the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Direct provision allowances and other welfare payments to asylum seekers are made locally by community welfare officers operating under the aegis of the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Firearm Certificates.

Michael Noonan

Question:

330 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of firearm certificates issued to date in 2004; the number issued in 2002 and 2003 under section 3 of the Firearms Act 1925; the make, model and type of each fire arm for which such a certificate was issued; the conditions that were applied to such certificates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33338/04]

A breakdown of firearm certificates granted by make, model, type and by the conditions attached is not readily available and could be obtained only by a disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources. However, I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are compiling summary figures for the number of certificates granted for the years in question but that these are not readily available. They will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as they are available. Firearm certificates may be subject to conditions under the Firearms Act 1925 and restrictions under section 29(5) of the Wildlife Act 1976.

Visa Applications.

John McGuinness

Question:

331 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an appeal for a visa in the name of a person (details supplied) will be granted; and if the case will be expedited. [33404/04]

A decision letter was issued to Karachi on 9 July 2004 informing the applicant of the refusal of the visa application. The letter also provided the applicant with information and contact addresses in the event that the applicant wished to be informed of the reason/s for the refusal of the application or to appeal the decision. To date, the visa office has not received a request from the applicant to provide the reasons for the refusal of the visa or notification of appeal.

Garda Recruitment.

Michael Lowry

Question:

332 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans he is putting in place to ensure adequate space for the current and additional recruits at the Garda training college in Templemore, in view of the extra Garda recruitment. [33418/04]

Michael Lowry

Question:

333 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of new recruits currently in training at the Garda college in Templemore; the number of other attendees participating in other courses at the college; and the number of courses offered at the college. [33419/04]

Michael Lowry

Question:

334 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if any of the additional Garda recruits will be trained in an alternative location to the Garda Training College in Templemore; the number expected to be trained elsewhere; the location at which they will be trained; and the expected loss of business to the entire economy of Templemore. [33420/04]

Michael Lowry

Question:

336 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the training of additional gardaí will impact on the lecturing needs of current recruits at the Garda college in Templemore and other course participants; if current recruits will need to move to accommodate the new recruits; and if so, the locations to which they will move. [33422/04]

Michael Lowry

Question:

337 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if all 2,000 additional Garda recruits will complete their training at the Garda Training College in Templemore in line with the current training programme for the Garda Síochána. [33423/04]

Michael Lowry

Question:

338 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of recruits that have attended the Garda Training College each year from 1997 to 2004; and the number expected to attend in 2005, 2006 and 2007. [33424/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 332 to 334, inclusive, and 336 to 338, inclusive, together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the current student-probationer education, training and development programme course consists of five separate but integrated phases. Phase I — 20 weeks, phase III — 16 weeks and phase V — four weeks — of the training programme are conducted at the Garda college with the exception of the final four weeks of Phase III, which will now be delivered at operational training stations. Phase II — 22 weeks — and phase IV — 38 weeks — are conducted at designated operational training stations.

The number of recruits taken in to the Garda college in each year from 1997, together with the number of recruits expected to attend the Garda college from 2005 to 2007, is as follows:

Year

Garda College Intake

1997

615

1998

549

1999

551

2000

496

2001

497

2002

547

2003

687

2004

518

2005

1,096

2006

1,096

2007

1,097

As part of my proposal to increase the strength of the force to 14,000, in line with the Government's commitment set out in An Agreed Programme for Government, each quarter, for the next three years, around 274 recruits will be taken into the college, amounting to almost 1,100 recruits each year. All of these recruits admitted to the Garda College will receive the same level of training as those currently undergoing training under the student-probationer education, training and development programme. Phases I, III and V of the programme will continue to be delivered at the Garda college with the exception of the final four weeks of Phase III, which will be delivered at operational training stations. There are currently no plans to train Garda recruits at any other locations.

To facilitate this accelerated recruitment, a significant enhancement of the Garda college facilities is under way. A new four-storey block will be built which will provide for central administration and free up the teaching blocks for classroom use. New library and gymnasium facilities will also be provided and existing catering and canteen facilities will be expanded. The plans for all of this are being advanced by the Office of Public Works and construction will be completed by the end of next year in time for the peak inflow of new recruits to the college. Work will also be undertaken to relocate the tactical training facility, which will be displaced by the new building.

In addition, the Garda Commissioner is to temporarily move the majority of inservice training out of the Garda college to a new location. This will enable the Garda college to concentrate mainly on training new recruits arising from the accelerated recruitment campaign. The OPW has advertised for expressions of interest in the provision of the new accommodation for inservice training. This outsourced facility will provide accommodation for up to 100 gardaí, with classroom and lecture facilities. Accommodation is provided for trainees at the college and externally by the operation of the student living out programme, which may be extended as the need arises.

