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 9, inclusive, answered orally.

Garda Personnel.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

10 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to increase the number of juvenile liaison officers in view of their proven success in dealing with juvenile offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21468/05]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that as of 21 June 2005 there were 86 juvenile liaison officers, JLO, gardaí and eight JLO sergeants working in the various divisions throughout the country. In addition to this the National Juvenile Office has a staff of one superintendent, two inspectors and two sergeants. The administration in the office is carried out by these two sergeants and four civilian staff.

The Children Act 2001, which came into law in May 2002, gave a statutory basis to the juvenile diversion programme which includes a restorative justice aspect. The programme has proven to be highly successful in diverting young people away from crime by offering guidance and support to juveniles and their families. In the more serious cases, juveniles are placed under the supervision of garda juvenile liaison officers, who are specially trained members of the Garda Síochána responsible for administering the programme at the local level. I am informed by the Garda authorities that in the year 2003, the Garda National Juvenile Office received 19,915 referrals under the programme relating to 17,043 individual offenders. The number of juvenile referrals processed by the National Juvenile Office in 2004 was 20,607. Detailed information will be included in the Garda Síochána Annual Report for 2004. Early assessments indicated a very high level of satisfaction from those involved in the process.

Ongoing evaluation of restorative justice practice is being carried out by the Garda research unit. All Garda juvenile liaison officers have received training in restorative justice and over half have received training in mediation skills. It is expected that the ongoing development of restorative justice within the juvenile diversion programme will lead to a significant reduction in the incidence of recidivism.

In addition to the Garda juvenile diversion programme, there are in existence a total of 64 Garda youth diversion projects. Funding of €5.471 million has been allocated to these and other related projects in the current year. The Garda authorities and I remain strongly committed to the principle and practice of diversion in the criminal justice system, a commitment warranted by consistent findings of national and international criminological research. Although the Garda juvenile diversion programme and the Garda youth diversion projects are not appropriate for all juveniles or in all situations, they nevertheless provide an important intervention in the lives of those juveniles who have taken a wrong turn in the process of maturing into young adults. Moreover, research indicates that of all those formally diverted from prosecution, some 88% do not come to the attention of the Garda Síochána again by their 18th birthday.

The juvenile diversion programme already exists on a nationwide basis and is delivered throughout the country by specially trained gardaí. Resource implications are constantly under review and applications for additional resources are made on a case by case basis when and where necessary.

In relation to Garda resources generally, the House will be aware 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 the Agreed Programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government, and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force. The Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources, and in this context the needs of the juvenile liaison scheme will be fully taken into account.

Claims against Gardaí.

Seán Ryan

Question:

11 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the total amount paid out either in respect of court awards or out of court settlements for claims taken against members of the gardaí in respect of assault, unlawful arrest, or other breach of a citizen’s right in respect of 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and to date in 2005; the number of cases in which awards were made by the courts and the number of cases which were settled out of court; the number of such cases pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21469/05]

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

As of 31 December 2003, there were approximately 750 civil actions taken against members of the Garda Síochána on hand. A detailed breakdown of these actions in the form of the number of allegations of assault, unlawful arrest and other breaches of citizens' rights is not readily available. However, a database introduced in 2002 for the purposes of recording civil actions taken against members of the Garda Síochána indicates that in 2003 — the first complete year for which a detailed breakdown is available — of the 142 actions initiated or received in that year by my Department, there were 34 cases of alleged assault recorded and 38 cases of alleged unlawful arrest recorded. The remaining 70 cases recorded included allegations of defamation and harassment. In the year 2004, 127 actions were initiated-received. They included 40 cases of alleged assault and 26 cases of alleged unlawful arrest. In the year 2005 to date, 55 actions have been initiated-received. They include 24 cases of alleged assault and nine cases of alleged unlawful arrest.

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

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

Year (Total Amount)

Assault

Unlawful Arrest

Other

2001 €1,619,746.83

Awards

1,904.61 (1)

20,950.68 (2)

22,220.42 (1)

Settlements

123,164.59 (5)

33,965.49 (3)

162,782.25 (9)

Costs

244,665.35

123,199.41

886,894.03

Total

369,734.55

178,115.58

1,071,896.70

2002 €1,240,388.40

Awards

1,270 (1)

3,809.21 (1)

56,500 (2)

Settlements

166,924.48 (6)

106,835.58 (10)

185,078.82 (11)

Costs

230,769.67

148,714.19

340,486.45

Total

398,964.15

259,358.98

582,065.27

2003 €1,276,127.55

Awards

11,000 (1)

10,000 (2)

4,870 (2)

Settlements

75,000 (4)

303,011 (5)

112,814.84 (4)

Costs

145,561.70

71,794.28

542,075.73

Total

231,561.70

384,805.28

659,760.57

2004 (Provisional) €938,799.09

Awards

15,000 (1)

0

3,215.06 (1)

Settlements

198,697.48 (5)

73,007 (5)

50,500 (3)

Costs

231,646.62

100,019.36

266,713.57

Total

445,344.10

173,026.36

320,428.63

2005 (Provisional) €758,316.58 as at 22/06/05

Awards

2,250.00 (2)

Settlements

37,500 (2)

21,114.00 (4)

Costs

30,882.90 (3)

622,887.04 (9)

43,682.64 (10)

Total

68,382.90

646,251.04

43,682.64

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

Asylum Applications.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

12 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the circumstances in which officials from the Turkish Embassy were reported to have been permitted to question Kurdish persons (details supplied) who were directed to attend at the Garda National Immigration Bureau on 18 May 2005; the location at which these persons were questioned by the Turkish officials; if officials of any other embassy have been accorded similar facilities; the position in regard to these persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21463/05]

I refer to my response to Question No. 382 of Tuesday, 31 May 2005, which was also submitted by the Deputy.

The persons concerned are a mother and her two sons who arrived in the State in October 2002 and claimed asylum. Following a full and fair examination of their case at every stage of the asylum process, their applications for refugee status were refused. After a further examination of their case under section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, and section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, prohibition ofrefoulement, deportation orders were made in respect of them on 28 June 2004. The persons concerned were notified and the orders passed to the Garda National Immigration Bureau for enforcement.

In arranging the family's return, it was necessary for the Garda National Immigration Bureau to obtain travel documents for them from the Turkish Embassy. This required the attendance of the family at the embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin, for the purposes of establishing their nationality and identity. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the family was brought to the embassy where they were interviewed by a consular official in the presence of a member of the Garda National Immigration Bureau. The interview was described as cordial by the attending garda. This has been confirmed by the Turkish Embassy in an open letter toThe Irish Times, published on 25 May last.

The family concerned recently made an application, through their legal representatives, for readmission to the asylum process, under section 17(7) of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended. This is being considered in my Department at present and in the meantime their removal has been postponed, pending a decision.

Where a deportation order is made, it is the responsibility of the Garda Síochána to effect the order. The Garda Commissioner has informed me that the procedure for obtaining travel documents is dictated by the issuing embassy, not by the Garda National Immigration Bureau, and the practice varies between embassies. It is therefore not a question of facilitation, but of complying with the particular requirements of embassies for issuing their own travel documents.

In many instances it is necessary for the Garda National Immigration Bureau to obtain travel documents from the embassy or consulate of the relevant country concerned. This is principally because the persons being returned are not in possession of passports which may have been destroyed or are deliberately withheld from the gardaí to frustrate their removal. In some instances, the passports have expired.

It need hardly be said that where an application for refugee status has been made and has been granted after examination by the relevant independent determination bodies, that is, the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, the issue of approaching an embassy for a travel document does not arise. Where, as in this instance, it has been determined that no protection or humanitarian issues arise which prevents the person from being removed no prohibition exists against contacting the relevant embassy or consulate to facilitate the person's removal from the State.

Industrial Disputes.

Willie Penrose

Question:

13 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he intends to take any new measures to seek a resolution of the dispute with the IPOA in regard to overtime working; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21465/05]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

16 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the prison officers dispute; and his proposals for settlement of same with the Prison Officers Association. [21320/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 16 together.

I draw the Deputies' attention to my detailed response to a similar question from Deputy Penrose which was taken on Tuesday, 17 May 2005. I indicated at that time that I had no intention of renegotiating the proposal for organisational change which had already been arbitrated upon by the Civil Service Arbitration Board as to do so would compromise the integrity of the whole industrial relations process which had served the State so well. I made my position in this regard very clear at a meeting with the POA on 29 April and in subsequent correspondence.

Following on the POA Annual Delegate Conference in early May, the POA indicated to me that a motion had been passed at the conference mandating the association to re-open discussions on a cost neutral realignment of additional hours bands so that a greater number of prison officers could operate on a "zero" additional hours commitment. They indicated that they were preparing a detailed submission and that they would be seeking a meeting with me and my officials to explore its potential. They also asked me to defer or put on hold certain Government approved measures to address overtime costs including the closure of the Curragh and Fort Mitchel places of detention, the redeployment of staff and the outsourcing of prisoner escorts. I again made it clear that I was not in the business of renegotiating the proposal for organisational change and that I was not prepared to put on hold measures to secure essential cost efficiencies. I expressed serious doubts about the proposal to realign the additional hours bands which had already been agreed and arbitrated upon as it was clear to me that anything more than a very modest tweaking of the additional hours bands would upset the delicate balance achieved between the already negotiated and arbitrated elements of the deal and would compromise the very integrity of the arbitration process.

I can now confirm that the Prison Officers' Association recently submitted proposals for the re-alignment of the additional hours bands. Having considered these proposals, I am satisfied that they would fundamentally alter the deal which was on the table and would seriously compromise the integrity of the industrial relations machinery, in particular the arbitration process. In these circumstances, I had no option but to indicate to the POA that its proposals were totally unacceptable. I also indicated that I would be pressing ahead with the alternative measures which have been well aired over recent months.

I have gone as far as I can with this process. We have reached the end of the line in terms of discussions on the proposal for organisational change in the Prison Service and I will not be led down the path of renegotiation. It is regrettable that the considered and painstakingly developed approach negotiated over such a long period of time may not now be realised. My preference has always been for an agreed way forward. I have no option now but to move ahead, with or without agreement, to implement whatever other measures are required to realise the necessary cost efficiencies with all due urgency.

I should point out that I have invited the POA to meet with me so that I can outline in detail my plans for going forward into the future.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

14 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way in which he intends to address human rights concerns by the introduction of anti-social behaviour orders. [21616/05]

As I have previously indicated to the House, I intend to bring forward an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 to provide for the introduction of anti-social behaviour orders.

I am concerned at the extent to which the quality of life of decent law abiding citizens can be adversely affected by the anti-social behaviour of a minority. I am therefore proposing that the gardaí should be able to apply to the courts by way of civil procedure for an anti-social behaviour order which would prohibit the person from behaving in an anti-social way.

The principle behind anti-social behaviour orders is similar to the power to bind over to keep the peace and-or be of good behaviour and is not, as some critics would appear to think, a new concept. An anti-social behaviour order is simply a mechanism whereby the law seeks to stop a person from behaving in a way which is causing distress to a community or to some person in that community.

In formulating my proposal I am conscious of the need to balance the rights of individuals with the rights of the community. While the UK model is of value I have no intention of slavishly following it. My proposal will contain some important differences. For example, in the UK an anti-social behaviour order must apply for a minimum of two years. I consider a minimum period of two years to be inflexible and I will be proposing that the order can only operate for up to a maximum of two years. There will be other important distinctions such as the fact that the power to apply for the order will be limited to senior gardaí and the penalties for a breach will be very significantly less than those which apply in the UK.

A particular concern which has been voiced is the application of anti-social behaviour orders to children. In this regard, I intend that the proposal will be specifically tailored to integrate into the Children Act 2001 and will attract the protections of that Act. I would, in particular, point out that anti-social behaviour orders complement the Children Act by providing an additional alternative to prosecution in the first instance.

I hope to bring my final proposal to Government for approval to draft in the near future. I also intend, subject to Government approval, to make my proposal available and to send it to the Human Rights Commission and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights.

Judicial Conduct.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

15 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals for judicial conduct and ethics; and when these will be in operation. [21321/05]

The Judicial Council Bill, the scheme of which is in development in my Department, will establish a judicial council with responsibility for a number of matters. Among these will be the devising of a code of ethics and the management of a process, to be set out in the Bill, for the investigation of complaints about judicial misbehaviour. An important feature of the disciplinary process will be provisions requiring lay participation, that is to say people who are not judges or lawyers, in that process. Other matters to be included in the council's functions will be responsibility for judicial education and training and the exchange of information among judges on such matters as sentencing. In these regards, the Bill will build on the Report of the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Ethics chaired by the former Chief Justice Ronan Keane.

