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 23, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 24 to 62, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 63 to 72, inclusive, answered orally.

Proposed Legislation.

Seán Crowe

Question:

73 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will bring forward legislation to remove the provisions which disqualify those over the age of 66 from the terms of the Redundancy Acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12178/05]

Traditionally, the upper age limit for eligibility for redundancy payment was the same as the pensionable age within the meaning of the Social Welfare Acts. In 1971 the upper age limit was 70, in line with the then old age pension age of 70. This was revised downwards by the Redundancy Payments Act 1979 to 66 years, which was the new pensionable age set out in the Social Welfare Act.

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

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

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

There are no plans at present to remove the upper age limit in respect of statutory redundancy. However, in the light of the evolution of age-related legislative provisions, it will be necessary to review the age-related provisions of the Redundancy Payments Acts. This will have to be done prior to making legislative proposals for submission to Government. In February 2003, the Government approved the provision of a sum of €1 million from the social insurance fund towards modernising and e-enabling redundancy payments. The redundancy payments section of my Department is currently heavily involved in a project to modernise the existing system. Work on this project is progressing on target and it is expected that the e-enabled redundancy IT system will be ready for operation by the end of May 2005. It will take a number of months for both staff and members of the public to become totally familiar with the new system, and it is not envisaged that any new project, including the holding of a review of the age-related provisions of the Redundancy Payments Acts, will commence in advance of such familiarisation.

Enterprise Strategy Group.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

74 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding his consideration of the report of the Enterprise Strategy Group; if the Government has specifically decided not to implement certain recommendations of the report; the recommendations in respect of which decisions have been made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12103/05]

The Government recently considered and endorsed the report of the high level committee that was asked to look at the most appropriate implementation arrangements for the recommendations of the Enterprise Strategy Group, ESG. The Government is broadly supportive of the policy directions recommended by the group, as underlined by its intention to implement, either in full or with some modifications, most of the ESG's recommendations. Details of the position in relation to these recommendations are set out in the action plan which can be found on my Department's website at www.entemp.ie/enterprise/support/ esgactionplan.htm.

As regards recommendations which it is specifically not intended to implement, we have decided not to implement the recommendation that existing regulators for networked sectors should be replaced by a new regulatory body covering all networked sectors. In looking at international experience, the Government remains to be convinced that regulatory amalgamation on the scale proposed would be an efficient model. For example, there is a danger that a single regulator could give rise to slower decision-making and less focus on smaller sectors compared with more dominant ones. This matter is one for my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

The Government decided to consider further the potential for the disaggregation of State procurement contracts for telecommunication services and my colleagues, the Ministers for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and Finance will be dealing with this matter.

The central theme of the ESG's recommendations concerns a strategic evolution to a more competitive, innovative and knowledge centred economy. To help create quality and sustainable employment we have to make sure Ireland continues to be an attractive place in which to invest and from which to undertake increasingly profitable business. Part of this process involves listening to business and responding to its needs with greater agility and flexibility as regards policy design and implementation. As a contribution to this process I may invite one or more enterprise members of the expert group to make a presentation on particular issues to the Government meeting at which I will report on policy developments in the context of the ESG's report.

The ESG's report makes a valuable contribution to embedding strategies appropriate to the new realities and challenges facing the Irish economy. The ESG's policy prescriptions are particularly relevant to my Department and the enterprise support agencies that report to me. As part of the ESG's implementation process, I will be making twice yearly reports to Government on progress achieved in putting the Government approved ESG's recommendations in place.

Employment Rights.

Pat Breen

Question:

75 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his assessment of the damage done to efforts to attract migrant workers here by recent revelations of exploitation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12057/05]

Ireland's immigration policy is one of the most liberal in Europe. Accordingly, Ireland continues to be an attractive destination for workers from both within and without the European Economic Area, EEA. The EEA consists of the 25 EU member states, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and, for this purpose, Switzerland.

Section 20 of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 provides that all employee protection legislation in Ireland applies to those employed in the State, irrespective of nationality or place of residence. Therefore, all employee protection legislation applies to migrant workers.

Job Losses.

Denis Naughten

Question:

76 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, further to Question No. 301 of 15 February 2005, if he will review the policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12010/05]

As I outlined in my answer to the Deputy's question of 24 February, the reduction of 5,000 in staffing levels as announced by the Government in 2002 applies to all sectors of the public service. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and its agencies, including FÁS, are expected to contribute to this reduction. In the case of FÁS a reduction of 150 over a number of years from a staffing level of almost 2,400 is considered appropriate and in the circumstances I do not propose to review the situation.

Proposed Legislation.

Liz McManus

Question:

77 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the promised new legislation in regard to export controls for military goods will be introduced; the main features of the legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12091/05]

The proposed new legislation, which was recommended by the 2004 Forfás review, will provide for the introduction of new controls on arms brokering and on the provision of certain types of technical assistance. Existing legislation will also be updated to provide, inter alia, for increased penalties for non-compliance with export control legislation, for the statutory right for the inspection and audit, by officials from my Department, of companies that export military goods, and for controls on the transfer of relevant software and technology by electronic means.

Work on drafting of the new legislation has commenced and it is planned to publish the Bill this year. The introduction of this new legislation will ensure that Ireland meets its EU and international obligations in full and it will equally ensure that its procedures are not overly restrictive as to make Ireland an unattractive location by international standards for mobile activity in legitimate industries.

Indigenous Enterprise.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

78 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created in indigenous enterprises in each of the past five years; the number lost in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12177/05]

Full-time employment in Irish owned enterprises which are supported by the enterprise development agencies currently stands at 149,113; this represents a rise in employment of 5,000 over the five year period since the end of 1999. In the international context, in which we operate as an open economy, this represents a strong performance. More broadly, over the decade since 1995, there are 29,000 more employed in agency supported indigenous companies.

Enterprise development agency supported Irish companies — full-time employment.

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Gains

20,494

15,520

15,354

14,066

13,141

Losses

-11,446

-14,133

-17,664

-16,320

-13,958

Net

9,048

1,387

-2,310

-2,254

-817

The enterprise development agencies under my Department have a comprehensive range of supports to help firms become more competitive, expand in new markets and grow productivity. These are consistently assessed so that new programmes or refinements to help enterprise achieve sustainable competitive advantage and expand employment are implemented as required.

Enterprise Ireland, which has the lead role in this area, offers a range of supports aimed at assisting Irish indigenous client companies to expand and compete in the international marketplace. The agency delivers a flexible set of solutions tailored to the needs of individual circumstances of Irish enterprises. The financial supports offered by Enterprise Ireland place a strong emphasis on encouraging research and development and improving the competitiveness of existing companies, supporting new company start-ups and growing exports. Similarly, Shannon Development, which has responsibility for Irish industry in the Shannon region, operates a number of programmes aimed at both established Irish industry and high potential start up companies. The main focus is on the technological and management ability of client companies, and on the ability of these companies to invest in and exploit research and development. The city and county enterprise boards, CEBs, have primary responsibility for the promotion of indigenous industry in the micro-enterprise sector. Over 30,000 jobs have been created in indigenous companies supported by the CEBs since their establishment in 1993.

In the context of developing indigenous enterprises, the opportunities that easier access to world markets offer call for marketing support programmes to be delivered to develop the verydifferent abilities firms need to acquire in developing external markets. Many of the most dynamic Irish firms have chosen to invest overseas to be closer to their customers and have actively developed global business relationships to acquire specialist skills, access new technologies or source lower cost inputs.

My Department is working closely with the development agencies and industry to develop Irish enterprises' capacity to succeed in a global market by being more innovative, smarter, quicker and more flexible. Our main objective is to minimise any negative impacts which our changing economy experiences, while also furthering the national enterprise development agenda, which is making significant progress in sustaining Irish economic growth through the systematic support of new and existing firms at all stages of business development.

Company Closures.

Billy Timmins

Question:

79 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount of funding due to the unsecured creditors of IFI; if the secured creditors have been paid; if so, the amount involved; when the unsecured creditors will be paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12167/05]

I understand that the liquidator has made considerable progress in realising the assets of the company and establishing the full extent of its liabilities. He has indicated that he hopes to complete the liquidation process later this year. At this stage, the main production sites at Arklow and Cork remain the principal assets yet to be realised. It is understood that contracts have been signed for the sale of the Arklow site and the sale is due to close in May. Discussions have also been taking place with a number of parties in relation to the Cork site. It is a matter solely for the liquidator to determine whether to accept any particular offer made.

I also understand that all claims from secured and preferential creditors have been paid at this stage. Reports by the liquidator on the progress of the liquidation covering the period to 7 November 2004 indicate that the secured creditors were paid almost €58 million while preferential creditors were paid nearly €10 million.

The statement of affairs presented to the creditors meeting in November 2002 estimated that the amount due to unsecured creditors was €72.7 million. Of this, €34.5 million relates to shareholders loans which the shareholders, ICI and the State have agreed, in principle, to subordinate in favour of the other unsecured creditors. While I do not have an up to date estimate of the amounts due to unsecured creditors, I am aware that significant additional liabilities to former employees in respect of contractual entitlements to redundancy terms have been recognised by the liquidator. In addition, the liquidator has accepted, in principle, that the trustees of the Richardson's superannuation scheme, covering the employees in Belfast, have an admissible claim on the liquidation but the quantum of that claim remains to be established. Claims have also been submitted by the trustees of the company's pension schemes covering employees in this jurisdiction and these are being considered at present.

The final position of unsecured creditors can only be determined by the liquidator when all the assets of the company have been realised and all liabilities established. The determination of any payments due to creditors of IFI is a matter solely for the liquidator.

Trade Exports.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

80 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the value of exports to Hong Kong; the outcome of recent meetings with the Ireland-Hong Kong Business Forum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12067/05]

Exports to Hong Kong amounted to €833 million in 2004, up 21% from the 2003 total of €688 million. Hong Kong is an important business partner for Ireland in Asia, notably for services, and, in particular, for goods en route to other locations in China.

There is much potential for Irish companies there. It is both a sophisticated market for a range of our exports and a good location for the establishment of regional sales, distribution or logistics centres. Accordingly, I welcome the maintenance and reinforcement of business and other contacts between representatives of both places.

The Ireland-Hong Kong Business Forum is run by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. It is part of a worldwide network of such fora which is organised with the assistance of the authorities in Hong Kong. As a private sector organisation, its function is to enhance the relationship between its members and counterparts in Hong Kong.

Last February, the Minister of State at my Department with responsibility for Trade and Commerce, Deputy Michael Ahern, attended a function organised by the Hong Kong Business Forum to mark the Chinese new year. His attendance there, and at other such events to date, is indicative of Government support for the development of our trade and other relationships with Hong Kong.

The Taoiseach recently launched A Decade of the Asia Strategy 1999 to 2009. This recounts in some detail the importance the Government continues to place on the development of trade with eight specific Asian countries, including China, over the next five years. In the recent past there has been significant improvement in the level of our trade exports to Asia. The potential is great for doing even better in the coming five years. Accordingly, while continuing to assiduously attend to market opportunities and development prospects elsewhere, the Government and its agencies will be focusing in a strategic and coherent way on priority countries in Asia in the years ahead. China will be central in that respect.

International Agreements.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

81 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if Ireland will be part of the EU like-minded group on the basis of the UK position expressing concerns in relation to economic partnership agreements; if Ireland will outline EPA concerns in any international fora; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12199/05]

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

150 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of the contact his Department has had with the Department of Foreign Affairs, particularly Development Co-operation Ireland, in relation to economic partnership agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12193/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 81 and 150 together.

The economic partnership agreements, EPAs, are an integral part of the legally binding Cotonou agreement. They are first and foremost instruments to assist from a trade and development aspect the smooth and gradual integration of Asia, Caribbean and Pacific, ACP, states into the world economy. This will be done with due regard for their own political choices and their own development priorities.

EPAs combine trade and wider development issues in a unified framework while taking account of the specific economic, social and environmental circumstances of each regional group and its component states. As trade is a Community competence, it is the European Commission which conducts the negotiations on the EPAs between the EU and six regional groupings of ACP states on behalf of member states. The Commission provides the Council with updates on the progress of the negotiations.

Recently, in the context of the further progression of EPA negotiations, Commissioner Mandleson has indicated that he is putting the EPA process under continuing review, with a new review mechanism to ensure that at every stage in the negotiations that the development dimension is put first.

I have read with interest the recent position paper that sets out the UK view on how best the commitment to put development at the heart of the EPA negotiations can be best delivered. This is designed to promote an open discussion on EPA issues particularly as the substantive negotiations get under way. I agree with the basic thrust of an approach to the EPAs which ensures that the needs and concerns of developing countries are taken adequately into consideration during the substantive phase of these negotiations.

Ireland is actively following the developments in the EPA negotiations process and will continue to do so. More recently this matter was considered at the Article 133 committee and further discussions will follow. Ireland will insist that the Commission discharges its mandate in accordance with the provisions of the Cotonou agreement and in a manner which is sensitive to the particular concerns of ACP states.

There is close co-operation between all relevant Departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, on questions relating to trade and development policy matters generally, including the EPA negotiations.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

82 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the numbers of deaths and injuries reported arising from industrial accidents in each year from 2000 to 2004; the further steps he intends to take to reduce the level of such accidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12110/05]

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health, known as the Health and Safety Authority, is the State body charged with overall responsibility for administration, enforcement and promotion of workplace safety and health. Matters arising from this responsibility are, therefore, a day-to-day function of the authority.

Overall trends in workplace accidents are best described by reference to the data from the occupational injury benefit claims published by Department of Social and Family Affairs, as the criteria for this benefit have remained the same over the years. Although it shows an increase in numbers of claims in recent years, this has to be read in the context of the economic expansion that has taken place in Ireland in the last decade. The accident rates per 100,000 employees show a steady decline in workplace accidents in Ireland as shown in the table below.

Nonetheless, the rate of deaths and injuries in Irish workplaces is unacceptable. During 2003, 67 people died and an estimated 20,900 people were absent from work for more than there days due to workplace injuries. In 2004, 50 people died in workplace accidents and to date this year there have been 22 fatalities.

However, overall steady progress has been made as the workplace fatality rate has fallen significantly since 1998 when 70 people died in the workplace.

This reduction in deaths and injuries should be seen against the background of an increase in the workforce of almost a quarter of a million workers since 1998.

Internationally, rapid increases in the workforce usually lead to an increase in the fatal and non-fatal injury rate due to the introduction of inexperienced workers into the workplace. Thankfully, Ireland has been able to avoid such an increase.

The Health and Safety Authority has a dual role of enforcement and prevention. Under its prevention strategy, published in 2004, the authority approaches the issue of days lost to Irish business through a range of measures and supports at individual workplace, sector and national level. In addition, the authority partners other significant organisations and the social partners to bring home the message of prevention on both human and economic grounds. The authority's programme of work for 2005 will further promote this preventive emphasis in its work in addition to continuing to inspect workplaces for compliance with legal requirements.

Workplace accidents for years 2000 to 2003.

Number of OIB claim accepted

Number of Employees

Rate per 100,000 employees

2000

11,995

1,355,600

885

2001

12,050

1,406,400

857

2002

12,280

1,440,000

852

2003

11,096

1,502,800

738

2004 figures unavailable as yet.
Fatalities figures for years 2000 to 2004.

Year

Number of Fatalities

2000

70

2001

64

2002

61

2003

67

2004

51

Company Closures.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

83 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will meet with former workers at the Irish Fertilizer subsidiary Richardson’s in Belfast who received inferior severance packages, particularly with respect to pensions following the closure of that plant, compared to their counterparts in other plants (details supplied) which closed at the same time. [12174/05]

When Irish Fertilisers Industries Limited went into liquidation, ICI and the State, the shareholders in IFI, established a special fund — while there was no legal obligation to do so — of almost €24.5 million to provide ex gratia severance payments to the former employees. Payments from the fund were made in accordance with the basis for distribution determined by the trustee of the fund, which has been endorsed by a ballot open to all employees. The basis for distribution was the same for all employees regardless of location.

In addition, employees would have had certain statutory redundancy and other entitlements. While these would have varied somewhat reflecting the different arrangements in the two jurisdictions, I do not believe that this resulted in any significant variances in overall severance packages received.

As regards pensions, I am aware that employees based in Belfast, who are deferred pensioners of the Richardson's pension fund, are likely to receive much reduced pension entitlements and that the staff in question are, understandably, very aggrieved about this position. The specific financial position of the Richardson's fund appears to have arisen primarily from a combination of the statutory rules which currently apply on the winding up of a pension fund in the UK and a shortfall in the assets of the Belfast fund compared with its liabilities as a result of the fund trustees' investment strategy coupled with a significant fall in the equities market.

The trustees of the Richardson's scheme submitted a claim on the liquidation in relation to the shortfall in the scheme and I understand that the liquidator has now accepted, in principle, that the trustees have an admissible claim. However, there are a number of factors that will need to be determined before the amount of the claim that is admissible can be established. In addition, I understand that the UK Government has announced proposals to deal with the issue of pension shortfalls arising from insolvencies but I am not aware of the impact, if any, this may have on the shortfall in the Richardson's scheme. Depending on the outcome of both these developments, there is the prospect of some alleviation in the position faced by the active members of the Richardson's scheme.

While I have the utmost sympathy for the plight of the members affected by the shortfall that has arisen in the scheme, I am satisfied that the Irish Government does not have any obligations in respect of the shortfall which the pension scheme faces and I do not see any basis on which we could reasonably be expected to make good the shortfall involved. In the circumstances, I regret that I do not consider a meeting with former workers of IFI in Belfast is appropriate.

Manufacturing Sector.

Denis Naughten

Question:

84 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action he is taking to develop the indigenous manufacturing sector of the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12011/05]

The principal means of delivering direct assistance to indigenous manufacturing companies is through the national enterprise development agency, Enterprise Ireland. Enterprise Ireland can assist those indigenous manufacturing companies that are, or at least have the potential to be, export focused. I should point out that the decision to provide support to a client company is a day-to-day administrative matter for the agency concerned, and not one in which I have a direct function.

Enterprise Ireland offers a set of sophisticated solutions tailored to the needs of its individual client companies throughout all regions. Each company is assigned a development adviser who works with the company across all business functions through the business development model, BDM, process. The BDM ensures that support is applied to critical business functions, namely: strategy, finance, research and development, marketing, human resources and production. Financial and non-financial support is provided to companies with a business strategy that encompasses all elements required for business success. Enterprise Ireland also provides expertise to companies in the indigenous manufacturing sector who wish to expand through increased export activity. Through its network of 33 international offices, Enterprise Ireland assists companies to create and implement successful strategies for market entry, development and growth.

Research and innovation, both product and process development, is critical to success in the increasingly global marketplace. Enterprise Ireland encourages sustained levels of research and development activity through its RTI scheme and research and development initiatives. Research and development awareness campaigns are also run to demonstrate the benefits of such investment. Enterprise Ireland also fosters research collaboration between companies and colleges through instruments such as the innovation partnership initiative.

To assist the drive towards competitiveness and productivity within manufacturing, Enterprise Ireland promotes the adoption of new technology at company level. Enterprise Ireland's specialist technologist team delivers mentoring and developmental supports to individual manufacturing companies.

Enterprise Ireland's competitiveness fund was set up to help small and medium enterprises overcome distinctive competitiveness difficulties. Under this fund, which closed in mid-2004, 97 applications, to the value of €11.9 million, were approved for companies predominantly operating in the traditional manufacturing sectors. This investment together with other Enterprise Ireland supports and services will have a considerable impact on improving competitiveness in these companies well into the future. I have requested Enterprise Ireland to bring forward proposals to address the issues and action items outlined in the report of the Enterprise Strategy Group, which was endorsed by the Government in February 2005. It is expected that Enterprise Ireland will outline its approach in this regard as part of the launch of its new strategy, scheduled to take place early next month.

Employment Regulation.

Joe Costello

Question:

85 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the call from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions for improved regulation of recruitment and placement agencies to ensure protection of workers’ rights and avoid a race to the bottom on pay and conditions; if he intends to act on the call from ICTU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12085/05]

As part of the Government's commitments under Sustaining Progress, a review of the Employment Agency Act 1971 is being carried out by my Department.

As part of this review, my Department published in May 2004, a discussion paper on the 1971 Act and requested submissions from the various interests in the sector, including the social partners. A total of nine submissions were received and were examined in detail by my Department.

My Department is currently finalising a policy paper which, following consultation with the Office of the Attorney General on some of the details, will be circulated to the various interests for further comment in the coming weeks. In this context, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will be requested to submit any views that it may have on this policy paper. Following this second round of consultations, my Department will draft the heads of a Bill and seek Government approval to have a Bill drafted by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government. I hope to publish the Bill by the end of this year.

As part of this review, I am currently considering that in future: employment agencies will be required to be registered with my Department rather than be licensed as at present; overseas agencies supplying workers to work in Ireland will also be required to be registered with the Department; employment agencies will be required to comply with the terms of a statutory code of practice, which will set out in detail the practices and standards which agencies would be expected to follow, this code will in particular, set out the employment rights of agency workers; a statutory monitoring and advisory committee, representative of all the various interests in the sector, will be established, this committee will oversee the statutory code of practice and make recommendations to me as the Minister of State with responsibility for labour affairs revoking or suspending registration and-or the prosecution of agencies which breach the code; and any employer who recruits a worker from an unregistered agency, either from Ireland or overseas, will be guilty of an offence and liable to prosecution.

Enterprise Strategy Group.

Martin Ferris

Question:

86 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Enterprise Strategy Group, Ahead of the Curve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12175/05]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

152 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if and when he intends to implement the recommendation of the Enterprise Strategy Group regarding the establishment of two new divisions within Enterprise Ireland to focus on export marketing and research and development and the incorporation of county enterprise boards into Enterprise Ireland. [12198/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 and 152 together.

Shortly after the launch of the Enterprise Strategy Group's report in 2004, the Government asked a high level committee under the chairmanship of my Department to advise on the most appropriate means to progress implementation of its recommendations. The Government recently considered and endorsed that committee's report, which was broadly supportive of the policy directions recommended by the Enterprise Strategy Group. This is underlined by the Government's intention to implement, either in full or with modifications, most of its recommendations. The report makes a valuable contribution to embedding strategies appropriate to the new realities and challenges facing the Irish economy.

The report contains more than 50 recommendations, directed at a wide range of Departments and agencies and this adds complexity to ensuring a smooth flow of implementing actions. To address this, I published an action plan to establish a focus on maintaining pace and momentum in implementation activity across the range of bodies and stakeholders involved. As part of the ESG's implementation process I will be making twice yearly reports to Government on progress achieved in putting the Government approved ESG's recommendations in place.

As part of this process I also announced the setting up of an enterprise expert group comprising four senior representatives from the enterprise sector and relevant Secretaries General from Departments. I will rely on the advice and analysis of the expert group on implementation developments to inform my report to Cabinet and I will be making further announcements shortly about the composition of this group.

The central theme of the ESG's recommendations concerns a strategic evolution to a more competitive, innovative and knowledge centred economy. To help create quality and sustainable employment we have to make sure Ireland continues to be an attractive place in which to invest and from which to undertake increasingly profitable business. Part of this process involves listening to business and responding to its needs with greater agility and clarity. As a contribution to this process I may invite one or more enterprise members of the expert group to make a presentation on particular issues to the Government meeting at which I will report on policy developments in the context of the ESG's report.

When I published details of the Government's response to the ESG's report, I also asked Enterprise Ireland, EI, to review the type of supports it provides to enterprise and its organisational arrangements for this. In effect, I have asked EI to strategically refocus its business to reflect the policy recommendations provided by the Enterprise Strategy Group. This is not a review that can be undertaken quickly but I expect that I will be able to announce details about the agency's strategic developments within the next few weeks. This will include details about the business arrangements for providing marketing and technology supports to enterprise.

The Government has approved the establishment of a new central co-ordination unit within Enterprise Ireland, which will provide city and county enterprise boards with central direction, technical support and shared services. Discussions have already commenced between my Department and the agencies regarding the steps necessary to implement the ESG's recommendation on this topic.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

87 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason he has rejected implementing the more radical recommendations of the Enterprise Strategy Group, including a single chairperson IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Forfás; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12074/05]

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

110 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if and when he intends to implement the recommendation of the Enterprise Strategy Review Group that IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Forfás operate under a common chairman. [12192/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87 and 110 together.

Shortly after the launch of the Enterprise Strategy Group's report in 2004, the Government asked a high level committee under the chairmanship of my Department to advise on the most appropriate means to progress implementation of its recommendations and the most suitable modes of implementation. The Government recently considered and endorsed that committee's report, which was broadly supportive of the policy directions recommended by the Enterprise Strategy Group. This is underlined by the Government's intention to implement, either in full or with modifications, virtually all its recommendations.

The report contains more than 50 recommendations, directed at a wide range of Departments and agencies. The report makes a valuable contribution to embedding strategies appropriate to the new realities and challenges facing the Irish economy. I intend that those recommendations addressed to my Department will inform the strategic development of enterprise support policies and their delivery to businesses. The ESG's recommendations are an important part of the enterprise policy agenda and I recently published an action plan to give added impetus to their implementation. As Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, I want to create the most competitive and supportive environment possible for business to invest and create long-term quality employment for the benefit of society.

Regarding the ESG's recommendation that the boards of Forfás, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland should have a number of directors in common and, in particular, a common chairperson, I acknowledge the need for effective co-ordination between the enterprise development agencies. Nevertheless, I consider that any recommendation regarding better agency co-ordination should acknowledge the fact that Forfás has a statutory function to advise and co-ordinate IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland in relation to their functions. The co-ordination issue extends beyond the three agencies mentioned in the recommendation and a case can be made for including Science Foundation Ireland and FÁS in any such arrangements. The chief executives of these agencies are also represented on the Forfás board. Enabling a common chairperson for only some of the boards under Forfás could present governance difficulties and at this stage I would prefer to look at this recommendation from a different perspective My Department will have discussions with the development agencies with a view to identifying co-ordination problems that have arisen and devising means by which such might be dealt with.

As regards recommendations which it is specifically not intended to implement, we have decided not to implement the recommendation that existing regulators for networked sectors should be replaced by a new regulatory body covering all networked sectors. This is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. The Government has also decided that the ESG's recommendation regarding the disaggregation of State procurement contracts for telecommunications services will be further considered by my colleagues, the Ministers for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and Finance.

Pharmacy Regulations.

Damien English

Question:

88 Mr. English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason he decided to refer proposals on the reform of the pharmacy sector to the Competition Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12073/05]

In February 2005, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children circulated proposals for a pharmacy Bill for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the pharmacy review group.

Under the section 30(1)(c) of the Competition Act 2002, the Competition Authority has a statutory role in advising Government on proposals for legislation in relation to their implications for competition. It was in this context that I sought the views of the authority. It subsequently provided me with detailed comments which I forwarded to the Tánaiste.

Departmental Studies.

David Stanton

Question:

89 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department has completed its socio-economic strategy for Mitchelstown; if so, the findings of the strategy; the actions and policies which have been formulated in view of the strategy findings; if not, when he expects it to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12165/05]

The socio-economic study in question was commissioned by Ballyhoura Development Group in association with local interest groups and not by my Department. I understand that a first draft of the study has been completed by the consultants appointed to carry out the work. The final draft is expected within the next few weeks. I am informed that the report will then go on public display.

Employment Rights.

John Perry

Question:

90 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether his Department should instigate a major inquiry into the working conditions of migrant workers to ascertain whether exploitation exists on a wide scale or not; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12059/05]

As the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment stated recently in the Seanad, the experience most migrant workers have to their employment in Ireland is a good one. This is borne out by a high level of renewals of work permits and the steady flow of people from the new member states. I am satisfied that exploitation does not take place on a wide scale but that, where it does, it needs to be stopped.

I am satisfied that with the finalisation of the preparation of the new employment permits Bill will put the employment permits system on a firm statutory footing. It will provide for greater accountability and transparency. The new legislation will also provide additional protection for migrant workers.

I am also satisfied that the 50% increase in the number of labour inspectors which I announced last week will have a strong impact. I have particularly asked that the additional inspectors concentrate their efforts on sectors where there are concentrations of migrant workers.

I have heard many positive comments in this House and by other parties as to the operational capability of the labour inspectorate and this expansion of the inspectorate will enable it and its colleagues who also work on the employment rights compliance side of the Department to provide an integrated service dedicated to ensuring people get their entitlements.

EU Directives.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

91 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he intends to take to ensure that EU Directive 92/100/EEC, relating to the protection of the rights of authors, is fully implemented in this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12112/05]

The EC directive on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property deals with a number of matters concerning authors and other copyright holders, including rules on the renting of protected materials and authors' rights generally. Its key provisions, including that of public lending right, were transposed into Irish law by the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000.

The Deputy may recall that, in reply to a question from him of last December, it was indicated that, while the 2000 Act created a public lending right in Irish law, Article 5.3 of the EC directive allowed member states to exempt certain kinds of establishments from the obligation to collect the rental right levy in favour of authors. Ireland, in its transposition of the directive, effectively exempted all public libraries from liability. Subsequently, it became apparent that the European Commission disagreed with our approach and notified us of its intention to take legal proceedings in the matter.

My Department has recently had informal consultations with the European Commission and has indicated that our intent is to prepare proposals for consideration by Government in this matter. These proposals will relate to the putting in place of statutory provisions to provide for a mechanism to yield payment to authors for the lending of copies of their works by public libraries. My Department is working closely with the relevant Department responsible for the public library system, that is, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, on the matter.

Energy Costs.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

92 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department has carried out an analysis of the impact of energy price inflation on businesses in various sectors here; and if his Department has carried out any studies that simulate the effects of energy crises on these businesses. [12195/05]

Last year the National Competitiveness Council, NCC, identified electricity costs as one area of concern in the context of overall cost competitiveness in the economy. In its Statement on Prices and Costs 2004, the NCC noted that in the three years to September 2004 electricity prices for industry have increased by approximately 40%.

My Department has carried out a review of the issues from an enterprise policy perspective. The review looked at the sensitivity of industrial and services sectors to electricity costs as a business cost. The findings are contained in a study, which is published on my Department's websiteat http://www.entemp.ie/publications/trade/2005/electricitymarket.pdf.