A total of 1,221 recruits are currently completing the two year student-probationer education, training and development course. The number of recruits attending at the Garda college, at any one time, varies according to the number who are completing Phases I, III and V of the training programme at the college. The number of recruits attending training at the Garda college on the week commencing 13 December 2004 is 284. In addition, 324 members of the Garda Síochána participated in training courses at the college for the week commencing 6 December 2004.

The number of courses offered at the Garda college depends on the training requirements within the Garda Síochána and takes account of training requirements under the corporate strategy plan and annual policing plan. The total number of courses on offer at the Garda college is 50.

The training of additional gardaí will not impact on the lecturing needs of current recruits at the Garda college as they pass through the two year student-probationer education, training and development programme.

Garda Training.

Michael Lowry

Question:

335 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans that exist to develop accommodation to bring back to the Garda training college any course that has moved or will move to accommodate the proposed 2,000 additional recruits; the timescale expected for such a development; and the financial commitment that has been made for such development. [33421/04]

As the Deputy will know from my recent announcement on this matter, a phased approach is being adopted to meet the additional accommodation requirements of the Garda college arising from the Government decision to increase the strength of the force to 14,000. First, there is a requirement to temporarily move certain in-service and other management training courses out of the Garda college to a new location. This, which is phase 1, will enable the Garda college to concentrate mainly on training new recruits.

The necessary tendering process to source and secure a suitable outsourced facility is currently being undertaken with the help of the Office of Public Works and, accordingly, the Deputy will appreciate that I cannot comment further at this point other than to say that it is the intention to make the move from the college early in the new year.

Phase 2 of the process, which is proceeding in parallel to the above, will see a significant expansion of the existing capacity of the college. A new four-storey block will provide for central administration and free up the current teaching blocks for classroom use. There will also be new library and gym facilities. In addition to this, the existing catering and canteen facilities will be expanded. The necessary planning and tendering processes associated with this phase, which are now well advanced by the Office of Public Works will, I understand, see a contractor on site in January, 2005. The intention is that the new facilities will be completed and ready for occupation in time for the peak in-flow of recruits to the college early in 2006. This enhanced capacity will enable the return to the college of the in-service and other training at the end of the concentrated recruitment phase.

In addition, work is underway in conjunction with the Garda authorities and the Office of Public Works to relocate the tactical training facility at the college which has been displaced by the new building project.

The necessary resources for the Garda Síochána budget and the largely once-off capital costs for the Office of Public Works associated with the different phases of this development will be addressed in the normal estimates process for 2005 and following years.

Questions Nos. 336 to 338, inclusive, answered with Question No. 332.

Garda Strength.

Willie Penrose

Question:

339 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will take steps to allocate additional manpower resources to increase Garda strength in the Athlone division and district; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33428/04]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of Athlone Garda district is 61, all ranks.

Local Garda management are satisfied that the resources currently in place in Athlone are adequate to meet the present policing needs of the district. Garda personnel deployments throughout the country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible service is provided to the public.

On Garda resources generally, I am, of course, very pleased that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members on a phased basis, in line with An Agreed Programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government, and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

The commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. In this context, the needs of the Athlone district of the Longford-Westmeath division will be fully considered within the context of the needs of Garda divisions throughout the country during future allocations of probationer gardaí and, where possible, by way of permanent transfer of members to that division. Clearly, of course, the additional resources will be targeted at the areas of greatest need, as is envisaged in the programme for Government. The programme identifies in particular areas with a significant drugs problem and a large number of public order offences, but it will be possible to address other priorities as well, such as the need to very significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. One thing I have already promised is that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties. They will be put directly into frontline, operational, high visibility policing. They will have a real impact.

In each of the next three years there will be an intake of almost 1,100 new recruits per year. The advertisement campaign for this first tranche of 1,100 recruits was launched on Thursday, 25 November 2004.

Question No. 340 answered with QuestionNo. 317.

Visa Applications.

John McGuinness

Question:

341 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an application will be expedited for family reunification in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33438/04]

Child Care Services.

Phil Hogan

Question:

342 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when finance will be provided in respect of an application for a child care group for Freshford, County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33540/04]

I understand from inquiries I have made that an application for further capital grant assistance under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme, EOCP, 2000-2006 was submitted by the group in question to my Department in April, 2004. The EOCP is a seven year development programme which aims to increase the availability and quality of child care to support parents in employment, education and training.

The level of demand for capital grant assistance was such that I considered it important to increase the capital provision for the present programme and, following discussions with my colleague the Minister for Finance, I was pleased that he made an additional capital provision totalling €90 million available to me over the period 2005 — 2009 in the context of the recent budget. Of this amount, €50 million is being made available under the present programme and the remaining €40 million will flow under the next phase of the post-2006 EOCP. This augments the increased EU funding of some €12 million made available earlier this year in recognition of the progress of the programme. This brings the total funding available for the programme to €499.3 million and now includes an increased provision for capital developments for which €205 million has been set aside.