The preparation of the scheme of the Bill is at an advanced stage. I am engaged in a number of necessary consultations on the draft scheme at present and I expect to be in a position shortly to bring the scheme to Government for approval. It is my intention that when the scheme of the Bill has been approved by Government, I will make it available to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights. Any views that may emerge from the joint committee can be taken into account during the drafting of the Bill, which will be proceeding at the same time.

Question No. 16 answered with QuestionNo. 13.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

17 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals in the wake of the Morris report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21420/05]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

19 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action the Government has taken or plans to take arising from the very serious findings of the second report of the Morris tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21422/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 19 together.

I refer the Deputies to my statement in this House last Friday, 17 June when the House had an opportunity to debate the findings and recommendations of the first and second reports of the Morris tribunal. I set out in detail my response to the reports and my proposals for reform of the Garda Síochána arising from the findings and recommendations in both the first and second reports of the tribunal. I also refer the Deputies to my statement in the House on Tuesday 21 June in the course of Private Members' time.

The most immediate response to the second report was to address the cases of individual wrongdoing or gross negligence uncovered. Two superintendents criticised in the second report are to retire at the end of next month. The implications of the findings for other serving members of the force below the rank of superintendent are being considered by the Garda Commissioner and, furthermore, the report has been given to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

I recognise that a much wider response is needed to address the system failures which allowed this wrongdoing to take place. That response is contained in the Garda Síochána Bill which is being debated in this House today. The Bill will comprehensively reform and enhance the civilian oversight and democratic accountability of the Garda Síochána. Significant amendments have been made to the Bill drawing on ideas from all sides of the House since it was initiated. In addition, I have recently published further amendments, which are being debated on Report Stage of the Bill this week, to take account of recommendations in the second report of the tribunal.

The new measures I am proposing in these further amendments include establishing a new statutory duty to account for members of the Garda Síochána when required to do so by a member of higher rank; enabling the Garda Commissioner, with the consent of the Government, to dismiss a member of the force below the rank of superintendent where the Commissioner is of the opinion that by reason of the member's conduct his or her continued membership would undermine public confidence in the force and where dismissal is considered necessary to maintain public confidence in the force; strengthening the existing provisions in the Bill obliging the Garda Commissioner to supply the Minister with information of significance relating to policing and security matters; strengthening existing provisions in the Bill on the accountability of the Garda Commissioner and making clear that the Commissioner is fully accountable to the Minister and the Government; strengthening provisions on the promotion system; changing the method of appointment to the new Garda Audit Committee; providing that one of the three members of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission will be appointed as chairperson; and providing a power, which replaces a broadly analogous but narrower power under the Dublin Police Act 1924, for the Minister to appoint a person to carry out a special inquiry into any aspect of Garda administration, practice or procedure which is giving rise to public concern.

These measures combined with the other measures in the Bill, including provision for the establishment of a Garda Síochána inspectorate which is to ensure that the resources of the Garda Síochána are used to achieve the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness compared to best police practice, represent a comprehensive response to the reports of the Morris tribunal.

Appointments to State Boards.

Joe Costello

Question:

18 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the manner in which it is intended to monitor and ensure enforcement of the recent announcement regarding equal gender representation on State boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21473/05]

In July 2002, the then Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, wrote to all Ministers requesting them to review the gender balance on the State boards and committees under the aegis of their Departments and to take measures to redress gender imbalances where the 40% target has not yet been reached. The Minister of State also advised Ministers that, to ensure progress, it was intended to bring a six monthly report to Cabinet on the gender composition of boards for each Department.

Since commencement of the policy of reporting on a six monthly basis to Cabinet, there has been a noticeable improvement, particularly in relation to appointments made by the Government or Ministers. However, where appointments are made on foot of nominations by other bodies, there is still a significant deficit.

When I brought the fourth six-monthly report to Government on women's representation on State boards to Cabinet on 26 January 2005, the Government decided that for the future, nominating bodies will be required to "nominate both male and female options for those appointments to State Boards where they are the responsible authority".

The Minister of State, Deputy Fahey, has since written to all Ministers requesting them to put in place the necessary procedures to implement the Government decision. Future six-monthly reports to Government will include specific reference to the implementation by each Department of this decision.

Question No. 19 answered with QuestionNo. 17.

Libel Laws.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

20 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals to review and to reform the law relating to the protection of personal privacy; if a body has been set up to advise on the issue; if so, its terms of reference; if submissions will be invited; the timescale envisaged for deliberations and recommendations; if the introduction of the promised Defamation Bill will be tied to progress on privacy protection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21458/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

165 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his policy or proposals in regard to the possible introduction of a press council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20007/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 165 together.

I refer the Deputies to my reply to Priority Question No. 4 of today's date.

Asylum Applications.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

21 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of applications for asylum received during 2002, 2003, 2004 and to date in 2005; the number of applications approved by the Refugee Appeals Commission; the number of appeals submitted to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the number of such appeals upheld; the number of applications for leave to remain and the number of such applications granted; the number of deportation orders made and the number of such deportations carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21459/05]

The information requested is contained in the following tabular format.

Table 1: Number of applications for asylum received and the number of recommendations by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner* to grant refugee status (at first instance) in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005**.

2002

2003

2004

2005**

No. of applications received

11,634

7,900

4,766

1,901

No. of recommendations to grant refugee status (at first instance)***

894

345

430

189

*It is assumed that the reference in the Deputy's question to "Refugee Appeals Commission" refers to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner.

**As at 31/05/05.

***These recommendations refer to the year in which the recommendations were made and not the year in which the applications were lodged.

Table 2: Number of appeals submitted to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the number upheld (at appeal stage) in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005*.

2002

2003

2004

2005*

No. of appeals received**

5,157

5,014

4,815

1,908

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

1,099

833

702

263

*As at 31/05/05.

**Substantive and accelerated cases.

Table 3: Number of Deportation Orders signed and number effected in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005*.

2002

2003

2004

2005*

No. of Deportation Orders signed

2,430

2,411

2,915**

864**

No. of Deportation Orders effected**

521

590

599***

120***

*As at 31/05/05.

**In addition to the 2,915 deportation orders signed in 2004 and the 864 deportation orders signed in 2005, there were also 238 Dublin II Regulation Transfer Orders signed in 2004 and 144 Dublin II Regulation Transfer Orders signed in 2005*.

***In addition to the 599 deportation orders effected in 2004 and the 120 deportation orders effected in 2005, there were also 65 Dublin II Regulation Transfers effected in 2004 and 69 Dublin II Regulation Transfers effected in 2005.

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

2002

2003

2004

2005*

No. of applications received

6,887

1,272

269**

143**

*As at 31/05/05.

**In the context of proposed deportation orders under the Immigration Act 1999, the issue of leave to remain, including on humanitarian grounds, is considered irrespective of whether an application is made. Thus, no statistics are kept as to the number of such applications made.

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

2002

2003

2004

2005*

Parentage of Irish born child

3,113

172

0

6,139**

Marriage to an Irish national

86

132

144

46

Dependent of EU citizen

138

77

112

54

Other grounds

158

86

175

39

Total

3,495

467

431

6,278

*As at 31/05/05.

**See Table 6.

Table 6: Number of applications for permission to remain made by the non-national parents of Irish born children born before 1 January 2005, and the number of such applications granted permission to remain.

2005

No. of applications for permission to remain made by the non-national parents of Irish born children born before 1 January 2005*

17,877

No. of applications for permission to remain granted**

6,139

*As at 31/05/05. Applications closed on 31/03/2005.

**As at 31/05/05.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

22 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he intends to take to deal with vandalism and anti-social behaviour which is causing major problems in many communities with families harassed and property vandalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21467/05]

I am aware of the concerns of residents regarding anti-social behaviour and acts of vandalism in communities and, along with my commitment of introducing new legislation to assist in combating this, I am assured by the Garda authorities that all available resources are actively targeting the problem. Ensuring public safety by reducing the incidence of public disorder and anti-social behaviour is one of the six strategic goals of the Garda Síochána policing plan for 2005.

Strong provisions are already in place to combat vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Operation Encounter is an initiative by the Garda authorities designed to address specifically public disorder and related issues, in particular by targeting key offences under this legislation, the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, the Intoxicating Liquor Acts and the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997.

Because of my concerns about the abuse of alcohol and its contribution to public order offending and broader social problems, I brought forward tough new provisions to deal with alcohol abuse and its effect on public order in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003. One of the provisions is the use of temporary closure orders. The Act broadened the application of the temporary closure order penalty, which had been introduced to combat under-age drinking, to cover also convictions for a series of public order offences, such as supplying intoxicating liquor to drunken persons and the duty on licensees to preserve order on licensed premises.

The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 has also been enacted, the main purpose of which is to provide the Garda Síochána with additional powers to deal with late night street violence and anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking. It does this by providing for the closure of premises such as pubs, off licences, late night clubs and food premises, as well as the making of exclusion orders on individuals, in addition to any penalty they might receive under the 1994 Public Order Act.

This year I succeeded in securing an all-time historic high level of funding for the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and its associated agencies. The gardaí, the courts and the prisons together with the Department have never been better resourced or equipped.

This funding will enable a number of key public policy initiatives to go ahead next year. Included in these are the recruitment of additional gardaí to increase the strength of the force by 2,000 within two years bringing its total complement to 14,000. 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. One thing I have already promised is that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties but will be put directly into frontline, operational, high-visibility policing.

While I am pleased to note a reduction in assault causing harm in 2004 and the first quarter of 2005, the incidence of anti-social behaviour remains a matter of concern to me. I am therefore taking a number of initiatives to strengthen the powers available to the Garda Síochána to combat anti-social behaviour. These include my proposal for a fixed charge procedure in relation to certain public order offences in the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 which is currently at Second Stage in the House.

I am particularly concerned that people, particularly the elderly, feel threatened by forms of harassment which of themselves may not be a criminal offence but which may cause distress. For this reason, I announced last December that I intend to bring forward an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to provide for the introduction of anti-social behaviour orders. I propose that the gardaí should be able to apply to the courts by way of civil procedure for an anti-social behaviour order which would prohibit the person from behaving in an anti-social way. The principle behind the orders is similar to the power to bind over. It is therefore not a new legal concept.

I accept that because of the immaturity of young people, applying anti-social behaviour orders to them requires a somewhat different approach to that adopted for adults. Therefore my proposals, in so far as young people are concerned, will be specifically tailored so that they are integrated into the Children Act. However, the anti-social behaviour order, backed up by appropriate enforcement, is in itself a practical measure to prevent young people progressing down the path towards serious offending — which is one of the main purposes of the Act.

As the Deputy is aware, Garda youth diversion projects are funded by my Department. They are a crime prevention initiative designed to engage with young people who have been identified as being at risk of involvement in criminal or anti-social behaviour. Each project is managed by a multi-agency and community based committee, which is responsible for the strategic direction of the project. The projects are a tangible measure of crime prevention and reflect a commitment to multi-agency partnerships in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour at community level. The work of the projects involves linking young people with non-offending peer groups and the forming of stable and trusting relationships with adults in the community. The intended impact of this process is that those so engaged develop into responsible citizens and that they do not progress into the criminal justice system.

I attach great importance to the development of a real partnership between the Garda Síochána and local authorities on matters affecting policing. My intention, as set out in the Garda Síochána Bill, is that joint policing committees and local policing fora will provide arenas where the Garda Síochána and local authorities can co-operate and work together to address local policing and other issues which are in the management of the local authority and where the gardaí can make a strong case for their particular interests to be taken into account.

The Bill specifically provides that among the functions which the committees will be particularly mandated to carry out is keeping under review the levels and patterns of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in their area, including the patterns and levels of misuse of alcohol and drugs, and the factors underlying and contributing to those levels of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. Local policing fora will discuss and make recommendations to their committees concerning these matters as they affect their neighbourhoods. These are significant innovations which will strengthen policing at local level. They will ensure that the new committees and their sub-structures will provide a permanent forum to address the issue of anti-social behaviour.