The study focused primarily on the two principal concerns of industry, namely, the supply capacity of the electricity market and the current unit cost of electricity. While my Department has not carried out a simulation exercise in the event of an energy crisis, the paper examined the price sensitivity of the enterprise sector to electricity prices. The study found that within manufacturing industries such as the pharmaceutical, electronics and the food, beverage and tobacco sectors there are a number of firms, which are particularly sensitive to increases in the unit cost of electricity. In terms of the service industry, tourism and research and development were also sensitive to electricity tariff increases.

In relation to the electricity market, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has announced plans for a review of the sector. This review will examine the institutional arrangements and market structures and assess their appropriateness. The impetus for this review stems from the perceived difficulties relating to ESB's dominance and the need to attract new entrants and develop competition in the sector. On Monday, 21 February 2005, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources formally invited tenders from European and Irish consultancy firms to carry out this review. I understand that the Minister will announce the outcome of the tender process in the near future.

My Department has forwarded its study on Ireland's electricity market to the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, as an input to its review of the electricity sector.

Industrial Projects.

Willie Penrose

Question:

93 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has sought clarification from the European Commission regarding State aid for industrial projects following the decision in regard to Intel; the outcome of discussions with the Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12101/05]

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

97 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason the proposed granting of aid to Intel Ireland in respect of Intel’s FAB 24-2 investment in its Irish operation at Leixlip, County Kildare, was allowed to progress to such a stage that notification was given to the European Commission, only to be withdrawn upon comment by the Commission about its legality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12066/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 97 together.

The announcement of the proposed aid to Intel on 19 May 2004 pointed out that the grant was subject to EU approval. The proposed aid was required to be notified to the European Commission for approval under the multisectoral framework on regional aid for large investment projects. Under this framework, which came into general effect on 1 January 2004, large investment projects are generally not eligible for investment aid where, as in the case of Intel, the aid recipient accounts for more than 25% of the sales of the product concerned. However, the framework also provides that investment aid for such cases will be authorised where the company concerned creates, through genuine innovation, a new product market. Intel, IDA Ireland and my Department were satisfied that the company's proposal demonstrated that it would create a new product market through genuine innovation. Intel is one of the most innovative companies in the world with a track record, stretching over several decades, of creating new products and markets. However, the European Commission took a different view, based on a very narrow interpretation of the provision on which we were relying. As this was the first case in which this provision was applied, we had no reason to believe that the European Commission would take such a restrictive view.

The Government's decision to withdraw the notification, having consulted Intel, should not be interpreted to mean that we agree with the Commission's view. The formal investigation which the Commission proposed to hold would have entailed the Commission providing certain details of the company's proposal to third parties including, in particular, Intel's competitors. As the Commission had informed us that it did not believe it would approve the proposed aid, even after this procedure, the company's reluctance to participate in a pointless exercise and risk exposure of its business secrets was understandable.

In relation to the implications of this case for aid for industrial projects generally, the vast majority of inward investment projects do not need to enter into this approval process. For the very small number that do, each project has to be examined in the context of its individual elements and the same issue would only arise if the company concerned has a market share of more than 25% in relevant product markets. While IDA Ireland considers the outcome of the Intel case to be unhelpful in the progress of investment projects of this size, it does not see this having an overall directly negative impact on Ireland's ability to attract foreign direct investment.

Banking Sector.

Dan Boyle

Question:

94 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department has studied the likely effects of the new rules on cross-border banking, which are due to come into effect in 2008, on competition in the banking sector here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12190/05]

I understand that the new rules are part of the ongoing development of a single euro payment area, which will facilitate cross-border payments such as credit transfers and direct debit payments. As such, the new rules are primarily the responsibility of the Minister for Finance.

With regard to the effect of the rules on competition, I have not undertaken any study. However, I hope that the rules will enhance competition by easing access to markets and facilitating the payment by consumers for products and services across the EU.

Workplace Inspections.

Joe Costello

Question:

95 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of inspections carried out by the labour inspectorate and the number of prosecutions initiated by the inspectorate in respect of the years 2002, 2003, 2004 and to date in 2005; when the promised additional 11 staff, which he announced on 12 April 2005, will be recruited and in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12086/05]

The number of workplace inspections-visits undertaken by the labour inspectorate — during and after normal business hours — and prosecutions initiated in respect of the years 2002, 2003, 2004 and to date in 2005 is set out in the following tabular statement.

Immediately on the announcement on 12 April 2005 of the additional staff, steps were taken to source staff initially from within the existing staff complement of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment. Accordingly, I expect early appointments to be made to ensure the full staff complement is operational as soon as possible.

Year

Inspections/Visits

Prosecutions Initiated

2002

8,323

25

2003

7,168

20

2004

5,160

14

2005

1,230

1

National Minimum Wage.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

96 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on claims that the increase in the minimum wage will damage competitiveness and increase consumer prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12062/05]

The parties to the mid-term review of part two of Sustaining Progress — pay and the workplace "agreed to request the Labour Court to review the National Minimum Wage and to make a recommendation to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in accordance with the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, to apply with effect from 1 May, 2005".

In February last the Labour Court recommended that the minimum wage should be increased to €7.65 with effect from 1 May 2005. Subsequent to receiving this recommendation, the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, was requested to undertake an assessment of the increase recommended by the Labour Court.

In its assessment, the ESRI concludes that the increase in the minimum wage to €7.65 can be implemented without a significant negative impact on employment and competitiveness.

On the issue of consumer prices, the ESRI has calculated that the increase in the minimum wage to €7.65 might add something in the order of 0.15 percentage points to the rate of consumer price inflation.

Question No. 97 answered with QuestionNo. 93.

Trade Union Recognition.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

98 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he is satisfied that there are sufficient legal safeguards in place to ensure the right of all employees to be represented by a trade union; if he intends to legislate for collective bargaining arrangements in accordance with the principles of the ILO and enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and the proposed EU constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12087/05]

The system of industrial relations in Ireland is essentially voluntary in nature. For situations, however, where it is not the practice of an employer to engage in collective bargaining negotiations and where the internal procedures normally used by the parties have failed to resolve a dispute, the parties may avail of procedures set out in the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001, as amended by the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004 and supported by the enhanced code of practice on voluntary dispute resolution. These procedures contain two distinct strands for settling the issues in dispute — a voluntary procedure and a fall-back legislative procedure.

I have no plans to bring forward new legislation in this area.

Departmental Inquiries.

Seán Ryan

Question:

99 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position in regard to each of the inquiries being carried out by or on behalf of his Department; if he will give a projected date for the conclusion of each such investigation; the inquiries in respect of which reports have been referred to the DPP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12106/05]

Joe Sherlock

Question:

105 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in regard to the direction issued to an authorised officer to cease his inquiries into three companies being carried out under section 19 of the Companies Act, 1990, he will say if the authorised officer has now completed his reports; if he has received these reports; if so, the action it is intended to take arising from the reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12108/05]

Seán Ryan

Question:

127 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the costs incurred by the State, at the latest date for which figures are available, arising from the various inquiries instigated by or on behalf of his Department; the element of these costs which have been recovered from any of the other parties involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12107/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 99, 105 and 127 together.

Sixteen investigations into company law matters were initiated by my predecessor in the period since 1997.

In three cases, the High Court appointed, on an application by the Minister, inspectors under section 8 of the Companies Act 1990. The inspectors appointed to Ansbacher (Cayman) Limited presented their report to the High Court on 10 June 2002. The report was subsequently published and referred to the DPP. The inspectors appointed to National Irish Bank Limited and National Irish Bank Financial Services Limited presented their report to the High Court on 12 July 2004. The report was subsequently published. The court ordered that a copy of the report be referred to several relevant authorities, including the DPP.

One investigation under section 14 of the Companies Act 1990 was completed in 1998. The report on this was referred to the DPP.

One investigation was undertaken under section 59 of the Insurance Act 1989. The report on this was referred to the DPP as well as to the inspectors who undertook the section 8 investigation into that company.

Eleven investigations were initiated by the Minister under section 19 of the Companies Act 1990. Six of these have been concluded. Of the six investigations completed, two of the reports were referred to the DPP. A number of summary prosecutions have since been successfully concluded in one case. One report provided an input into the successful application to the High Court for the appointment of inspectors under section 8 while the fourth report was passed to the relevant High Court inspectors. One report was completed in September 2002 and a further report was completed in March 2003. Both reports have been referred to the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

Two of the 11 section 19 investigations were held up in legal appeals. These inquiries are now the responsibility of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

In relation to the three remaining section 19 investigations, I refer Deputies to my answers of 24 February 2005 in reply to several questions on this matter. I am still considering the matter with the object of ensuring that the results of the authorised officer's investigations are made available to the relevant authorities, as quickly as possible, for any action they consider appropriate.

The costs incurred since 1997 on company investigations initiated by or on behalf of my Department currently amount to approximately €10.9 million. This amount does not include the salary costs of Civil Service staff working on a number of these investigations or the legal costs which are primarily being borne by the Vote of the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. Of the €10.9 million expended, €1.6 million relates to section 19 investigations by authorised officers and the remaining €9.3 million was incurred by High Court inspectors appointed under section 8 —€5.8 million in the case of National Irish Bank Limited-National Irish Bank Financial Services Limited and €3.5 million in the case of Ansbacher (Cayman) Limited.

The question of recovering costs from the section 8 investigations does not arise until such time as the inspectors complete their investigations. In the case of the Ansbacher inquiry, the High Court proceedings taken by the State to recover the costs of the inquiry were settled out of court for the sum of €1.25 million in favour of the State.

In the case of National Irish Bank Limited-National Irish Bank Financial Services Limited, the court ordered that National Irish Bank pay the full costs of the investigation. The costs of the investigation have been borne by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and I understand that Department has requested the Chief State Solicitor's office to commence the process of recovering the full costs of the investigations from the bank.

Section 19, as originally enacted, did not provide for the recoupment of costs. This has now changed with the enactment of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001.

Employment Rights.

Joan Burton

Question:

100 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the recent case involving a person (details supplied) who had been employed as a beautician on an Irish Ferries vessel at a rate of €1 per hour, having been recruited through a foreign based employment agency; the steps he intends to take to prevent such exploitation of workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12084/05]

Gerard Murphy

Question:

136 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action his Department intends to take against Irish Ferries following the revelation that it paid sub-minimum wage levels to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12060/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

234 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he monitored pay and working conditions of non-nationals working here but employed through agencies such as in the recently reported case at Irish Ferries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12490/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100, 136 and 234 together.

The labour inspectorate of my Department is responsible for monitoring certain employment conditions for all categories of workers in Ireland, including immigrant workers. The inspectorate operates without any differentiation with regard to worker nationality as statutory employment rights and protections apply to immigrant workers in exactly the same manner as they do to native Irish workers. Inspectors pursue allegations of worker mistreatment and when evidence of non-compliance with the relevant employment rights legislation is found, the inspectorate seeks redress for the individual or individuals concerned and, if appropriate, a prosecution is initiated.

Licensed employment agencies in the State are regulated by my Department and any complaints about specific agencies are followed up. My Department is not responsible for what may happen outside the State where a recruitment agency in another country may be involved.

The labour inspectorate has been in discussions with Irish Ferries regarding the recent case involving a Filipino worker and inquiries are ongoing.

Community Employment Schemes.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

101 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons on CE places at 1 January 2003, 1 January 2004, 1 January 2005 and the anticipated numbers at 31 December 2005; if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties faced by many community and voluntary groups because of the shortage of community employment places; if changes are planned with regard to eligibility to participate in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12096/05]

Seán Crowe

Question:

126 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he intends to extend the maximum period permitted for participating in community employment schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12179/05]

David Stanton

Question:

139 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons employed in community employment schemes; his plans to extend and improve the schemes to increase participation; the other programmes and services, if any, in addition to the community employment schemes, his Department operates to help the long-term unemployed to improve their skills and rejoin the workforce; the success of these programmes, including the community employment schemes, in returning the long-term unemployed to the open labour market for the years 2002, 2003 and 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12166/05]

Seamus Healy

Question:

219 Mr. Healy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will immediately reverse the cutbacks by his Department of FÁS community employment schemes and remove the lifetime capping on participants of these schemes. [12284/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101, 126, 139 and 219 together.

FÁS employment programmes, which comprise community employment, CE, social economy, SE, and job initiative, JI, will provide over 25,000 places in 2005. I am informed by FÁS that the number of participants on community employment was 24,991 in January 2003, 19,848 in January 2004 and 22,194 in January 2005. There are currently about 21,600 persons participating on community employment, 1,970 on social economy and a further 1,920 participants on job initiative.

On foot of a review of FÁS employment schemes, which included detailed consultations with the social partners, I decided that with effect from 10 November 2004 the three year cap would be removed for community employment participants aged 55 or over. This category of participants is now eligible to participate on community employment for a maximum of six years. The extension of the participation period from three to six years for over those over the age of 55 should ensure that there will be sufficient clients to fill the available places.

I should add that the continuation of ringfencing and prioritisation for the essential services of child care, health related services and drugs task force clients and the extended participation on community employment by older workers will help to secure the continuity of community services generally.

I am informed by FÁS that the rate of progression to employment for community employment participants was 41% in 2002 and 46% in 2003. An additional 7.5% of participants went on to further training or education in 2003. Job initiative participants progressed to employment at a rate of 61% in 2002 and 50% in 2003. A further 9% of job initiative participants took up further training of education courses in 2003. Progression rates for 2004 are not yet finalised. These progression rates highlight the strong contribution of community employment and job initiative programmes in assisting very disadvantaged persons to take up employment in the open labour market.

In addition to FÁS employment programmes, a range of initiatives are in place to assist the reintegration of long-term unemployed persons and disadvantaged groups into the open labour market. These include — the national employment action plan preventative process, which entails the systematic engagement and referral by the Department of Social and Family Affairs of persons six months on the live register to FÁS for interview. In the period January 2003 to December 2004, 96,000 clients have been engaged under this process. The high supports process is a flexible measure designed to assist employment services officers in implementing a range of responses for clients who are experiencing major barriers in progressing from unemployment to the workforce. A budget of up to €2,200 per person is available for this purpose. The high supports process commenced in 2003 and assisted 336 clients in that year. A further 370 clients availed of support in 2004. Gateway for women is one of the ways in which FÁS is adopting more flexible methods of delivering services to make it easier for women to return to work. It is a tailored response to individual needs and focuses on addressing concerns and difficulties experienced by women returnees such as flexibility of training and accessibility of services. At the end of 2004 approximately 2,000 women had taken part in this initiative. The pathways programme is a two-week group guidance programme for disadvantaged FÁS clients identified under the preventative process. The aim of the programme is to identify the most appropriate development pathway for each participant that will assist him or her to obtain and maintain employment. In 2004, approximately 1,000 clients attended 70 pathways programmes nationally. The range of initiatives in place are continually under review to ensure a positive outcome for participating clients.

Insurance Industry.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

102 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of the 47 recommendations in the Competition Authority’s final report and recommendations in regard to competition in the non-life insurance market that will be implemented by the end of 2005; the recommendations he intends to implement in that timeframe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12064/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

128 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his response to the recently published report of the Competition Authority into the insurance sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12100/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 128 together.

The 47 recommendations contained in the report of the Competition Authority are designed to make the insurance market in Ireland more open, transparent and competitive. Accordingly, I welcome the authority's findings and conclusions.

However, responsibility for the implementation of the majority of the recommendations lies with the Department of Finance and the Irish Financial Regulatory Services Authority. In this regard I have recently written to my colleague, the Minister for Finance, asking how he plans to progress the implementation of the recommendations in his area.

The remaining recommendations are directed at the Departments of Transport and Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland and the Courts Service. I am also writing to the relevant Ministers and bodies concerned in the context of progressing matters.

Given the importance of an open and competitive insurance sector to consumers, businesses and the economy as a whole, I hope that each of the appropriate bodies will take the necessary measures to implement the recommendations as quickly as possible.

Departmental Agencies.

Martin Ferris

Question:

103 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he intends to carry out a review of the performance of all enterprise development agencies in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12171/05]

The review of industrial performance and policy 2003 carried out detailed analysis of Irish industrial performance and policy over the previous decade, including the performance and role of the enterprise development agencies over that period. While the review made no specific recommendations relating to future policy or the role of the agencies, the analysis contained therein informed the work of the Enterprise Strategy Group whose report was published in July 2004. This report made a number of recommendations relating to the future role and activities of the enterprise agencies.

In this regard many of the Enterprise Strategy Group's recommendations will have a strong influence on how the enterprise development agencies change and improve their client services. There, the ESG's report makes a valuable contribution to embedding strategies appropriate to the new realities and challenges facing the Irish economy. In this context the ESG's report contains more than 50 recommendations, directed at a wide range of Departments and agencies. This adds a certain complexity to ensuring a smooth flow of implementing actions. To address this I recently published an action plan, which was approved by Government in February of this year, to establish a focus on maintaining pace and momentum in implementation activity across the range of bodies and stakeholders involved. As part of this process I will be making twice yearly reports to Government on progress achieved in putting the Government approved ESG's recommendations in place.

A number of the proposals set out in the action plan are directed specifically towards the operations, roles and organisational structure of the enterprise agencies and these are being acted upon at present. As such there are no plans to carry out a formal review of the enterprise agencies' performance in the immediate future.

Performance review, in a variety of manners, is an ongoing priority for my Department. For example, last year my Department completed an expenditure review of Enterprise Ireland's overseas office network as well as an expenditure review of IDA Ireland's property programme which were both in-depth and exhaustive reviews that involved cross-agency and departmental input. Further reviews are taking place — earlier this year my Department requested both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to conduct a full review of their respective regional development programmes to be finalised by the end of this year. Furthermore, my Department has also signalled to IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland its intention to require them to undertake a complete suite of elementary reviews for each of their expenditure programmes over the next three years.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

104 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of people participating in FÁS training schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12180/05]

The total number of participants in FÁS training schemes is 32,296.

Question No. 105 answered with QuestionNo. 99.

Company Closures.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

106 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the liquidation process for Irish Fertilizer Industries; if he is satisfied that all possible steps have been taken to protect the interests of former employees of Irish Fertilizer Industries who lost their jobs as a result of the liquidation of the company; if he has information as to the proportion of pension entitlement that former workers, including those in Northern Ireland, are likely to receive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12089/05]

I understand that the liquidator has made considerable progress in realising the assets of the company and establishing the full extent of its liabilities and that he hopes to complete the liquidation process later this year. At this stage, the production sites at Arklow and Cork remain the principal assets yet to be realised. It is understood that contracts have been signed for the sale of the Arklow site and that it is hoped that the sale will close in May. The liquidator is also engaged in discussions with a number of parties who have expressed an interest in acquiring the Cork site. It is a matter solely for the liquidator to determine whether to accept any particular offer made.

The State has already made a significant financial contribution to assist the former employees of Irish Fertiliser Industries. Following the decision by the board of IFI to put the company into liquidation, ICI and the State, the shareholders in IFI, established a special fund — while there was no legal obligation to do so — of almost €24.5 million to provide ex gratia severance payments to the former employees of IFI. Payments from the fund were made in accordance with the basis for distribution determined by the trustee of the fund, which has been endorsed by a ballot open to all employees.

In addition, the liquidator has admitted, as unsecured creditors in the liquidation, claims from the employees of the company to have entitlements in respect of the voluntary severance terms traditionally paid by the company. However, the dividend payable to the workers concerned, if any, can only be determined when all the assets of the company have been realised and all liabilities established. It must be emphasised that the amount, if anything, to be paid in due course in respect of such claims is a matter solely for determination by the liquidator.

As regards pensions, I understand that the two main schemes covering employees in the Republic have sufficient funds to meet all the entitlements provided under the schemes. While I understand that the schemes may not be in a position to provide some additional discretionary benefits that members had hoped to receive, it would appear that the payment of such benefits would always have been conditional on sufficient funding being available to meet the costs involved. I understand that the trustees of the schemes involved have submitted claims to the liquidator in relation to this position and that he is considering the validity of these claims at present.

I am aware that employees based in Belfast, who are deferred pensioners of the Richardson's pension fund, are likely to receive much reduced pension entitlements. The specific financial position of the Richardson's fund appears to have arisen primarily from a combination of the statutory rules which currently apply on the winding up of a pension fund in the UK and a shortfall in the assets of the Belfast fund compared with its liabilities as a result of the fund trustees' investment strategy coupled with a significant fall in the equities market.

I understand that the liquidator has accepted, in principle, that a claim on the liquidation, submitted by the trustees of the Richardson's scheme, is admissible. However, the amount of claim has yet to be established while the amount that might be recovered from the liquidation in due course will depend on the dividend rate for unsecured creditors generally. In addition, I understand that the UK Government has announced proposals to deal with the issue of pension shortfalls arising from insolvencies but I am not aware of the impact, if any, this may have on the shortfall in the Richardson's scheme. Depending on the outcome of these developments, there is the prospect of some alleviation in the position faced by the active members of the Richardson's scheme.

While I have the utmost sympathy for the plight of the members affected by the shortfall that has arisen in the scheme, I am satisfied that the Irish Government does not have any obligations in respect of the shortfall that the pension scheme faces.

Job Creation.

John Perry

Question:

107 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether the 20% failure rate of start-up companies can be lowered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12075/05]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

116 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the recent report showing that one-fifth of all start-up companies supported by Enterprise Ireland between 1989 and 2004 failed; if he is concerned at this rate of failure; his plans to take action to reduce the failure rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12102/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 116 together.

The statistics referred to arise from the Review of Enterprise Ireland Supported High Potential Start-ups 1989-2004 conducted by Enterprise Ireland. The report is an internal report of Enterprise Ireland and as such is an operational issue for the agency and not one in which I have a direct function.

Enterprise Ireland has informed me that the report is a review of the performance of 470 Enterprise Ireland supported high potential start-up companies, HPSUs, that started between 1989 and June 2004. Of the 470 HPSUs that started in this period, 357 — 76% — firms are still trading as EI clients 21 — 4% — were taken over and 92 — 20% — are closed. In other words 80% of the companies are still trading in one form or another. Enterprise Ireland considers that the failure rate is low by most standards given the normal risk of starting a new business.

The average number of start-ups per year has also increased significantly between 1989 and 2004. It has risen from an average of 17 new HPSUs per year in the 1989 to 1996 period to an average of 58 HPSUs per year in the period 2001 to 2003. During 2004, 65 new HPSUs were started and supported with a projected employment in these businesses of 1,900 within three years, the majority of jobs in which are high skilled positions. The review also found that there has been no appreciable increase in the failure rates, despite the substantial increase in the volume of start-ups.

The economic importance of HPSUs is not underestimated by Enterprise Ireland. In 2003, the 357 companies still trading as EI clients had a combined direct employment of 7,458 people — the majority of positions in which were highly skilled jobs — and total sales of €979 million. This represents a very substantial positive economic impact.

EI will not be complacent and will seek to further increase the success rate of HPSUs. For half of those HPSUs that fail, this failure occurs within the first three years. This "valley of death" period has been highlighted as an area where EI is to devote more resources and effort, including: a team based approach to bring the extensive experience and a range of expertise to bear at this critical stage; a joint approach by EI staff in Ireland and overseas to assist early stage companies to identify and secure key customer reference sites; a more direct and supportive approach to assisting companies to develop and augment their management team and board capabilities; and a milestone funding based approach to the provision of EI funding to an increased number of the start-ups phasing funding in line with realistic targets.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

108 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of tours taken into the north-west region, into north-east Donegal in particular, by the IDA in the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12008/05]

During the years 2003 and 2004 IDA client companies made a total of 39 first time visits to the north-west region. Of this number, 14 visits were made to Letterkenny and two were made to Buncrana.

On 31 March 2005, I announced that 423 jobs were to be created in the north-west region in IDA supported companies — 300 in Toucan, the consumer telecoms business of IDT Corporation, at its new customer service centre in Sligo and 123 software development jobs at SITA Inc., in Letterkenny. Discussions on further job creation in the area are ongoing with a number of other companies.

IDA Ireland, which is the agency charged with attracting foreign direct investment, FDI, to Ireland, has indicated that 2,778 jobs were created by IDA client companies in the north-west region in the last five years. IDA is working closely with its existing base of companies in the north-west. One of the challenges facing companies in the north-west is in the area of competitiveness and this has resulted in job losses in sectors such as textiles and clothing and low-end manufacturing. Where a company has plans to introduce new functions, new technologies or products, IDA will assist the company where possible to make new investments that lead to new jobs.

IDA Ireland is also involved with Invest Northern Ireland in the creation of a virtual cross-Border technology park incorporating business parks in Letterkenny and Derry city. The project rationale is to create a business zone with sufficient critical mass to allow the north west region to compete more favourably for inward investment.

IDA Ireland has assured me it is committed to regional development, that it forms a core part of its strategy and that it is working with relevant national and local partners to develop and build the infrastructure necessary to make locations like the north-west competitive for international businesses.

I am confident that the strategies and policies being pursued by IDA Ireland in Donegal, together with the ongoing commitment of Government to regional development will continue to bear fruit in terms of delivering the maximum possible level of additional jobs for the north-west region.

Labour Force Development.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

109 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the response in policy terms of his Department to the increase in female labour force participation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12068/05]

Arising from the success of the Irish economy over the last decade there has been a considerable increase in the numbers in employment and thus the demand for labour. This demand has been partly met by increased participation, particularly by women, in the labour force.

The continuing growth of the economy is dependent on the ongoing expansion of the labour force. One of the main challenges facing us is the ability to meet this expansion and greater female participation will continue to be a very important element in this regard. The current employment rate for women in Ireland is 57.2%, which represents an increase of 12.6% since 1997. At EU level, under the Lisbon Agenda, a female employment rate target of 60% to be met by 2010 has been set. The Employment in Europe 2004 report predicts that Ireland is likely to reach this target.

The Government will continue to pursue policies-initiatives in the areas of child care, taxation, social benefits and flexible, family-friendly working arrangements to encourage and enable women to take up employment.

A number of specific measures aimed at encouraging greater participation by women are being undertaken by FÁS, including: expanding the workforce programme, the aim of which is to provide a gateway for women returners into the labour market; and the introduction of the child care allowance scheme which aims to facilitate more people, particularly women, to take up FÁS training programmes, with a view to taking up employment in the mainstream economy.

Question No. 110 answered with QuestionNo. 87.

Air Services.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

111 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the recent research by the Air Transport Users’ Council regarding charges that are added on to advertised airfares; if he is planning to take action on the basis of the AUC’s findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12188/05]

SI 468 of 2000 entitled the Consumer Information (Advertisements for Airfares) Order 2000 requires that in every advertisement for an airfare the total price for the airfare shall be clearly stated. The only exception is that if any charge is payable in respect of a method of payment this can be shown separately.

A number of legal issues have arisen in regard to the enforcement of this order arising out of a court case where the Director of Consumer Affairs initiated proceedings against an airline. The judge in the case stated that as the Consumer Information Act 1978 was intended to target the publisher of advertisements, as distinct from the entity placing the advertisement — in this case the airline — the case would have to be dismissed.

My officials have consulted the Office of the Attorney General on the matters arising and I await their response. When I have received this advice and considered all the issues involved I will decide what action to take.

Job Creation.

Enda Kenny

Question:

112 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action he intends to take to provide alternative employment for those in the banking sector facing redundancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12071/05]

FÁS, through its employment service, provides a range of services to employers and employees including job placement. FÁS, in co-operation with the relevant employers, will be available to assist employees in the banking sector to source alternative employment opportunities.

However, it should be noted that employment in the private market services sector, which includes business and financial services, is estimated in the FÁS-ESRI employment forecast to grow from 386,000 in 2001 to 540,000 in 2010. This should ensure favourable employment opportunities in the financial services sector going forward.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

113 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has satisfied himself that the Health and Safety Authority has sufficient staff and resources to carry out its work having regard to the continuing unacceptable number of industrial accidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12109/05]

The Health and Safety Authority will receive a grant of €16.098 million in 2005, which is an increase from €14.994 million in 2004 and €13.607 million in 2003. In addition, further allocation of funds were made towards workplace safety projects which are implemented in conjunction with the construction safety partnership: €301,000 in 2003, €266,000 in 2004 and €301,000 will again be made available in 2005. The authority has a staff of 163, 100 of whom are specifically involved in inspection and investigation activities and in the enforcement of health and safety legislation.

This year the authority will increase the number of inspections to be undertaken and the associated enforcement. Priority will be given to serious accidents and complaints, which will be investigated and the necessary actions taken to guarantee the required improvements. A primary emphasis for the authority is on the prevention of workplace accidents through new initiatives, alliances and targeted programmes. I am confident that, in the context of the overall allocation of resources, the authority can carry out its objectives over the coming year.

While the statistics for workplace fatalities for 2004 showed a decline at 50 overall, the number of people killed in work related accidents in 2005 to date is 22, an alarming statistic which is completely unacceptable. Workplace safety has to be on the top of employers and workers' agendas. Employers need to put in place a proper health and safety management system to reduce and eliminate these needless deaths and injuries. Workers must be safety conscious and should not engage in activities that could endanger their own safety or the safety of others.

Employment Rights Bodies.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

114 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he intends to publish the report of the review group on the employment rights bodies; the main recommendations in the report; when he intends to publish the Government’s response to the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12088/05]

Membership of the review group on the functions of the employment rights bodies consisted of representatives of the bodies covered by the review and representatives of the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Written submissions were received from various parties, including the social partners and the bodies covered by the review.

The review group made a number of recommendations intended to bring a greater coherence to the workings of the bodies, combined with greater accessibility and improved customer service. These included improved internal processes and common procedures, some possible re-configuration of fora and measures to bring about legislative restatement and harmonisation of the large corpus of employment rights legislation. Since receiving the report, my Department and I have engaged in a very intensive process of consultations in the context of the report. The key challenge to be faced in formulating the Government's proposals in this area will be to offer a better customer service while reforming procedures and simplifying the overall process, but while not reducing employment rights or undermining the adjudicative independence of the various bodies concerned.

It is my intention to be in a position to announce the Government's response to the review group's report and the subsequent consultations within the next two to three weeks. In accordance with the undertaking given by the review group, the report will be made available to the parties invited to make submissions to that group and will be published on the Internet, after consideration by Government.

Work Permits.