I announced an allocation of almost €35 million in capital funding to community based not for profit groups last week and the availability of this additional capital funding will enable me to make further capital grant assistance available over the coming months and years to groups which address significant child care service gaps and where the project proposal represents good value for money. Much of the remaining current funding is required for ongoing supports to groups providing child care services to disadvantaged families to enable them to participate in employment, education and training opportunities.

The Deputy may be aware that the group in question has received a total of over €63,700 in capital and staffing grant support under the EOCP. This application for a large scale capital service will be considered against the programme criteria in the context of future commitments of capital funding. In the interim, it would be premature of me to comment further on this capital grant application.

Physical Education Facilities.

Seán Crowe

Question:

343 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for the delay in supplying school physical education facilities for a school (details supplied) in view of the importance of physical education to students; and when works will commence on the designated site. [32994/04]

The building project for the school in question is at an advanced stage of architectural planning and the accommodation to be provided includes the provision of a sports hall.

In the near future I will be announcing details of up to 75 major primary and 30 major post-primary school projects on a priority basis that are already at an advanced stage of design and will be authorising the schools concerned to complete the design process to the point where tenders can be issued. When these schools and their design teams report back that they have completed the work I will, on a rolling basis during the year, be authorising projects to move to tender and construction.

Overall I will be aiming to have at least 50 primary schools and 17 post-primary school projects tendered and going on site by year end 2005. I will be making further announcements in the coming weeks and months.

Adult Education.

Seán Crowe

Question:

344 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will report on the progress towards a second chance guarantee for adults who left school without completing the junior cycle at second level. [32995/04]

My Department's White Paper on Adult Education, Learning for Life, identified the need for targeted interventions to encourage and support the participation of certain priority groups in adult education. In particular, the White Paper highlighted the allocation of additional resources to address adult literacy needs and the need to provide increased opportunities for adult learners, prioritising the needs of those with less than upper secondary education.

These opportunities are provided by my Department through the availability of a range of second chance education programmes for young people and adults alike who have either left school early or who need further vocational training to enhance their employment prospects. These programmes are provided mainly by the vocational education committees but also in schools and colleges and by community-based education groups. The programmes supported by the Department are complemented by a range of courses provided by FÁS and other education and training providers.

My Department provided €111 million for its programmes this year. They cater for more than 75,000 students. Such programmes include the vocational training opportunities scheme; post leaving certificate courses; Youthreach; adult literacy and community education; the back to education initiative; senior Travellers training programme; and an education equality initiative to address gaps in provision of learning and training for educationally disadvantaged people. In general, participation in these programmes is free of charge. Training allowances and student support grants are paid as follows: means-tested maintenance grants for post leaving certificate students; training allowances paid, in lieu of social welfare payments, under the vocational training opportunities scheme; and training allowances paid to early school leavers in Youthreach and in senior Traveller training centres, who left school with either minimal or no qualifications. Additional support is provided for some categories of student through an adult guidance initiative and child care grants towards the cost of child care support for participants in further education programmes.

Educational Disadvantage.

Seán Crowe

Question:

345 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of students from officially designated disadvantaged areas who participated or took part in third level education in each of the past five years. [32996/04]

National data on the participation of disadvantaged students in third level education are currently collected on the basis of parent's occupation or social background. This data has been gathered through periodic studies commissioned by the HEA. The most recent full national survey of social background was in 1998. At that time the figures indicated that while the participation of young persons in the population from the least well off socio-economic groups had improved from 3% in the first survey in 1980 to 22%, it was still considerably lower than the average participation rate of 46%.

More recent data provided by third level institutions, and on behalf of the HEA, indicate further progress is being made in increasing access from disadvantaged groups and areas. For example, a HEA survey of a sample of entrants to higher education in 2003 indicates participation by students from semi-skilled and unskilled manual worker family backgrounds has increased to 47% of young persons in those population groups compared to an average participation rate of 54%. The results of this sample survey will be published shortly by the HEA. These participation rates from the sample survey will be comprehensively interrogated by the HEA through a full national survey of all new entrants to higher education taking place in this academic year.

Figures provided by third level institutions on an entry scheme to six of the universities and the Dublin Institute of Technology from designated disadvantaged schools also indicate access programmes are having a positive impact, with the numbers of school leavers having more than doubled from 300 in 2001 to 700 in the current academic year. These figures do not include many other students from linked schools and communities entering all third level institutions through the CAO which will be reflected in the forthcoming HEA full national survey.

On 6 December the national office for equity of access to higher education of the HEA published, at my request, an action plan which will progress a number of important goals over the next three years towards ensuring the continued and increased participation of students from all underrepresented groups, including those from disadvantaged areas. A priority area for action identified by the plan is the development of a national framework of equity of access policies and initiatives towards linking all disadvantaged regions, schools and communities with at least one higher education institution, as well as the ongoing monitoring of progress in achieving equity of access to higher education.

Higher Education Grants.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

346 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Science if third level grants will be awarded to persons (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32997/04]

Mary Hanafin