I have mentioned legislation which I have already introduced to combat the abuse of alcohol and the public order problems to which it gives rise. I have recently published the general scheme of the Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2005, which will carry forward this work as part of a consultation process. The main purpose of the proposed Bill is to streamline and modernise our liquor licensing laws. It will also contain provisions which will combat anti-social behaviour.

The Government is strongly committed to the reduction and prevention of crime through strong and effective crime prevention methods. However, I cannot stress enough that while legislative measures can help to curtail the problem of anti-social behaviour, they cannot be viewed as the only solution. All those with an interest in this area have to play their role in helping to address the problems of vandalism and anti-social behaviour in our society.

Organised Crime.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

23 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if sufficient contact has been made with police forces in other jurisdictions with particular reference to the need to stamp out organised crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21419/05]

The Garda Síochána maintains regular contact with other police forces through established channels which provide for the structured exchange of information and intelligence, including information and intelligence relating to organised crime.

Gardaí also participate in many international fora in relation to organised crime. Moreover, they participate at all levels of Europol activity. The primary purpose of Europol is to facilitate the exchange of information and intelligence and to carry out detailed analyses of crimes within its remit in order to assist EU member states in preventing and combating international organised crime. It is there to support national law enforcement authorities and to facilitate EU police co-operation.

In addition to Garda liaison officers based at Europol and Interpol, there are four Garda liaison officers based in major European capitals. These liaison officers assist inquiries relating to significant criminal investigations which have a connection to this jurisdiction.

The exchange of evidence between jurisdictions for criminal prosecutions is governed by international conventions and related domestic legislation.

The Criminal Justice (Joint Investigation Teams) Act 2004 gives effect in Irish law to an agreement at European Union level which attempts to ensure that international boundaries are not used by criminal gangs to their advantage. It provides for the setting up of joint investigation teams by mutual consent of member states for a specific purpose and limited period. A joint investigation team can carry out a criminal investigation with a cross-border dimension in one or more of the member states setting up the team.

There is regular contact between the Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland regarding cross-Border organised crime and last year the two police forces launched the first ever joint organised crime threat assessment.

Prison Suicides.

Willie Penrose

Question:

24 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the concern expressed in the 2004 report of the Arbour Hill visiting committee regarding the circumstances of the suicide of two prisoners and particularly the absence of a dedicated psychiatrist; the steps which are being taken to address the concerns raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21466/05]

I am aware of the contents of the 2004 report of the Visiting Committee of Arbour Hill Prison, which was presented to me on 12 January 2005. The full text of the visiting committee's report has been publicly available on the website of my Department since 5 April 2005.

I deeply regret that two suicides of prisoners occurred at Arbour Hill Prison in January 2004 and in August 2004, respectively. In its report, the visiting committee drew to my attention the circumstances of these two deaths and, furthermore, that in October 2004 a third case of attempted suicide by a prisoner at the prison had been averted by the vigilance of prison officers. Separately in its report, the committee itemised the health care available in the prison and stated its conclusion that "the absence of a dedicated Psychiatrist remains a cause of concern and is pertinent to the "suicide issue" dealt with in greater detail in this report". The committee also set forth several recommendations including one stating that "Arbour Hill's Psychiatric and Psychological services be enhanced and extended and existing shortfall in Psychologists be addressed immediately."

In view of the circumstances of the two deaths referred to by the visiting committee, including concern about the return to the prison of the inmates after short stays at the Central Mental Hospital the matter was formally raised with both the Governor of Arbour Hill Prison and the clinical director of the Central Mental Hospital to establish whether there were any circumstances pertaining which might merit review to lessen the risk of similar incidents in the future. The consensus was that the overall risk presented was appropriately recognised and all reasonable steps were taken to meet the needs of the prisoners involved. As regards duration of stay at the Central Mental Hospital, the position is that decisions regarding the admission of prisoners to the Central Mental Hospital are taken by consultants from that hospital based on clinical indications. Similarly, clinical decision processes apply to the return of prisoners when sufficiently recovered, as pertained in the cited cases.

In relation to psychiatric services, the position at Arbour Hill Prison, and the other prisons in the Dublin area, is that visiting psychiatric services are provided to the prison on a regular basis by psychiatrists based at the Central Mental Hospital. This consultant-led service undertakes regular weekly clinics in the prison together with regular input from a community forensic psychiatric nurse. The present input is felt to be adequate for the needs given the population of Arbour Hill Prison. However, given the increasing prevalence of mental disorder among the prison population, the overall adequacy of psychiatric provision across the prison system is being kept under ongoing review.

In relation to shortfall of a psychologist at Arbour Hill Prison, the position is that a new psychologist took up duty at the prison on 30 May 2005 bringing the complement of psychologists there to two.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

25 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the revelations from the Morris tribunal, he will be seeking the resignation of the Garda Commissioner, Noel Conroy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21572/05]

I will not be asking the Government to consider seeking the resignation of the Garda Commissioner. I have full confidence in the Garda Commissioner to bring forward any necessary measures which are appropriate to him in the light of the findings and recommendations in the Morris reports.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

26 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount the State has spent on Garda legal costs at the Morris tribunal and related court cases; the expenses the gardaí have claimed for investigating the Barron case, including overtime, travel and accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21614/05]

Details of legal costs incurred by the State in respect of members of the force represented at the Morris tribunal and related court costs are being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy.

As regards Garda expenses the position is that investigations are undertaken as part of normal duties. Therefore, the multitude of different costs incurred by the inquiry into the death of Mr. Barron were accounted for in the normal manner under the relevant general sub-heads of the Votes concerned. For this reason it would not be possible to retrospectively cost the investigation without the reallocation of scarce resources on a scale that would be impractical.

Garda Equipment.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

27 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current number of interviews of Garda suspects that are recorded on videotape; when all Garda stations will have these facilities available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21576/05]

Liz McManus

Question:

63 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the Garda working group will examine the measures necessary to extend equipment for the recording of all interviews to all Garda stations; if a target date has been set for the provision of such equipment to all Garda stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21457/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 63 together.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that currently there are 130 Garda stations equipped with audio-video facilities. A recently conducted Garda survey indicates that 98.1% of interviews as specified in the Criminal Justice Act 1984 (Electronic Recording of Interviews) Regulations 1997 are now being recorded. Interviews are not recorded mainly because either the arrested person declines to have the interview recorded or the equipment is already in use or is otherwise unavailable.

I have indicated already that my intention is to move the number of interviews recorded towards 100%. I should point out again that it was never the intention that all Garda stations be equipped with specialised audio-video recording equipment. Rather the intention was that a sufficient number of interview rooms in Garda stations across the country be equipped to give broad nationwide coverage. In this regard, the recently published Third Report of the Steering Committee on Audio and Audio-Video Recording of Garda Questioning of Detained Persons found that, with the putting in place of additional units of equipment in a number of stations which already have the facility, there are a sufficient number of Garda stations, in all Garda divisions, to ensure that all interviews as specified in the regulations are recorded. A Garda working group has been established to implement the recommendations of the report.

Crime Levels.

Joan Burton

Question:

28 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps which are being taken to deal with the significant increase in crime in a number of areas, particularly violent assaults; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21454/05]

Strong provisions are already in place to combat all categories of crime. With regard to public order offences the primary basis for the law regarding public order offences is the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.

I was pleased to note a reduction in assault causing harm in 2004 compared with 2003. This trend has continued in 2005 with a 15% reduction in assaults causing harm in the first quarter compared to the same period last year. Ensuring public safety by reducing the incidence of public disorder and anti-social behaviour is one of the six strategic goals of the Garda Síochána policing plan for 2005.

Strong provisions are already in place to combat vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Operation Encounter is a Garda initiative aimed specifically at addressing public disorder and related issues, in particular by targeting key offences under the Non-fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997, the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 and the Intoxicating Liquor Acts.

Because of my concerns about the abuse of alcohol and its contribution to violent assaults and broader social problems, I brought forward tough new provisions to deal with alcohol abuse and its effect on public order in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003. One of the provisions is the use of temporary closure orders. The Act broadened the application of the temporary closure order penalty which was introduced to combat under-age drinking to cover also convictions for a series of public order offences, such as the duty on licensees to preserve order on licensed premises. I have recently published as part of a consultation process the general scheme of the Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2005, which will carry forward this work. The main purpose of the proposed Bill is to streamline and modernise our liquor licensing laws. It will also contain provisions which will combat anti-social behaviour.

The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 has also been enacted, the main purpose of which is to provide the Garda Síochána with additional powers to deal with late night street violence and anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking. It does this by providing for the closure of premises such as pubs, off licences, late night clubs and food premises, as well as the making of exclusion orders on individuals, in addition to any penalty they might receive under the 1994 Public Order Act.

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. One thing I have already promised is that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties but will be put directly into frontline, operational, high-visibility policing.

However, the incidence such as assault remains a matter of concern to me. I am therefore taking a number of initiatives to strengthen the powers available to the Garda Síochána to combat anti-social behaviour. I have proposed a fixed charge procedure in relation to certain public order offences in the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 which is currently at Second Stage in this House.

I am particularly concerned that people, particularly the elderly, feel threatened. For this reason, I announced last December that I intend to bring forward an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 to provide for the introduction of anti-social behaviour orders. I propose that the gardaí should be able to apply to the courts by way of civil procedure for an anti-social behaviour order which would prohibit the person from behaving in an anti-social way. The principle behind the orders is similar to the power to bind over. It is therefore not a new legal concept.

I attach great importance to the development of a real partnership between the Garda Síochána and local authorities on matters affecting policing. My intention, as set out in the Garda Síochána Bill, is that joint policing committees and local policing fora will provide an arena where the Garda Síochána and local authorities can co-operate and work together to address local policing and other issues which are in the management of the local authority and where the gardaí can make a strong case for their particular interests to be taken into account.

The Bill specifically provides that among the functions which the committees will be particularly mandated to carry out is keeping under review the levels and patterns of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in their area, including the patterns and levels of misuse of alcohol and drugs, and the factors underlying and contributing to those levels of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. Local policing fora will discuss and make recommendations to their committee concerning these matters as they affect their neighbourhoods. These are significant innovations which will strengthen policing at local level. They will ensure that the new committees and their sub-structures will provide a permanent forum to address the issue of anti-social behaviour.

Current policing plans are predicated on the prevention of public order offences, the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence against persons and property, and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life of local residents.

Children Act 2001.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

29 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the remaining provisions of the Children Act 2001 that have not been enacted will be brought into force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21611/05]

The Deputy will appreciate that the Children Act 2001 is a complex and comprehensive piece of legislation and, for those reasons, provisions under the Act are being implemented on a phased basis, as was envisaged at the time of enactment.

Responsibility for implementing the Children Act 2001 lies with three Departments: the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Education and Science mainly in respect of juvenile offending; and the Department of Health and Children mainly in respect of children who are non-offending but out of control. The National Children's Office is co-ordinating the cross-departmental aspects of the implementation of the Act.

Three main areas of the Act for which I have responsibility remain to be brought into operation. These concern the age of criminal responsibility, community-based options, and the provision of children detention centres for 16 and 17 year old offenders.

As stated, it was envisaged at the time of enactment that the provisions of this Act would be implemented on a phased basis. The community sanction provisions are largely a matter for the probation and welfare service of my Department to implement. In line with this, provision is being made by the probation and welfare service to allow for the commencement, on a phased basis, of the remaining sections of the Act relevant to the probation and welfare service.

Currently, young offenders coming before the courts may be placed under the supervision of the Probation and Welfare Service in accordance with: (i) section 2 of the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 (Probation Orders); or (ii) section 3 of the Criminal Justice (Community Service) Act 1983 — in the case of those aged 16 years or over.

Since May 2002, a restriction on movement order — sections 133 to 136 — may be imposed. In addition, since July 2004, courts can order that a family conference be arranged by the probation and welfare service with all interested parties in a case so that an action plan can be drawn up in the individual case. The child concerned must have acknowledged his or her culpability and the action plan must come back to court for approval. If the child complies with the elements of the action plan, the court may, at the end of the period covered by the plan, dismiss the charge or charges.

A pilot mentor project — sections 131 to 132 — is due to commence very shortly in the north Dublin area. The programme will serve as a model for the development of the mentor — family support — order. Recruitment of staff for this new and innovative project has taken place with the employment of a co-ordinator and administrator. The programme will recruit volunteers who will act as mentors to young people who have been before the courts and are under the supervision of the Probation and Welfare Service.