Liz McManus

Question:

115 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the promised legislation to put the employment permit regime on a comprehensive and sound statutory footing will be enacted; the reason for the delay in bringing forward the legislation, which was originally promised for early 2003; if he will confirm that it is intended to replace the work permit system with a green card system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12092/05]

A Bill to put Ireland's existing employment permit system on a statutory basis is in the final stage of drafting. The intention is to have the Bill introduced during this session. The preparatory stages of this Bill have taken longer than expected because of the change in labour market circumstances due to the enlargement of the European Union. The proposed employment permits Bill 2005, which will govern the issue of all employment permits for nationals from outside the European Economic Area, EEA, will put the existing employment permit administrative arrangements on a sound legislative footing and thereby provide greater accountability and transparency. The EEA comprises the 25 EU member states, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland.

It is also intended that the Bill will include provisions that will empower me to issue employment permits of extended or indefinite duration, analogous to a "green card" type system, where the workers in question are critical to meeting Ireland's skill and employment needs.

Question No. 116 answered with QuestionNo. 107.

Employment Rights Bodies.

Phil Hogan

Question:

117 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his proposals to allow the employment appeals tribunal to be subsumed by the Labour Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12076/05]

On foot on an undertaking in An Agreed Programme for Government to review the functions of the employment rights bodies, a review group was established in September 2003 to examine the coherence and user-friendliness of procedures operating in the area of employment rights compliance.

Membership of the review group consisted of representatives of the bodies covered by the review and representatives of the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Written submissions were received from various parties, including the social partners and the bodies covered by the review. The review group made a number of recommendations intended to bring a greater coherence to the workings of the bodies, combined with greater accessibility and improved customer service. These included improved internal processes and common procedures, some possible re-configuration of fora and measures to bring about legislative restatement and harmonisation of the large corpus of employment rights legislation.

Since receiving the report, my Department and I have engaged in a very intensive process of consultations in the context of the report. The key challenge to be faced in formulating the Government's proposals in this area will be to offer a better customer service while reforming procedures and simplifying the overall process, but while not reducing employment rights or undermining the adjudicative independence of the various bodies concerned. I can advise the Deputy that I am not contemplating proposals which would see the EAT subsumed by the Labour Court. It is my intention to be in a position to announce the Government's response to the review group's report and the subsequent consultations within the next two to three weeks.

In accordance with the undertaking given by the review group, the report will be made available to the parties invited to make submissions to that group and will be published on the Internet, after consideration by Government.

Skill Shortages.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

118 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the areas of the economy which suffer from a skills deficit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12065/05]

The expert group on future skills needs, EGFSN, was set up by Government in 1997 to develop national strategies to tackle the issue of skills needs, manpower estimating and training for business and education in Ireland. The EGFSN has published many reports that have identified in a systematic way the skills needs of different sectors and advised on the actions needed to address them.

The expert group future skills needs made 227 specific recommendations between 1997 and March 2005 aimed at ensuring that Ireland's skills needs are met in a timely fashion. These recommendations spanned a number of sectors including ICT, engineering, life science and biotechnology, food processing, construction and finance. The expert group has also examined vertical skills issues, including soft skills, sales and marketing, management and most recently a language skills report which is about to be published. A recent report from the EGFSN which considered the impact of increasing the national expenditure on research and development in line with the Barcelona target, projected a requirement for an additional 8,000 researchers in the Irish economy over the period to 2010. The expert group has also pointed to the need to enhance innovation and sales capabilities as being critical for the future success of Irish exporting small and medium sized enterprises.

Substantial progress has been made on these recommendations including. There have been substantial increases in third level and training course places to address the supply shortages in ICT and life sciences. The promotion of careers in science, technology and engineering, SET, has been one of the key messages adopted by the expert group. SET skills will form the backbone of an innovation-driven, knowledge economy. The Government launched an integrated awareness campaign, discover science and engineering, in 2003 with a mandate to increase the interest in science and engineering at both primary and post-primary education, with a view to encouraging more students to pursue science and engineering studies and ultimately careers. In the current year it has a budget of €2 million. The need for basic information in relation to training provision has been addressed by the establishment of a comprehensive national trainer's database by FÁS.

Since its inception in 1997, the analysis and recommendations contained in the reports of the expert group on future skills needs have contributed to ensuring that no major impediment to economic progress has occurred as a result of failure to anticipate specific skills needs within the key sectors of the economy. The mandate of the EGFSM was expanded in 2004 to incorporate the role previously discharged by the National Training Advisory Council which was set up to advise on the strategy for enterprise training in Ireland. Apart from the action taken in the form of making recommendations and publishing reports, the expert group has also sought ways seeking to help form opinion by ensuring that the findings of its research become more widely known and are reflected in debate on future skills needs.

National Minimum Wage.

Joan Burton

Question:

119 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of inspections carried out by the labour inspectorate of his Department to ensure payment of the national minimum wage; if his attention has been drawn to concerns expressed by labour inspectors that they do not have adequate resources to police the national minimum wage; the steps he is taking to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12083/05]

In 2004, labour inspectors of my Department undertook 462 inspections under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000. So far this year, the inspectorate has undertaken 143 inspections under the legislation. Inspectors operate on the basis of achieving compliance. Where an inspection occurs leading to a detection of infringements, the employer is required to rectify the infringements detected. Failure to do so to the satisfaction of the labour inspectorate within a specified period results in the initiation of legal proceedings.

The Deputy should be aware that rights commissioners of the Labour Relations Commission — a body independent of my Department — also investigate complaints of breaches of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000. The Deputy should also be aware that there are some 19 employment regulation orders drawn up through the joint labour committee system that regulates statutory minimum rates of pay and conditions of employment for workers employed in the various sectors where these apply. Ensuring compliance with the minimum pay amounts, terms and conditions forms a major element of the work of the inspectorate. These norms are established under employment regulation orders, EROs. In 2004, 486 inspections were made under EROs and so far this year, to the end of March, 101 inspections have been undertaken.

As agreed in the mid-term review of Sustaining Progress, four additional labour inspectors were appointed earlier this year. This increased the complement of inspectors to 21. The review of the mandate and resourcing of the labour inspectorate, which was prepared as a discussion document to assist consideration within the social partnership context, examined a range of possibilities around the operation of the labour inspectorate and offered a spectrum of possibilities ranging from a compliance regime where the initiative would move more toward the complainant, with the labour inspectorate offering support to a model where the right of initiative would be with the labour inspectorate who would conduct a hands-on approach. Both models endeavour to present either ends of a spectrum of possible options for compliance checking and enforcement. The purpose of their inclusion is primarily to stimulate debate and signal that fundamental changes in approach must be considered.

On 12 April 2005, the Minister, Deputy Martin, announced that he is appointing additional labour inspectors who will place a specific emphasis on sectors where migrant workers are concentrated. The group will consist of a team leader and ten labour inspectors. The additional inspectors will strengthen the labour inspectorate's capacity to ensure that workers in these sectors receive their entitlements under employment rights legislation. This expansion of the inspectorate will bring the authorised number of labour inspectors to 31.

Work Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

120 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if all non-national employees are being treated in accordance with Irish and European labour laws; the procedures he has put in place to identify and prevent breaches; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12168/05]

No distinction is made in employment rights legislation as between Irish and migrant workers. For the avoidance of doubt, section 20 of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time) Work Act 2001 provides that all employee protection legislation on the Statute Book in Ireland applies to workers posted to work in Ireland in line with Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 16 December 1996. This directive relates to the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services and applies also to a person, irrespective of his or her nationality or place of residence, who has entered into a contract of employment that provides for his or her being employed in the State or who works in the State under a contract of employment. Thus, all employee legislation applies to migrant workers.

Equally, the labour inspectorate and the compliance section as a whole of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment makes no distinction as between Irish and migrant workers both as regards the provision of advice and enforcement activity. The recent announcement by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on the provision of an additional ten labour inspectors and a team leader to the labour inspectorate will also assist in this area especially as the Minister has asked that they have a primary focus sectors where there are concentrations of migrant workers.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

121 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the functions of his Department in regard to work permits or other matters relating to immigrant workers it is intended to transfer to the new immigration one stop shop, recently announced by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12093/05]

On 1 March last, my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform announced Government approval for the establishment of the Irish naturalisation and immigration service, INIS, as an executive office within the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It is intended that this new service will provide a one-stop-shop service to migrants. Whereas the processing of work permit applications will continue to be undertaken by my Department, a virtual link will be established between the new INIS and the work permits section in my Department in order to achieve maximum cohesion and effectiveness. I shall continue to have responsibility for economic migration policy.

The overall effectiveness of these arrangements will be reviewed within two years.

Regulation System.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

122 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether there should be a single regulator for all services and utilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12079/05]

The Government recently considered and endorsed the report of the high level committee that was asked to examine the most appropriate implementation arrangements for the enterprise strategy group, ESG, recommendations. While the Government is broadly supportive of the policy directions recommended by the ESG, it decided not to implement the recommendation that the existing regulators for networked sectors, for example, electricity, gas, telecommunications and broadcasting should be replaced by a new regulatory body covering all networked sectors.

In examining international experience, the Government remains to be convinced that regulatory amalgamation on the scale proposed would be an efficient model. There is a danger that a single regulator could give rise to slower decision making and less focus on smaller sectors compared with more dominant ones. I understand that my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, whose remit covers this area, is considering various structures for appeals of decisions made by regulatory authorities under the aegis of his Department.

Employment Remuneration.

Michael Noonan

Question:

123 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department has collated data on pay disparities between men and women in individual sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12069/05]

Primary responsibility for the provision of statistical information in the area of employment, including pay in individual sectors, is a matter for the Central Statistics Office which falls under the remit of the Department of the Taoiseach.

From information supplied by the Central Statistics Office, I understand that it has introduced a new survey, the national employment survey, NES, which is an integrated survey of employers and employees and collects information on, inter alia, pay and hours worked. Both the public and private sectors were included in this survey on the same basis. Information from the 2003 NES will be published within the next few weeks and will include sectoral and gender disaggregated information on hourly and weekly pay.

Science and Technology Groups.

Bernard Allen

Question:

124 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if it is intended that Ireland become a full member of CERN; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7613/05]

Ireland attaches great importance to participating in intergovernmental research organisations, IGROs, where this can enhance the goals of national research policy. Our current membership includes the European Space Agency, ESA, European Molecular Biology Conference, EMBC, EUREKA, network for market orientated research and development, COST, European co-operation in the field of scientific and technical research and INTAS, international association for the promotion of co-operation with scientists from the new independent states, NIS, of the former Soviet Union.

In 2001, a detailed assessment of Irish participation in IGROs, which included CERN, European laboratory for particle physics, which fosters research in high-energy physics using accelerators, was conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology on my Department's behalf. The resulting report to Forfás recommended that Ireland should not join CERN at that point.

However, to take account of the changes that have taken place in Ireland's scientific and enterprise landscape over the last three years, including in particular the investments of Science Foundation Ireland and PRTLI, the chief science adviser has been asked to review the case for membership of additional IGROs, including CERN. The CSA's work programme provides for this issue to be addressed in the second half of 2005. The review will take into account issues relating to value for money, the demand for the facilities, the alternatives available and the optimisation of returns to the Irish scientific community.

Proposed Legislation.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

125 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress in regard to his consideration of proposals to introduce legislation to provide for a new offence of corporate killing as recommended by the Law Reform Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12090/05]

The Law Reform Commission in its consultation paper on corporate killing of October 2003 recommended that a new offence of corporate killing be established which would be prosecuted on indictment, without exclusion of any entity whether incorporated or not. The offence would apply to acts or omissions of a high managerial agent, which would be treated as those of the undertaking. To reflect the seriousness of the offence, the commission also recommended that the legislation should provide for an unlimited fine, or that in certain circumstances, an individual high managerial agent should also be subject to imprisonment of up to five years. The commission is currently considering submissions on its consultation paper. My Department is already in receipt of advice from the Office of the Attorney General to the effect that the issue of corporate killing has broad implications.

As I indicated on Committee Stage of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2004, which took place on 23 and 24 November last, and in my answer to a similar question by Deputy Costello on Thursday, 24 February 2005, Government policy is to await the review by the Law Reform Commission which, I understand, is due for publication this year and to then decide what is to be done with regard to the issue of corporate manslaughter.

The provisions in section 80 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2004, currently at Report Stage in the House, entitled liability of directors and officers of undertakings are more explicit in relation to the assignment of responsibility than an existing provision in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989. These provisions will assign responsibility to individual directors, managers or other similar officers for offences related to occupational safety and health law and therefore mean that actual persons in managerial roles can be prosecuted for breaches of worker safety law and are potentially liable to heavy fines and prison sentences.

However, it is worth noting that directors and managers of companies have in the past been prosecuted for failures under occupational safety law which resulted in death or serious injury to workers.

Question No. 126 answered with QuestionNo. 101.
Question No. 127 answered with QuestionNo. 99.
Question No. 128 answered with QuestionNo. 102.

National Minimum Wage.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

129 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has taken steps to ensure that seafarers operating from Irish ports are paid the minimum wage and enjoy the benefits of working time and holiday legislation; if he has had discussions with EU colleagues to ensure that re-registering of vessels in non-EU countries does not deprive workers of the enjoyment of labour legislation in the port countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12081/05]

Labour inspectors are empowered to enter any premises in the State where an employee is employed, or the work that an employee is employed to do is directed and controlled, for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the National Minimum Wage Act 2000. Inspectors pursue allegations of worker mistreatment and when evidence of non-compliance with the relevant employment rights legislation is found, the inspectorate seeks redress for the individual or individuals concerned and, if appropriate, a prosecution is initiated.

Alternatively, if a seafarer is not satisfied that he or she is being paid his or her statutory minimum entitlement under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, he or she could refer the matter to a rights commissioner. A decision of a rights commissioner under the 2000 Act may include an award of arrears of pay owing to the seafarer under the 2000 Act and his or her reasonable expenses in bringing the case against the employer.

As regards the working time of seafarers, this is regulated by SI 532 of 2003 entitled European Communities (Merchant Shipping) (Organisation of Working Time) Regulations 2003. Under these regulations, which are administered by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, the working time of seafarers can be enforced by authorised officers who, in carrying out their work, have the power to board ships registered in and outside the State. In so far as holiday legislation is concerned, seafarers who are not given their statutory entitlement to annual leave and public holidays by their employer under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 are entitled to refer the matter to a rights commissioner for redress. The rights commissioner is empowered under the 1997 Act to require the employer to comply with any of the provisions of the 1997 Act that have been breached and to award compensation to the employee up to a limit of two years remuneration of the employee.

The question of the re-registering of vessels in non-EU countries is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Grocery Industry.

John Gormley

Question:

130 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on each of the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business in its report on grocery prices; the recommendations he will be implementing; when he plans to implement them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12197/05]

I have received the latest report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business on its study of the grocery market. The recommendations contained in the report are directed to a variety of Government Departments and agencies, a number of which relate to my Department. The Deputy will also be aware that my Department last year commissioned the consumer strategy group to advise and make recommendations on the development of a national consumer policy strategy. The group as part of its deliberations looked at a number of sectors including the grocery trade.

I would like to thank the Oireachtas joint committee and compliment it for its valuable work in this area. I intend to give proper consideration to the recommendations in the committee's report in the context of developing a new consumer policy in the follow-up to the work of the consumer strategy group. The report of the Oireachtas joint committee will make an important contribution to that process.

Paul McGrath

Question:

131 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the groceries order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12077/05]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

146 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he intends to maintain the ban on below cost selling; if he has considered the interim report of the Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12098/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 146 together.

I have received the report of the consumer strategy group which has made recommendations on a wide range of consumer issues including the groceries order. I am discussing the group's findings with my Government colleagues and arrangements will be made to publish the report as soon as possible.

Once the report is published I intend to consult with all interested parties on the groceries order. I am also aware of the findings of the Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business in its recent report on the impact of the grocery multiples. I will take the views of all interested parties into consideration before deciding how to proceed in the matter.

National Minimum Wage.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

132 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment how the level of the recent increase in minimum wage was calculated and agreed upon; the nature of the meetings he had with business representatives and trade unions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12061/05]

As part of the mid-term review of part two of Sustaining Progress, the social partners, namely, ICTU and IBEC, agreed to request the Labour Court to review the national minimum wage and to make a recommendation to the Minister to apply from 1 May 2005. ICTU requested the Labour Court to examine the minimum wage in September 2004.

On 1 February the Labour Court submitted its recommendation that the minimum wage should be increased from the current rate of €7 per hour to €7.65 per hour from 1 May 2005. The national minimum wage legislation sets out a series of steps, which the Labour Court must undertake in its examination of the minimum wage. In addition, the legislation provides that the procedures of the Labour Court in respect of an application or hearing to examine the minimum wage shall be as determined by the Labour Court. I have no role in how the Labour Court arrives at its recommendation.

The legislation provides that I have three months to consider the Labour Court recommendation. In considering the recommendation, I am required to take into account the impact the proposed rate may have on employment; the overall economic conditions in the State and national competitiveness. To assist in my deliberations, the ESRI was requested to undertake an assessment of the impact of the increase in the minimum wage.

I met with several employer representative groups, who sought meetings with me, to outline their positions on the proposed increase. Having considered the matter, I decided to increase the minimum wage from €7 to €7.65 with effect from 1 May 2005, in accordance with the Labour Court recommendation.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

133 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made in enabling persons with disabilities to enter the workforce; if his Department has implemented recommendations contained in the National Disability Authority report (details supplied) which was received by his Department in January 2004. [12172/05]

Broad employment and training objectives and policies to promote the employment of disabled people, including schemes, programmes and services are reflected in the statements of strategy and business plans of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and FÁS.

FÁS programmes and the various support measures are based on the policies of the Department, which are developed through a three-dimensional approach involving the following: facilitating the progression of disabled people into sustainable employment through the development of their skills; stimulating awareness amongst employers of the contribution which disabled people can make to their business, and encouraging companies to consider recruiting disabled people to fill their vacancies; and providing specific employment supports for disabled people and employers.

People with disabilities now benefit from the full range of FÁS training programmes and services and FÁS also provides an extensive range of schemes and grants to promote the employment of people with disabilities in the private sector, including: the disability awareness training support scheme; employment retention grant; work and equipment adaptation grant; job interview interpreter grant; and personal reader grant and employment support scheme.

In addition, FÁS also operates on behalf of the Department: a pilot programme for employment of people with disabilities, grant assistance for commercially viable enterprises of which at least 50% of the employees are people with disabilities; and a supported employment programme, an open labour market initiative that works to place and support people with different types and varying degrees of disability who need the initial support of a job coach to obtain or maintain employment.

I have also secured additional funding for the development and introduction of a new full-time employment support scheme for people with disabilities on a three-year pilot basis. A budget line of €10 million has been established for the scheme for 2005. This comprises the current provision of €5 million for the combined employment support scheme and the pilot programme for the employment of people with disabilities, and an additional €5 million. The scheme will be implemented by FÁS this summer.

The total number of people with disabilities placed in employment and training by FÁS in 2004 was 8,608 compared to 8,459 in 2003. The wide-ranging National Disability Authority report entitled Towards Best Practice in the Provision of Further Education, Employment and Training Services, contains 29 recommendations which have implications for several Departments, including the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in the area of employment and training provision. In this area, 19 of these recommendations have policy and or operational implications for FÁS under the aegis of the Department. FÁS is addressing these recommendations in conjunction with the Department. They are of assistance in the context of the ongoing monitoring and review of policy and programme provision consistent with providing the most efficient services possible to people with disabilities.

My Department's objective in the period ahead is to consolidate the significant value added in advancing the employment and training agenda since assuming policy responsibility for vocational training and employment for people with disabilities.

Consumer Rights.

Billy Timmins

Question:

134 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the proposal for a consumer rights enforcer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12078/05]

The views of Government on the consumer rights enforcer proposed by Fine Gael were outlined in detail by my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with special responsibility for labour affairs, on the occasion of Deputy Hogan bringing forward his Private Member's Bill, the Consumer Rights Enforcer Bill 2004 last November. The Government opposed this Bill at the time and the substantive position on the matter has not changed in the interim.

The Fine Gael proposals do not represent a comprehensive or up-to-date agenda for the modern Irish consumer. On 2 March last I received a comprehensive report from the consumer strategy group, which includes its recommendations for the development of a new consumer policy. This group comprised individuals with the expertise and experience to undertake the task and has engaged in an extensive public consultation exercise as well as taking into account the experience of other countries in implementing consumer policy. I am discussing the group's final report with my colleagues in Government and hope to publish the report shortly and announce my intentions in regard to progressing the group's recommendations at that time.

One aspect of the Fine Gael proposal is the increase of certain consumer protection fines to a maximum of €3,000. Legislation to this effect was published by my Department on 31 March last and is being taken in the Seanad. I look forward to the Deputy's support for this legislation in due course.

EU Directives.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

135 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of EU directives for which his Department has responsibility which have yet to be implemented; the number in respect of which the deadline for implementation has passed; if he is satisfied with the rate of compliance by his Department; the number of cases where legal actions have been notified or commenced by the European Commission arising from a failure to implement a directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12104/05]

The position on the transposition of EU directives for which my Department is responsible indicates a total of 29 directives to be implemented, including nine for which the deadline for implementation, in full or in part, has passed.

Details of the directives, including, in so far as it has been decided, the proposed transposition instruments, are available on my Department's website at www.entemp.ie/trade/eudirectives. The website also contains information on directives awaiting transposition in respect of which infringement proceedings have been commenced.

In regard to seven of the directives that have not yet been transposed and for which the deadline has passed, letters of formal notice have been received from the Commission. Four of the letters of formal notice are in respect of four interrelated directives which will be transposed under one statutory instrument. My Department is giving all due priority to the task of implementing EU directives, in light of the available resources.

Question No. 136 answered with QuestionNo. 100.

Trade Missions.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

137 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his assessment of the recent trade mission to China; if he will estimate the degree of economic activity between Ireland and China directly generated by the mission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12063/05]

In the three-month period since the Taoiseach led this trade mission there has been significant progress. This is additional to contracts valued at about €126 million signed in the course of the trade mission.

Enterprise Ireland arranged for the education sector to participate in trade fairs in Beijing and Shanghai, where 23 institutions were represented. Best estimates suggest that universities and colleges following up on partnerships signed during the January trade mission will recruit in excess of 400 additional students who plan to begin their college careers in September of this year. This represents estimated revenue to Irish colleges of approximately €3 million, and an additional €3 million spend here.

In the information technology sector, one company has since established its sales and marketing office in Beijing and another has reported that a new partnership signed during the Shanghai leg of the mission has generated its first order. A food company that was represented on the trade mission has received a first trial order for the shipment of product to China. Should this be successful, it is expected that over €500,000 in product will be shipped this year. Another food company is about to announce the opening of its first China office in Shanghai.

Enterprise Ireland is continuing to work with client companies that participated on the mission and to assist them in maximising opportunities in the Chinese marketplace. In addition to these commercial developments, and following commitments made during the January trade mission, Enterprise Ireland is participating in an information technology fair in Dalian in June and in the Xiamen Trade and Investment Fair in September. It is also organising missions to China for companies from the aerospace sector and the furniture sector in September of this year.

A large Government and business delegation from Shanghai will visit Cork in May 2005 to complete the twinning process for those cities. Enterprise Ireland is planning a business-networking event in Cork during that visit. Other visiting delegations from the Zhejiang, Fujian, Liaoning and Hebei provinces have agreed travel dates and will be hosted in this country by Enterprise Ireland later in the year.

Equal Opportunities Employment.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

138 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether his Department has a role in taking action to address gender gaps in participation in certain industries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12070/05]

Gender gaps in participation in certain sectors or occupations reflect, to a certain extent, the different roles that men and women have traditionally played in society. This has resulted in the situation where, for example, women are over-represented in caring roles, such as teaching and nursing, while men continue to dominate in science, engineering and technology. This is a complex issue involving several factors including gender stereotyping in education which influences the career choices made by women and men.

This is a cross-cutting issue involving several Departments such as the Department of Education and Science, which, through the school system, encourages an increased uptake of courses in the science and mathematics fields by girls; and the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform, under its equality for women measure, supports a number of projects aimed at increasing the number of women in science, engineering and technology.

I recently announced an initiative being undertaken by Science Foundation Ireland aimed at boosting the number of women scientists in Ireland and addressing the gender imbalance in the research community. While women are well represented at undergraduate and postgraduate level in most scientific and technological disciplines in Ireland, a greater equilibrium is required in the workplace. Under the SFI initiative, women who have left careers in science, engineering and technology will be encouraged to return to their professions.

FÁS has a policy of promoting and encouraging the entry of women into apprenticeships. It offers a bursary to private and public sector employers who recruit female apprentices under the apprenticeship system in the currently designated trades. FÁS is also in the process of developing a range of new apprenticeships in areas that are more attractive to women.

In addition, for women and men who wish to enter non-traditional sectors, there is legislative support, under the Employment Equality Act 1998, which outlaws discrimination in employment on nine grounds, including gender.

Question No. 139 answered with QuestionNo. 101.

Employment Rights.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

140 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action he has taken or plans to take arising from allegations of very serious irregularities in regard to the treatment of employees of a Turkish company (details supplied) which has been operating in this country; if all the workers have now been given access to money held in accounts in a bank in Holland; if he has considered requesting the Garda Síochána to conduct an investigation into allegations that money had been diverted into accounts to which the workers previously had no access; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12080/05]

The report of the labour inspectorate into the wages and hours worked by Turkish workers is the subject of a High Court injunction. Accordingly, I am not in a position to inform the Deputy concerning any of the contents or recommendations in the report. I cannot indicate definitively, at this stage, the specific actions which I may take with regard to these allegations.

Officials from my Department visited Finansbank in Holland on 14 and 15 April. The visit took place outside the scope of the labour inspector's report and outside the scope of the High Court injunction. This had been agreed with Gama Construction Turkey and Gama Construction Ireland prior to the visit taking place.

The purpose of the visit was to clarify the access of Gama workers, past and present, to the so-called Dutch accounts in the workers' names in Finansbank. My officials brought with them proxy forms supplied by Gama and Matheson Ormsby Prentice, solicitors, signed by some Gama workers, giving them access to their account details and also proxy forms, supplied by SIPTU and Deputy Joe Higgins, giving similar access.

In respect of all 16 accounts for which they had proxy forms, Finansbank supplied the following material: initial authorisation forms, authorising Finansbank to open a personal account in the name of the worker; initial payment authorisation forms, instructing Finansbank to transfer all incoming funds from the personal account into Ryder Investment N. V., and also bank statements.

In respect of 15 of the above accounts, supplied by Matheson Ormsby Prentice, solicitors, refund instructions had been signed by the workers. The Finansbank representatives were helpful in discussing all of these documents and their implications. In particular, Finansbank assured my officials that all 15 refund instructions had been completed successfully, as shown on the bank statements. They explained that Ryder Investment had given Finansbank an irrevocable standing order, such that if any Gama worker requested a refund of all the transfers that had been made from his personal account to Ryder Investment, Finansbank would make the refund with interest into the personal account.

They also assured my officials that all account requests from workers would be processed quickly via acceptable intermediaries, for example, Gama, Matheson Ormsby Prentice, SIPTU etc.

Over 600 refund requests went to Finansbank via Gama and Matheson, Ormsby Prentice last week and my officials were assured by Finansbank that such moneys as were in their Finansbank accounts had been transferred from Finansbank to their personal accounts in Is Bank in Turkey. I am not in a position to state whether the moneys have reached the individual workers' accounts and that they may gain access to the funds.

A further 200 plus requests for bank statements were submitted to Finansbank last Friday by SIPTU and Deputy Joe Higgins. My officials were assured that these requests would be processed by close of business yesterday 19 April. Late last night my officials received a listing of 231 account holders, account balances and the statement that the moneys were being transferred to a series of bank accounts in Is Bank in Turkey. Finansbank advises that these transfers, totalling €4,809,840.37 will have value from today. These transfers appear contrary to the instructions given by the account holders, namely, the Gama workers who, in accordance with the SIPTU proxy request, only wanted a statement of account. I am advised by Finansbank that the transfers from the individual accounts were effected "upon instructions of our principals Gama Endustri AS that we are in receipt of an irrevocable payment instruction from them to effect the below detailed transfers to the accounts on the Gama employees in Ireland".

I am somewhat surprised at this development as the agreement reached with the bank provided for the individual workers giving personal instructions to the bank as regards their accounts. I am not in a position to state whether the moneys have reached the individual workers' accounts and that they may gain access to the funds. My officials will make further inquiries.

Job Losses.

Dan Neville

Question:

141 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action he intends to take to provide alternative employment in County Limerick following the recent closure of companies (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12072/05]

I am aware of the job losses in several companies in County Limerick which are significant setbacks to the locality. I am concerned for the workers who are losing their jobs as well as their families and the wider community in the county.

The full services of FÁS, particularly in regard to re-training and up-skilling, are made available to such workers if the workers wish to avail of those services. FÁS has already been in contact with staff from the companies involved.

Replacing jobs is a tough challenge and is a central goal in the achievement of balanced regional development. The industrial development agencies work closely with the local authority and other local interests to deliver the best solution in this regard. The national spatial strategy provides a framework for the achievement of this goal for County Limerick through the prioritisation of development and investment in the linked gateway of Limerick-Shannon to allow foreign direct investment to flow to the area. The emphasis is on attracting new knowledge intensive projects in information and communications technology, international services, medical technologies and life sciences.

IDA Ireland is committed to the development of the mid-west region and is actively promoting it for new foreign investment. In 2005 to date, there have been five first time site visits to Limerick city and county and there were 19 first time site visits in 2004. IDA Ireland works closely with the local educational infrastructure in the University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology, to foster collaboration between industry and academia with a focus on research and development and new business sectors.

Shannon Development is willing to explore eligible business proposals for County Limerick and is also an active member of local groups such as West Limerick Resources Limited. The agency is also actively involved with the Newcastle West Chamber of Commerce and will work closely with it to ensure that its resources are brought to bear in addressing the situation in County Limerick. Shannon Development and the local county enterprise board are also working with the Killeedy committee in County Limerick. Furthermore, Shannon Development is planning to develop a new €5 million business park in Newcastle West and has also completed approvals for three new advance factories in Ballylanders, Rathkeale, and Newcastle West at a total investment cost of €3 million. With the goodwill and efforts of all involved in the area, the job needs of County Limerick will continue to be addressed.

EU Directives.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

142 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will confirm that the Government has now missed the required legislative implementation date to give effect to EU Directive 2002/14/EC regarding information and consultation with employees by the required date of 23 March 2005; if he has had communications from the EU Commission on this matter; when the required legislation will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12105/05]

The objective of Directive 2002/14/EC is to establish a general framework setting out minimum requirements for the right to information and consultation of employees in undertakings or establishments over a certain employee threshold within the community.