It is envisaged that parental supervision orders — sections 112 to 113 — will be commenced on a pilot basis later this year.

Other provisions under the Act require capital investment prior to commencement for buildings, equipment and expanding programmes. Work is already under way regarding some of these provisions, the details of which are as follows. In regard to a day centre order — Part 9, sections 118 to 123 — a new probation office which is due to open in Cork very shortly will have provision for meeting the requirements of the day centre order. The development of a similar provision for the Tallaght area have been incorporated into plans for the new Tallaght probation and welfare service office which is expected to be completed in 2006. In regard to a probation — training or activities programme — order — Part 9, section 124 — the probation and welfare service has identified programmes already being funded through the service that meet the service requirements under this sanction. In addition, the service is also working towards the development of additional facilities suitable for use. In regard to a probation — intensive supervision — order — Part 9, section 125 — preliminary meetings have taken place to explore the feasibility of establishing two pilot intensive supervision programmes in Cork and Dublin, utilising existing intensive probation supervision projects. Preparatory work is ongoing in this regard. In regard to a probation — residential supervision — order — Part 9, sections 126 to 127 — it is envisaged that this section will commence later this year. A document has been prepared outlining standards for probation and welfare service funded hostels. In preparation for meeting these standards, staff of hostels will require training and development. Work is under way to identify suitable training which will meet these needs and training will be organised for staff over the coming months. In addition, Cork probation hostel is being extended and refurbished to meet the required standards and this hostel is expected to reopen very shortly. In regard to a suitable person — care and supervision — order — Part 9, sections 129 to 130 — this order will require the same rigorous recruitment, screening and training elements as outlined in the Standards on Practices and Procedures in Foster Care. Suitable persons will have to be recruited and trained. Work on implementation of this order is expected to commence early next year; and regarding a dual order — Part 9, sections 137 to 139 — this sanction will be developed, on a phased basis, as day centres become available.

Under the Children Act, I, as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, will be obliged to provide separate detention facilities for 16 and 17 year old boys and girls who are committed to custody by the courts, either on remand or under sentence. The provision of appropriate custodial facilities is a priority for the Irish Prison Service. The primary objective of these detention centres will be to provide a secure but supportive environment in which young offenders can develop the personal and social skills necessary to avoid future offending.

I advise the Deputy that the issue of the appropriate age of criminal responsibility is being considered in the context of implementing the remaining aspects of the Children Act 2001 and the review of youth justice services which is currently being finalised in this Department.

Criminal Prosecutions.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

30 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the low level of detections in respect of rape cases; the steps he intends to take to achieve a higher level of detection in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21471/05]

I want to emphasise that the Government places a high priority on putting into place measures aimed at tackling crimes of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and other crimes of violence against women. In this regard, my Department, which is one of five Departments with responsibilities in this area, plays a major role in that it has responsibility for legislative initiatives and preventative measures that can be put in place, such as intervention programmes for perpetrators of domestic violence, awareness raising measures aimed at changing society's attitude to domestic violence and identifying and developing any necessary responses from the civil and criminal justice systems.

While I have always urged caution in the interpretation of short-term statistics, I was pleased to note decreases in aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault — the largest category of sexual offences - rape of a female and unlawful carnal knowledge in the provisional headline crime figures for the quarter ending 31 March 2005 compared with the corresponding quarter last year. I was concerned, however, to see a recorded increase in the number of cases of rape under section 4 of the Crimine Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990.

With regard to the number of detections, I assure the Deputy that any incident of rape or sexual assault reported to the Garda Síochána is fully investigated, as much evidence as possible is gathered and, subsequently, a file is forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a direction as to whether a prosecution should proceed.

As the Deputy is aware, the Director of Public Prosecutions is statutorily independent in the performance of his function and it would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to comment on his decisions.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that in the majority of cases the victim knows their assailant's identity. A study carried out by the research unit, Garda College for the period 1994-97 shows that 87% of the victims knew their assailant's identity.

The Garda Síochána actively encourages people who are the victims of any crime to report the offence to the gardaí. In addition, a number of established initiatives underpin this policy, such as the Garda confidential telephone number, Crimestoppers and Crimecall.

As I have outlined to the House on a number of occasions, there is a high attrition rate in rape cases in Ireland, and a large number of cases reported to the gardaí do not reach prosecution stage for a variety of reasons.

My Department has approved joint funding for comprehensive research into attrition rates in rape cases. The research, which is entitled "The Understanding of Attrition, Early Withdrawal, the Trial Process and Identifying Possible Changes to Support Complainants in Rape Cases", is being carried out by the department of law at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, is being conducted over three years and is expected to be completed in 2007-08. This research should provide a greater understanding as to why some victims choose not to report cases to the gardaí, what can be done about under-reporting and why, of the cases that are reported, only a relatively small percentage result in a court hearing. It is important to note that, with regard to conviction rates, judges are independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and subject only to the constitution and the law. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment on their decisions.

Following completion of this research, action will, as appropriate, be taken to resolve any issue that may arise.

Garda Strength.

Joan Burton

Question:

31 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí at the latest date for which figures are available; the number expected to be recruited during 2005; the number of recruits who have graduated from the Garda Training College as full Garda members since 6 June 2002; the number of gardaí who have retired, resigned or otherwise left the force since 6 June 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21455/05]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of the Garda Síochána as at 22 June 2005 was 12,186 — all ranks.

It is proposed to induct approximately 1,100 Garda students to the Garda College in 2005, consisting of four intakes of approximately 275 students. The first of these four intakes — 275 — commenced training on 7 February 2005. The second of these four intakes — 275 — commenced training on 3 May 2005. The remaining two intakes are scheduled to commence training on 2 August 2005 and 7 November 2005, respectively.

I am further advised that between 6 June 2002 and 22 June 2005 a total of 1,570 members have graduated from the Garda College; a total of 1,343 members — all ranks — have resigned, retired or otherwise left the Garda Síochána; and a total of 1,882 members have been attested to the Garda Síochána.

Garda trainees are attested to the force on successful completion of phase three of their training. On attestation, Garda trainees become serving members of the force. Thus the serving strength of the force at any given time includes those who have been attested following completion of phase three of their training but have not yet formally graduated — formal graduation takes place following the completion of the fifth and final phase of training. The strength of the force has therefore increased by 539 members since June 2002.

Asylum Applications.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

32 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of the 18,000 applications to remain in the State received to date from non-national parents of Irish born children, which have been determined to date; the number of applications refused to date; the breakdown of the reasons for such refusal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21460/05]

Some 18,000 applications for temporary permission to remain in the State were received under the revised arrangements for consideration of applications for permission to remain in the State from the non-national parents of children born in Ireland before 1 January 2005. Of this number, over 7,300 applicants have to date been granted temporary permission to remain in the State.

Some 48 applications have so far been refused. A breakdown of the reasons for such refusals is as follows: 37 applicant parents and-or the Irish born child were not resident in the State; three applicants were not the parent of an Irish born child; four children were born after 1 January 2005; two applicants had a criminal record; one application was received after closing date of 31 March 2005; and one application made from abroad. It should be noted that a significant number of incomplete applications are currently under examination or are being held pending the submission of documents.

Firearms Amnesty.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

33 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals for a gun amnesty; when it is likely to begin; the duration of the amnesty; the type of weapons it will cover; if any conditions will be attached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21447/05]

As the Deputy will be aware, in my speech on Second Stage of the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, I announced to the House my intention to introduce amendments to the Firearms Acts, in the course of Committee Stage of the Bill, which will establish a statutory basis for a period during which firearms can be surrendered to the Gárda Síochána. The proposed amendment will allow me, by order, to declare a period during which firearms, ammunition and offensive weapons may be handed in to Garda stations. My detailed proposals in this regard will be announced to the House in the normal way in due course.

Prisoner Health.

Dan Neville

Question:

34 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if progress has been made in relation to the legal position of transferring prisoners from the Central Mental Hospital to courts and certifying such persons as sane only to be recertified when the court appearance is over; the number of prisoners to whom this has applied in the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21424/05]

The Deputy will be aware that the Criminal Law (Insanity) Bill 2002 has been passed by the Seanad and is currently awaiting Second Stage in the Dáil. Detailed provisions in relation to changes in the law in the matter of certification and decertification of prisoners as raised by the Deputy were inserted in the Criminal Law (Insanity) Bill following agreement of the Seanad on Report Stage.

The following table shows the number of instances where a person was decertified and transferred from the Central Mental Hospital to prison custody and then subsequently recertified later that day and returned to the Central Mental Hospital.

Year

Number of Instances

2003

101

2004

59

2005 (to date)

5

There are a number of persons who transferred and returned to the Central Mental Hospital on more than one occasion in the same day during the time periods referred to above.

Child Care Services.

David Stanton

Question:

35 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has considered or will consider improving the coverage of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme to include low income working families as well as work-poor households as recommended in the Combat Poverty Agency policy on child poverty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21528/05]

I have noted the recommendations of the Combat Poverty Agency policy statement on child poverty.

The €499 million Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 already has an equal opportunities and social inclusion perspective and facilitates the further development and expansion of child care facilities to address the needs of parents, particularly those from low-income families, in reconciling their child care needs with their participation in employment, training and education. The programme provides capital grant assistance to create and enhance new and existing child care facilities and staffing grant assistance to community based-not for profit organisations whose child care services have a strong focus on the support of the child care needs of disadvantaged families, wishing to avail of employment, training or education.

Over €440 million has been allocated to child care projects in both the community based sector and to private providers. This funding, when fully drawn down, will lead to the creation of some 39,900 new child care places, benefiting parents seeking and using child care. I am very pleased to note that 24,600 of these new places were in operation by the end of 2004. Of the funding committed to the end of June 2005, over €233 million has been approved towards capital projects, with a further €153 million towards staffing grant assistance.

Staffing grant assistance provides support towards the staffing costs of employing child care workers in community based child care centres in disadvantaged areas. Its contribution towards these costs allows the centre to implement differentiated fee structures to benefit less advantaged parents.

The Deputy may also be interested to note that funding committed to the end of June 2005 includes the provision of over €70 million to child care services operating in RAPID areas, which are specially designated for urban regeneration. In addition, over €33 million has been allocated to projects located in CLÁR areas, which are specially designated for rural regeneration. As a result of this funding many low-income working families and work-poor households benefit from the equal opportunities childcare programme.

I would like to reiterate that this Government remains firmly committed to supporting working parents with their child care needs through increased capacity, choice and service quality. To this end considerable progress has already been achieved in terms of increasing the supply of centre based child care places, as noted above, while affording financial support towards the costs of child rearing through child benefit which has increased very significantly over the past seven years.

Child benefit is the main fiscal instrument through which support is provided to parents with dependent children, and this support is provided to all parents irrespective of income and employment status. In his 2005 Budget Statement, the Minister for Finance announced further increases of €10 per month to €141.60 per month for the first two children and €12 per month to €177.30 per month for third and subsequent children from April 2005. This means that over the period since 1997, the rate of child benefit has almost quadrupled. This level of increase is unprecedented and delivers on the Government's objective of providing support for children generally while offering real choice to parents in relation to the care of their children. One of the main advantages of this approach is that, whereas other supports such as tax relief would be of little or no benefit to those with low incomes, the provision of support for parents through Child Benefit means equality of treatment for all recipients, including high-earners, low-earners and the work poor.

As can be seen, this Government's record in providing enhanced child care supports is without parallel and I am confident that we are moving rapidly to ensure that there are quality services available to parents throughout the country.

Deportation Orders.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

36 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of occasions since June 2002 on which aircraft have been chartered to facilitate the deportation of persons; the cost involved in such charters; the number of persons deported in this way and the number who were children; the overall costs involved, including Garda man hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21461/05]

I refer the Deputy to the reply I gave to Question No. 14 on Tuesday, 17 May, last. Since then, a further charter flight to Romania was carried out on 1 June 2005, returning a total of 58 persons including eight minors. Of these, 36 were subject to deportation orders, 19 had been refused leave to land in the State and a further three persons returned home voluntarily after withdrawing their asylum applications. The cost of the flight was €82,720, excluding Garda expenses which are not available for the same reasons given in my earlier reply.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

37 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount which has been spent on the Barron investigation from 14 October 1996 to date, including investigations (details supplied) and medical costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21573/05]

Investigations are undertaken as part of normal duties. Therefore the multitude of different costs incurred by the inquiry into the death of Mr. Barron and by the related investigations referred to by the Deputies were accounted for in the normal manner under the relevant general sub-heads of the Votes concerned. For this reason it would not be possible to retrospectively cost the named investigations without the reallocation of scarce resources on a scale that would be impractical.