My Department is working closely with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to finalise the text of the employees (provision of information and consultation) Bill 2005, which transposes the directive. I expect to be in a position to have it considered by the Government shortly with a view to early publication and introduction in the Oireachtas.

The directive was due to be transposed into Irish law by 23 March 2005. I have had no communication from the European Commission in this matter.

Mobile Telephony.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

143 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to reports that young children are being enticed into signing up for contracts for mobile phone downloads such as ring-tones and games; if the regulator will look in this area to see the additional protections which may need to be provided for young phone owners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8217/05]

I am concerned at the increasing number of complaints in respect of the acquisition by both children and adults of ring-tones, games and other products for their mobile phones.

There are several legal issues associated with the provision of this type of service and I have informed the Director of Consumer Affairs of my concerns. She is investigating some of these complaints in the context of the body of consumer law for which she is responsible. I am awaiting the outcome of these investigations.

World Trade Negotiations.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

144 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a debate will be held in Dáil Éireann before the Hong Kong meeting of the WTO, as was held before Cancun; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12194/05]

The sixth WTO ministerial conference is due to take place in Hong Kong from 13 to 18 December 2005. The issue of making Dáil time available for a debate on the trade talks in advance of the conference is a matter for the Chief Whip's office. It is too early to indicate definitively if such a debate will be held, given the pressure on Members' time in terms of the legislative programme. However, should such time be available, I would welcome such a debate in the run up to the WTO trade talks.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

145 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the numbers of deaths and injuries reported arising from accidents in the construction sector in each year from 2000 to 2004; the further steps he intends to take to reduce the level of such accidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12111/05]

The National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health, the State body charged with overall responsibility for administration, enforcement and promotion of workplace safety and health has provided the key figures for construction industry for the last five years which are set out in the table.

These figures show an overall increase in the number of accidents reported and a slight decrease in the rate of fatalities when taken over a five year period. However, the expansion in construction employment, which has increased from 166,300 in 2000 to 206,000 in 2004, has an effect on the number of reportable accidents. The increase in reported accidents can also be partly attributed to better reporting as management systems are put in place and include an accident reporting mechanism.

In 2004 the Health and Safety Authority inspectors visited over 5,000 construction sites and closed 26, one by court order and 25 by agreement. The construction sector is one of the two priority areas targeted by the authority because of its size, the number of risks which exist and the number of accidents in the sector. This targeting will continue in 2005.

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Fatalities

15

17

21

13

15

Total Employed

166,300

180,200

188,500

190,400

206,000*

Rate per 100,000

9.0

9.4

11.1

6.4

7.3*

Accidents Reported

1,108

1,059

1,121

1,031

1,474*

* Figures for 2004 are provisional.

Question No. 146 answered with QuestionNo. 131.

Indigenous Enterprise.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

147 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether adequate opportunities are available for indigenous companies to expand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12009/05]

Many Irish companies, especially those in the traditional manufacturing sector, face particular difficulties in expanding due to productivity and competitiveness issues. Enterprise Ireland's competitiveness fund was established to help increase productivity levels and build competitiveness of companies operating in the traditional manufacturing sector. Some 97 applications, to the value of €11.9 million, were approved for these manufacturing companies. Total investments forecast in these companies as a result of Enterprise Ireland investments amounted to €41 million over a two-year period. This investment together with other Enterprise Ireland supports and services will have a considerable impact on improving the competitiveness of the companies and help position them to compete in international markets.

The evolution of the global economy offers potentially limitless opportunities for indigenous companies. Exploiting the prospects offered by newer export markets such as central and eastern Europe and by countries such as China beyond Ireland's more traditional markets is critical for future growth. However, the growth of these regions has also resulted in increased competitive pressures for indigenous companies in sustaining and growing market share. Furthermore, moves by multinational companies to reduce sub-supplier numbers also entail increased competition for some Irish firms placing increased pressure on a possible avenue of indigenous company growth. Consequently, as a country with a relatively limited domestic market for products and services, it is imperative that Irish companies wishing to expand continue to seek opportunities to grow through increased internationalisation activities. Ambitious companies will need to win contracts and market position in existing and new markets internationally.

Enterprise Ireland through its network of 33 overseas offices, assists clients to create and implement successful strategies for market entry, development and growth. Services provided include arranging access to international buyers and increasing the number of in-market trade promotion activities.

Success in exporting requires a product that can compete internationally. Effectively and creatively using technology to develop new and innovative products and services based on evolving customer demands will be crucial to the future success of Irish companies. Research and innovation, in product and process development, is critical. Consequently, Enterprise Ireland is focused on driving higher levels of research and development activity through the rural transport initiative scheme and several research and development initiatives and undertakes research and development awareness campaigns to encourage activity by non-research and development performers. It also assists researchers to commercialise research in order to get technology out of third level institutions and into companies so that they are in a position to realise new sales opportunities. The commitment to research and development is emphasised by the fact that an annual budget of €80 million to invest in companies and research institutions for market-led projects is administered by Enterprise Ireland.

Industrial Relations.

Richard Bruton

Question:

148 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment how many times he has met with management at a company (details supplied); the workers who have allegedly been underpaid by the company; the nature of those meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12058/05]

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has met once with senior management of the parent company overseas and its Irish subsidiary. The discussion was without prejudice to the issues before the High Court and centred on putting in place an oversight mechanism enabling workers to access monies held overseas. The Minister subsequently met with a delegation of workers and their representatives and heard at first hand their experiences. The discussion centred on accessing overseas accounts.

Consumer Strategy Group.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

149 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when he intends to publish the report of the Consumer Strategy Group; if the report has been considered by Government; the main recommendations of the report; if he intends to implement the recommendations of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12097/05]

The consumer strategy group presented its final report to me on 2 March 2005. The group's report contains over 30 recommendations involving a variety of different Departments and agencies. I am considering the report and its recommendations in conjunction with my colleagues in Government. I expect to publish the report and will announce my plans for progressing the recommendations in the coming weeks.

Question No. 150 answered with QuestionNo. 81.

Events Ticket Sales.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

151 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has received the report from the Competition Authority on the level of competition for the sale of tickets for concerts and other events; if his attention has been drawn to public concerns at the dominance of the market in concert and theatre ticket sales by a small number of companies whose charges seem to have no economic justification; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12099/05]

I am aware of the level of public concern at the market share held by certain companies engaged in the sale of concert and theatre tickets and of the allegations that the companies may be abusing their position within this market.

I understand that the Competition Authority, which is the independent expert body charged with the enforcement of competition law in the State, namely the Competition Act 2002, has received a number of formal complaints in this regard. The authority is currently conducting an investigation into the market to ascertain whether a breach of the 2002 Act has taken place. If, having completed its investigation, the authority believes there is evidence of a breach of the law, it will pursue the matter through the courts as provided in the 2002 Act.

The authority has a policy of not commenting on investigations and accordingly, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the investigation either.

Question No. 152 answered with QuestionNo. 86.

National Workplace Strategy.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

153 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action it is proposed to take within his Department on foot of the Report of the Forum on the Workplace of the Future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9078/05]

An Taoiseach launched the Report of the Forum on the Workplace of the Future on 9 March 2005. The report contains 42 separate recommendations, which form the basis for a national workplace strategy. The strategy aims to create a climate conducive to supporting change and new forms of work organisation at national and organisational levels.

A high level group comprising senior representatives from a number of Departments, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Irish Business and Employers Confederation and semi-State agencies and bodies will oversee the appropriate implementation of the national workplace strategy. I have been asked by the Taoiseach to chair this group and I expect to convene a meeting of the group in the next few weeks.

Employment Rights.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

154 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the terms and conditions in regard to treatment of workers that foreign-based construction companies tendering for public contracts in this country are required to meet; if he is satisfied that all such terms and conditions are being met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12082/05]

I wish to reiterate that no distinction is made in Irish employment rights legislation between the terms and conditions of Irish as opposed to migrant workers. Section 20 of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Workers) Act 2001 provides, that for the avoidance of doubt, that all employee protection legislation on the Statute Book in Ireland applies to workers posted to work in Ireland. This is in line with Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services and applies also to a person, irrespective of his or her nationality or place of residence, who has entered into a contract of employment that provides for his or her being employed in the State or who works in the State under a contract of employment. Thus, all employee legislation applies to migrant workers.

In so far as the construction industry is concerned the industry rate, also known as the joint council industrial norm, JCIN, sets out agreed rates up to 31 March 2006. Since 1 April 2005 the rates range from €16.44 for a craftsperson, through €13.15 for a basic operative to €5.48 for a first-year apprentice. I should, however, point out that the minimum rates of pay that can be enforced by the labour inspectorate in respect of the construction sector are those contained in the registered employment agreement, REA, which has been deposited with the Labour Court and sets the rates of pay with effect from 3 February 1992 up to 1 April 1997. The rates under the REA range from €8.09 for a craftsperson through €6.48 for a basic operative to €2.69 for a first-year apprentice.

The REA rate is out of line with the industry norm or JCIN. However, the amendment of the REA is a matter for the parties concerned, that is, the unions and employers. The process of revising or varying the REA rate had been delayed since 1998 on foot of judicial review proceedings being initiated. However, I understand that the REA may now be revisited following on a recent judgment in the High Court.

Official Mourning.

Dan Neville

Question:

155 Mr. Neville asked the Taoiseach the number and details of official days of mourning over the past ten years. [12339/05]

There is no formal definition of a national day of mourning and therefore no standard criteria by which to determine the form of official mourning, which has been observed in different ways, depending on the nature of the event.

A decision to direct that the national flag be flown at half mast is a form of official mourning, as reflected in international practice. Occasions on which this has been ordered over the past ten years include: the death of former President François Mitterand, June 1996; the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, September 1997; the death of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, September 1997; the death of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, September 1997; following the Omagh bombing, August 1998; the death of former Taoiseach Jack Lynch, October 1999; the death of the Queen Mother of the UK, April 2002; the bomb blasts in Madrid, March 2004; the death of former President Ronald Reagan, June 2004; the Beslan North Ossetia atrocity, September 2004; and the South Asia tsunami, December 2004.

The Government decided that a special national day of mourning should be held on Friday, 14 September 2001, in commemoration of the victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States on Tuesday, 11 September and as a gesture of solidarity with the people of the United States. On the day, three minutes' silence was observed. The Tánaiste signed an order under the Organisation of Working Time Act allowing businesses to close on the day. With limited exceptions such as emergency services, all schools, Departments and offices were requested to close.

As a mark of respect following the death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, the Government decided that the national flag should be flown, on all public buildings equipped with a flagpole, at half mast beginning on Sunday, 3 April 2005 until midnight on the day of the funeral and requested that the flag should be similarly flown on private buildings that fly the flag. The Government also decided to cancel the Government meeting which was due to take place in Cork on Wednesday, 6 April 2005 and other associated events to mark Cork as the European City of Culture for 2005.

When Friday, 8 April 2005 was confirmed as the day of the Pope's funeral, the Government decided that any of its own workers who wished to do so, would be facilitated to attend appropriate religious services on the day. In addition, it was decided to allow boards of management of schools to have the option of closing for the day of the funeral, which would not be required to be made up for purposes of the school year. Schools exercising the option to close were asked to give the maximum possible notice to parents. The Government also expressed a wish that workers in the private sector would be facilitated by their employers, on a voluntary basis, to participate in religious ceremonies.

Similar observance of official mourning occurred on the death of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul I.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

156 Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who not being civil servants but are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12355/05]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

157 Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if, in respect of each person in the employment of the Ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12370/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 156 and 157 together.

The names, functions, salaries and travel and maintenance expenses of all political appointees in my office and the offices of the Ministers of State at my Department and the Government press secretariat are detailed in the following tabular statement.

These staff are all employed on a full-time basis and those who are civil servants are indicated. Their terms and conditions of employment are laid down under the Public Service Management Act 1997 and all contracts are approved by the Minister for Finance.

Name

Job Description

Annual Salary

Travel Costs and Expenses Paid 2004

Gerry Hickey

Programme Manager and Special Adviser

192,784

3,497.05

Gerard Howlin

Special Adviser

109,244

414.37

Una Claffey

Special Adviser

114,064

10,483.87

Brian Murphy

Special Adviser

83,874

0.00

*Joe Lennon

Special Adviser

114,064

9,361.85

Katherine Bulbulia

Programme Manager to Tánaiste

134,948

1,560.13

John Lahart

Special Adviser to Minister of State and Chief Whip

71,990

0.00

Padraig Slyne

Special Adviser (with responsibility for co-ordination between all Ministers of State).

55,057

2,486.01

Mandy Johnston

Government Press Secretary

109,244

3,146.74

Iarla Mongey

Deputy Government Press Secretary and Head of GIS

96,162

7,446.77

Sarah McLoughlin

Personal Assistant

43,751

0.00

*Denise Kavanagh

Personal Assistant

51,192

564.76

*Olive Melvin

Personal Assistant

51,192

13,431.8

*Yvonne Graham

Personal Assistant

44,936

0.00

*Sean Nolan

Personal Assistant

46,119

0.00

Harry Murphy

Personal Assistant to Minister of State and Government Chief Whip

40,284

530.00

Perpetua Brady

Personal Secretary

30,099

0.00

Tracey Young

Personal Secretary to Minister of State and Government Chief Whip

39,874

0.00

Frank Worley

Usher

31,676

0.00

*denotes staff who are civil servants.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

158 Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach the number of programme managers employed by Cabinet Ministers; the frequency with which they meet; the reporting relationship that exists between them and the Taoiseach and Tánaiste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12461/05]

There are two programme managers based in my Department. My programme manager, Mr. Gerry Hickey, is employed on a contract basis in line with the Civil Service Regulation Acts for the duration of the current Government. Ms. Katherine Bulbulia, programme manager to the Tánaiste, is employed on the same basis and is also based in my Department.

The role of the programme managers is to assist in dealing with the complexities and volume of Government business. Their primary function is to ensure effective co-ordination in the implementation of the Government's programme.

The terms of reference and the job description of my programme manager are no different than those of his predecessor in the rainbow Government led by former Deputy John Bruton. My programme manager advises me on a wide range of matters including administrative, business, social, financial and economic issues.

My programme manager meets other ministerial advisers on a weekly basis and reviews the papers for the Government meeting of that week. With his colleagues, he monitors and reports to me on the implementation of the programme for Government.

Civil Ceremonies.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

159 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of couples who were married in a civil ceremony at the registry office in Cork in 2002, 2003 and 2004. [12289/05]

The number of couples who were married in a civil ceremony at the registry office in Cork in the period 2002 to 2004 inclusive is set out below.

Jan-Mar

Apr-Jun

Jul-Sep

Oct-Dec

Total p/a

Cumulative Total p/a

2002

84

102

152

99

437

437

2003

86

111

139

96

432

869

2004

86

121

154

119

480

1,349

Health Services.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

160 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on the waiting time for orthodontic assessment and the waiting time for orthodontic treatment for persons in need of orthodontic assessment and treatment in Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12434/05]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

179 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of persons in Kerry awaiting orthodontic assessment; the number of persons in Kerry awaiting orthodontic treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12441/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 and 179 together.

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act, the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for orthodontic services. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's southern area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

161 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to a group (details supplied) comprising of multiple sclerosis sufferers in the Celbridge area of County Kildare; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that this group acquired, on a temporary basis, a lifting chair which enables the members to rise from their wheelchairs and stand upright safely and that the health board is now demanding either the lifting chair be returned or that the group pay €6,000 to purchase the apparatus; and if the multiple sclerosis group will be allowed to keep the lifting chair and the health board will cover the cost involved. [12271/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act, the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for aids and appliances. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's eastern regional area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Accommodation.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

162 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of beds occupied and the number of beds not in use at the Maynooth community care unit; the number of staff and the categories of staff now employed at the unit; the number of staff and categories of staff that remain to be appointed to provide the full range of planned services for the patients at the unit; and when the unit will be fully commissioned and staffed. [12272/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act, the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for the provision of health services in the Maynooth community care unit. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's eastern regional area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Ambulance Service.

Seamus Healy

Question:

163 Mr. Healy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when it is intended to approve the location of an ambulance in the town of Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12273/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act, the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for the provision of ambulance services. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's south eastern area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Accommodation.

Seamus Healy

Question:

164 Mr. Healy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the approval, funding and opening of the completed units on the grounds of Our Lady’s Hospital, Cashel and the proposed general practitioners unit at the hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12274/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act, the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for the provision of health services in Our Lady's Hospital, Cashel. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's south eastern area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Seamus Healy

Question:

165 Mr. Healy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the approval, funding and opening of the acute medical unit at the South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel. [12275/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act, the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for the provision of services at South Tipperary General Hospital. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's south eastern area to reply directly to the Deputy with the information requested.

Mental Health Services.

Enda Kenny

Question:

166 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the amount of Exchequer funding provided to mental health services for 2005; the increase given in 2005 in comparison to 2004; the allocation of the total funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12292/05]

In 2004 expenditure on mental health services was €716 million. In 2005 the estimate for spending on mental health services as set out in the Health Service Executive Vote in the recently published Revised Estimates for Public Services 2005 is €766 million. This equates to 7.1% of the total current Health Service Executive funding of €10.975 billion when account is taken of a once-off technical provision of €217 million arising from the establishment of that Vote.

The Health Service Executive's service plan for 2005 indicates how the total funding for mental health services is to be allocated.

Children Act 2001.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

167 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the sections of the Children Act 2001 for which she has responsibility and which have not yet been commenced; and if she will report on her intentions in this regard. [12295/05]

There are three parts in the Children Act 2001 which specifically relate to the health area. Part 2 establishes for the first time on a statutory basis the family welfare conference. Part 3 amends the Child Care Act 1991 by inserting two new parts, Part 4A, which imposes duties on the Health Service Executive in relation to a child who may be in need of special care or protection, and Part 4B, relating to private foster care. Part 11 provides for the establishment of the special residential services board on a statutory basis to co-ordinate residential services for children detained in detention schools and in special care units. I am pleased to say that Part 11 was fully commenced on 7 November 2003 and that almost all of Parts 2 and 3 were commenced in September 2004. Regulations for family welfare conferences and special care units were also commenced in September 2004. The certification process of special care units is under way and this requires the amendment of the regulations as a consequence of the Health Act 2004.

The sections of the Children Act 2001, which the Minister for Health and Children has responsibility for commencing and which have not yet been commenced, are sections 23D, 77 and 7(1)(a), 10(a) and 13(2), which relate to section 77.

My Department is working closely with the Health Service Executive, the Departments of Education and Science and Justice Equality and Law Reform, and the National Children's Office in the context of the co-ordinated phased implementation of the Children Act 2001. The commencement of section 77, the associated sub-sections and section 23D will be looked at in this context and in the light of available resources.

Hospital Accommodation.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

168 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of step-down beds in each of the Health Service Executive regions that are being funded by her Department in order to alleviate over-crowding in hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12296/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act, the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Accordingly, my Department has requested the national director for primary, community and continuing care of the HSE to investigate the matter raised and to reply direct to the Deputy.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

169 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in her Department who not being civil servants but are contracted by her as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary. [12356/05]

Details of non-civil servants contracted to work in the Tánaiste's and Minister of State's offices in the Department are set out below. All these staff work on a full-time basis. They are appointed to a temporary unestablished position which will terminate not later than the date on which the present Tánaiste and Ministers of State cease to hold office in the Department of Health and Children. Special advisers perform duties as set out in section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997 which include providing advice to the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children and monitoring, facilitating and securing the achievement of Government objectives that relate to the Department of Health and Children, as requested by the Tánaiste. Personal assistants and personal secretaries perform duties assigned to them by the Tánaiste and Ministers of State as appropriate to their positions. The press officer is responsible for all press queries in relation to the whole Department.

In addition to those listed below, Mr. Tom Kelly, a senior manager, who is on secondment from the Health Services Executive, HSE, works as part of my advisory team but is not contracted by the Department and continues to be an employee of the HSE. Mr. John O'Brien is my economic adviser and is on secondment from Forfás.

Tánaiste's Office

Name

Title

Remuneration per Annum

John O’Brien

Special Adviser

127,808

Oliver O’Connor

Special Adviser

114,064

Patricia Ryan

Special Adviser

109,244

Catherine Dardis

Personal Assistant

50,065

Alan McGaughey

Personal Assistant

51,119

Nuala Talbot

Personal Secretary

46,119

Derek Cunningham

Press Officer

105,000

Minister of State, Brian Lenihan TD

Name

Title

Remuneration per Annum

Maura Cosgrove

Personal Assistant

43,751

Marian Quinlan

Personal Secretary

38,454

Minister of State, Tim O'Malley TD

Name

Title

Remuneration per Annum

Sinead Teefy

Personal Assistant

46,119

Mary Hayes

Personal Secretary

38,454

Minister of State, Seán Power TD

Name

Title

Remuneration per Annum

Mary Freeman

Personal Secretary

39,874

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

170 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to her Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12371/05]

The cost of travel and subsistence, including the cost of airfares and hotels, incurred individually in 2004 for the categories requested by the Deputy are as follows: special adviser to the Minister, Deputy Martin, €8,574.26; press officer to the Minister, Deputy Martin, €11,463.02; and personal assistant to the Minister of State, Deputy O'Malley, €3,162.25.

Health Services.

Seamus Kirk

Question:

171 Mr. Kirk asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the high call out charge for the doctor on call in certain areas of County Louth; if her attention has further been drawn to the possibility that it is a contributory factor to attendance in accident and emergency units; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12424/05]

General practitioners who participate in out of hours co-operatives do not seek any payment from medical card patients for services delivered under the general medical services scheme whether it is delivered at a treatment centre or in a domiciliary setting. However, consultation charges which may be sought from private patients who attend for treatment or to whom domiciliary service is given by the participating general practitioners are a matter of private contract between the two parties concerned, the doctor as the service provider and the patient as the service user. As the Health Service Executive now has the responsibility to deliver or arrange to be delivered on its behalf personal and social services for eligible persons, my Department has referred the matter to the chief officer of the executive's north-eastern area for investigation and direct reply.

Nursing Home Charges.

Seán Ryan

Question:

172 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the cost of nursing care in St. Joseph’s centre, St. John of God’s Nursing Home, Crinken Lane, Shankill, which provides specific care for people with Alzheimer’s, has increased by nearly 30% within the past year; if he accepts that this increase is putting nursing home care out of the reach of individuals and families alike; and the additional support available for people in this situation. [12425/05]

As the Deputy will be aware, St. Joseph's is a private facility offering nursing care to individuals, many of whom suffer from terminal dementia. As the placement of an individual in a private nursing home is a private matter between the patient or his or her representative and the nursing home, my Department has no say in the fees charged by the home.

As the Deputy is aware, the Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver or arrange to be delivered on its behalf health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for the provision of long-term care services in the Shankill area. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer of the executive's east coast area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

173 Mr. Wall asked the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children the number of Health Service Executive areas in which speech and language services to medical card holders are provided; the number of speech and language therapists employed in such instances; if any of the areas employs therapists in the private sector to deal with such services requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12426/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver or arrange to be delivered on its behalf health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for speech and language therapy. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's eastern regional area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Jack Wall

Question:

174 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of clinical specialists appointed by her Department since 2002; the areas of the Health Service Executive that they have been assigned to; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12427/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver or arrange to be delivered on its behalf health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for medical appointments. Accordingly, my Department has requested the national director of human resources at the HSE to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Jack Wall

Question:

175 Mr. Wall asked the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children the facilities or funding available from his Department to persons with communication problems seeking to reside independently; if warning systems or panic buttons are available to such persons who hold medical cards but are not of the age to avail of the care of the elderly scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12428/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver or arrange to be delivered on its behalf health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for aids and appliances. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's eastern regional area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

176 Mr. Wall asked the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children further to the reply to the Adjournment debate of 14 April 2005 and the statement that speech and language services are essential, his plans to provide funding to the Health Service Executive to permit those in need to obtain such a service while the new schools of speech and language therapy complete the education of therapists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12429/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver or arrange to be delivered on its behalf health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for speech and language therapy. Accordingly, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's south-eastern area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Jack Wall

Question:

177 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of speech and language therapists employed by the Health Service Executive in each of its areas; the number of positions filled by non-EU workers in each of the past three years; the number of vacancies within each area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12439/05]

The latest available information on health sector employment are figures for the end of 2004. At that time the numbers employed in the speech and language therapy grades in each Health Service Executive area are described in the following table with all figures expressed in whole time equivalent terms. The health service personnel census collects employment information solely on the basis of grade and employing agency. It does not collect any personal information on employees or gather the data on vacancy levels requested by the Deputy. My Department has, therefore, forwarded these aspects of the Deputy's request to the chief officer of each Health Service Executive area to investigate the matter and reply directly to the Deputy.

Speech and Language Therapist Grades by Area

Area

Total

Eastern

193

Midland

47

Mid-Western

26

North-Eastern

37

North-Western

29

South-Eastern

48

Southern

70

Western

45

Total

495

Source: Department of Health and Children Personnel Census at 31 December 2004.

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

178 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will be called for an operation at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12440/05]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver or arrange to be delivered on its behalf health and personal social services. As the person in question resides in County Roscommon, my Department has requested the chief officer for the executive's western area to investigate the matter raised and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 179 answered with QuestionNo. 160.

Health Services.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

180 Mr. Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a more detailed answer to Question No. 138 of 22 February 2005 has not been forwarded by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12515/05]

I understand that the Deputy has received a detailed reply from the Health Service Executive's western area.

College Building Projects.

John Perry

Question:

181 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a college (details supplied) in County Sligo is a key provider of university level education with a goal to be responsive to local, regional, national and international needs; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the college is planning additional building and modernisation projects to meet the demands and to improve the welfare, health and safety of students and staff; if he will sanction the certification required; when it will be granted; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12305/05]

This application is being processed by officials from my Department in consultation with the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Education and Science. A meeting to discuss the details of the application was held some time ago and further information will be provided and enquiries will be conducted. Upon receipt of the requested information the matter will be considered further.

Decentralisation Programme.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

182 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister of State at the Department of Finance if he will clarify the lease arrangements for Departments currently located in the Dublin area, including the remaining leases and annual costs associated with leasing; and if any penalty clauses will apply in the case of Departments being moved out of Dublin as part of the decentralisation programme. [12345/05]

Currently the State rents approximately 200,000 square metres of office space in the Dublin area at a cost in the region of €75 million per annum. The length of time remaining on each lease in the portfolio ranges from one to 20 years. The OPW advises that approximately half the current lease stock is due to expire over the next ten years. The particular circumstances applying in each case, including the expiry date of the lease and the alternative development opportunities available to the landlord, will determine whether and to what extent penalties will arise.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

183 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who are not civil servants but are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; his or her function; whether full or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; and the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary. [12357/05]

The following are the details requested for my office and that of the Minister of State.

Name

Function or Title

Status

Contract Terms

Annual Salary

Minister’s Office

Gerry Steadman

Special Adviser

Full-time

No contract, seconded civil servant

€68,651 plus 10% allowance

Sinead Dooley

Personal Assistant

Full-time

Fixed term contract to expire when Minister ceases to hold Office. The contract contains standard terms and conditions which have been approved by my Department *

€46,119

Minister of State’s Office

Matt Moore

Personal Assistant

Full-time

Fixed term contract to expire when Minister ceases to hold Office. The contract contains standard terms and conditions which have been approved by my Department *

€46,119

*These contracts will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas in accordance with the Ethics in Public Office Acts.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

184 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State, attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004. [12372/05]

The following travel and subsistence costs were incurred for the calendar year 2004 by certain staff in my office and that of the Minister of State. In my office Mr. Gerry Steadman, a special adviser, incurred €914.51. In addition Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick, personal assistant to my predecessor, incurred €13,446.66 in 2004. I do not have a programme manager or press communications adviser. In the Minister of State's office Mr. Matt Moore, a personal assistant, incurred €15,446.74. The Minister of State does not have a political adviser, programme manager or press communications adviser.

Departmental Staff.

Tony Gregory

Question:

185 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Finance the number of unestablished civil servants in the State. [12472/05]

There were 2,196 unestablished civil servants serving in Departments, offices and tribunals in the State on 31 March 2005.

Debt Relief.

Finian McGrath

Question:

186 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will press for the sale of IMF gold to fund the debt cancellation of the debt of poor countries to the IMF and the World Bank. [12473/05]

The sale or revaluation of part of IMF gold reserves to cover the costs of additional debt relief has been proposed in addition to a number of other mechanisms to fund the relief of the debts of poor countries. At the recent spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank there was preliminary discussion of key issues regarding proposals for further multilateral debt relief and its financing options. The meeting called for further discussion with shareholders and examination of the issues, including the possible use of IMF resources, by the time of annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in autumn.

Tax Collection.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

187 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if a P21 for 2003 will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [12474/05]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have reviewed the case for 2003 and that the P21, balancing statement, will issue shortly.

Coastal Protection.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

188 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if assistance is available for persons with property on river banks to assist with the repair of damage to buildings caused by rising tides; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12003/05]

Responsibility for coast protection rests with the property owner, whether a local authority or a private individual. The Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources administers funding available under the coast protection measure of the national development plan for 2000 to 2006. The allocation of this funding is determined by taking into account the amount of Exchequer funding available for coast protection works generally and overall national priorities. It is not clear whether the circumstances referred to by the Deputy come within the scope of the coast protection measure or whether it is a river flooding matter which comes within the scope of the OPW.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

James Breen

Question:

189 Mr. J. Breen asked the Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when a foreshore licence will be issued in order to allow the start of sewerage schemes (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12285/05]

A draft foreshore licence for sewerage schemes for three of the locations in question was sent to Clare County Council by the Department and consultants acting for the local authority have responded with comments on the proposed conditions in the draft licence. Their comments are being considered by the Department's advisers as a priority and a recommendation on the local authority's application will be made as soon as this examination is completed. No applications have been received by the Department for any of the other schemes referred to.

Marine Safety.

Martin Ferris

Question:

190 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when Kerry County Council will receive payment from his Department to cover the costs of carrying out safety measures at the bathing slip in Fenit, County Kerry. [12286/05]

A foreshore licence for the bathing facilities at Fenit held by a local bathing club was surrendered to the Department and the possibility of Kerry County Council taking over the area of foreshore in question under a foreshore lease has been considered. Kerry County Council has been informed that the Department would be prepared to provide up to €17,500 towards the cost of remedial and safety works subject to certain conditions including the acceptance of lease terms. The Department is awaiting the county council's response.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

191 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who not being civil servants are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; his or her function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary. [12358/05]

Details of ministerial staff including those attached to the Minister of State, not being civil servants, but contracted as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers are as follows:

Minister Mr. N. Dempsey

Name

Function

Full/Part Time

Contract Terms

Remuneration

Mr. James Fegan

Special Adviser to the Minister

Full Time

Temporary, unestablished position in the Civil Service which will terminate not later than the date on which the present Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr. Noel Dempsey, T.D., ceases to hold that office. (seconded from position as a post-primary teacher)

Principal Officer salary scale (Modified PRSI) €71,990 (min.) to €89,801 (max.)

Ms Grace Cappock

Press Adviser.

Full Time

Temporary, unestablished position in the Civil Service which will terminate not later than the date on which the present Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr. Noel Dempsey, T.D., ceases to hold that office.

Principal Officer salary scale (Modified PRSI) €71,990 (min) to €83,707 (max.)

Ms Tanya Harrington

Policy Co-ordinator (Energy, Communications and Broadcasting)

Full Time

Temporary, unestablished position in the Civil Service which will terminate not later than the date on which the present Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr. Noel Dempsey, T.D., ceases to hold that office.

Principal Officer salary scale (Modified PRSI) €71,990 (min) to €83,707 (max.)

Ms Margaret Conway

Personal Assistant to the Minister

Full Time

Temporary, unestablished position in the Civil Service which will terminate not later than the date on which the present Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr. Noel Dempsey, T.D., ceases to hold that office.

Higher Executive Officer salary scale (Modified PRSI) €39,035 (min) to €49,529 (2nd Long Service Increment)

Ms Una Grehan

Personal Secretary to the Minister

Full Time

Temporary, unestablished position in the Civil Service which will terminate not later than the date on which the present Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr. Noel Dempsey, T.D., ceases to hold that office.

Secretarial Assistant in the Houses of the Oireachtas (Modified PRSI) salary scale. €19,499 (min.) to €37,621 (2nd Long Service Increment)

Minister of State Mr. Gallagher

Name

Function

Full/Part Time

Contract Terms

Remuneration

Ms Sinead McGowan

Personal Assistant to Minister of State

Full Time

Temporary, unestablished position in the Civil Service which will terminate not later than the date on which the present Minister of State, Mr. Pat the Cope Gallagher, T.D., ceases to hold that office.

Higher Executive Officer salary scale (Modified PRSI) €39,035 (min) to €49,529 (2nd Long Service Increment)

Ms Aideen Gillen

Personal Secretary, Constituency Office, Donegal

Full Time

Temporary, unestablished position in the Civil Service which will terminate not later than the date on which the present Minister of State, Mr. Pat the Cope Gallagher, T.D., ceases to hold that office.

Secretarial Assistant in the Houses of the Oireachtas (Modified PRSI) salary scale. €19,499 (min.) to €37,621 (2nd Long Service Increment)

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

192 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12373/05]

The cost of travel and subsistence expenses incurred for the calendar year 2004 is as follows: ministerial office — Richard Moore, press adviser to the Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern —€17,275.23; Ciaran O'Cuinn, special adviser to the Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern —€16,880.36; and Grace Cappock, press adviser to the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey —€353.58.

Foreshore Developments.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

193 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his Department has been contacted by Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Fingal County Council, in respect of their joint proposal to construct a walkway known as S2S; his response to this innovative proposal; if all statutory bodies accountable to him directly or indirectly responded favourably; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12414/05]

Consultants engaged by the local authorities referred to by the Deputy and a number of other public bodies made contact with the Department last year with regard to an envisaged preliminary design study and environmental report for the proposed development. There have been no further contacts with the Department on the matter in the meantime.

As the proposal could give rise to foreshore consent applications, and as any such applications would fall to me for determination, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it at this juncture. It would be a matter for any body under the Department's aegis to determine its position with regard to the proposal, if consulted about it.

Telecommunications Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

194 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if, in respect of every town here, he will provide information regarding the service provider; the level of provision; the percentage of lines which are suitable for DSL; the average operating cost for small business and the level of competition; the percentage of request for broadband rejected countrywide due to lines not being suitable or exchanges not being DSL enabled with respect to access to broadband Internet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12415/05]

The provision of telecommunications, including broadband, is a matter in the first instance for the private sector companies operating in a fully liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg. The most recent figures from the commission indicate that there are now in excess of 140,000 broadband customers, which is almost 9% market penetration as measured on the basis of fixed telephone lines. For comparison, the January 2004 figure was 35,000.

According to the ComReg website www.comreg.ie there are over 45 different broadband offerings across a variety of technologies, including DSL, fibre, cable, leased lines and satellite technology. In essence, there are broadband technologies that can deliver broadband to any broadband customer in Ireland right now. There are now over 130 companies listed by ComReg as Internet service providers.

Costs for broadband in Ireland compare favourably with the EU average; competition in the market is an operational matter for the regulator.

The rate of uptake is dependent on access by the service providers to suitable infrastructure. Because the level of investment by the sector in high-speed broadband infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the demand for broadband, my Department is addressing the infrastructure deficit, in co-operation with the local and regional authorities, by building high-speed open access fibre-based metropolitan area networks, MANs, in 120 towns and cities nationwide, using ERDF and Government funding under the NDP 2000-2006. Full details of my Department's regional broadband programme can be found on www.dcmnr.gov.ie.

The percentage of telephone lines which are suitable for DSL is an operational matter for Eircom and the regulator, and I have no function in the matter. I understand, however, that Eircom plans to extend DSL broadband access to 90% of the country by March 2006. I have set the industry a target of 500,000 broadband customers by the end of 2006.

The Government's broadband target is to be within the top half of EU countries by the end of 2007. That means a market penetration of around 14% of the overall population, which I feel is within reach.

Joe Walsh

Question:

195 Mr. Walsh asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his plans to further roll-out the metropolitan area network to additional towns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12517/05]

The MANs programme is being rolled out on a phased basis, and the 19 networks completed to date have come in on time and within budget. Work is currently under way on seven MANs, and construction of a further 82 will commence during the next 12 months.

Under the county and group broadband scheme, smaller towns and rural communities can avail of grant funding of up to 55% of set-up costs to enable them to become self-sufficient in broadband, using the most suitable technology for their area. The objective of the county and group broadband scheme is to promote the roll-out of broadband access through the establishment of sustainable broadband services in towns, villages, rural hinterlands and under-served areas of larger towns on the basis of local and regional authority co-ordination and community driven initiatives. The scheme is open to all smaller and rural communities of less than 1,500 people. It enables local communities to draw up and implement their own broadband plans either on their own, or in partnership with broadband Internet service providers. A total of 34 group schemes have been approved to date.

Under the €18 million schools broadband access programme, jointly funded by the Department of Education and Science, my Department, and the Telecommunications and Internet Federation, every one of the 4,200 primary and post-primary schools in the country will be provided with broadband by the end of this year.

Full details of the regional broadband programme, the county and group broadband scheme and the schools broadband access programme can be found on my Department's website www.dcmnr.gov.ie.

EU Constitution.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

196 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the choice the Government will make if it must choose between passing the EU constitution and maintaining the unanimity requirement on taxation matters in the event of a French “No” vote on 29 May 2005. [12467/05]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

197 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government will not put the EU constitutional treaty to another referendum vote if the Irish people vote against it. [12469/05]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

198 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the referendum on the proposed EU constitutional treaty will not take place in 2005 and will take place in 2006. [12470/05]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

199 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, in the event of a French vote against the proposed EU constitutional treaty on 29 May 2005, the Government will demand that the French electorate vote again until it produces a “Yes” vote. [12471/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 to 199, inclusive, together.

The Government has not yet taken a decision on the timing of the referendum on the European constitution. It will be held either later this year or next year, to allow for the completion in good time of the ratification process by the target date of 1 November 2006. The necessary preparations are under way. Specifically, the Bill amending the Irish Constitution will be initiated in this House in the coming weeks.

There is no point in engaging in hypothetical discussion of the possible outcomes or consequences of referendums in Ireland or elsewhere. Ratification of the European constitution is for each member state in accordance with its own arrangements and the Government would not presume to advise others on how to proceed. In its approach to the ratification of the European Constitution by Ireland, the Government will in all circumstances continue to be guided by the national interest.

While I do not accept the premise which appears to underlie Question No. 196, I reiterate that Ireland's position on decision-making regarding taxation is firm and unambiguous, is shared by several other member states, and is fully protected both in the European constitution and in the existing treaties.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

200 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who not being Civil Servants but contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12359/05]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

201 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12374/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 and 201 together.

The following tables set out the names of contract staff employed by me and by the Ministers of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, their functions and payscale and details of travel and subsistence expenses paid to them in 2004. All staff are contracted under terms and conditions of employment set by the Minister for Finance and are employed on a full-time basis. All appointments will terminate no later than the date on which the Minister concerned ceases to hold his current office.

Personal appointees employed on contract by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Name

Function/Position

Salaries

Travel and subsistence expenses paid in 2004

Mr. Ciarán Ó Cuinn

Special Adviser (non-established)

Principal Officer (standard) scale €71,990-€89,047

Nil

Mr. Richard Moore

Press Adviser (non-established)

Principal Officer (standard) scale €71,990-€89,047

Nil

Ms Christine Maguire

Personal Assistant (non-established)

Higher Executive Officer (standard) scale €39,035-€49,529

Nil

Ms Myra Wall

Personal Secretary (non-established)

Executive Officer (higher) scale €25,704-€42,265

Nil

Personal appointees employed on contract by Minister of State, Mr. Lenihan.

Name

Function/Position

Salaries

Travel and subsistence expenses paid in 2004

Ms Barbara Lawlor

Personal Assistant (non-established)

Higher Executive Officer (standard) scale €39,035-€49,529

Nil

Mr. Paddy Banks

Personal Secretary (non-established)

€39,035 per annum (no scale applies)

Nil

Personal appointees employed on contract by Minister of State, Mr. Treacy.

Name

Function/Position

Salaries

Travel and subsistence expenses paid in 2004

Mr. Philip Hannon

Press Adviser (non-established)

Principal Officer (standard) scale €71,990-€89,047

€1,137.88

Ms Marian Treacy

Personal Secretary (non-established)

Secretarial Assistant scale €19,498.62-€37,620.73 (Plus a 10% attraction allowance)

Nil

Northern Ireland Issues.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

202 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised the sectarian attacks on Nationalist homes in Old Throne Park in the Whitewell area with the British Government; and if he has called on Unionist and loyalist parties to use their influence to stop these attacks. [12476/05]

The incident to which the Deputy refers has been raised through the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat in Belfast. The British Government has informed us that the incident in question involved a number of youths who climbed through a gap in the fence of Hazelwood school and then threw stones into Old Throne Park. The police came to the scene and noted the details of several individuals. These names have been forwarded to the youth diversion officer. The British side informed us that no damage to property was recorded. The Government has been assured that the school has been secured and the PSNI is endeavouring to find a resolution of the ongoing difficulties in this area, which have stretched over the past number of years.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

203 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the mechanisms by which he monitors the incidence of sectarian attacks in the Six Counties; the initiatives he has taken to contribute to the reduction of sectarianism; and if he consistently raises concerns regarding recent sectarian incidents when he meets with his British counterparts. [12477/05]

The Government consistently raises its concerns at sectarian attacks through the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat in Belfast, at the regular meetings of the Intergovernmental Conference and at the frequent meetings between senior Ministers on both sides. At official level, we recently discussed incidents in Larne, Belfast and Derry with the authorities in Northern Ireland, with a view to ensuring every effort is made to prevent further incidents of this nature. The eradication of sectarianism is an important policy aim of the Government. In the declaration of support contained in the Good Friday Agreement, the Government committed itself, along with all the other parties, to the achievement of "reconciliation, tolerance, and mutual trust, and to the protection and vindication of the human rights of all". This objective is given practical expression by our support for the International Fund for Ireland, and also the work of the Government's reconciliation fund, which aims to assist organisations involved in reconciliation work and which has awarded grants exceeding €15.1 million to more than 480 organisations between 1999 and 2004. The Government also strongly supports community-based policing in Northern Ireland as the key to the creation of a safer society where the fear of sectarian and paramilitary attacks would become a thing of the past. It has closely monitored the implementation of the Patten recommendations in close liaison with the Oversight Commissioner for Policing, Mr. Al Hutchinson.

Diplomatic Representation.

Seamus Kirk

Question:

204 Mr. Kirk asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the requirement that a minimum of 90 days expiry remain on a visitor’s passport to the Czech Republic after the date of return; if representations have been made to the authorities in that country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12480/05]

The Czech authorities have confirmed that Irish citizens have only to present a valid travel document when entering the Czech Republic and that there is no restriction regarding the length of validity of the passport. This change has been in place since the 1 May 2004 and is in line with the requirements of other EU states.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

205 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the location of Irish diplomatic missions which have an Ireland House; the total operational cost of each Ireland House; the State agencies which are operating from each Ireland House; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12481/05]

The State agencies operating in Irish diplomatic missions are listed in the following table. The total operational costs given are for the year 2004 and include chancery costs. The State agencies' share of this cost is provided. Operational costs are taken to mean rent, rates, heating, lighting, cleaning, common charges, etc. It does not include salary, telephone or information technology equipment costs. However, in some instances only the rent costs are available with such short notice. It is the policy of my Department to contact State agencies when embassies are being established in new locations to ascertain their interest in participating in an Ireland House project in these new locations.

Location

Total Operational Cost

State Agencies

Agencies Share (€) (including chancery costs)

1. New York

1,349,528

Tourism Ireland

958,974

Enterprise Ireland

IDA

Shannon Development

C.I.E.

Aer Lingus

2. Tokyo

695,987

Enterprise Ireland

314,032

IDA

Aer Lingus

3. Madrid

363,362

Enterprise Ireland

140,421

Bord Bia

Tourism Ireland

BIM

4. Seoul

179,818 (rent only)

Enterprise Ireland

53,940

IDA

5. Beijing

234,960 (rent only — combined chancery and residence compound)

Enterprise Ireland

5,551

6. Budapest

325,000

Enterprise Ireland

65,000

7. Kuala Lumpur

60,038

Enterprise Ireland

11,500

8. Moscow

576,469 (combined chancery and residence compound)

Enterprise Ireland

20,176

9. Prague

117,172

Enterprise Ireland

29,293

10. Warsaw

90,340

Enterprise Ireland

25,295

11. Washington

No rent payable as chancery owned by the State

Enterprise Ireland

0

12. Shanghai

127,809

Enterprise Ireland

11,685

13. Brussels

214,959 (embassy to Belgium)

Enterprise Ireland

38,693

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

206 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the Irish embassies and chancelleries that are owned and rented by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12482/05]

A total of 17 official residences, seven chanceries and three combined chancery-residence premises are owned by the State. The full list is shown in annex 1. The list of diplomatic premises rented abroad is given in annex 2. It is the policy of my Department to purchase representational offices and official residences abroad where resources allow and where market conditions and value for money considerations favour purchase over rental. This policy is kept under constant review.

Annex 1

Embassy Properties Owned by the State

Athens Residence

Berlin Residence

Berne Residence

Brussels Permanent Representation to the EU

Brussels Residence (Ambassador to Political Security Committee)

Buenos Aires Residence

Canberra Chancery

Canberra Residence

Copenhagen Chancery

Copenhagen Residence

Dar-es-Salaam Residence

The Hague Chancery

The Hague Residence

Holy See combined Chancery/Residence

Lisbon Residence

Lusaka Chancery

Madrid Residence

Maputo Chancery

New York Residence (Permanent Representative to the UN)

Oslo Residence

Ottawa Residence

Paris combined Chancery/Residence

Prague Residence

Riyadh combined Chancery/Residence

Stockholm Residence

Washington Chancery

Washington Residence

Annex 2

Embassy Properties Rented by the State

Abuja combined Chancery/Residence

Addis Ababa Chancery

Addis Ababa Residence

Ankara Chancery

Ankara Residence

Athens Chancery

Beijing combined Chancery/Residence

Berlin Chancery

Berne Chancery

Boston Consulate General

Brasilia Chancery

Brasilia Residence

Bratislava Chancery

Bratislava Residence

Brussels Chancery (Embassy to Belgium)

Brussels Residence (Ambassador to Belgium)

Brussels Residence (Permanent Representative to the EU)

Brussels Residence (Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU)

Budapest Chancery

Budapest Residence

Buenos Aires Chancery

Cairo Chancery

Cairo Residence

Cape Town Chancery

Cape Town Residence

Cardiff Consulate General

Chicago Consulate General

Dar-es-Salaam Chancery

Edinburgh Consulate General

Geneva Permanent Representation to the UN

Geneva Residence

Helsinki Chancery

Helsinki Residence

Kampala Chancery

Kampala Residence

Kuala Lumpur Chancery

Kuala Lumpur Residence

Lisbon Chancery

London combined Chancery/Residence

Ljubljana Chancery

Ljubljana Residence

Lusaka Residence

Luxembourg Chancery

Luxembourg Residence

Madrid Chancery

Maputo Residence

Maseru (Lesotho) Chancery

Maseru Residence

Mexico City Chancery

Mexico City Residence

Moscow combined Chancery/Residence

New Delhi Chancery

New Delhi Residence

New York Consulate General

New York Residence (Consul General)

New York Permanent Representation to the UN

Nicosia Chancery

Nicosia Residence

Oslo Chancery

Ottawa Chancery

Prague Chancery

Pretoria Chancery

Pretoria Residence

Ramallah Representation

Ramallah Residence

Rome Chancery

Rome Residence

San Francisco Consulate General

Seoul Chancery

Seoul Residence

Shanghai Consulate General

Singapore Chancery

Singapore Residence

Stockholm Chancery

Strasbourg Representation to Council of Europe

Strasbourg Residence

Sydney Consulate General

Tallinn Chancery

Tallinn Residence

Tehran Chancery

Tehran Residence

Tel Aviv Chancery

Tel Aviv Residence

Tokyo Chancery

Tokyo Residence

Vienna Chancery

Vienna Residence

Warsaw Chancery

Warsaw Residence

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

207 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the average operating cost of an Irish embassy in a European country consisting of an ambassador, a first secretary, third secretary and support staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12483/05]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

208 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the programme which his Department has for the establishment of new diplomatic embassies and delegations in countries in which Ireland is not currently represented by full-time professional diplomats; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12484/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 and 208 together.

There are six Irish Embassies in Europe with a staffing contingent made up of an ambassador, a first secretary, a third secretary and support staff. These embassies are located in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands and Turkey. The average operating cost for these missions in 2004 was €1,002,966.90. Expenditure incurred during Ireland's Presidency of the European Union from 1 January to 30 June 2004 is included in the figure provided. In December 2004, the Government approved the opening of resident missions in Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Vietnam. It is intended that these new missions will be opened in the second half of this year. The opening of new Irish missions is considered by the Government on an ongoing basis. As the Deputy will appreciate, however, constraints on Government expenditure, and the limits on the resources that can be made available, require that the expansion of our diplomatic network must be incremental and must be based on a thorough assessment of the costs and benefits involved.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

209 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who not being civil servants but are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, by hour if part time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12360/05]

Three ministerial staff have been appointed in my Department. The terms of the contracts for both my personal assistant and my personal secretary are in line with those for unestablished civil servants. The conditions applicable to my special adviser are in line with those for established civil servants.

Name

Role

Full Time or Part Time

Level of remuneration

Mr. Tony Cotter

Special Adviser

Full Time

Principal Officer Standard Scale plus a 10% attraction allowance

Mr. Colin Miller

Personal Assistant

Full Time

Higher Executive Officer Standard Scale

Ms Mary O’Connell

Personal Secretary

Full Time

Secretarial Assistant Scale plus a 10% attraction allowance

My Department is in compliance with the Department of Finance guidelines regarding ministerial appointments.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

210 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name in 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12375/05]

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of the persons appointed by me and employed as special adviser, personal assistant and personal secretary is set out in the following tabular statement:

Position

Appointee

Travel Expenses Incurred 2004

Subsistence Expenses Incurred 2004

Special Adviser

Mr. Tony Cotter

11,225

2,009

Personal Assistant

Mr. Colin Miller

5,731

6,314

Personal Secretary

Ms Mary O’Connell

Nil

Nil

There is no Minister of State attached to my Department.

Sports Capital Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

211 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will approve funding for an application from a centre (details supplied) in County Roscommon under the sports capital programme; when he plans to make a decision on the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12407/05]

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

Applications for funding under the 2005 programme were invited through advertisements in the press on 5 and 6 December last. The closing date for receipt of applications was 4 February 2005. All applications received before the deadline, including one from the organisation in question, are currently being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

National Aquatic Centre.

Jack Wall

Question:

212 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position of the repairs at the National Aquatic Centre; the proposed date for the completion of the repairs; the cost of such repairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12409/05]

Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Limited has informed me that its structural engineers have received information from the contractors, Rohcon Limited, that the repairs to the National Aquatic Centre are expected to be completed by 20 May 2005, save for the neon lighting, which has a seven-week delivery period. This is the circular strip of lighting that surrounds the roof of the leisure waters, and Rohcon has confirmed that it is to be installed on top of the flume tower from 23 May to 10 June 2005. CSID has asked Rohcon to use all necessary resources to ensure that the dates are met, if not improved upon.

The cost of the repairs is a matter between the contractor and the insurers.

I look forward to the completion of the works and the reopening of the centre as soon as possible.

Sports Funding.

Finian McGrath

Question:

213 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if a football club (details supplied) in Dublin 3 will be given financial support and advice for its members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12410/05]

The national lottery-funded sports capital programme administered by my Department is the primary means of providing funding for sporting facilities to clubs and voluntary and community organisations throughout the country. A total of more than €331 million has been allocated in grant funding to over 4,200 projects since 1998.

The programme is advertised annually. The 2005 sports capital programme was advertised in the national newspapers on 5 and 6 December 2004. The closing date for receipt of applications was 4 February 2005. No application was received from the club in question under the programme.

It is open to the club, should it wish to do so and should it have a project which satisfies the terms and conditions of the sports capital programme, to submit an application when the 2006 round of the programme is publicly advertised.

Culture Ireland.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

214 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the progress on the establishment of Culture Ireland, the new semi-State agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12412/05]

On 24 February, I announced the establishment of a new body for the promotion of Irish arts abroad to be known as "Culture Ireland". The specific activities of Culture Ireland may include, but are not confined to: grant-giving to Irish artists or arts organisations in response to applications received for such assistance and evaluated in accordance with transparent criteria to be determined and published by Culture Ireland; funding and facilitation of Irish participation at strategic international arts events; managing of special emblematic cultural and artistic events or activities either in Ireland or abroad as required by the Minister for Arts, Sport, and Tourism; giving advice to me as Minister on international arts and cultural affairs.

Within 12 months of its establishment, Culture Ireland is to submit to me a strategic plan for the discharging of this remit over the following three years. The first formal meeting of Culture Ireland was held on 7 April.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

215 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the Government will allow a debate and vote in Dáil Éireann on the proposed EU services directive before it is agreed; and if not, when such a debate and vote will take place. [12468/05]

The Government would welcome a debate about the proposed directive, on which discussions are continuing in the Council working group and in the European Parliament. My Department gave a presentation on the draft directive to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business on 5 March, but the views of all Deputies on this important proposal would be particularly welcome.

My Department has been, and is, engaged in widespread and detailed consultation with other Departments and with interested parties to make an effective input to the discussions. Advertisements were placed in the media last year seeking written submissions from service users and producers who would potentially be affected by the directive. The Department also wrote to approximately 50 stakeholder organisations last year informing them of the existence of the draft directive and seeking their comments on it. We repeated the invitation late last year, when we informed the same organisations that the Department had dedicated a part of its website, at www.entemp.ie, to the draft directive. My Department has had discussions with the social partners about the draft directive and expects to have further discussions with them.

Ireland, together with all other member states of the EU, is very supportive of the objective of the proposed directive, which is to create a genuine Single Market in services throughout the EU. However, like all member states, we have concerns about many aspects of the current proposal, which is a long way from being adopted.

Services account, in the EU, for up to 70% of GNP and employment, and the creation of a genuine European Single Market would yield enormous benefits for the European — and Irish — services sectors. It would also be a big plus for consumers, in Ireland and throughout the European Union. It is clear that where competition and more suppliers are introduced into an economic sector, consumers benefit.

Departmental Agencies.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

216 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will amend his reply of 24 February 2005 to questions regarding increasing the powers and number of labour inspectors, in view of the recent report by inspectors and of the string of recent cases of abuse of workers’ rights; if he will continue to maintain that the current slow augmentation of the labour inspectorate’s resources and the failure to increase its powers are adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12453/05]

I do not consider that my replies of 24 February need to be amended, as the investigation of the labour inspectorate into a particular company in the construction sector was ongoing. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment did not receive the report of the labour inspectorate until 6 April.

Since the Minister received the report he has been active with the management of the company and the workers, and has kept the Oireachtas abreast of developments.

An additional 11 staff for the labour inspectorate have been announced. They will place a specific emphasis on sectors where migrant workers are concentrated. This significant increase, 50%, will allow the inspectorate to do a great deal more of what it does best — ensuring compliance with the law and ensuring workers get their entitlements. Additional staff are appointed to the labour inspectorate on foot of developments in the workplace. With the introduction of the national minimum wage in 1997, the existing ten labour inspectors were augmented by a further seven. Subsequently, the grade level of the inspectors was increased from clerical officer to executive officer. A further four inspectors were appointed on foot of the mid-term review of Sustaining Progress last June, and, as I have said, an additional 11 inspectors will be appointed. As the House can see, those increases in resources are in direct response to identified needs and interaction with the social partners.

Arising from the mid-term review of Sustaining Progress agreed by all parties in June 2004, the inspectorate was asked to draw up a discussion document on the mandate and resourcing of the labour inspectorate for the social partnership process. The discussion document is not prescriptive; rather it seeks to present the arguments for and against an extensive range of issues impacting on the mandate and associated resourcing of the labour inspectorate and its linked business units. A spectrum of possible models for compliance checking and enforcement have been identified and were presented for discussion. The purpose of their inclusion is primarily to stimulate debate and signal that fundamental changes in approach should be considered. Some views have been received from the social partners, while others are awaited.

National Minimum Wage.

James Breen

Question:

217 Mr. J. Breen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will investigate the rates of pay of personnel working in small post offices to ensure that they are paid at least the national minimum wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12282/05]

The Retail Grocery and Allied Trades Joint Labour Committee has, as and from 16 March 2004, set down the rates of remuneration and conditions of employment by way of an employment regulation order dated 8 March 2004. Persons covered by that employment regulation order are entitled to the terms and conditions therein. The pay rates currently applicable for an adult worker range from €7.51 to €8.08 per hour. All workers over 18 or those not in training should receive the national minimum wage, which currently stands at €7 per hour. That rate will increase to €7.65 per hour from 1 May 2005.

Should the Deputy know of any instances where people are not receiving the above rates, I urge him to get in touch with the labour inspectorate, which would immediately investigate.

Unemployment Levels.

Seamus Healy

Question:

218 Mr. Healy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he has taken and the steps he intends to take to address the very serious unemployment levels in the town of Carrick-on-Suir; the steps which have been taken by the industrial promotion agencies to bring industry to the town, including the number of site visits arranged by those agencies, by prospective industries; and if he will now establish a jobs task force to address the jobs crisis in the town. [12283/05]

Support for job creation and investment on a regional or local basis comes within the remit of the industrial development agency IDA Ireland, which is actively marketing individual areas as a location for additional foreign direct investment, and Enterprise Ireland, which is concentrating on the development of indigenous industries, with the 35 city and county enterprise boards, or CEBs, having primary responsibility for the regional promotion of indigenous industry in the micro-enterprise sector. Under the Industrial Development Acts, I may give general policy directives to IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, but I am precluded from giving directives regarding individual undertakings or from giving preference to one area over others.

The development agencies have assured me that they are working to secure additional investment and jobs for the people of South Tipperary, including those living in Carrick-on-Suir.

While the IDA has not hosted any recent site visits by prospective investors to Carrick-on-Suir, there have been 11 such visits to the surrounding area in the past 12 months. The IDA is currently supporting two overseas companies in Carrick-on-Suir. While they are also promoting the town for additional overseas investment through their network of overseas offices, their experience of dealing with clients looking at Ireland is that many companies will only consider larger urban centres that have the scale, infrastructure and services capable of sustaining their investment. Ultimately, it is the investor who decides where to locate a project, including what areas to visit as potential locations.

IDA Ireland's response to this experience in the South Tipperary-Waterford area has been to concentrate the main focus of its marketing campaign on the gateway location of Waterford and the county town of Clonmel. It is doing so to maximise the number of overseas companies that can be attracted to the area and to avail of the knock-on benefits in other sectors such as supply, distribution and transport, thus creating further investment and employment opportunities for local people in the immediate vicinity and surrounding areas.

I am informed by the agency that it believes Carrick-on-Suir can benefit from that strategy, given its close proximity to both Waterford and Clonmel. The announcement in May 2004 by Guidant Corporation of a 1,000-person job expansion at its Clonmel plant should have considerable knock-on benefits in other investment and employment opportunities for people in the immediate vicinity and surrounding areas, including those living in Carrick-on-Suir.

IDA Ireland has a five-acre site in Carrick-on-Suir, and discussions are ongoing with South Tipperary County Council regarding the development of the site to help generate economic activity in the town.

Since its establishment in 1993, Tipperary South Riding County Enterprise Board has provided over €448,000 in financial aid to 40 projects in the Carrick-on-Suir area, which in turn has assisted in the creation of 67 full-time jobs. The board has run management development courses and targeted training courses on starting one's own business, web design, front office skills and IT training in Carrick-on-Suir town. Over 110 people have been directly trained on those programmes. While the majority of current training programmes are organised in Clonmel, a significant number of businesses availing of those programmes come from the Carrick-on-Suir area.

Enterprise Ireland is actively involved in addressing industrial development in Tipperary South through the county development board and through working closely with the other development agencies in the county, including IDA, FÁS, and the county enterprise board. In addition to direct finance, Enterprise Ireland has a range of service offerings to encourage high-technology, high-opportunity indigenous enterprise to get off the ground. Key support areas include project-building, mentoring, training, space, patent protection advice and business angels.