Garda Investigations.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

38 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of cases of murder in which firearms were used in respect of each year from 1998 to date and to date in 2005; the number of such cases in which prosecutions for murder were initiated; the number of such cases in which convictions were secured; if he is satisfied with the level of detection and conviction in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21443/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of murders in which firearms were used in respect of each year from 1998 to 22 June 2005 are as set out in the table below.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that murders involving the use of firearms tend to have lower conviction rates than other murders. This is not unique to Ireland. The number of violent deaths, namely, murder and manslaughter, recorded in 2004 is 45, the lowest number recorded in ten years, despite our population increasing by 400,000 during the same period.

I am assured by the Garda Commissioner that the highest priority is given by the Garda Síochána to the investigation of murders and the detection of those responsible.

As the Deputy is aware, the Director of Public Prosecutions is statutorily independent in the performance of his functions and it would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to comment on his decisions. Furthermore, judges are independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and subject only to the Constitution and the law. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment on their decisions also.

As the Deputy will be also aware, the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which is currently on Second Stage in the House, provides for a comprehensive package of anti-crime measures which will enhance the powers of the gardaí in the investigation and prosecution of offences.

In the context of the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, I propose to bring forward, on Committee Stage of the Bill, a series of measures to increase sentences for the more serious range of firearms offences, including the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences in some cases. I am also introducing a new offence of illegally modifying a firearm, for example, sawing off a shotgun barrel, and the imposition of severe penalties for this offence. My full range of proposals will be announced in the House in the normal way in due course.

Murders involving Firearms 1998 to 22 June 2005.

Year

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings Commenced

Convictions

1998

4

3

2

1

1999

12

7

7

5

2000

12

6

5

2

2001

9

4

2

2

2002

10

4

3

2

2003

20

10

4

1

*2004

9

6

5

1

*2005

9

1

1

0

*Figures for 2004 and 2005 are operational and liable to change.

Proposed Legislation.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

39 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Questions Nos. 166 and 167 of 13 October 2004, if the promised legislation (details supplied) will be in place before 31 October 2005. [21326/05]

The control of the importation, manufacture, storage, sale and use of fireworks is provided for under the Explosives Act 1875. As the Deputy will be aware last February I published a fireworks policy consultation document and initiated a process of consultation with a view to bringing forward proposals for amending and strengthening the provisions in the 1875 Act. My Department has received a wide range of submissions in response to the consultation document which are currently being examined. However, it is already clear, from the submissions received to date, that, among the options for change outlined in the consultation document, there is a general welcome for my proposals to strengthen the enforcement provisions, in the 1875 Act.

I now propose to use the opportunity presented by the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which is currently before the House, to make the necessary amendments to the 1875 Act. I propose to bring forward, on Committee Stage of that Bill, amendments which will provide for new offences governing the misuse of fireworks in public places and an offence of possession of illegally imported fireworks with intent to supply. I am also proposing to significantly increase penalties governing the illegal importation, sale and use of fireworks.

The Criminal Justice Bill is currently on Second Stage in the House and it is my intention to have it enacted as quickly as possible.

Freedom of Information.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

40 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of freedom of information requests his Department received in the first six months of 2005; the nature of these requests; the comparable data for the first six months of each of the years 2002, 2003 and 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21605/05]

The tabular statement below outlines the number of freedom of information requests received by my Department in the first six months of each year requested. A significant number of requests received by my Department relate to personal information type requests from staff members and clients of my Department followed by requests of a non-personal nature ranging from statistical type information to information on current issues relevant to the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform.

Year

No. of Requests

2002

338

2003

385

2004

243

2005

219

My Department is committed to the full implementation of the Freedom of Information Acts.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

41 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a financial settlement has been offered to members of the McBrearty families in respect of their claim against the State arising from the matters highlighted in the two reports of the Morris tribunal; when the promised apology will be issued; the persons who will be covered by the apology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21426/05]

I have made clear that an apology is due on behalf of the State to everyone who has been wronged by Garda misconduct in Donegal, and this, of course, includes the McBrearty family. The terms of the apologies will be settled as part of the resolution of the related civil actions currently before the courts.

As regards any offer of a financial settlement of the case currently before the High Court involving Mr. McBrearty Junior, I am legally constrained in what I can say about the detail of any confidential discussions between counsel for the State and counsel for Mr. McBrearty, but I can confirm that there is ongoing communication and discussion between the two legal teams.

Garda Deployment.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

42 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the total current number of community gardaí; the total number of gardaí assigned to traffic duty; and if he is satisfied with this balance of assignments. [21618/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of the Garda Síochána as at 21 June 2005 was 12,186, all ranks.

I am further informed that the total number of personnel allocated to community policing duties on a full-time basis as at 21 June 2005 was 459, all ranks, and that the total number of personnel allocated to traffic duties on a full-time basis as at 21 June 2005 was 543, all ranks.

The Deputy will also be aware 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 the commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government, and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force. As each cycle of recruit training is completed, the Garda Commissioner will assign these new members to the areas of greatest need with particular regard to certain priorities, which include the traffic corps. All personnel assigned to the new traffic corps will have completed the standard training programme.

I am informed that the strength of the Garda traffic corps over the next four years will rise as set out hereunder:

Year

Number

2005

563

2006

805

2007

1,030

2008

1,200

It should also be noted that all members of the Garda Síochána have responsibility,inter alia, to deal with road traffic and community policing issues as they arise.

The Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage the additional resources that come on stream as the strength of the Garda Síochána increases to 14,000 members. 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 community policing and the need to very significantly increase, as I have already outlined, the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. One thing I have already promised is that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties. They will be put directly into frontline, operational, high-visibility policing. They will have a real impact.

Question No. 43 answered with QuestionNo. 8.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

44 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the promised investigation into the circumstances in which the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin managed abuse claims against priests, which he first announced in 2002, is likely to be established; the reason for the long delay in its establishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21474/05]

As the Deputy is aware, in the light of allegations in 2002 about the handling by the church of child sex abuse, I announced my intention to introduce legislation for a new procedure which would enable focused and efficient investigations into matters of significant public concern to be undertaken, the Commissions of Investigation Act was subsequently enacted in July 2004.

My Department is currently in the process of establishing a commission of investigation into the handling of allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy operating under the aegis of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin. The purpose of the commission will be to examine how such allegations and complaints were handled by church and public authorities.

Under the provisions of the Commissions of Investigation Act, the approval of the Minister for Finance is required before a Minister proposes to Government the establishment of a commission of investigation. Accordingly, a draft memorandum for Government proposing the establishment of a commission of investigation into the handling of allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy operating under the aegis of the Archdiocese of Dublin was submitted by my Department to the Department of Finance in December 2004 for the approval of the Minister for Finance.

I am currently in discussion with the Minister for Finance with a view to obtaining his approval to circulate the draft memorandum for Government.

Asylum Applications.

Dan Boyle

Question:

45 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider reviewing the food provided to those in benefit of direct provision to those seeking to remain in the State in view of concerns regarding its variety and appropriateness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21574/05]

The Reception and Integration Agency, RIA, is currently accommodating close on 8,000 residents representing over 100 nationalities in 84 centres throughout 25 counties. The RIA places particular emphasis on meeting, to the greatest extent possible, the dietary needs of residents and, in this regard, 28-day menu cycles are in place in all large centres. In small centres menus are cycled on a seven-day or 14-day basis. The menus offered reflect the reasonable needs of the different ethnic groups and the reasonable prescribed dietary needs of any person accommodated in centres.

All contractors are required to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Breakfast must include eggs, a choice of a minimum of six cereals, a choice of three or four juices, a selection of fruit and cheese, milk, tea, coffee, toast, brown and white bread, rolls and a selection of spreads, jams and preserves. Lunch must consist of a choice of three light main courses, to vary daily, together with salads, rice, potatoes, juices, tea and coffee. In the case of dinner, it must include a choice of two starters, one hot and one cold, or desert or yoghurt and a choice of three main courses, to vary daily, to include a meat dish, a fish dish and a vegetarian dish. Dishes on offer for dinner include chicken, lamb, lasagne, Nigerian style egg fried rice with chicken, chicken egusi, Romanian chicken stew, ogbuno soup and pounded yam, lamb kleftico, lemon pepper haddock, pork paprika and roast joints. Dinner also includes rice, potatoes, chips and tea, coffee, milk, soft drinks and water. Tea, coffee, biscuits, crackers, cheeses and fruit are made available, at the discretion of contractors, outside of normal meal times.

Where there are children in centres, a selection of baby foods and yoghurts must be on display and available. In the case of infants, infant formula, infant food and fresh water for the preparation of infant formula must be available. As regards schoolgoing children, a packed lunch to include at least a sandwich, fruit and a beverage are provided.

All contractors are required to consult regularly with residents to ascertain what foods they prefer and how such foods should be cooked. These meetings are particularly important where many ethnic groups may be accommodated in the same centre. Every effort is made to ensure that the ethnic and dietary needs of residents are met. However, maintaining this on a daily basis for all the different ethnic groups can sometimes prove difficult. Menus are kept under review and are revised from time to time with a view to meeting the ethnic dietary needs of residents to the greatest extent possible.

Regular inspections of centres by RIA staff and by an independent inspectorate are carried out and appropriate measures are taken where the requirements of residents are not being met. In addition, RIA staff, including senior management, regularly eat in centres to ensure that the fare on offer is of the standard required.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

46 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Government is considering taking disciplinary action against any Garda officer above the rank of superintendent arising from the second report of the Morris tribunal; if the resignation or early retirement of any such officer has been sought; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21423/05]

The Government is not proposing to take action against any member of the force above the rank of superintendent arising from the second report of the Morris tribunal.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

47 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the gardaí transferred from County Donegal resulting from the Morris tribunal report will be replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21324/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that during each allocation of probationer gardaí cognisance is taken of vacancies which arise as a result of transfers or retirements.

The needs of the Donegal division will be fully considered within the context of the needs of Garda divisions throughout the country during future allocations of probationer gardaí and, where possible, by way of permanent transfer of members to the division.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

48 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will conduct an audit of services for persons with disabilities with a view to seeking a more targeted response by various Departments in areas in which services are most deficient. [21323/05]

The national disability strategy, launched by the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, on 21 September 2004 represents the Government's targeted response to delivery of disability services. The launch involved seven Ministers with direct responsibility for the various elements of the strategy because of the cross-cutting nature of the issues involved. The strategy has been advanced by a cross-departmental group of senior officials reporting to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion and comprises four elements: the Disability Bill 2004, which is the direct responsibility of my colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for disability equality in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Frank Fahey; the Comhairle (Amendment) Bill 2004, which is the responsibility of the Minister for Social and Family Affairs; six outline sectoral plans which are the responsibility of the Ministers for Health and Children, Social and Family Affairs, Transport, Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and Enterprise, Trade and Employment; and a multi-annual investment programme, from 2005 to 2009, providing over €1 billion for high priority disability support services, mainly in the health and education areas, which was announced as part of the budget on 1 December 2004.

The Disability Bill has since completed all Stages in this House and was passed by the Seanad yesterday. It now remains for the House to accept the Seanad amendments.

While my Department has a key role in the development of disability equality policy and legislation, it is not directly involved in the provision of services for people with disabilities. Since the policy of mainstreaming of services for people with disabilities was introduced in June 2000, responsibility for the provision of services for people with disabilities rests with the same Department or agency which has the responsibility for providing the services generally.

The focus on mainstreaming and social inclusion is given particular emphasis through the significant obligations placed on public bodies under Part 3 of the Disability Bill in relation to buildings and services and through the six sectoral plans under that Part. This will ensure that access for people with disabilities will become an integral part of service planning and provision. The six Departments with responsibility for preparation of sectoral plans will be required to undertake consultation with stakeholders before the plans are finalised and presented for approval to the Oireachtas. These Departments are the Departments whose policies have the greatest impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

Garda Operations.

Liz McManus

Question:

49 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the investigation which is being held into the circumstances in which two persons were shot dead by members of the gardaí during the course of an armed robbery in Lusk, County Dublin, on 26 May 2005. [21456/05]

As I have previously outlined to the House, an outside chief superintendent has been appointed to investigate the circumstances of the incident.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

50 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider widening the terms of reference of the Morris tribunal to include a review of the activities of the special detective unit. [21570/05]

I have no proposals to seek the amendment of the terms of reference of the Morris tribunal at this time.

Garda Complaints Procedures.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

51 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the annual report of the Garda complaints body, published on 14 June 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21440/05]

I welcome the publication of the 2004 annual report of the Garda Síochána Complaints Board. The report sets out the work of the board for the year and the progress made in a number of areas. I do not intend to go into detail on these as they are set out in the report itself and referred to in my press release of 14 June when I launched the report. That said, I note with satisfaction that the number of cases on hand at the end of the year has been reduced to 473 — a reduction of 21% from the corresponding 2003 figure. I also welcome the fact that the average processing time for complaints has been reduced to five months.

I am particularly heartened by the board's supportive comments regarding the establishment of the new three person Garda Ombudsman Commission. The chairman also highlights the fact that the main legislative defects in the current mechanisms are addressed in the Garda Síochána Bill. Indeed, he is of the view that every member of the present board would strongly favour the new powers being proposed for the Garda Ombudsman Commission.

As the Deputy is aware I have already appointed a committee, chaired by Senator Maurice Hayes, to oversee the implementation of the Garda Síochána Bill, including the establishment of the new Garda Ombudsman Commission. I look forward to the assistance of the board and its staff in this element of the task.

Inquiries into Garda Activities.

Seán Ryan

Question:

52 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an outside counsel has been appointed to examine the papers in the Grangegorman murder case with a view to determining the way in which a person (details supplied) came to make a confession to these crimes while in Garda custody; if the terms of reference for the review have been finalised; when the process will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21470/05]

Tony Gregory

Question:

61 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he intends to proceed with the examination of the files on the Grangegorman murders. [21475/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 61 together.

Mr Shane Murphy, SC, has agreed to conduct a review of the Garda Síochana papers relating to the making by the late Mr. Dean Lyons of false inculpatory statements in the course of the Garda investigation into the murders of Mary Callinan and Sylvia Shiels at Grangegorman on 6 and 7 March 1997.

Mr Murphy's terms of reference are as follows:

1. To conduct an independent review and undertake a thorough examination of the Garda Síochána papers relating to the making by Mr. Dean Lyons of false inculpatory statements in the course of the Garda investigation into the murders of Mary Callinan and Sylvia Shiels on 6 and 7 March 1997

(a) with a view to identifying an appropriate means of establishing how he came to make those statements;

2. To make recommendations on

(a) actions to be taken and procedures to be put in place with the aim of preventing similar statements being made again in the future, taking into account Garda Síochána procedures in place at the time to ensure that its duty of care to vulnerable individuals under investigation was fulfilled and any subsequent changes to those procedures;

(b) and any further actions to be taken on foot of the recommendations of the review;

3. And, in this regard, to submit a report to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform as soon as possible.

I have asked Mr Murphy to complete his review as a matter of urgency.

Human Rights Issues.

John Gormley

Question:

53 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason Ireland has not signed the three major human rights conventions (details supplied) opened for signature by the Council of Europe at its Warsaw summit in May 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21610/05]

The signature by Ireland of the three conventions, namely: (i) the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism [CETS 196]; (ii) the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings [CETS 197]; and (iii) the Council of Europe Convention on the Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism [CETS 198] is currently at an early stage of consideration in my Department. The three conventions were only opened for signature on 16 May 2005. A decision on whether Ireland should sign the conventions will be taken following the completion of the process of consideration.

Prisons Building Programme.

Joe Costello

Question:

54 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position with regard to plans to construct a new prison at Thornton, County Dublin; if the Irish Prison Service has taken possession of the site; the total estimated cost of the project; when construction will begin; if he will report on the circumstances leading up to the decision to select this site; when the project will be completed; the process of consultation there has been with local residents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21421/05]

I can inform the Deputy that a contract has been signed for the purchase of the site and that plans are being formulated at present regarding the prison development. These will be made available in conjunction with the statutory planning process. In accordance with the Department of Finance regulations, the Prison Service is currently preparing a business case regarding the development for submission to the Government. It is intended that construction of the prison development will commence in late 2006. The cost of this project will be determined following a procurement process in line with EU directives and public procurement guidelines. It would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to give an indication in relation to costs at this stage as this would be commercially sensitive information which may affect the tendering process. The site selection process was undertaken by a committee which included the Irish Prison Service, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Office of Public Works and a commercial property expert. The minutes of the committee's deliberations have been published. One meeting has been held between officials of the Irish Prison Service and a group of representatives from the local primary school. There will be a process of consultation with the local community as soon as outline plans for the new development are drawn up.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

55 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied with the nature and extent of the disciplinary action taken by the Garda Commission against members of the force criticised in the second report of the Morris tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21425/05]

Disciplinary issues in relation to members of the force below the rank of superintendent are matters for the Garda Commissioner. I am satisfied that the Commissioner will take whatever measures are appropriate in relation to members at those levels arising from the second report of the Morris tribunal.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

56 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if it is intended to issue any apology to members of the Gallagher family in County Donegal whose farm and property was searched by large numbers of gardaí in 1997 in a search for arms based on bogus information, in circumstances set out in both reports of the Morris tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21427/05]

I have made clear that an apology is due on behalf of the State to everyone who has been wronged by Garda misconduct in Donegal, and this of course includes the Gallagher family. The terms of the apologies will be settled as part of the resolution of the related civil actions currently before the courts.

Garda Reform.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

57 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the role to be played by a person (details supplied) in regard to the oversight of Garda reform; if his attention has been drawn to comments (details supplied) made; his views on these comments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21442/05]

Senator Maurice Hayes is the chairperson of the implementation advisory group which I established to facilitate the timely implementation of the Garda Síochána Bill.

The terms of reference of the group are: to review preparations for the timely implementation of the Garda Síochána Bill, with particular reference to the (i) establishment of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, (ii) establishment of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, and (iii) development of guidelines to enable the establishment of joint policing committees; and to report to me on progress by the end of 2005.

Senator Hayes comes to the task with a wide breadth of experience in this area. He undertook a review of police complaints which led to the establishment of the Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland and his work there and on the Patten Commission involved the study of police services in several countries.

I am aware of the views expressed by Senator Maurice Hayes on certain provisions in the Garda Síochána Bill. I was aware of his views before I appointed him as chairperson of the implementation advisory group, and had no hesitation in asking the Senator to take on the task. I am proposing a number of amendments to these provisions in the course of Report Stage debate on the Bill in the House this week.

I agree with Senator Hayes's recent comments in the Seanad indicating that the enactment of the Garda Síochána Bill should not be delayed any further.

Human Rights Issues.

Dan Boyle

Question:

58 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the European Committee on Social Rights’ judgment regarding corporal punishment of children here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21575/05]

The World Organisation against Torture, OMCT, registered a complaint against Ireland and four other countries with the European Committee of Social Rights under Article 17, rights of children and young persons to social, legal and economic protection, of the Council of Europe Revised European Social Charter. The complaint was made under Article 3 of the additional protocol which allows specified non-governmental organisations to submit collective complaints. Ireland and the four other countries against which the complaint was registered, signed and ratified the additional protocol in 2000.

The complaint was considered by the European Committee of Social Rights. Its report found that "the lack of an adequate prohibition on the corporal punishment of children within the home, in certain child care settings, foster care and in residential care constitutes a violation of Article 17 of the Revised Charter".

The issue of corporal punishment in the home falls within the remit of my Department. The common law recognises the right of a parent to inflict moderate and reasonable physical chastisement of a child. The Law Reform Commission, in its 1994 report on non-fatal offences against the person, LRC 45 — 1994, recommended that while it would be premature to abolish the common law chastisement exception immediately, the re-education of parents should proceed without delay and the exception should be abolished when the time was right.

Government policy in this area is expressed in the national children's strategy, launched in November 2000. One of the objectives of the strategy, which has a ten year life span, states "... As part of a policy of ending physical punishment, parenting courses will focus on alternative approaches to manage difficult behaviour in children". The National Children's Office is co-ordinating the strategy. The present legal arrangements can be reviewed in light of the developments arising from the strategy and any constitutional considerations which may arise.

Ireland's response to the complaint was considered by the Committee of Ministers and Deputies and a resolution was adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 8 June 2005 noting,inter alia, the intention of the Government to keep the introduction of an outright ban on corporal punishment under review.

Sexual Offences.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

59 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the renewed call from the chairwoman of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre for victims to be legally represented at rape and sexual assault trials; his views on this call; his further views on the statement made by the chairwoman that courts are perceived as being unfriendly to victims of crime; the steps which are being taken to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21472/05]

I can inform the Deputy that the Sex Offender Act 2001 provides for separate legal representation for complainants in rape and other serious sexual assault trials where an application is made to the court in the course of the trial to adduce evidence or cross-examine on the subject of the complainant's past sexual history. When preparing this legislation the legal advice available to my Department was that there would be constitutional impediments to full separate legal representation for the duration of a trial. The 2001 Act measures represented a serious effort to allay some of the concerns of complainants in such trials without breaching a fundamental principle, the right of an accused person to a fair trial.

The Deputy may also wish to note that legal advice, as opposed to representation, is also available, through the Legal Aid Board, to complainants in rape and certain sexual assault cases. This service is currently subject to a means test and persons who satisfy the financial eligibility criteria are provided with this legal advice free of charge. I can inform the Deputy that I have recently decided in principle that this service should be provided without a means test and I intend to seek Government approval to the inclusion of a provision which would give effect to this in a suitable legislative instrument in the near future.

In so far the comments attributed to the chairperson of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre regarding the perception of the courts are concerned, the position is that the Courts Service has invested significantly in upgrading facilities for all users of the courts including provision of victim support rooms. In this regard the proposed criminal court complex in Dublin will provide several victim support suites for all victims of crime. The Courts Service is also reviewing the size of courtrooms in new developments so that victims and their families can be separated from the accused and his or her family. I would also like to draw the Deputy's attention to the funding recently announced by the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime to provide for court accompaniment services. Women's Aid has been allocated €28,000 to assist in providing such a service to victims of domestic violence and the Rape Crisis Network is to receive €50,000 for accompaniment of victims of sexual violence.

Garda Investigations.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

60 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made with regard to the Garda investigation into the major money laundering operation uncovered earlier in 2005; if a file has yet been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21464/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda investigation remains ongoing. When the investigation is completed, a file will be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

I am further informed that Garda personnel from the southern Garda region, Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and Criminal Assets Bureau are involved in the investigation, and liaison is also ongoing with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

As the Garda investigation remains ongoing, I do not consider that further detailed comment on the matter would be appropriate.

Question No. 61 answered with QuestionNo. 52.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

62 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress which has been made in the Garda investigation into two robberies of security vans in Dublin during March 2005 in which more than €4 million was taken; the amount taken in raids on security vans during 2002, 2003, 2004 and to date in 2005; the number of such cases in which charges have been laid; if he is satisfied that the gardaí have sufficient resources to deal with this plague of robberies and to bring those responsible to justice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21453/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that substantial progress is being made with the investigation into the crimes referred to by the Deputy, with searches being conducted by members of the Garda Síochána resulting in 26 persons being arrested and questioned. Firearm, drugs, cash and other property were seized during these searches. Two persons have been charged and are before the courts on related charges. Further charges are currently being contemplated. Local gardaí are liaising with specialist units from national support services in these investigations, which are ongoing.

Significant reductions have been noted in the number of robberies from security vans since the commencement of Operation Delivery. Operation Delivery was initiated in June 2004 in direct response to the increase in robberies of cash in transit in the Dublin area to counter the increase in this type of crime. Among the activities undertaken are: the profiling and targeting of suspects; the searching of premises associated with suspects; the disruption of activities of suspects; the surveillance of suspects; liaising with cash in transit companies; and intelligence gathering and analysis.

On 16 May the Commissioner initiated Operation Anvil, a special intelligence-led operation within the Dublin metropolitan region with additional resources made available to him. The primary focus of this operation is the deployment of increased Garda resources to prevent and detect serious crime, especially where firearms are involved. To date, as a result of the operation 377 arrests have been made and 76 firearms recovered.

I wish to advise the Deputy that it has not been possible to compile the statistical information requested in the timeframe allowed. I will arrange for the information to be forwarded directly to the Deputy at the earliest possible opportunity.