Specific State support to facilitate those who are unemployed to join or re-enter the labour force is provided by FÁS, the national training and employment authority. FÁS offers skills analysis, training and retraining programmes and a job placement service for those who are unemployed and is sponsoring a jobs club in the enterprise centre in Carrick-on-Suir. That last initiative is aimed at increasing the skills levels of those concerned. The agency also works closely with the Carrick-on-Suir RAPID steering committee. RAPID is a special designation project for areas of high deprivation aimed at establishing innovative actions that aid growth and social and economic inclusion in the designated areas.

In addition, I would like to point out that the numbers on the live register in the Carrick-on-Suir area fell from 971 in February 2004 to 910 in February 2005, which reflects a positive trend.

I welcome the initiative of the Tipperary South county manager last October in setting up a local working group to deal with unemployment issues in Carrick-on-Suir and to prepare a development plan for the area under the auspices of the county development board.

Question No. 219 answered with QuestionNo. 101.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

220 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, regarding the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who are not civil servants but contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour, if part-time, or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12361/05]

The following tabular statement sets out details regarding my private office:

Name

Title

Function

Full-time/ part-time

Terms of Contract

Remuneration (Per annum)

Deirdre Gillane

Policy Adviser

To provide advice and assistance to Minister.

Full-time

The appointment is strictly temporary and will terminate not later than the date on which I cease to hold office.

81,431

Christopher Mannion

Special Adviser

To provide advice and assistance to Minister.

Full-time

As above

82,193

Caitriona Meehan

Press Adviser

To provide advice and assistance to Minister.

Full-time

As above

78,075

Melanie Hewitt

Personal Assistant

Perform general secretarial duties including duties relating to the handling of inquiries made to the offices.

Full-time

As above

24,350

Ann Donnelly

Personal Assistant

As above

Part-time

As above

12,476.50

Elizabeth O’Donoghue

Personal Secretary

As above

Full-time

As above

41,381

The following tabular statement sets out details in respect of Deputy Tony Killeen, Minister of State with responsibility for labour affairs:

Name

Title

Function

Full-time/ part-time

Terms of Contract

Remuneration (Per annum)

Pat Daly

Personal Assistant

Perform general secretarial duties including duties relating to the handling of inquiries made to the offices.

Full-time

The appointment is strictly temporary and will terminate not later than the date on which Minister Killeen ceases to hold office

46,119

The following tabular statement sets out details in respect of Deputy Michael Ahern, Minister of State with responsibility for trade and commerce:

Name

Title

Function

Full-time/ part-time

Terms of Contract

Remuneration (Per annum)

Colm Leahy

Personal Assistant

Perform general secretarial duties including duties relating to the handling of inquiries made to the offices.

Full-time

The appointment is strictly temporary and will terminate not later than the date on which Minister Ahern ceases to hold office.

41,389

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

221 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of Stateattached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12376/05]

Details sought by the Deputy in respect of persons in the specified categories who were in the employment of the offices of Ministers and Ministers of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment during the calendar year 2004 are as follows:

Office of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr. Martin

(29 September 2004 to 31 December 2004)

Name

Title

Travel

Subsistence

Ms Catriona Meehan

Press Adviser

2,927.29

Mr. Christopher Mannion

Special Adviser

675.78

750.72

Office of the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ms Harney

(1 January 2004 to 28 September 2004)

Name

Title

Travel

Subsistence

Ms Catherine Dardis

Personal Assistant

937.67

Mr. Oliver O’Connor

Special Adviser

370.96

Mr. John O’Brien

Special Adviser

527.25

1,060.57

Office of the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for labour affairs, Mr. Fahey

(1 January 2004 to 28 September 2004)

Name

Title

Travel

Subsistence

Claudia McCarthy

Personal Assistant

1,198.82

2,154.33

Vivienne Heffernan

Personal Assistant

338.95

Office of the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for trade and commerce, Mr. Ahern

(1 January 2004 to 31 December 2004)

Name

Title

Travel

Subsistence

Mr. Colm Leahy

Personal Assistant

1,663.43

193.84

Office of the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for labour affairs, Mr. Killeen*

(29 September 2004 to 31 December 2004)

Name

Title

Travel

Subsistence

*No expenses were paid in respect of the categories referred to in the question.

Employment Support Services.

David Stanton

Question:

222 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Question No. 270 of 22 March 2005, the way inwhich the Government supports and encourages existing small and medium indigenous Irish businesses which do not form part of the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12401/05]

The small and medium sized enterprise sector is supported and encouraged by the Government's active and constant pursuit and promotion of an economic environment that is supportive of entrepreneurial activity, combined with a wide range of targeted interventions by various State enterprise development agencies. The strong focus of many of the interventions, particularly those involving financial support, on businesses in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector reflects the key importance that the sector plays in building Irish economic growth, as well as concerns about the strong risks of deadweight and displacement that are a particular concern in the non-traded services sector. It is not appropriate to give financial aid to a local service in circumstances in which the increased activity arising from the support is likely to be achieved at the expense of other similar businesses in the locality.

Ireland's extraordinary success in the past decade has been and continues to be built on key competitive strengths, such as one of the lowest taxation regimes in Europe, access to the EU internal market, a well-educated and skilled workforce and a history of Government policies that are pro-business and provide a benign business environment. The Government is committed to the continued support and development of such strengths. It appears that the actions being taken are achieving the objective of ensuring that we have an environment in which small and medium sized enterprises can flourish. The global entrepreneurship monitor report for 2004, which is the premier cross-national assessment of entrepreneurship, shows that Ireland is performing extremely well in terms of entrepreneurship activity. It is in second position overall in terms of total entrepreneurial activity among all EU member states.

Job Protection.

David Stanton

Question:

223 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Question No. 135 of 16 December 2004, the number of the 140 Enterprise Ireland supported companies in County Cork which are based in Youghal; the number based in Cobh; the amount of funding allocated to the companies; the number of persons they employ; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12402/05]

I reiterate that the decision to provide support to a particular company is an administrative matter for the agency concerned and not one in which I have a direct function.

The 140 Enterprise Ireland supported companies mentioned in my previous reply are located in east Cork. As the Forfás employment survey for 2004 has now become available, I can provide the most recent data. In 2004, there were 13 Enterprise Ireland supported companies in Cobh, while there were seven Enterprise Ireland supported companies in Youghal. For purposes of clarity, only companies in the Cobh and Youghal urban districts have been included in the figures, which exclude nearby towns such as Carrigtwohill and Midleton, in the case of Cobh, and Castlemartyr, Shanagarry and Ballymacoda, in the case of Youghal.

In 2004, Enterprise Ireland supported companies in Youghal were approved assistance of €27,400 and such supported companies in Cobh were approved assistance of €5,500. Overall approvals for Enterprise Ireland assisted companies in Cobh and Youghal from 2002 to 2004 amounted to €257,462. Payment for the same period to Enterprise Ireland assisted companies in Cobh and Youghal amounted to €503,059. Grant approval is spread over a variety of projects, including capital, research and development, feasibility and management. Employment in Enterprise Ireland supported companies in Cobh for 2004 was 287, representing a slight increase over the 2003 figure of 278. Employment figures in Enterprise Ireland supported companies in Youghal showed a slight decrease from 90 in 2003 to 85 in 2004.

Job Creation.

David Stanton

Question:

224 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Question No. 135 of 16 December 2004, if IDA Ireland has any specific programme in place to promote Youghal and Cobh to potential investors; if any negotiations are under way; if not , if IDA Ireland has any plan to put such a programme in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12403/05]

IDA Ireland has statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment to all regions and areas of Ireland. While I may give general policy directives to IDA Ireland, I am precluded under legislation from giving directives about individual undertakings or giving preference to one area over others. As I stated in my reply of 16 December last, I understand from IDA Ireland that Cobh and Youghal are marketed by IDA Ireland's south-west region as part of the broader east Cork area, which also includes locations such as Little Island, Carrigtwohill, Midleton, Carrigaline and Ringaskiddy. IDA Ireland is promoting east Cork to potential investors on an ongoing basis. Every effort is being made to secure further advanced knowledge-based industry for the east Cork area.

Due to their proximity to the greater Cork area, Cobh and Youghal also benefit from continued development from an inward investment perspective. There are 134 IDA Ireland assisted companies in County Cork, employing approximately 18,000 people. Between 2002 and 2004, 50% of all jobs announced in Cork came from companies locating in the broader east Cork area, thereby making the area the prime beneficiary from inward investment in the south-west region. In Cork, as elsewhere, there is a need to mobilise initiatives and resources on a regional rather than on a purely local basis, to compete effectively with other strong regions, cities and countries. In this context we must not forget that the investor ultimately decides where to locate. I am confident that the strategies and policies being pursued by IDA Ireland, along with the Government's ongoing commitment to regional development, will bear fruit in terms of additional sustainable investment and jobs in this region.

David Stanton

Question:

225 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Question No. 135 of 16 December 2004, the number of participants and the number of businesses participating in training initiatives operated by the South Cork Enterprise Board in Youghal and Cobh over the past two years; the success of these initiatives in creating new jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12404/05]

Some 200 people, including 20 participants from Youghal and Cobh, participated in training programmes organised by the south Cork county enterprise board in 2003 and 2004. The board operates clinics every month in Youghal and Cobh. The training and other soft supports provided to micro-enterprises by the county enterprise boards are designed to assist new and existing enterprises in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations, through the development and improvement of a range of business skills. While such support contributes positively to the long-term growth and sustainability of the enterprises, it is not possible directly to relate participation in training and mentoring initiatives to the creation of new jobs. The number of jobs in enterprises supported by the south Cork county enterprise board, in the form of financial assistance or soft supports, has increased by 32 since 2003.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

226 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will visit Kerry in the near future to meet with the local chambers of commerce, Kerry County Council and other interested parties to discuss the failure of the IDA to attract new industry to Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12433/05]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

230 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the recent statements by Tralee Chamber of Commerce, County Kerry, expressing grave concern at the loss of jobs in the town and the failure by the IDA to bring a major industry to the town in the past five years; the action his Department and the IDA propose to take to create jobs in the town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12450/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 226 and 230 together.

IDA Ireland has statutory responsibility for attracting foreign direct investment to all regions and areas of Ireland. Under the Industrial Development Acts, I may give general policy directives to the agency but I am precluded from giving directives about individual undertakings or giving preference to one area over others. One of the agency's major objectives is the achievement of balanced regional development. The national spatial strategy provides a framework for the achievement of this objective through the prioritisation of development and investment in the locations which have been identified as gateways and hubs.

IDA Ireland's strategy for County Kerry is to achieve developments in the international services and ICT sectors, focusing on the designated linked hubs of Tralee and Killarney. While targeting potential new projects, the agency is working with its existing portfolio of companies in the region with a view to supporting such companies with potential expansions and diversification of activities. While employment levels in assisted companies in Tralee and the county as a whole have decreased since 2003, foreign direct investment companies are performing relatively well when considered in the context of the recent global downturn and the effects of the events of 11 September 2001, which resulted in fewer companies actively seeking to invest overseas.

The regrettable demise of companies such as Sports Socks and Imperial Schrade resulted mainly from the fact that Ireland is less competitive for basic manufacturing operations. County Kerry and all other parts of Ireland must gear themselves to attracting a different type of investor. The focus for the future must be on attracting investment that requires high skill levels and is more orientated towards innovation than production. Job creation and job losses are a feature of economic development in all countries, as various sectors expand and contract in response to market demand for goods and services, competitive forces, restructuring and technological change. While the transition to a high-skill high-technology regional economy will take time to achieve, I am pleased that three new projects were announced in Kerry in 2004.

Dollinger (Ireland) Limited, which has been established in Killarney for over 20 years, is to be the global centre for the production of its compressed air products range. The company will have global responsibility for the development of such products. The investment of €1.1 million, which will create more than 70 new jobs over the next four years, has resulted in the relocation of the company to larger premises in the town's IDA business park.

Liebherr Container Cranes Limited, which has been in Killarney for 46 years and is one of the longest established IDA supported companies in Ireland, intends to recruit six highly skilled research and development personnel for a new specialised team. The team, which will be of strategic importance to the parent company and will enhance the facility's role as the centre of control for Liebherr's container crane products, will develop products from concept to product launch. Any intellectual property developed will be the property of the Irish company.

Fujisawa, one of the world's top 30 pharmaceutical companies, announced that it had invested €17 million in the expansion of its Irish operation, Fujisawa Ireland Limited, in Killorglin, County Kerry. The company has a total employment of 280 people and has constructed a 27,000 sq. ft. extension to provide additional production space for the new operation.

Due to a heavy schedule of departmental and parliamentary business, I cannot give a specific commitment at this time to visit County Kerry or to meet the local Chamber of Commerce. I intend to include in my program a visit to the county in the near future. I would be more than happy to meet the chamber and any other interested parties at that time.

Job Losses.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

227 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of IDA assisted jobs that have been lost in Kerry each year since 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12435/05]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

228 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created in Kerry by the IDA each year since 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12436/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 227 and 228 together.

IDA Ireland has statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment to all regions and areas of Ireland. While I may give general policy directives to IDA Ireland, I am precluded under legislation from giving directives about individual undertakings or giving preference to one area over others. The table that follows this response shows the number of jobs created and lost in IDA Ireland supported companies in Kerry between 2000 and 2004. I am confident that the strategies and policies being pursued by IDA Ireland, with the Government's ongoing commitment to regional development, will bear fruit in terms of additional sustainable investment and jobs in County Kerry.

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Jobs created

550

379

151

84

100

Jobs lost

88

57

670

321

284

Industrial Development.

Jack Wall

Question:

229 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the IDA lands at Castledermot, Monasterevin and Kildare, County Kildare; if the local authority has purchased these lands; if these lands are still available for industrial purposes if a suitable applicant were to make an application to the IDA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12437/05]

The management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio is a day-to-day operational matter for the agency. I do not have a direct function in that regard. From inquiries I have made of the agency, I understand that IDA Ireland's lands at Castledermot — approximately 1.39 hectares, Monasterevin — approximately 2.5 hectares and Kildare town — approximately 4.6 hectares, were approved for disposal by IDA Ireland to Kildare County Council in April 2003. The transaction was approved on the basis that the council would use the land for the requirements of Enterprise Ireland and county enterprise board projects, and to encourage other industrial development activities. The disposal of the land to the council would allow the land to be available for a range of activities outside the remit of IDA Ireland. The transaction has not yet been finalised. As discussions are ongoing between the agency and the council, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further about the matter. While the lands remain in IDA ownership, they are available for qualifying industrial activities.

Question No. 230 answered with QuestionNo. 226.

Labour Inspectorate.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

231 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of inspectors involved in the supervision of working and pay conditions of employees throughout the country, both nationals and non-nationals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12487/05]

Following my recent announcement on 12 April there are now 31 labour inspector posts. Immediate steps have been taken to source the new inspectors initially from within the existing staff complement of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment. Accordingly, I expect early appointments.

Pending these new appointments, there are 17.5 labour inspectors in the inspectorate. One inspector is currently on long-term sick leave and one job-sharing inspector is on extended unpaid leave. A further two inspectors are currently engaged in assisting the Employment Appeals Tribunal to process a backlog of cases.

A number of other officials at team leader and management grades within the employment rights compliance section are warranted as inspectors and perform such duties as required. The labour inspectors are supported by six administrative staff and the inspectorate makes up just one part of the employment rights compliance section, the other elements being the employment rights information unit and the employment rights prosecution and enforcement section.

Neither our employment rights legislation nor the inspectorate makes any distinction between the employment rights of workers on the basis of nationality.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

232 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he monitors the pay and working conditions of non-nationals to whom work permits have been issued here; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The labour inspectorate of my Department is responsible for monitoring certain employment conditions for all categories of workers in Ireland, including immigrant workers. Inspectors pursue allegations of worker mistreatment and when evidence of non-compliance with the relevant employment rights legislation is found, the inspectorate seeks redress for the individual or individuals concerned and, if appropriate, a prosecution is initiated. Statutory employment rights and protections apply to immigrant workers in exactly the same manner as they do to native Irish workers. I have recently announced a 50% increase in the numbers of labour inspectors and have directed that these additional officers focus particularly on the sectors where non-EEA employees are most numerous.

In addition, where employers seek work permits in order to employ non-EEA nationals, the Department requires the statement of the main functions of the job, salary-wages, deductions, other than statutory, other benefits and hours to be worked per week. Both the proposed employer and the proposed employee must sign this statement. Work permits are not granted unless there is compliance with minimum wages legislation. Applications for renewals require confirmation that the stated wages have been paid; P60 and other sources are used. If there is evidence that particular employers are exploiting immigrant workers I would ask that it be brought to the attention of the labour inspectorate for investigation and further action.

Job Creation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

233 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the net number of new jobs created here in each of the past five years; the number which were high tech or high wage; the number of lower paid jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12489/05]

Employment data is not provided in a format that differentiates between types of employment or salary levels.

In the past few years, conditions in the global economy have been difficult, and Irish firms have had to win business against a backdrop of difficult external demand conditions, pricing pressures and an increasingly competitive international environment. These factors have affected employment trends in companies assisted by the enterprise development agencies. While the net increase in employment in agency-assisted companies in 2000 was 24,000 jobs, subsequent years have shown a net fall off in the numbers employed in such companies. However, employment in these companies is still one third higher than it was a decade ago. This is a strong performance in the context of global economic circumstances.

Net Full-time Job creation in Agency-supported companies

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

24,086

-3,096

-8,305

-8,059

-1,091

There are now indications that economic prospects are improving and our propensity to capitalise on trends in global growth is likely again to stimulate business expansion and real employment growth. The ESRI has indicated that labour market conditions are expected to remain strong both this year and next, with unemployment stabilising to average 4.3% in both 2005 and 2006, supported by significant growth in GNP. In light of the intense global competitive pressures, these forecasts show that our economy maintains considerable strengths.

We have become a more sophisticated and developed economy where the application of technology and intellectual endeavour is becoming more important than simple cost competitiveness as the foundation for growth and prosperity. To counterbalance the competitive threat from lower wage competitor economies, our policy is to encourage a move to higher levels of productivity and value added products and services because these types of enterprise create high-skill employment. Sustainable employment will be driven by companies with higher profitability that are more technologically advanced and prove a better fit with the competitive characteristics of our economy.

The enterprise development agencies are working to source new investment by a combination of developing existing clients and new investors in existing or new activities or sectors. Given the critical mass of FDI in Ireland and its linkages with indigenous companies, one of the greatest potential contributions will come from developing companies already operating here. The enterprise development agencies are working to encourage companies into more sophisticated activities where competitive advantage is less likely to be whittled away by cost based competition.

Question No. 234 answered with QuestionNo. 100.

Work Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

235 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of applications for work permits received in the past six months; the number approved, received or pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12491/05]

A total of 13,928 valid work permit applications were received from 1 October 2004 to 31 March 2005. In that period, 14,967 applications were granted and 869 were refused. These figures include applications which were received prior to 1 October 2004. There are currently 1,252 applications being processed.

Insurance Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

236 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way in which insurance costs here compare with those in the rest of Europe, the US, Australia and other countries to which Ireland exports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12492/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

237 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which public liability, motor and other insurance costs are competitive in the context of all European countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12493/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 and 237 together.

The National Competitiveness Council in its annual competitiveness report 2004 mentioned the issue of insurance costs in Ireland. The NCC's commentary was based on data published by Swiss Re sigma. This information, based on 2003 figures, depicts insurance premiums per capita for non-life insurance for 16 countries and includes both motor and public liability insurance. It should be noted that this information covers expenditure on insurance, which is only a proxy for the relative price of similar insurance services in different countries. It cannot be seen as a definitive competitiveness barometer for insurance costs.

Of the 16 countries surveyed, Ireland's expenditure on non-life insurance was the fifth highest with a value of $1, 356. Switzerland was the highest with a value of $2,228, the United States were second highest with a value of $1,980, the Netherlands were third with a value of $1,532. The United Kingdom with a value of $1,441 was fourth highest. Hungary was the second lowest with a value of $148, whilst Poland was the cheapest with a value of $102. The average expenditure for the EU15 was $974 and the OECD's average was $1,008.

However, these figures need to be analysed carefully as they do not always include only or all premiums paid by the inhabitants of the country concerned. The NCC also reported that the use of a tort system in Ireland increases private premiums vis-à-vis Europe and the USA where the use of a no-fault system reduces the level of expenditure on insurance premiums.

Recent experience in Ireland indicates that the cost of insurance is falling as a result of the Government's insurance reform programme. The CSO publishes monthly indices of costs for a number of classes of insurance. These statistics show that there was a reduction of 20% in motor car insurance between the months of April 2002, when the first Motor Insurance Advisory Board report was published, and October 2004. There are also reported reductions in the cost of premia for public and employer liability insurance.

Economic Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

238 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has monitored the extent to which Irish goods being exported are maintaining a competitive edge against all others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12494/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

240 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has satisfied himself that Irish-based manufacturers are in a position to compete with all others, both European and worldwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12496/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 238 and 240 together.

The National Competitiveness Council's annual competitiveness report for 2004 ranks Ireland second only to Singapore in terms of exports of goods and services in 2003 as a percentage of GDP. Given the fact that Ireland is obviously one of the world's most open economies, firms must be competitive to succeed both in the domestic market and in international markets. Firms operating here have been adversely affected by a rise in the cost of goods and services, wages and business costs in recent years. However, there are many different factors which contribute to Ireland's overall competitiveness other than just prices and costs. A competitive taxation regime, a highly educated and flexible workforce, low levels of business regulation, access to European markets as well as a transition towards higher end value products and services all combine to create a positive and competitive business environment for exporting firms operating in Ireland.

Ireland's trading performance has been remarkable in recent times, as evidenced by the NCC's analysis. Exports constitute an increasing share of the economy's total output of goods and services. They make a substantial contribution to employment creation and maintenance and underpin a positive trade surplus position. Since the strong appreciation of the euro against both the US dollar and sterling, and given the fact that the USA and the UK are among Ireland's largest trading partners, Ireland's competitiveness has been significantly affected. Despite this, Ireland's trade remains strong with the most recent CSO external trade 2004 figures showing that total merchandise exports for 2004 were worth €83.9 billion, an increase of 2% on the 2003 figures.

We are no longer a low cost economy and as such our future competitiveness and prosperity is dependent upon our ability to move further up the value chain and become an innovative knowledge intensive economy. Enterprise policy is being actively refocused towards creating the conditions that will make possible a sustained shift to higher skill, knowledge-intensive activities and in which advanced manufacturing expertise will be an important contributor to growth and employment. These are essential if our enterprises are to capture sustainable competitive advantage in niche markets that are less susceptible to cost-based competition. The range of incentives provided through the enterprise development agencies are designed to meet these objectives and to help enterprise operate at higher levels of skill, undertake higher order strategic investments, product development and innovation. The agencies want to be active and supportive partners with enterprise in helping new market oriented investment projects.

The Government recognised the need to develop a high value-added knowledge intensive economy when it established the enterprise strategy group. The ESG's report Ahead of the Curve is pivotal in mapping the future direction of Ireland's enterprise policy and ensuring our competitiveness. The purpose of the ESG is to ensure that Ireland's enterprise sector is able to build on its strengths and to exploit new opportunities in technology and services. The Government is committed to implementing the key recommendations contained in this report to maintain the competitiveness of our enterprise economy.

Question No. 239 answered with QuestionNo. 71.
Question No. 240 answered with QuestionNo. 238.

Job Creation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

241 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs arising from overseas investment created here in each of the past seven years; the extent to which a trend has been established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12497/05]

The following tabular statement sets out the number of new jobs created in IDA supported companies in each of the years 1998 to 2004.

Total employment in the IDA portfolio is now just short of 129,000. There was a slight increase in employment in 2004 reversing the downward trend of the previous three years. Significantly, employment in 2004 is over 9% higher than at the end of 1998.

It is important to remember that job creation and job losses are a feature of economic development in all countries as various sectors expand and contract in response to market demand for goods and services, competitive forces, restructuring and technological change.

Table showing number of new jobs created in IDA Ireland supported companies in each of the years 1998 to 2004.

Year

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Number of new jobs created

15,909

17,629

22,998

13,052

10,928

9,576

10,825

Job Losses.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

242 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs that have been relocated to low wage economies in the past five years; the countries or regions affected most; the action taken or proposed to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12498/05]

Ireland's economy is undergoing fundamental change, which is affecting all sectors of our economy. Ireland can no longer be seen as a low cost location for investment as our strengths and competitive advantages have inexorably changed. High output and productivity together with high returns to labour in the form of wages, salaries and better living standards now typify Ireland's economy. Ireland is no longer seen as a location for what could be called basic low-tech production and is being overtaken by low wage economies in terms of cost competitiveness. However, no measure is available to quantify jobs that may have relocated to other countries. Naturally, a more attractive cost environment abroad will inevitably entice some firms that are unable to generate their required return from the modern enterprise economy into which we have transformed ourselves. A continuing structural evolution of our economy is both unavoidable and necessary to maintain current levels of growth and low unemployment. With this, some plant transfers and other adjustments are bound to come but where relocation has occurred to date, it has largely been limited to relatively low-technology, labour-intensive activities.

We have become a more sophisticated and developed economy where the application of technology and intellectual endeavour is becoming more important than simple cost competitiveness as the foundation for growth and prosperity. We now have one of the most open economies in the world where trends in world trade, global business investment and consumer decisions directly influence the pattern of economic growth, company development and job prospects here more so than probably in other developed economies.

A balanced combination of pro-enterprise policies has helped propel economic growth and employment expansion and these have encouraged deeper and stronger links to both the enlarging EU markets and internationally. Consequently, Irish enterprise and society has benefited enormously from the ability of entrepreneurs to operate more profitably both in and from Ireland.

To counterbalance the competitive threat from lower wage competitor economies, our policy is to encourage a move to higher levels of productivity and value added products and services. Sustainable employment will be driven by companies with higher profitability that are more technologically advanced and prove a better fit with the competitive characteristics of our economy, and are therefore less likely to move on the basis of simple cost influences. This new investment will be sourced by a combination of developing existing clients and new investors in existing or new activities or sectors. The enterprise development agencies have a clear mandate to align their operations around this policy objective.

The latest data from the Central Statistics Office's quarterly national household survey in respect of Quarter 4 2004 shows that employment increased by 65,200 on the corresponding period in 2003, bringing the total number in employment to a record 1,894,100. This is a remarkable achievement at a time when there is considerable debate and comment about the impact of competition from lower wage economies on employment levels in developed economies.

Work Permits.

Willie Penrose

Question:

243 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position in relation to applications for work permits for persons, which were submitted by a company (details supplied) in County Westmeath; if same will be dealt with as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12510/05]

The work permit section of my Department has indicated that the permits in question have been refused. The employer was informed in writing of the decision and of his right to appeal the decision.

An appeal has been received and is currently under consideration. It is anticipated that a decision from the work permits section will be posted to the employer within seven days.

Industrial Development.

Jack Wall

Question:

244 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding an enterprise (details supplied); if his Department or the IDA has ceased payments of rent in regard to the matter; the total funding allocated by either in regard to the payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12511/05]

IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment, FDI, to Ireland, including its regions and areas.

I understand the Deputy's question relates to an advance factory. I have been informed by IDA Ireland that it does not have an advance factory at the location indicated by the Deputy. However, IDA did construct a building at Woodstock Industrial Estate, Athy, County Kildare in 2000 which was occupied by an Enterprise Ireland client company in 2004.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

245 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he is carrying out a re-assessment of the application for the non-contributory pension for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11955/05]

The person's claim for old age non-contributory pension was disallowed on the grounds that her means, derived from the letting of her land, exceeds the statutory limit.

The person appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office and following an oral hearing of the appeal on 16 November 2004, the appeals officer disallowed the appeal. The appellant subsequently reported a change in the letting arrangement and the appeals officer has decided to refer the matter to a social welfare inspector for further investigation. The appeals officer will review his decision as soon as this report comes to hand.

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.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

246 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who are not civil servants but are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12362/05]

Since I took up office, I have appointed on a contract basis for my term of office four non-established civil servants, a special adviser, Mr. Frank Lahiffe, a press adviser, Mr. Tom Rowley, a personal secretary, Ms Mary Browne, and a personal assistant, Mr. Bobby Holland. All four appointees are employed full-time.

The salaries for these staff are as follows: special adviser, €83,707 — principal officer standard scale; press adviser, €89,801 — principal officer higher scale; and personal secretary, €37,621. My personal assistant is on secondment from the Department of Education and Science. That Department will recoup from my Department on an annual basis the cost of a replacement teacher's salary, allowances, PRSI contributions and superannuation contributions. This will be in the region of €31,800.

The duties carried out by the advisers — special adviser and press adviser — attached to my Department are as set out in section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997, that is, to assist the Minister by providing advice on a wide range of issues, by monitoring, facilitating and securing the achievement of Government objectives that relate to my Department and by performing such other functions as may be directed by me.

The roles of my personal secretary and personal assistant are to provide administrative support and back-up in my capacity as a Deputy and in my constituency office.

The terms of contract for the above positions are as determined by the Department of Finance and are subject to the Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 to 1996 and any other Act for the time being in force relating to the Civil Service.

A Minister of State has not been appointed to my Department.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

247 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department, as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12377/05]

Since I took up office, I have appointed on a contract basis for my term of office a special adviser, Mr. Frank Lahiffe, a press adviser, Mr. Tom Rowley, a personal secretary and a personal assistant. During 2004, the travel and subsistence costs of my special adviser and my press adviser were €1,378.77 and €150.00 respectively. There were no travel and subsistence costs in respect of my personal secretary or my personal assistant.

From 1 January 2004 until 29 September 2004 there were travel and subsistence costs paid to three ministerial staff appointed by my predecessor, Deputy Mary Coughlan. Ms Helen Faughnan, special adviser, was paid €2,309.98. Mr. Tom Reddy, press adviser, and Ms Kathleen Ayres, personal assistant, were paid €3,212.86 and €4.38 respectively.

A Minister of State was not appointed to the Department for the period in question.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Denis Naughten

Question:

248 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the procedure involved in applying to his Department for a respite grant in a case in which an applicant is not on the HSE database and not in receipt of the carer’s allowance or benefit; when application forms will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12447/05]

In budget 2005, I announced the extension of the respite care grant scheme to all carers providing full-time care to an older person or a person with a disability, regardless of means and subject to certain qualifying conditions.

The respite care grant will continue to be payable to recipients of carer's allowance, carer's benefit, prescribed relative allowance, constant attendance allowance and domiciliary care allowance. Carers who do not qualify for a grant under one of these schemes may now obtain a grant if they and the person for whom they are caring satisfy certain conditions.

The grant, which is being increased to €1,000, will be payable from 2 June 2005 in respect of each qualifying person for whom full-time care is being provided.

Jack Wall

Question:

249 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if, under the ambit of the community welfare system, funding is available for the provision of speech and language therapy sessions to medical card holders in view of the fact that such funding is not available from the Department of Health and Children and that such sessions are not provided by the south west region of the Health Service Executive to medical card holders in that area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12448/05]

The provision of speech and language therapy sessions to medical card holders is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. The issue of the availability of such services in a particular area is a matter for the executive, and neither I nor my Department has any function in that regard.

Payments towards the cost of these services would not come within the scope of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme generally. However, in exceptional or special circumstances, a once-off payment may be made under the scheme to assist with the cost of meeting a particular essential need. It is a matter for local community welfare officers to assess each case.

Each decision to make an exceptional needs payment is based on the circumstances of the case, taking account of the nature and extent of the need, the availability of an alternative source or agency to supply the service and the resources of the applicant household.

Rail Network.

Mary Wallace

Question:

250 Ms M. Wallace asked the Minister for Transport the funding options for the proposed Dunboyne Rail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12267/05]

Mary Wallace

Question:

252 Ms M. Wallace asked the Minister for Transport if he has received a request from Iarnród Éireann for a meeting regarding Dunboyne Rail; if he will report on progress on the issue since the January 2005 feasibility study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12269/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 250 and 252 together.

Iarnród Éireann, in conjunction with Meath and Fingal County Councils, recently completed a feasibility study into the possibility of providing a spur off the Maynooth line at Clonsilla to Pace on the N3 beyond Dunboyne.

Iarnród Éireann is currently considering the results of the study and how it wishes to proceed. I await to hear from the company.

Rural Transport Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

251 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Transport further to Question No. 586 of 12 April 2005, if RTI allocation for 2005 will remain at the €3.45 million he announced in January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12268/05]

I refer the Deputy to my reply yesterday to Question No. 358 which states: I announced on Friday, 15 April 2005 an increase in the funding allocation for the pilot rural transport initiative, RTI, in 2005 from €3.45 million to €4.5 million. The increased funding will provide scope for the 34 community transport groups being funded under the scheme to undertake a modest expansion of services, as envisaged in the 2004 evaluation of the RTI.

Area Development Management Limited, ADM, administers the RTI on behalf of my Department and has sole responsibility for making specific allocations to individual project groups from funding provided by my Department. I understand that ADM is communicating decisions to the individual RTI project groups regarding specific funding allocations for 2005 following the finalisation of agreed business plans. In making such allocations, I have called on ADM to work closely with the groups to maximise the impact of the increased funding and to ensure continued value for money.

Question No. 252 answered with QuestionNo. 250.

Departmental Agencies.

Mary Wallace

Question:

253 Ms M. Wallace asked the Minister for Transport if the DTO has not met for the past two years; if so, the reason therefore; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12270/05]

The steering committee of the Dublin Transportation Office meets on a monthly basis.

State Airports.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

254 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if he will list all the studies or reports which will inform his decision on the optional location for a second terminal at Dublin Airport; and if each of these documents will be made available in the library of Dáil Éireann. [12301/05]

As the Deputy will be aware, I am finalising proposals for the provision of additional terminal capacity at Dublin Airport and will submit proposals to Government very shortly. I will be guided by the most up-to-date information on the airport's needs and the relevant consultations and analysis undertaken by my Department. New capacity is clearly required to cater for the expected growth in passenger numbers at the airport and this capacity must be provided on an efficient and cost-effective basis. Future arrangements will be designed to ensure that both the location and operation of terminal capacity are in keeping with the optimum development of an efficient Dublin Airport.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

255 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Transport in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department, who not being civil servants are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12363/05]

Details of unestablished civil servants employed by the Minister and the Minister of State in the Department of Transport as requested by the Deputy are set out below. The details are included in the contracts for the individuals and copies of those documents have been laid before the House. There are no political advisers employed in the Department of Transport.

Ministerial staff as requested.

Number

Name

Position

Conditions

Salary Scale

1

Sean Dower

Personal Assistant

Full-time contract

39,035-49,529

1

Colin Hunt

Special Adviser (Programme Manager)

Full-time contract

134,948 p.a.

1

Dan Pender

Press Adviser

Full-time contract

71,990-89,047

Minister of State staff as requested.

Number

Name

Position

Conditions

Salary Scale

1

Niall Phelan

Personal Assistant

Full-time contract

39,035-49,529

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

256 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Transport if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12378/05]

Details of travel and maintenance expenses for unestablished civil servants in the employment of the Minister and the Minister of State in the Department of Transport are set out below. There are no political advisers employed in the Department of Transport. The staff of the offices outlined changed with the change of Minister on 29 September 2004.

Personal staff employed in the office of the Minister.

Position

Name

Expenses paid in 2004

Personal Assistant

Mr. Sean Dower

0

Special Adviser (Programme Manager)

Mr. Colin Hunt

2,995

Press Officer

Mr. Dan Pender

1,404

Personal staff employed in the office of the Minister of State.

Position

Name

Expenses paid in 2004

Personal Assistant

Mr. Niall Phelan

0

Rail Network.

Seán Ryan

Question:

257 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Transport if, in respect of any proposals to extend a metro or the Luas to Dublin Airport, the plans will incorporate an extension to Swords, County Dublin. [12458/05]

The programme for Government contains a specific commitment to develop a metro for Dublin with a link to Dublin Airport. The Railway Procurement Agency has submitted to my Department a detailed business case for a metro from the city centre to Dublin Airport while Iarnród Eireann submitted proposals last July for an integrated rail network in the greater Dublin area. While the RPA has suggested a number of routes for the proposed metro, a final decision will be subject to a Government decision on the project and subsequently to the findings of a public inquiry as part of the statutory approval process. A further link from the airport to Swords is also being examined by the RPA.

In the light of the announcement by the Minister for Finance in his Budget Statement of agreement in principle to a ten-year capital investment envelope for transport, work has commenced in my Department on a ten-year transport investment plan. The draft framework takes account of the work already done on investment priorities under the current capital envelope to end 2009 and of the various strategic studies already completed by my Department and its agencies. The studies include A Platform for Change, the Strategic Rail Review and the National Road Needs Study. More specifically, my Department has engaged with Córas Iompair Éireann, the Railway Procurement Agency, the National Roads Authority and the Dublin Transportation Office to identify the broad direction and priorities under the ten-year investment framework. My Department has also consulted with other Departments, primarily through the interdepartmental team of officials which supports the Cabinet committee on infrastructure, housing and public private partnerships.

A draft of the ten-year transport plan is under consideration by the Cabinet committee. I will bring proposals to Government in due course once the Cabinet committee has concluded its work.

State Airports.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

258 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport his plans for hotels (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12459/05]

As the Deputy is aware, in accordance with the provisions of the State Airports Act 2004, the three airport authorities at Dublin, Shannon and Cork are required to prepare comprehensive business plans. This work is ongoing. The position of the principal subsidiaries of the Dublin Airport Authority, including the Great Southern Hotels Group, must be considered by the authority in the first instance. The board's proposals for the future of the hotel group will be considered by me and the Minister for Finance in due course and in the context of the overall business planning process.

Taxi Hardship Panel.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

259 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7 will be re-examined for compensation in relation to a taxi plate. [12460/05]

Area Development Management Limited is administering and managing the taxi hardship payments scheme which is implementing the recommendations of the taxi hardship panel report. Payments under the scheme do not represent compensation but rather compassionate payments in respect of extreme personal financial hardship. The processing and consideration of applications under the scheme is being undertaken by ADM independently of my Department.

While my Department has no details of individual applications made to ADM under the scheme, I understand from enquiries that no application from the person in question was received by ADM under the scheme which is now closed for applications. I have no role in the review of applications or the consideration of appeals under the scheme.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

260 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department, who not being civil servants are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12364/05]

The rates of remuneration for the following non-civil servants who are employed by me in a full-time temporary unestablished capacity are as follows. Mr. Pádraic Ó hUiginn is employed as my special adviser and is paid on the second point of the principal officer standard scale at €75,042 per annum. Ms. Eadaoin Ní Mhonghaile is employed as media adviser and is paid on the third point of the principal officer standard scale at €78,075 per annum. Ms. Máirín Ní Choisdealbha is employed as personal assistant in my constituency office and is paid on the seventh point of the higher executive officer standard scale at €46,199 per annum. Ms. Máire Ní Fhlatharta is employed as my personal secretary and is paid on the first long service increment point of the Houses of the Oireachtas secretarial assistant scale at €40,701 per annum.

The contracts for the above-named officers are for the duration of my term of office as Minister at the Department and require the performance of duties appropriate to their position assigned by me. The contracts have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs employs no such staff in my Department.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

261 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12379/05]

Details of travel and maintenance expenses in 2004 of personnel employed in my Department in the positions referred to by the Deputy are set out in the following tabular statement:

Name

Position

Travel

Subsistence

Total

Éadaoin Ní Mhonghaile

Media Adviser

10,191

12,258

22,449

Pádraic Ó hUiginn

Special Adviser

2,153

796

2,949

Máire Ní Fhlatharta

Personal Secretary to Minister

3,366

517

3,883

Máire Ní Choisdealbha

Personal Assistant to Minister

Nil

Nil

Nil

No staff are employed in my Department as personal secretaries or assistants to the Minister of State, Deputy Noel Ahern.

Animal Diseases.

John Perry

Question:

262 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) in County Sligo must have two herd tests; if this person’s herd test will be scheduled for the last week in August in order that the results and documentation from this herd can be used for the September special animal sales; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12304/05]

In view of the level of TB and brucellosis in Ireland, all herds are required by EU Directive 64/432/EEC to have one annual test for TB and brucellosis in order to maintain official free status and dependent trading opportunities. In order to facilitate the completion of the annual programme of tests and follow-up of disease detected, all such testing is conducted on an area, district electoral division, DED, basis and is organised into phases such that there is, as far a practicable, an even distribution of workload throughout the year, taking into consideration daylight, prevailing weather conditions and availability of private veterinary practitioners. The annual, round, herd test for the herdowner in question is due for completion in the course of the first phase, that is, before 12 June 2005. In this regard, I should point out that the annual herd test on his herd was carried out on 8 July in 2004 and on 10 May in 2003.

Eligible animals being moved out of a herd must have passed a TB test within the previous 12 months and a brucellosis test within the previous 30 days. All farmers would like to have their herd tests scheduled at peak sales periods to avoid having to privately test animals they wish to sell, such as for special sales in the autumn. However it would be impossible to manage the testing programme if all herd tests were to be scheduled for this time period. It is therefore my policy not to reschedule the routine round tests out of their planned current phase unless there is a compelling disease reason to do so.

Installation Aid Scheme.

John Perry

Question:

263 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when installation aid approval will be given for a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12312/05]

The above-named person is an applicant under the installation aid scheme. The application is currently being examined by my Department's inspectorate. Additional information has been sought from the applicant in regard to a number of outstanding issues. The processing of the application awaits the submission of this further documentation.

Grant Payments.

John Perry

Question:

264 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if her attention has been drawn to the overwhelming circumstances encountered by a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; if a decision will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12314/05]

The person named has been notified that the circumstances outlined by him did not satisfy the criteria for force majeure or exceptional circumstances under Article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003.

Following this decision the person named submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee. A full review of the circumstances of the case will be carried out by the independent single payment appeals committee and the person named will be notified shortly of the outcome.

John Perry

Question:

265 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if her attention has been drawn to the fact that, due to medical difficulties a person (details supplied) in County Sligo was unaware of the retention dates for their animals; if a decision will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12315/05]

This decision has been appealed to the agriculture appeals office. Appeals require individual examination and are dealt with in the order in which they are received. This appeal was received on 8 April 2005 and has been assigned to an appeals officer for examination.

The appeals office will contact the appellant shortly to arrange the oral hearing that he requested. It is not expected that there will be any undue delay in dealing with this case.

John Perry

Question:

266 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the single payment scheme will be reviewed for a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim; if a decision will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12318/05]

A certificate of provisional entitlements under the single payment scheme issued to the person named on 30 September 2004. The statement included a detailed breakdown of how the provisional entitlements were calculated.

Farmers who were not satisfied with their provisional entitlement statement could seek a review on a form which is available from all local offices of my Department and from my Department's website.

A completed review form was received from the person named on 8 April 2005. Officials in my Department are currently examining this case and will contact the person named in this regard shortly.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

267 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in her Department who not being civil servants but are contracted by her as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12365/05]

The following tabular statements give a breakdown of non-civil servant staff employed in my office and in the offices of the Ministers of State:

Minister's Office Staff

Grade

Office

Salary Scale

Kathleen Ayres Personal Assistant

Constituency office, Donegal

41,389-51,192

Bridget Byrne Personal Secretary

Constituency office, Donegal

19,499-37,621

Marina Gaffney Temporary Clerical Officer

Constituency office, Donegal

19,493-31,612

Minister of State, Deputy B. Smith Office.

Grade

Office

Salary Scale

Nuala Brady Personal Assistant

Constituency office, Cavan

373.68-720.98

Celine Mullen Personal Secretary

Dublin office.

19,493-37,621

Minister of State, Deputy Browne Office

Grade

Number

Salary Scale

Stephanie Byrne Personal Secretary

Constituency office, Enniscorthy

373.68-720.98

Rhoda Millar Temporary Clerical Officer

Constituency office, Enniscorthy

19,493-31,612

All the above staff are employed on a contract basis and are employed full-time. The contracts will terminate not later than the date I as Minister or Ministers of State cease to hold office.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

268 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to her Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12380/05]

The following tabular statements show the travel and subsistence expenses paid to officers in my office and those in the Ministers of State's offices attached to my Department in the period since taking office:

The Minister, Mary Coughlan's, office.

The Minister, Deputy Coughlan's, office.

Name

Travel and Subsistence Expenses

Dermot Murphy (Special Adviser)

1,967.55

Thomas Reddy (Press Adviser)

2,178.62

Total

4,146.17

Minister of State, Deputy B. Smith.

Name

Travel and Subsistence Expenses

Nuala Brady (Personal Assistant)

572.95

Total

572.95

The Minister, Deputy Walsh's Office.

Name

Travel and Subsistence Expenses

Danny Carroll (Special Adviser)

9,624.48

Total

9,624.48

Grant Payments.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

269 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the total amount of entitlements which will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12405/05]

The person named submitted an application for consideration in respect of the inheritance measure of the single payment scheme. Following processing of his application, I am pleased to advise that the person named has been notified directly that his application has been successful.

Subsequently a statement of provisional entitlements issued to the person named on 7 April 2005.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

270 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if consideration will be given to an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Meath under force majeure for the single payment scheme; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this person had a very serious farm accident some years ago which necessitated a change from milk production; if, as a consequence, the year 2002 will be taken as a reference year on its own; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12406/05]

An application for consideration under the force majeure or exceptional circumstances of the single payment regulations was submitted by the person named on 29 January 2004.

Following consideration by my Department of the circumstances outlined, including additional information submitted, my Department is satisfied that force majeure can be applied in respect of the person named. Consequently, the years 2000 and 2001 will be excluded and only the year 2002 will be used in the calculation of the single payment entitlement. The person named was notified of this decision on 10 March 2005.

An amended statement of provisional entitlements reflecting this position will issue shortly to the person named.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

271 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kerry was not considered suitable as a force majeure case, in view of their exceptional circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12413/05]

An application for consideration under the force majeure exceptional circumstances measure of the single payment regulations was submitted by the person named on 26 January 2004. The person named has been notified that the circumstances outlined by him do not satisfy the criteria for force majeure exceptional circumstances under Article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003. The exceptional circumstances put forward did not result in a fall in production and in fact, the exclusion of the year in question, would have had a negative impact on the single payment entitlements for the person named.

The person named has been advised that he can appeal this decision to the independent single payment appeals committee which will carry out a full review of the circumstances outlined.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

272 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the effect which the gas pipeline will have on persons (details supplied) with regard to REPS payments. [12514/05]

Arrangements arrived at between landowners and the developers of the gas pipeline are not a matter for my Department in the first instance. My Department does, however, make special provision for cases in which, as a result of the development of the pipeline, participants in REPS are compelled to reduce the area they have included in the scheme. They are exempted from the general rule under which, if land included in a REPS plan is disposed of, payments already made on that area are recouped. Payments for the remainder of the REPS contract are, however, recalculated to reflect the reduced area.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

273 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if all payments under the single farm payment will be made in October when they are due; and if not, if an interim payment will be made in October in order that no hardship be created. [12519/05]

The operation of the single payment scheme is governed by the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003. In general, Article 28 of that regulation provides for the payment of the single payment once a year within the period from 1 December to 30 June of the following calendar year.

My Department is currently in the final stages of implementing the single payment scheme and the deadline for the receipt of applications is 16 May 2005. My primary objective is that payment should issue to farmers from the beginning of December 2005. While there is provision in Article 28 of the Council Regulation for the European Commission to implement a regulation to provide for advances, there is no proposal from the Commission to do so at present.

Prisoner Transfers.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

274 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on the transfer pursuant to Article 2.2 of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons sought by a person (details supplied); the correspondence he has had with the office of the Governor of Massachusetts in connection with processing this request; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12475/05]

I wish to advise the House that Article 2.2 of the Council of Europe Convention states that:

a person sentenced in the territory of a Party may be transferred to the territory of another Party, in accordance with the provisions of this Convention, in order to serve the sentence imposed on him. To that end, he may express his interest to the sentencing State or to the administering State in being transferred under this Convention.

An expression of interest for transfer to a prison in this country from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in my Department on 23 August, 2004. In line with the convention, my Department wrote to the US Department of Justice on 24 August 2004, requesting that it should commence processing this individual's application. The US Department of Justice is the central contact point in respect of all international prison transfer applications between Ireland and the United States. My Department has had no correspondence with the Office of the Governor of Massachusetts as regards this matter and has not, as yet, received the formal application and supporting documentation from the United States authorities.

The Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons requires extensive documentation to be exchanged between both jurisdictions in order to allow an application to be fully considered. A three way consent is also required to enable any transfer to take place, that is, from the authorities of both jurisdictions and from the person concerned. On receipt of those consents — assuming they will be forthcoming — an application must then be made to the High Court for a warrant authorising the transfer of the person concerned and his continued detention here.

These procedures are required under the Convention and the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Act 1995, and must be adhered to in processing each application.

Garda Stations.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

275 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a Garda station (details supplied) in County Wexford is for sale; if not, if there are plans for its sale; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11771/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda station referred to by the Deputy is not for sale. There are no plans at present to sell it.

Deportation Orders.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

276 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application for the revocation of the deportation order for persons (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11952/05]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

277 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way in which a person previously deported from Ireland to Romania can now legally re-enter the country to live with his wife and child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11954/05]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

278 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the options available to a person (details supplied) in order that he can come here to live with his spouse and child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11957/05]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

279 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way in which a person previously deported from Ireland to Romania can now legally re-enter the country to live with his spouse and child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11988/05]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

280 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application for the revocation of the deportation order regarding a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11990/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 to 280, inclusive, together.

If a person who is the subject of a valid deportation order wishes to return to the State, he or she may apply to have the deportation order revoked under section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999. A person from Romania must also hold a valid visa to travel to the State. There is no automatic right of residency for a non-national married to an Irish national and a person who marries an Irish national may apply for permission to enter and reside in the State with his or her Irish national spouse. It is the normal procedure where such an application is received from a person who is the subject of a deportation order and marries an Irish national outside the State, that both the revocation and the residency issues are considered at the same time.

The person in question is the subject of a valid deportation order signed on 26 October 2000 following a failed asylum application in the State. He was deported on foot of this order in September 2003 and is obliged to remain outside the State. He married an Irish national in his home country in December 2003 and made an application for the revocation of the deportation order on 6 February 2004. Following consideration of the circumstances of the case this application was refused on 27 April 2004 and a notification issued to this effect.

The person concerned can make a fresh application for the revocation of the deportation order and permission to enter and remain in the State based on marriage to an Irish national if there has been any change to his circumstances since 27 April 2004.

Citizenship Applications.

Paul McGrath

Question:

281 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7 has been waiting quite a while for a passport application to be processed; when a passport will issue to this person; and the reason for the delay in issuing same. [12287/05]

I assume the Deputy is referring to an application for a certificate of naturalisation which the person in question lodged with my Department on 11 December 2002. There are court proceedings outstanding in respect of the applicant in question and officials in the citizenship section of my Department are awaiting the outcome of those proceedings in order that their submission to me fully comprehends the circumstances of the case. I will inform both the Deputy and applicant when I have made a decision in the matter.

Garda Investigations.

Tony Gregory

Question:

282 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the terms of reference of the legal counsel who will examine the documentation related to the Grangegorman murder case; the nature and extent of the documentation that will be examined; the timescale for the examination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12288/05]

In view of the understandable grounds for concern that the late Mr. Dean Lyons made an apparently inculpatory statement in the case of the murders of Mary Callinan and Sylvia Shiels on 6/7 March 1997, I have decided in principle to refer the Garda papers in the case to outside counsel with a view to examining how Mr. Lyons came to make the confession and what lessons can be learned from that occurrence in an effort to ensure a similar occurrence does not happen again. I will shortly announce the terms of reference for the examination and the name of the counsel who will carry it out.

Deportation Orders.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

283 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will allow persons (details supplied) to return to Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12302/05]

I refer the Deputy to replies to Questions Nos. 397 and 403 of Tuesday, 19 April 2005. My position on these cases remains the same.

Registration of Title.

John Perry

Question:

284 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Land Registry Office will expedite a dealing application (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12319/05]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that this is an application for transfer order and transfer of part — sale — which was lodged on 18 October 2004. Dealing Number D2004SM009052Y refers. I am further informed that a query was issued to the lodging solicitor on 14 April 2005 and that the application cannot proceed until it has been satisfactorily resolved. However, on receipt of a satisfactory reply the application will receive further attention in the Land Registry.

Prisoner Transfers.

Jack Wall

Question:

285 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be considered for a transfer to Shelton Abbey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12341/05]

The prisoner's request for a transfer to Shelton Abbey was discussed recently at a local review meeting in Wheatfield Prison and a transfer to an open centre was not recommended at this stage of his sentence. From my response to Question No. 498 of 22 March 2005, the person to whom the Deputy referred was approved a transfer, on a swap basis, to the Midlands Prison in early March 2005. The purpose of this transfer is to facilitate family visits. I understand from the Irish Prison Service that he will be transferred when the next opportunity arises to swap prisoners between both institutions.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

286 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who not being civil servants but are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12366/05]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table. The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children will provide details separately in respect of the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Brian Lenihan.

Minister's Office non Civil Servant Staff.

Name

Title

Function

Full-time/ Part Time

Terms of Contract

Remuneration

Hugh Hardiman

Personal Assistant

General secretarial and administrative duties

Full-time

Appointment is temporary and will terminate when the Minister leaves office

39,035-49,529

Mary McCowan

Personal Secretary

General secretarial duties

Full-time

Appointment is temporary and will terminate when the Minister leaves office

19,499-37,621

Cormac Lucey

Special Adviser

Provision of policy advice

Full-time

Appointment is temporary and will terminate when the Minister leaves office

71,990 -89,047

Minister of State's Office non Civil Servant Staff.

Name

Title

Function

Full-time/ Part Time

Terms of Contract

Remuneration

Sheila Burnes

Personal Assistant to Minister of State

General secretarial and administrative duties

Full-time

Appointment is temporary and will terminate when the Minister leaves office

39,035-49,529

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

287 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12381/05]

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of travel and subsistence expenses for the calendar year 2004, incurred by staff employed in my office and that of the Minister of State is programme delivery manager —€1,096.78; special adviser to Minister —€2,134.71; press officer —€693.99; personal assistant to former Minister of State —€2,520.18; and personal secretary to former Minister of State —€580.30.

Judicial Appointments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

288 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of High Court judges; and the number of these who are solicitors. [12442/05]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

289 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Supreme Court judges; and the number of these who are solicitors. [12443/05]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

290 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Circuit Court judges; and the number of these who are solicitors. [12444/05]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

292 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of judges appointed in each of the Supreme, High and Circuit Courts. [12451/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 288 to 290, inclusive, and 292 together.

The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice and seven ordinary judges, together with the President of the High Court as an ex officio member. The statutory maximum number may be exceeded by one when a Supreme Court judge, as is the case, is serving as President of the Law Reform Commission. One vacancy exists in the court. None of the serving judges of the Supreme Court were solicitors at the time of their appointment.

The High Court consists of the President and 31 ordinary judges, together with the Chief Justice and the President of the Circuit Court as ex officio members. Thirty-two judges have been appointed to the High Court, of whom one was a solicitor at the time of his appointment.

The Circuit Court consists of a President and 33 ordinary judges. The President of the District Court is an ex officio member. Thirty-four judges have been appointed to the Circuit Court, of whom eight were solicitors at the time of their appointment.

Garda Recruitment.

Michael Noonan

Question:

291 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will reconsider the medical grounds which disqualified a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary from entry to the Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12445/05]

Entry to the Garda Síochána is governed by the An Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations, 1988, as amended. These regulations provide that the Garda Commissioner shall not admit a person as a Garda trainee unless the person is certified by a registered medical practitioner to be in good health, of sound constitution and suited physically and mentally to performing the duties of a member of the Garda Síochána.

In the above regard I am informed by the Garda authorities that the vision standard required by Garda trainees is as follows: not less than 6/9, 6/12 unaided by glasses or contact lenses; binocular acuity for near vision should be N8 measured on Snellan test types; both eyes should be free of organic, congenital or traumatic lesions; have normal visual fields; have normal fundoscopy. The vision of the applicant referred to by the Deputy in the question was assessed by the medical examiners at the Garda medical department, who concluded that while his right eye met the required visual entry standard, his left eye was below the minimum acceptable visual entry standard set for entry to the Garda Síochána.

Question No. 292 answered with QuestionNo. 288.

Registration of Title.

Willie Penrose

Question:

293 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an application will be expedited for first registration by persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12499/05]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that this is an application for a transfer order which was lodged on 12 November 2002. Dealing number D2002XS010984J refers. This application is in the final stages of completion and will be completed within the next few weeks.

Garda Deployment.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

294 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans for ensuring that any additional gardaí will be deployed in areas in which they are most needed and on the duties for which they are most needed; and his views on the areas in which extra gardaí are most needed and on the duties for which they are most needed. [12502/05]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the allocation and deployment of Garda personnel, that the number of Garda personnel assigned 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 Garda service is provided to the general public.

With regard to Garda resources generally, I am 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 a commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government in this regard. This is a key commitment and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

The Commissioner will now draw up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. Clearly, 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 significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps.

I have already promised 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.

Prisons Building Programme.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

295 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether the purchase of the Thornton Hall site for the proposed new super prison would withstand scrutiny from an investigation of the Committee of Public Accounts. [12503/05]

I am satisfied that the purchase of the site at Thornton Hall will prove to be excellent value for money for the taxpayer and that proper procedures were followed in its acquisition.

Illegal Immigrants.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

296 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his position on the granting of an amnesty for illegal workers in this State is consistent with his position on the granting of an amnesty to Irish persons working illegally in the United States. [12504/05]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

297 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider the granting of a one time amnesty to regularise illegal workers in this State; and if he will consider such an amnesty as part of the Immigration and Residence Bill or as a separate part of his overall immigration reform package. [12505/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 296 and 297 together.

I do not propose to grant an amnesty either as part of the Immigration and Residence Bill or as a separate part of an overall immigration reform package to those who are illegally in the State. For several years now we have been operating one of the most liberal economic migration systems in Europe, with large numbers entering the State legally for employment purposes. In addition, we are one of the few states in Europe to have granted full access to our labour market on enlargement of the EU to citizens of the new member states.

Amnesties and regularisations, in my view, undermine the system of legal migration by rewarding those who have no legal basis for their residence in the country. Also, they reward those who abuse our asylum system. It is an integral element of any asylum system that those who are not in need of protection should be returned to their countries of origin.

International experience is that amnesties have a "sponge effect", that is, an attracting effect, which brings more illegals into the country to avail of them. Amnesties or regularisations are never once-off. They send out wrong signals by saying that there will be another amnesty or regularisation along soon, which in turn encourages more illegal immigration.

It is a matter for individual states to determine whether they grant amnesties to persons who are illegally present in their jurisdictions. As the Minister charged with responsibility for the Irish immigration system, I would not support calls for such an amnesty in the Irish immigration system for the reasons outlined above.

Garda Deployment.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

298 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí based in Ballyfermot Garda station; the units or special squads they are attached to; the number available for duty on the ground in Ballyfermot on each shift; the number of community gardaí based in Ballyfermot Garda station; and if he proposes to increase these numbers. [12506/05]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of Ballyfermot Garda station as at 18 April 2005 was 74, all ranks. The breakdown of personnel attached to special squads at Ballyfermot Garda station as at 18 April 2005 was as set out in the table.

Unit

Sergeants

Gardaí

Detectives

1

6

Detective Aids

0

3

Drugs Unit

1

4

Summonses Server

0

1

Warrant Officer

0

1

Juvenile Liaison Officer

0

1

Each regular unit is supplemented by personnel from the divisional task force and divisional traffic unit. One sergeant and nine gardaí are attached to the community policing unit at Ballyfermot Garda station. I am also advised that it is not Garda policy to disclose the number of personnel who will perform duty in any particular area over a certain period of time for security and operational reasons.

Garda management will continue to monitor and appraise the policing and administrative strategy employed in Ballyfermot with a view to ensuring an effective Garda service is maintained. With regard to Garda resources generally, I am 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 a commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government in this regard. This is a key commitment and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

The Commissioner will now draw up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. In this context, the needs of Ballyfermot Garda station will be fully considered within the context of the needs of Garda stations throughout the country. Clearly, 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 significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. I have already promised 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.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

299 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí based in Ronanstown Garda station; the units or special squads they are attached to; the number available for duty on the ground in Ronanstown on each shift; the number of community gardaí based in Ronanstown Garda station; and if he proposes to increase these numbers. [12507/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities who are responsible for the detailed allocation of Garda resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of Ronanstown Garda station as at 18 April 2005 was 86, all ranks. The number of personnel attached to special squads at Ronanstown Garda station as at 18 April 2005 was as set out in the following tabular statement:.