I am assured by the Garda Commissioner that the necessary resources are being directed towards the containment and detection of such serious criminal activity.

Question No. 63 answered with QuestionNo. 27.

Human Rights Issues.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

64 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the claim made in Amnesty International’s report for 2005 that the Government was failing to protect the human rights of persons with disabilities, asylum seekers, prisoners and domestic violence victims; his views on the claims made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21462/05]

I am aware of the claims made in the Amnesty International report for 2005 but am firmly of the view that they are not well founded. I will address the position in respect of each of the categories of person referred to by the Deputy in turn.

Beginning with the rights of people with disabilities, I believe the Government has demonstrated its commitment by developments over the past eight years, including more recently, the national disability strategy which was launched by the Taoiseach on 21 September 2004. The launch involved seven Ministers with direct responsibility for the various elements of the strategy which comprises four elements: the Disability Bill 2004, which is the direct responsibility of my colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for disability equality in my Department, Deputy Frank Fahey; the Comhairle (Amendment) Bill 2004, which is the responsibility of the Minister for Social and Family Affairs; six outline sectorial plans which are the responsibility of the Ministers for Health and Children, Social and Family Affairs, Transport, Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, and Enterprise, Trade and Employment; and a multi-annual investment programme, from 2005 to 2009, providing over €1 billion for high priority disability support services, mainly in the health and education areas, which was announced as part of the budget on 1 December 2004.

The strategy builds on existing policy and legislation including the Employment Equality Act 1998, the Equal Status Act 2000, the Equality Act 2004 and the Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 and the policy of mainstreaming service for people with disabilities within the State agencies that provide the service to citizens generally.

The Disability Bill is a positive action measure designed to support the provision of disability specific services to people with disabilities and to improve access to mainstream public services for people with disabilities.

The national disability strategy overall presents a practical approach to recognising rights, including in particular increased investment to build service capacity and structures to inform planning and development of key services.

Turning to the claims made in respect of asylum seekers, in focusing on the Immigration Act 2004, the report fails to take account of the vibrant and thriving jurisprudential environment in this jurisdiction which has shown itself to be well capable of ensuring that the highest human rights standards are maintained and developed. The report's analysis therefore minimises the impact of the Constitution, the aforementioned jurisprudence and other relevant statutory provisions, including the Human Rights Act 2003.

The Act of 2004 represents only part of the picture. For example, the general prohibition onrefoulement and the right of an asylum seeker to enter the State are dealt with in the Refugee Act 1996, but are nonetheless central to the Irish immigration regime. Similarly criticism of the absence of a statutory appeal mechanism in relation to the making of a deportation order fails to take into account that such orders constitute the end of a protracted process under the Immigration Act 1999 which guarantees the applicant the right to be made aware of a ministerial proposal to deport, to make representations and to have those representations taken into account. In the case of failed asylum seekers, those entitlements follow a statutory right to independent consideration of claim by two separate independent agencies.

In so far as the criticism in relation to monitoring of immigration controls at airports is concerned, it is not clear to me that the persons performing immigration duties at busy ports and airports throughout the State, acting on my behalf, are incapable of discharging their duties in accordance with law unless they are attended by "independent human rights monitors" particularly when no evidence is adduced to suggest that a contrary situation exists. The Deputy will be aware that the Human Rights Commission is, in accordance with its functions under the Human Rights Commission Act 2000 charged with keeping under review the adequacy and effectiveness of law and practice in the State relating to the protection of human rights and to that end is empowered to conduct relevant inquiries either of its own volition or at the request of any person.

With reference to the Irish born child issue, the constitutional probity of my approach to the residency of the parents was upheld by the Supreme Court in the case of L and Ov Minister for Justice [2003] 1 I.R. 1. Notwithstanding the outcome of that case, I am currently in the process of examining the applications of 18,000 non-national parents for residency in the State on the basis of their parentage of Irish citizen children.

With regard to the claims made in respect of prisoners, Amnesty International's report states,inter alia, that detention conditions did not comply with international standards. I can inform the Deputy that there are standing independent mechanisms for systematic oversight of the operation of the prison system and of the conditions of custody and the treatment of all persons detained therein. These are as follows: prison visiting committees, which visit at frequent intervals the prison to which they are appointed and hear any complaints made to them by prisoners. Visiting committees have free access, collectively or individually, to every part of the prison. Prison visiting committees report to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and their reports are published. There is the Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention, who is responsible for inspecting and reporting on prison conditions, including the health, safety and well-being of prisoners. There is also the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which during its visit to a State party, has the right of unimpeded access at any time of the day or night to any place where persons are detained. To date, the committee has visited Ireland on a total of three occasions in 1993, 1998 and 2002.

In so far as education and employment programmes are concerned, I can inform the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service employs a number of means to encourage prisoners to bring about positive development within themselves, including programmes in the areas of education,vocational and pre-vocational training and lifeskills; specific programmes and individual counselling to address criminogenic factors, for example, anger management, sex offenders programmes; individual and group counselling and support; drug treatment; and facilitating the involvement of voluntary organisations in providing appropriate prisoner support services.

These programmes are delivered by a wide range of specialist services that operate in the prisons, such as psychologists, teachers, probation and welfare officers and prison officers.

Significant developments in the areas of prisoner education and work and training are as follows: in regard to education, participation in prison education continues to be greater than 50% which is very high by international standards. At the end of 2004, the participation rate was 51%. Almost half of the participants were intensively involved, that is, for more than ten hours per week of classes.

Other developments of note include Prison Education in Ireland — A Review of the Curriculum, which was published in 2004 and continues to inform the future development of the prison education curriculum, and a prison adult literacy survey and guidelines for quality literacy work in prisons which were published in 2003. Implementation of the survey recommendations and the guidelines is ongoing. For example, the prison education service will be co-ordinating the introduction for the prisoner population of the literacy assessment tool, Mapping the Learning Journey, to be launched by the National Adult Literacy Agency in 2005. This tool will provide the first national framework for monitoring and recording the progress of literacy learners.

In regard to work and training, the Irish Prison Service is continuing to work with FÁS and other vocational training bodies to review and update, where appropriate, work and training activities and courses to ensure that prisoners can access marketable skills and vocational qualifications to improve their prospects of employability in the labour market on their release.

To assist in the monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the work and training services to prisoners, the Irish Prison Service is developing a work-training database which will be rolled out to all institutions during 2005. The database will facilitate the tracking of prisoners' participation and progress in work and training activities and courses during the course of their time in custody.

In relation to the report's concerns regarding an independent and impartial individual complaints mechanism for prisoners, the Deputy may be aware that I have recently published new draft prison rules which will replace the current outdated 1947 rules. The prison rules deal with all aspects of prison life, including discipline.

The new rules provide for a comprehensive approach to prison discipline for prisoners, allowing for independent hearings for serious cases and an appeals mechanism. Full account of international instruments, including the latest draft of the European prison rules, rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and best practice have been taken in drafting the new rules. The rules respect the rights of prisoners while taking account of the practicalities of running a prison and ensuring prisoners are kept in safe and secure custody.

Although I expect to sign the rules into law during the summer, a lead-in time of several months will be required to give an opportunity for prison staff and others to familiarise themselves with the new rules. It is my intention therefore that the new rules will enter into force in November 2005.

Under existing procedures, a prisoner may complain of ill-treatment to the governor of the prison, a member of the visiting committee of the prison, the director general of the Irish Prison Service or to me, as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It is also open to a prisoner to report a matter to the Garda Síochána, pursue a civil action for damages in the courts or communicate a complaint to any appropriate third party. Rule 109 of the Rules for the Government of Prisons 1947 provides that a prison officer shall without delay inform the governor of any prisoner who desires to see him, or to make any complaint or to prefer any request to him or to any superior authority.

Where a prisoner makes a complaint alleging ill-treatment, the complaint is investigated by the governor. In any case where a criminal offence is disclosed, the governor may request the Garda Síochána to undertake a police investigation with a view to obtaining evidence to support a criminal prosecution.

Based on the findings of the report of an investigation into a complaint of ill-treatment, the governor may decide to take disciplinary action against a member of staff in accordance with the Prison (Disciplinary Code for Officers) Rules 1996.

In considering the claims made in respect of funding of services in the field of domestic violence and violence against women, the Deputy should note that main responsibility for funding organisations supporting victims of such violence lies with the Department of Health and Children. That Department is responsible for the provision of health and social services to victims of violence, including domestic violence, rape and sexual assault. In the main, these services are provided by non-governmental organisations who receive funding for this work from the Department. In addition, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is responsible for the provision of crisis accommodation such as refuges.

My Department is responsible for any necessary responses from the civil and criminal justice systems, for any preventative measures which can be put in place, including intervention programmes for perpetrators of domestic violence and for awareness raising measures aimed at changing society's attitude to violence against women. My Department also co-ordinates the work of the national steering committee on violence against women and the Deputy may wish to note that a new strategic plan is currently being drawn up, with broad consultation, to identify a work programme in this area for the next five years.

I can further inform the Deputy that an interdepartmental group comprising the Departments with responsibilities in relation to violence against women, has been convened by my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Frank Fahey, and chairperson of the national steering committee on violence against women, to discuss the roles, responsibilities and budgets available within each Department towards addressing the issue. I expect this group to report this summer and that its conclusions will feed into the preparation of next year's Estimates.

The claims made by Amnesty International do not stand up under careful analysis or when confronted with the considerable investment of resources and expertise devoted to providing services to the categories of person referred to.

Prison Accommodation.

Dan Neville

Question:

65 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason membership of the implementation committee to establish observation cells in prisons did not include a psychiatrist; and if he will make a statement on the position regarding the implementation of the cells. [21329/05]

I have been advised that the Irish Prison Service steering committee which oversaw the development of the special cells referred to by the Deputy had access to all of the expertise considered necessary. Work on the installation of the new facilities is well under way.

Road Traffic Offences.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

66 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of fixed fines which have been issued to drivers with a foreign licence for breaches of the Road Traffic Acts in cases in which penalty points could not be awarded, for the last period for which figures are available; and the number of these which have been paid to date. [21240/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the IT system at the Garda fixed penalty office does not distinguish between foreign drivers, Irish drivers, foreign addresses and Irish addresses. Consequently, no data are available on the number of foreign drivers who have been issued with fixed charge notices or who have paid a fixed charge. Fixed charge notices are issued in all cases where an address is available.

Road Safety.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

67 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will conduct an audit of the number of road deaths associated with temporary road surfaces and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21214/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the National Roads Authority, which falls within the area of responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Transport, is the agency responsible for recording statistics in relation to road traffic collisions, based on information provided by the Garda Síochána. The authority publishes these statistics in its annual road traffic facts reports. The most recent report relates to 2003 and indicates that there were a total of 301 fatal collisions and 5,684 injury collisions in that year. The statistics show that the condition of the road is a contributory factor in 2.8% of fatal and injury collisions, where contributory factors are specified. The reports, however, do not contain details of collisions which occur specifically on temporary road surfaces.

The National Roads Authority, in conjunction with local authorities, operates a programme where accident locations on the national road network are investigated and, if the road condition is believed to have been a factor, appropriate engineering measures are put in place to improve the situation.

In addition, as part of its work on road safety the National Roads Authority has, since early 2001, incorporated a road safety audit procedure into the design standards for national roads. Road safety audits involve the evaluation of road schemes during design and construction and aims to prevent crashes occurring on a new road scheme, rather than trying to improve the situation after crashes have taken place.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Jack Wall

Question:

68 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to a parliamentary question of 15 May 2005, when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive an appointment date for a hearing aid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21645/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has again requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances.

Jack Wall

Question:

69 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive medical support; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21646/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Bernard Allen

Question:

70 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has been refused elastic stockings which were prescribed by their doctor; and the further reason they were told by the Southern Health Board that they had a directive from the Department of Health and Children to grant elastic stockings to persons for whom they are medically prescribed. [21691/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances.

Pat Breen

Question:

71 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if an application for subvention for a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be approved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21723/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, the Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

72 Mr. O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her proposals to issue guidelines in regard to the operation of patient private property accounts in psychiatric hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21724/05]

I accept the need for clarity on the operation of patient private property accounts in view of the differences in methodology used by some Health Service Executive areas. It is intended to introduce a statutory framework to protect patients' interests, particularly in the context of large repayments of previously paid long-stay charges. This will be done as part of the legislation to provide a clear legal framework for the repayment of long-stay charges for publicly funded long-term residential care, which I intend the bring before the Oireachtas in the autumn.