Unit

Sergeants

Gardaí

Detectives

2

5

Detective Aids

0

6

Drugs Unit

1

5

Summonses Server

0

1

Warrant Officer

0

4

Juvenile (Liaison) Officer

0

1

Each regular unit is supplemented by personnel from the divisional task force and divisional traffic unit. There are one sergeant and 12 gardaí attached to the community policing unit at Ronanstown Garda station. I am also advised that it is not Garda policy to disclose the number of personnel who will perform duty in any particular area over a certain period of time for security and operational reasons.

Garda management will continue to monitor and appraise the policing and administrative strategy employed in Ronanstown with a view to ensuring an effective Garda service is maintained. With regard to Garda resources generally, I am 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 a commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government in this regard. This is a key commitment and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

The Commissioner will now draw up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. In this context, the needs of Ronanstown Garda station will be fully considered within the context of the needs of Garda stations throughout the country. Clearly, 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 significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. I have already promised 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.

Garda Investigations.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

300 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Question No. 110 of 12 April 2005, if he will publish the full contents of the final report on the reinvestigation into the assassination of Eddie Fullerton once the requisite information and co-operation has been received from the British authorities and the PSNI; if he will publish the interim findings if such information and co-operation has not been forthcoming after a reasonable interval; and if so, his views on the length of time which is a reasonable interval for the provision of same. [12509/05]

I do not intend to publish the Garda reports, whether interim or final, into the review of all matters of concern raised by the Fullerton family and their solicitors into the murder and the ensuing investigations. However, as I stated in my reply to Questions Nos. 83, 101, 106, 109, 110, 757, 758, 759, 760 and 761 of 12 April last, when all outstanding matters are clarified by the Garda Síochána upon the receipt of responses from the British and Northern Ireland authorities, I will contact the Fullerton family's solicitors with a full response to their concerns.

As I have no reason to believe, nor have I received any indication, that either the British and Northern Ireland authorities have failed or will fail to co-operate with the requests made of them, the question of setting a time limit does not arise.

Third Level Funding.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

301 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount of funding provided to the institutes of technology over the past ten years; the level of funding provided per student to the different ITs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11669/05]

Details of capital and recurrent funding provided to each institute of technology in the ten year period from 1995 to 2004 are set out in the following documents. Institutes of technology are not funded on a per-student basis. The annual budget for each IT is at present allocated on the basis of its total pay and non-pay requirements following consideration of its annual programmes and budget submission which is required under the RTC and DIT Acts. The allocation takes into account the complexity of the institute, the range of courses and facilities offered to students, the total number of students and the nature of the infrastructure. Decisions on the allocations also have regard to Government policy and priorities.

Recurrent Funding provided to Institutes of Technology 1995-2004

Institute

Total Funding

€000’s

Athlone Institute of Technology

152,956

Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown

40,424

Institute of Technology, Carlow

140,611

Cork Institute of Technology

377,880

Dublin Institute of Technology

885,808

Dundalk Institute of Technology

139,443

Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology

78,252

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

244,664

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

109,820

Limerick Institute of Technology

166,692

Institute of Technology, Sligo

158,418

Institute of Technology, Tallaght

129,130

Institute of Technology, Tralee

139,250

Waterford Institute of Technology

248,176

Totals

3,011,524

Funding comprises: recurrent grant, tuition fees in respect of students on certificate, diploma and degree courses and payments in respect of student services charge for students eligible for support under third level trainee scheme. Funding from the information technology investment fund is also included.

Capital Funding to Institutes of Technology 1995-2004

Institute

Total Funding per Institute

€000’s

Athlone Institute of Technology

36,921,254

Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown

76,241,732

Institute of Technology, Carlow

30,854,817

Cork Institute of Technology

71,800,527

Dublin Institute of Technology

103,061,276

Dundalk Institute of Technology

56,355,846

Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology

26,174,108

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

58,400,204

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

38,670,150

Limerick Institute of Technology

46,597,193

Institute of Technology, Sligo

45,647,330

Institute of Technology, Tallaght

36,284,320

Institute of Technology, Tralee

36,856,397

Waterford Institute of Technology

56,658,399

Totals

720,523,554

Amounts provided relate not only to state-funded capital investment programmes, but include also capital programmes part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, ERDF, and the European Free Trade Association, EFTA, and the scientific and technological investment fund.

Schools Building Projects.

Mary Upton

Question:

302 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Question No. 959 of 12 April 2005, if any complications arise with the school’s application under the schools buildings and modernisation programme, for example, related to access to the school or the ownership of the ground. [12276/05]

As part of a review of all projects for the 2005 capital programme, an application for capital funding from the school referred to by the Deputy was assessed against the published prioritisation criteria for large-scale building projects which were revised last year following consultation with the education partners. Under this review all projects were assigned a band rating and the progress of individual projects is being considered in the context of the school building programme from 2005 onwards.

Any difficulties arising with the proposed long-term accommodation solution for the school will be dealt with during the architectural planning process when this begins.

Mary Wallace

Question:

303 Ms M. Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Science the amounts of funding approved for capital works in respect of primary schools in County Meath during the past five years, on a project basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12278/05]

Mary Wallace

Question:

304 Ms M. Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Science the amounts of funding approved for capital works in respect of post-primary schools in County Meath during the past five years, on a project basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12279/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 303 and 304 together.

I will arrange for a response to these queries to be forwarded to the Deputy.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

305 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress which has been made in advancing the provision of a new school building for a school (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12293/05]

The site for the development of the school to which the Deputy refers is being acquired by my Department under the terms of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002. When the acquisition has been finalised, consideration can be given to including the project in the capital programme from 2005 onwards.

Children Act 2001.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

306 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science the sections of the Children Act 2001 for which she has responsibility and which have not yet been commenced; and if she will report on her intentions in this regard. [12294/05]

Part 10 of the Children Act 2001 relates to the governance and operation of children detention schools. Section 159(1) of the Act has been developed for the purpose of allowing three representatives of children detention schools to be appointed to the special residential services board. Part 10 of the Act cannot be developed more fully at this time as its effect will include replacing the existing industrial and reformatory schools with children detention schools. While boys aged between 17 and 21 who are convicted of a criminal offence may be sent to a place of detention, there is no equivalent place at present for female offenders who may be imprisoned from the age of 17 years. It is intended that the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform will provide a facility for young women similar to that provided for boys.

However, until such a facility becomes available, part 10 of the Act cannot be brought into law. Pending commencement, industrial and reformatory schools continue to be governed by the Children Acts.

Special Educational Needs.

John Perry

Question:

307 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to reconsider the eligibility of dyslexic pupils to remain under the scope of resource teaching (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12317/05]

In light of the reality that pupils in the high incidence disability categories of mild and borderline mild general learning disability and dyslexia are distributed throughout the education system, my Department, in consultation with educational interests, developed a general model of resource teacher allocation to schools to support students in these disability categories. This model, which was announced by my predecessor in 2004 to come into effect from September 2005, was designed to put in place a permanent resource in primary schools to cater for pupils in these categories. Circular SP ED 09/04, which was issued to schools in June 2004, introduced the model.

The model was constructed so that allocations would be based on pupil numbers, taking into account the differing needs of the most disadvantaged schools and the evidence that boys have greater difficulties than girls in this regard. The advantages of using a general allocation model are as follows. It facilitates early intervention as the resource is in place in the school when the child enrols; it reduces the need for individual applications and supporting psychological assessments; it puts resources in place on a more systematic basis, thereby giving schools more certainty about their resource levels; it gives more security to special education teaching posts and makes special education teaching a more attractive option; it allows flexibility to school management in the deployment of resources, leading to a more effective and efficient delivery of services; and it will automatically adjust a school's general allocation on the basis of changing enrolment.

This is a model for resource allocation to schools. These resources may in turn be allocated, as appropriate by schools to those pupils with special educational needs in the categories mentioned and to pupils with learning support requirements. While I am in favour of using a general allocation model for the reasons given, I am conscious of the particular difficulties that the model announced last year could cause for small and rural schools if implemented as originally announced. For this reason I have asked my Department to conduct a review of the model announced last year. The review will be completed in the coming weeks and its outcome will be announced in time to be implemented for the next school year.

Higher Education Grants.

John Perry

Question:

308 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the circumstances outlined in correspondence from a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; if a decision will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12342/05]

The decision on eligibility for third level and further education grants is a matter for the relevant local authority or VEC. These bodies do not refer individual applications to my Department except, in exceptional cases, where advice or instruction regarding a particular clause in the relevant scheme is desired.

Under the prescribed terms and conditions of my Department's student maintenance grant schemes, grant assistance may not generally be awarded in respect of a repeat period of study at the same level, irrespective of whether or not funding was previously awarded. However, the awarding body may waive this provision in exceptional circumstances such as cases of certified serious illness. It should be emphasised, however, that this discretion would only be exercised where a candidate is repeating a period of study on the same course.

My Department understands from officials at County Sligo VEC, the body responsible for the assessment of the candidate referred to by the Deputy, that he previously attended years one and two of a certificate in computer aided precision engineering at Sligo Institute of Technology in the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 academic years. The institute confirmed that the candidate did not return to the second year of the course after the first term in January 2000. The candidate in question is, in fact, pursuing a different course at Sligo IT in the 2004-05 academic year, which is the higher certificate in mechatronics.

My Department understands from officials at County Sligo VEC that the issue of illness in the 1999-2000 academic year was raised for the first time with them through the Deputy's recent representations to the VEC. A letter from the student health services at Sligo IT regarding the period concerned was submitted. This does not provide the medical evidence required to justify consideration under the exceptional circumstances provision of the schemes. In any case, as already outlined, the candidate is pursuing a different course.

While the candidate is not eligible for grant assistance for current course, he may be considered again in the future in the event that he progresses into year two, or, the "add-on" year, of an approved ordinary degree, formerly known as diploma, which is directly related to his current course, or an honours degree course, subject to the usual conditions of the schemes. Apart from the funding provided through the student support maintenance grant schemes, financial assistance is also available from my Department through the student assistance fund which is administered by the national office for equity of access to third level education. The objective of the fund, which is ESF-aided, is to assist students who might otherwise, due to their financial circumstances, be unable to continue their third level studies. Further information on this fund is available from the student access officer at Sligo IT.

A response to this effect will soon be issued directly to the candidate's mother who has written to me in the matter.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Richard Bruton

Question:

309 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of national schools in the Dublin 24 area in which class sizes exceed 30 or more pupils; the number of national school teachers employed by her Department in the years 1999 to 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12343/05]

The numbers of teachers in service at primary level on 30 June of each year from 1999 to 2004 are: 1999 — 21,258; 2000 — 21,850; 2001 — 22,850; 2002 — 23,935; 2003 — 24,700; and 2004 — 26,039 The information that the Deputy requested regarding schools in the Dublin 24 area is not readily available in my Department. If the Deputy would like information on a particular school, I would be happy to provide it.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

310 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in her Department who are not civil servants but are contracted by her as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary. [12367/05]

There are two staff who are not civil servants but who are appointed to full-time posts in my office in the Department of Education and Science. The names and salaries of these staff are: special adviser to the Minister, Ms Averil Power, salary €71,990 per annum; and personal assistant to the Minister, Mr. Carl Gibney, salary €46,119 per annum. Each of the above staff has a standard contract of employment which is drawn up by the Department of Finance.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

311 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if, in respect of each person in the employment of the Ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to her Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12382/05]

As requested by the Deputy, the following home and foreign travel and subsistence payments were made during 2004 to staff in specific posts in ministerial offices in my Department: Minister, Deputy Hanafin, 29 September — 31 December 2004: Averil Power, special adviser, foreign travel and subsistence —€828.90; and Geraldine Butler, press officer, foreign travel and subsistence —€439.70; home travel and subsistence —€344.99. Former Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, 1 January — 28 September 2004 : Jimmy Fegan, special adviser, home travel and subsistence —€10,721.41; Grace Cappock, press officer, foreign travel and subsistence —€2,443.26; and home travel and subsistence —€1,291.65.

The rates paid for all travel and subsistence are in accordance with those specified by the Department of Finance for the period in question.

School Staffing.

Joan Burton

Question:

312 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties faced by Gaelscoileanna, such as a Gaelscoil (details supplied) in Dublin 15 which is at risk of losing a teacher in the 2005-06 academic year due to children continuously leaving; and the special burden on Gaelscoileanna; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12417/05]

The mainstream staffing of a primary school is determined by applying the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous school year to a staffing schedule, agreed between my Department and the education partners.

Under current arrangements, the enrolment figure required for the appointment of up to the eleventh mainstream class teacher and the retention of up to the twelfth mainstream class teacher in a Gaelscoil is lower than that which applies in the case of ordinary national schools.

In accordance with the staffing schedule, the staffing of the school referred to by the Deputy for the school year 2004-05 is a principal and nine mainstream class teachers based on an enrolment of 229 pupils at 30 September 2003.

My Department will finalise the staffing schedule for the 2005-06 school year shortly and thereafter notify school boards of management.

According to data submitted to my Department by the board of management, the enrolment on 30 September 2004 in the school was 227 pupils. The staffing for the 2005-06 school year will be determined on the basis of this figure and in accordance with the agreed staffing schedule.

School Accommodation.

Finian McGrath

Question:

313 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding new developments or progress with regard to a school (details supplied); and if the pupils, parents and teachers will be given the maximum support. [12418/05]

The property management section of the Office of Public Works, which acts on behalf of my Department for site acquisitions generally, has identified a site which could provide for the long-term accommodation needs of the school referred to by the Deputy. Negotiations are ongoing regarding the acquisition of this site. However, the building of a new school on a greenfield site is only one option being considered by my Department.

A second option, which could offer a better value for money solution, is being examined as part of an overall review of the primary educational infrastructure in the area where the school is located. The purpose of this review is to ascertain the likely demand for pupil places in the medium to long term and to ensure that existing provision is maximised to meet this demand.

This review, which will be completed as quickly as possible, will inform any future decision on how best to resolve the accommodation needs of the school in question.

Special Educational Needs.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

314 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will reconsider the proposals to come into effect in September 2005 in relation to pupils with special educational needs (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12419/05]

In light of the reality that pupils in the high incidence disability categories of mild and borderline mild general learning disability and dyslexia are distributed throughout the education system, my Department, in consultation with educational interests, developed a general model of resource teacher allocation to schools to support students in these disability categories. This model, which was announced by my predecessor in 2004 to come into effect from September 2005, was designed to put in place a permanent resource in primary schools to cater for pupils in these categories. Circular SP ED 09/04, which issued to schools in June 2004, introduced this new model.

The model was constructed so that allocations would be based on pupil numbers, taking into account the differing needs of the most disadvantaged schools and the evidence that boys have greater difficulties than girls in this regard.

The advantages of using a general allocation model are as follows: it facilitates early intervention as the resource is in place in the school when the child enrols; it reduces the need for individual applications and supporting psychological assessments; it puts resources in place on a more systematic basis, thereby giving schools more certainty about their resource levels; it gives more security to special education teaching posts and makes special education teaching a more attractive option; it allows flexibility to school management in the deployment of resources, leading to a more effective and efficient delivery of services; and it will automatically adjust a school's general allocation on the basis of changing enrolment.

This is a model for resource allocation to schools. These resources may in turn be allocated, as appropriate by schools to those pupils with special educational needs in the categories mentioned and to pupils with learning support requirements.

I have made it clear that while I am in favour of using a general allocation model for the reasons I have just given, I am conscious of the particular difficulties that the model announced last year could cause for small and rural schools if implemented as originally announced.

For this reason, I have asked my Department to conduct a review of the model announced last year. The review will be completed in the coming weeks and its outcome will be announced in time to be implemented for the next school year.

Teacher Exchange Schemes.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

315 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science the schemes in place which allow a teacher from Ireland at primary, secondary and adult education level to exchange with a teacher in other countries for a fixed period, in order that each can gain experience in other’s language, in view of the expanding requirement for teaching foreign languages; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12420/05]

My Department arranges teacher exchange schemes at post-primary, on a post-to-post basis, between Ireland and Germany and between Ireland and France. The purpose of these schemes is to improve the quality of the teaching of German and French in Irish schools. The exchanges take place either on the basis of a one term exchange or one year exchange. Applications for participation in the 2005-06 teacher exchange schemes are currently under consideration within my Department.

My Department does not operate an exchange scheme for teachers at primary level or teachers in further and adult education.

School Staffing.

Seán Ryan

Question:

316 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the need for an additional teacher for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if, in view of the unacceptable class sizes at the school, she will approve the appointment of an extra teacher. [12422/05]

The mainstream staffing of a primary school is determined by applying the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous school year to a staffing schedule, agreed between my Department and the education partners.

The system for allocating teachers to primary schools is based on ensuring an overall maximum class of 29 in each school. Where some classes in a school have class sizes of greater than 29, it is generally because a decision has been taken at local level to use their teaching resources to have smaller numbers in other classes.

In accordance with the staffing schedule, the staffing of the school referred to by the Deputy for the school year 2004-05 is a principal and four mainstream class teachers based on an enrolment of 130 pupils at 30 September 2003. In addition, the school has one full-time resource teacher and the services of a learning support teacher.

My Department will finalise the staffing schedule for the 2005-06 school year shortly and thereafter notify school boards of management.

According to data submitted to my Department by the board of management, the enrolment on 30 September 2004 in the school was 140 pupils. The staffing for the 2005-06 school year will be determined on the basis of this figure and in accordance with the agreed staffing schedule.

As outlined in primary circular 19/02, an independent appeals board was established to adjudicate on appeals from boards of management on mainstream staffing allocations in primary schools. The appeals board operates independently of the Minister and my Department and its decision is final. Appeals must be submitted to: Primary Payments Section, Department of Education and Science, Athlone, on the standard application form, clearly stating the criterion under which the appeal is being made, after the schedule for the 2005-06 school year has issued.

School Placement.

Finian McGrath

Question:

317 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a person (details supplied) is being excluded and ignored by all services; and if they will be given a place in September 2005. [12423/05]

My officials have been advised that the child in question is currently attending a Montessori school. I can confirm to the Deputy that my officials are continuing to liaise with the parent in relation to appropriate education provision for this child. Contact will be made with the National Council for Special Education, NCSE, in this regard.

Disadvantaged Status.

Michael Ring

Question:

318 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if schools in disadvantaged areas will not have to make local contributions; the amount of local contribution they have to make; the reason schools in disadvantaged areas have to raise these funds. [12513/05]

The vast bulk of the cost of school building projects is borne by my Department. In the circumstances referred to by the Deputy the amount of the local contribution for schools with disadvantaged status is 5% of the project cost subject to a maximum amount of €12,500.

These arrangements have been approved by the Department of Finance and are of a general application.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

319 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Defence if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who not being civil servants but are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12368/05]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

320 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Defence if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12383/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 319 and 320 together.

As Minister for Defence, I have contracted four staff as follows:

Job Description

Name

Current Salary

Special Advisor to the Minister for Defence. To provide relevant advice to the Minister as necessary

Derek Mooney

€71,990 per annum

Press Advisor to the Minister for Defence. To provide press liaison services to the Minister

Suzanne Coogan

€55,057 per annum

Personal Assistant to the Minister for Defence. To provide administrative assistance to the Minister

Fergal O’Brien

€43,751 per annum

Personal Secretary to the Minister for Defence. To provide secretarial services to the Minister

Olive McNamara

€41,382 per annum

All of these appointments are to temporary, unestablished positions in the Civil Service, and are on a full-time basis. The appointments are subject to the Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 to 1996 and any other Act for the time being in force relating to the civil service. The tenure of these appointments is co-terminous with that of the Minister for Defence.

The cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred in the calendar year 2004 is as set out below.

Name

Cost of travel and maintenance in 2004

Fergal O’Brien, Personal Assistant to the Minister for Defence.

€820

Wildlife Acts.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

321 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Questions Nos. 1321 and 1322 of 26 January 2005, the number of persons who had prosecutions instigated against them and the number of persons who had prosecutions succeed against them, thereby demonstrating the number of persons who had multiple prosecutions instigated and succeed against them in each of the years listed. [12280/05]

The following table gives details of the number of prosecutions instigated by my Department against game shooters for breaches of the Wildlife Acts since 2000 and the number of those prosecutions that were successful. No individual was prosecuted on more than one occasion for such offences; however, some prosecutions related to more than one provision of the Wildlife Acts.

Year

Prosecutions instigated

Prosecutions which succeeded

2000

0

0

2001

12

10

2002

8

8

2003

7

6

2004

6

5

Emmet Stagg

Question:

322 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to the fact that under section 29 of the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000, he issued licences to hunt game-birds to resident sportsmen and sportswomen in an open season, such licences being endorsed on firearms licences or certificates, the number of such game-bird in open season licences he issued in each of the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 and the number of prosecutions instigated and successfully brought by him against persons found to be hunting game-birds in an open season when they did not have a hunting licence endorsed on their firearms certificate for each of the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. [12281/05]

Under the terms of section 29 of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended, where a person applies to a superintendent of the Garda Síochána for the grant of a firearm certificate and makes the requisite declaration under that section, the certificate shall, if endorsed in the terms specified in the section, be deemed to be a licence granted by the Minister to hunt and kill any protected wild bird, including game birds, or hare that is covered by an open season order made under sections 24 or 25 of the Act, as amended. This endorsement function is carried out by the Garda Síochána without reference to my Department, and statistics on the number of such endorsements made on firearms certificates each year is not available in my Department. The information sought in the question on prosecutions instigated and successfully brought by my Department is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Seanad Reform.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

323 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the proposal to extend and centralise the electorate for the Seanad graduate panels will be implemented in time for the next election; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12297/05]

The report on Seanad reform by the Seanad Sub-Committee on Seanad Reform, published in April 2004, sets out comprehensive recommendations for further consideration and action concerning the composition, functions and future role of Seanad Éireann. These include proposals to widen the electorate for the higher education constituency and ancillary matters such as nomination procedures, franchise and registration of electors, and methods of voting and counting.

At the request of the Taoiseach I have agreed to chair an informal all-party parliamentary group to establish the extent of cross-party agreement on the report's recommendations and to advance, with consensus, proposals for the implementation of Seanad reform. I have written to party leaders and am awaiting nominations for the informal all-party group, which I intend to convene shortly in order to advance the recommendations in a timely and inclusive manner.

Local Authority Housing.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

324 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if local authorities have easier access to funds from his Department to construct new local authority houses rather than to repair existing vacant houses; his views on whether there is a major problem involving the repair and allocation of existing vacant local authority houses and that if all vacant local authority houses were allocated, the nationwide housing crisis would improve; the distribution method of funds in the case of both existing and new local authority houses to local authorities; if his Department will review this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12298/05]

It is the responsibility of the local authorities concerned to ensure that their houses are re-let to households on their waiting lists as quickly as possible after they are vacated. Some houses may require refurbishment before they are re-let and this is a matter for individual authorities. My Department provides capital funding, subject to conditions, to local authorities for the refurbishment of houses that have remained vacant for periods longer than six months and require major refurbishment. Local authorities are required to meet from their own resources the first €10,000 of the cost of such refurbishment in respect of each dwelling.

Urban Renewal Schemes.

John Perry

Question:

325 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when a decision will be made on the urban and village enhancement 2005 for Strandhill, County Sligo; when the funding will be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12316/05]

Sligo County Council's proposals for works in 2005 under the urban and village grant scheme were received by my Department earlier this month. They include an environmental improvement scheme at Strandhill, County Sligo. These proposals are currently being assessed and will shortly be decided upon.

Ministerial Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

326 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in respect of the category of ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department who not being civil servants but are contracted by him as personal assistant, political advisor, programme manager and press communications advisers, the name of the person; their function; if full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12369/05]

The names and functions of persons appointed to the posts of personal secretary, personal assistant and special adviser to the Minister at my Department are as set out in the following tabular statement:

Minister Deputy Roche.

Name

Function

Full time or Part time

David Grant

Special Adviser

Work-sharing (4 day week )

Geraldine Cole

Personal Assistant

Full time

Ciara Furlong

Personal Secretary

Full time

Minister of State Deputy Batt O'Keeffe.

Name

Function

Full time or Part time

Katherine Woods

Personal Assistant

Full time

Donal Howard

Personal Secretary

Full time

Minister of State Deputy Noel Ahern.

Name

Function

Full time or Part time

Deirdre Heaney

Personal Assistant

Full time

In addition, Sean Fitzpatrick has been appointed to the post of press officer in my Department in a temporary unestablished capacity for a period which will terminate not later than the date on which I cease to hold my present office. All the above appointments comply with the Department of Finance guidelines on the staffing of ministerial offices, and the terms and conditions of the staff involved are in accordance with sanctions received from the Minister for Finance.

Remuneration of these staff is in accordance with the appropriate published standard Civil Service scales for secretarial assistant Houses of the Oireachtas — personal secretary, higher executive officer — personal assistant, and principal officer — special adviser and press officer.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

327 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in respect of each person in the employment of the ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser, the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually by each person by name for the calendar year 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12384/05]

The information requested is set out in the following tabular statement:

Office of Minister Deputy Roche.

Name

Function

Travel & Subsistence costs paid in 2004 (€)

David Grant

Special Adviser

Nil

Geraldine Cole

Personal Assistant

Nil

Ciara Furlong

Personal Secretary

Nil

Office of Minister of State Deputy Batt O'Keeffe.

Name

Function

Travel & Subsistence costs paid in 2004 (€)

Donal Howard

Personal Secretary

Nil

Office of Minister of State Deputy Noel Ahern.

Name

Function

Travel & Subsistence costs paid in 2004 (€)

Deirdre Heaney

Personal Assistant

Nil

Siobhan Mc Grath

Personal Secretary

Nil

Office of Minister Deputy Cullen

Name

Function

Travel & Subsistence costs paid in 2004 (€)

Pat Daly

Special Adviser

7,367

Sean Dower

Personal Assistant

Nil

Inez O’Neill

Personal Secretary

Nil

Office of Minister Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher.

Name

Function

Travel & Subsistence costs paid in 2004 (€)

Sinead McGowan

Personal Assistant

7,122

Aideen Gilleen

Personal Secretary

Nil

Department Press Officer.

Name

Function

Travel & Subsistence costs paid in 2004 (€)

Dan Pender

4,518

Sean Fitzpatrick

Nil

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

328 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures he has put in place to calculate the levels of environmental emission that have been generated here in order to ascertain the extent to which Ireland complies with its obligations under the Kyoto agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12438/05]

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the preparation of annual greenhouse gas inventories in accordance with guidelines from the intergovernmental panel on climate change. The year 2003 is the latest for which inventory data is currently available. The agency compiles much of the information on the basis of national activities data, such as energy balances and agriculture statistics, obtained from relevant Departments and their agencies, and the Central Statistics Office.

Ireland's target under the Kyoto Protocol is to limit the level of emissions in the period 2008-2012 to 13% above 1990 levels. The latest figures issued by the agency show that emissions in 2003 were approximately 25% above 1990 levels, down from 29% in 2002 and 31% in 2001. Emissions in 2004 are being calculated by the agency.

A 2004 consultants' report commissioned by the Departments with primary responsibility for the development and implementation of national policy on climate change, concluded that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 9.2 million tonnes per year in the period 2008 to 2012 in order to comply with the Kyoto Protocol target. A copy of the report is posted on my Department's website, www.environ.ie. The national climate change strategy provides a comprehensive framework for reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions in the most efficient and equitable manner, and for ensuring that Ireland meets its commitment under the Kyoto Protocol.

Waste Management.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

329 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the facilities available for the recycling of green waste; his views on whether these facilities need to be extended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12485/05]

The determination of waste management infrastructure requirements is primarily a matter for local authorities in the context of the relevant regional waste management plan. Facilities may be provided directly by the local authorities concerned or by private sector operators. Detailed information on such facilities is not maintained by my Department. My Department does, however, operate a waste management capital grants scheme under which local authorities may apply for funding in respect of recycling and recovery infrastructure; green waste facilities are among the infrastructure types which are eligible for such funding and nine composting facilities have been allocated grant assistance to date.

Rights of Way.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

330 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether mandatory rights of way should be incorporated into county development plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12486/05]

As I stated in last November's Dáil debate on the Private Member's Bill on this subject, I do not consider it appropriate that it should be mandatory to include objectives for the preservation and listing of existing public rights of way in county development plans. I believe that the mandatory inclusion of all public rights of way could lead to much controversy in the preparation and adoption of the development plan and that there would be many appeals by landowners against the inclusion of rights of way, which could have the effect of clogging up our judicial system. I also consider that it would be overly onerous on planning authorities to require them to list all existing public rights of way in preparing their development plans and it would divert their scarce resources away from priority operational and strategic tasks, such as the zoning of land for housing and the making of planning decisions. The proposed mandatory listing of all public rights of way into county development plans would also substantially dilute the plans' strategic content due to a significant proportion of their text and maps being taken up with the listing of such public rights of way.

The Planning and Development Act 2000 allows planning authorities, at their own discretion, to include such objectives in their development plans. I consider that this is a reasonable approach, which allows for planning authorities to gradually add to the rights of way listed in their development plans.

As I said in this House last November, the Government wishes to promote access to countryside for the benefit of rural tourism and sustainable rural development, but also believes that the issue of public access to the countryside is better dealt with through co-operation and consultation with landowners. The House may be aware that Comhairle na Tuaithe, the countryside recreation council, which is widely representative of countryside and outdoor interests, was established last year by the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in order to ensure that all those with an interest and concern for the sustainable development and management of recreational amenities in the Irish countryside are fully consulted on the future management of these amenities. As I understand it, the remit of the council is to develop and update, as necessary, a national countryside/outdoor recreation strategy; ensure that all means necessary are used to resolve conflicts that arise in relation to access issues; raise awareness of the benefits to and responsibilities of recreational use of the countryside, and carry out research and training on related issues.

I consider that the issue of public access to the countryside is better dealt with through such a co-operative measure rather than through the mandatory preservation and listing of all public rights of way in development plans.