Accident and Emergency Services.

Dan Boyle

Question:

73 Mr. Boyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the recent additional funding allocated to meet the needs of accident and emergency units at hospitals here; the reason the allocation awarded to Cork University Hospital seems under proportion, in terms of patient numbers, patient throughput and area population when compared to allocation awarded to similar sized hospitals in the Dublin region. [21725/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to reply directly to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Liz McManus

Question:

74 Ms McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the policy on the position of separated non-custodial parents as treated by the HSE in regard to guardianship as described in the referrals procedure of Louth disability services will be extended nationwide. [21726/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

75 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be re-assessed for orthodontic treatment. [21727/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Care of the Elderly.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

76 Mr. Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on a recent report (details supplied) which found that many older persons had been discriminated against in the health services in that upper age limits were applied for breast screening and certain treatments, there was a lack of referrals for some specialist services, certain staff had prejudicial attitudes towards older people and shortages of certain services were disproportionately affecting older people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21728/05]

I welcome the publication of the report of the National Council on Ageing and Older People, entitled "Perceptions of Ageism in Health and Social Services In Ireland". The report highlights the findings of research carried out in the ten former health boards during 2004, involving some 450 older people and 150 health and social services staff.

The study sought to investigate whether older Irish people experience ageism within health and social services and, if so, to ascertain the impact of this experience. Ageism refers to deeply rooted negative beliefs about older people and the ageing process, which may lead to age discrimination.

The Department is committed to promoting healthy ageing and to an age friendly society. The Department is also committed to ensuring that older people, who have contributed to the development of our society, are treated with dignity and respect when receiving health care services.

The Health Service Executive has statutory responsibility for the provision of health care services throughout the country and must ensure that all the services it provides are age friendly. The Department will be liaising with HSE in relation to the recommendations in the report.

Departmental Correspondence.

Denis Naughten

Question:

77 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will furnish a reply to correspondence (details supplied) in County Leitrim; the reason for the delay in responding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21777/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

78 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of children from the Bluebell, Inchicore area awaiting speech and language therapy; the length of time these children will have to wait for this service; her plans to eliminate the waiting list in this area; her further plans to provide a more accessible service locally, for example in the local health centre; if she agrees that it is vital to address speech and language impairments as early as possible in a child’s life to ensure the most successful possible outcome; if she will direct the allocation of additional resources to tackle the problem in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21818/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

79 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the cost to her Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21819/05]

There were no costs incurred by my Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

80 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to her Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21820/05]

The position regarding the transposition of European directives, for which my Department is responsible, is set out in the accompanying table. Both directives will be transposed by a combined statutory instrument. The drafting of this statutory instrument has recently been completed by Parliamentary Counsel and I expect to be in a position to sign it very shortly.

Number / Subject / Title

Deadline for Transposition into Irish Law

Note

Directive 2002/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 2003, setting standards of quality and safety for the collection, testing, processing, storage and distribution of human blood components and amending Directive 2001/83/EC.

08/02/2005

There will be a combined transposing of Statutory Instrument with Directive 2004/33 below.

Commission Directive 2004/33/EC of 22 March 2004 implementing Directive 2002/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards certain technical requirements for blood and blood components.

08/02/2005

See 2002/98 above.

Health Service Allowances.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

81 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position in regard to the application for domiciliary care allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21821/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

82 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for an orthopaedic procedure. [21822/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Cystic Fibrosis Services.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

83 Mr. McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her proposals to address the seriously inadequate staffing levels for cystic fibrosis services as identified in a recent independent report on cystic fibrosis facilities; if the necessary resources will be made available to address the inadequacies outlined in the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21823/05]

I have seen the report which the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland commissioned from Dr. Ronnie Pollock. The report reviewed existing hospital services for people with cystic fibrosis in the context of accepted international standards and concluded that the services available for persons with cystic fibrosis in this country are not up to standard.

The report provides an assessment of current and future needs of cystic fibrosis patients. It makes recommendations regarding the numbers and categories of staff that are appropriate for a modern, multidisciplinary cystic fibrosis service. Following publication of the report, the Health Service Executive, at the request of the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland, established a working group to review the current configuration and delivery of services to persons with cystic fibrosis in Ireland, both in hospitals and in the community. The working group will also make recommendations for the reconfiguration, improvement and development of those services.

The working group is multidisciplinary in its composition and includes representation from the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland. It held its first meeting in early April and hopes to complete its work over the next few months. The Pollock report is one of a number of reports relating to cystic fibrosis services being considered by the group. The work of the group will result in an agreed proposal for the development and reconfiguration of services for cystic fibrosis patients in Ireland.

Health Services.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

84 Mr. Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason occupational therapy for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford has ceased; when it will resume; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21824/05]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

85 Mr. Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in calling a person (details supplied) in County Wexford for their latest operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21825/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 and 85 together.

The Deputy's questions relate to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Máire Hoctor

Question:

86 Ms Hoctor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason there is only one occupational therapist employed by the HSE serving the entire mid-west region (details supplied); and if she intends to alleviate the unacceptably long waiting list for persons requiring occupational therapy assessment. [21826/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Denis Naughten

Question:

87 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to the Adjournment debate of 24 May 2005, the subsequent steps taken by her Department on foot of the commitment to improve audiology services in the west; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21850/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

88 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will be called for a lumbar canal decompression; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21851/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Drugs Payment Scheme.

John Perry

Question:

89 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify why all the literature refers to a calendar month with regard to the national policy for the monthly drug refund scheme; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are up to 100 examples where this would not be the case, including for example an adrenaline pen for life threatening allergic reactions: if this national policy differs from the Health Service Executive north-west; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21862/05]

It is a condition of the drugs payment scheme, DPS, that no individual or family will pay more than the relevant monthly threshold of €85 in a calendar month. The primary care reimbursement service, PCRS, administers the payments process for the DPS. According to the PCRS, the payment of a second co-payment in one month, in one pharmacy, should only arise when a person is intentionally getting the next month's supply on the grounds that he or she will be away the following month or for another such reason. The only exception to this rule is where the packaging of a particular medicine or appliance is such that a client requires 13 dispensings in a 12 month period, as with 28 day packs for example. In this situation, to ensure that an individual or family makes no more than 12 payments in a year it is recommended that, where appropriate, once in a 12 month period or periodically throughout the year, more than a 28 day supply may be given. The packaging of the medicine or appliance will influence how this can be achieved.

It is accepted that an adrenaline pen is not a medication where a month's supply can be defined. In the initial set-up period for the patient, more than one pen would be required. Periodic replacement will be required, depending on use or expiry dates. This particular situation is accommodated under the DPS.

Special Savings Incentive Scheme.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

90 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance the number of SSIA accounts into which the maximum contribution is being awarded; the number of accounts into which the maximum was awarded at the outset of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21662/05]

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

91 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance the number of SSIA account holders who opened accounts with contributions of less than €100 per month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21663/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 91 together.

The number of SSIA accounts at various contribution levels, based on the SSIA annual returns furnished by all qualifying savings managers as at 31 December 2002, 2003 and 2004, is as outlined in the accompanying table. The SSIA scheme commenced in May 2001 and entry to it closed in April 2002. The first returns in respect of all SSIA accounts is in respect of the year ended 31 December 2002. While the number of account holders with contributions of €100 or less is not available, the table below gives a good indication of the level of contributions and the changes over the last three years.

Number of accounts

Monthly contribution level

At 31/12/2002

At 31/12/2003

At 31/12/2004

€12.50 or less

42,649

47,340

50,885

€12.51 —€59.99

224,339

189,360

154,843

€60 —€149.99

334,450

288,606

247,748

€150 —€249.99

124,404

144,693

157,797

€250 —€254 (max)

417,576

443,881

483,021

Total

1,143,418

1,113,880

1,094,294

Tax Code.

Jack Wall

Question:

92 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance the details of income for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare that are registered with the Revenue Commissioners for the tax year 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21664/05]

The Revenue Commissioners advise that an amended PAYE balancing statement will issue in the coming days, incorporating the correct details of earnings now on record in respect of this person's employment for 2003, together with a refund cheque.

Billy Timmins

Question:

93 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to a person (details supplied) who has applied to the inspector of taxes, Kilkenny Tax Office to issue an amended statement of liability for all years from 1988-89 to 2000-01 reflecting a share of farm profits; if this case can be re-examined and the relevant tax statements issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21665/05]

Billy Timmins

Question:

94 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to a person (details supplied); if the amended statement will be issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21666/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 94 together.

The Revenue Commissioners received a claim to amend the assessments for the years 1988-89 to 2000-01, on the basis that the farming income should be apportioned between the taxpayer and his wife in accordance with their ownership of lands. Assessments for the years in question had earlier been issued by Revenue in accordance with the returns of income submitted. In these returns the taxpayer had stated that all the profits accrued to him. Kilkenny district office informed the taxpayer on 8 and 27 April 2005 that it could only amend tax years back to 2000-01 due to time limits and only then if evidence that a partnership between the taxpayer and his wife was furnished. To date this information has not been received by the Revenue Commissioners.

Driving Test Centres.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

95 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Finance the number of sites being considered in relation to a new test centre in Letterkenny; and when a decision will be taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21667/05]

A total of eight sites has been evaluated in consultation with the Department of Transport driving testers. A decision on the preferred site for the new centre is expected in the near future.

Pension Provisions.

Richard Bruton

Question:

96 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated present value of the liability to pay pensions to persons now employed in the public service. [21700/05]

The present value of public service pensions is the estimated accrued cost in 2005 terms of future pension payments in respect of service to date of those currently employed in the public service. The main factors determining the estimate are the discount rate, pay, length of service and life expectancy. The latest estimate of the present value of pensions of people now employed in the public service is €30 billion. It should be pointed out that provision for the actual payment of pensions is made in the annual estimates of expenditure and from pension funds of semi-State organisations where such funds have been established.

The national pensions reserve fund, which is controlled and managed by the National Treasury Management Agency, will part-fund the costs of both social welfare and public service pensions over the longer term. An amount equivalent to 1% of GNP is invested in the fund each year by the Government. No funds can be drawn down before 2025. From then on, draw downs will be made in accordance with rules laid down by the Minister for Finance in the light of the projected increase in the number of people over 65 in the population to avoid undue variation from year to year in the net Exchequer position. The fund's value at end March 2005 was €12,309 million.

Tax Code.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

97 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Finance when tax credit will be granted to a person (details supplied); the amount to be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21707/05]

A tax credit certificate issued to the person in question on 12 May 2005. As the person has now ceased employment, an unemployment repayment can be applied for at the local tax office, at Sullivan's Quay, Cork.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

98 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners have a policy in relation to a situation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21708/05]

Tax relief for health expenses is provided for under section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. The relief is granted at the highest rate of tax at which the taxpayer is chargeable for the year of the claim. Relief cannot be claimed for any expenditure that has been, or will be, reimbursed by a medical insurer or where a compensation payment is, or will be, made in respect of the expenditure.

The first €125 of any medical expenses incurred in any tax year is borne by the taxpayer. In the case of an individual claiming relief in respect of two or more persons, the taxpayer must bear the first €250 himself or herself.

Claims for health expenses are made on form MED 1. While it is not necessary to submit receipts with the form MED 1, the receipts relating to the costs must be retained by the individual as he or she may be asked to produce them if the claim is chosen for detailed examination.

An individual may claim tax relief on certain medical expenses incurred by him or her on his or her own behalf, on behalf of a dependant, or on behalf of a relative. A dependant is any relative of the taxpayer or any other person who at any time during the year of claim is aged 65 years or over or who is permanently incapacitated by reason of mental or physical infirmity. A relative is defined as a husband, wife, ancestor, lineal descendant, brother or sister, mother or father of the taxpayer's spouse, brother or sister of the taxpayer's spouse, spouse of the taxpayer's son or daughter, the taxpayer's child or any other child who, for the year of the claim, is in his or her custody and maintained at his or her expense and under 18 years of age, or if over 18 years of age, is receiving full-time education.

Regarding co-habiting couples, the position is that an unmarried person cannot claim tax relief on health expenses incurred in respect of his or her partner unless such partner is either aged over 65 or is permanently incapacitated by reason of mental or physical infirmity. The position regarding children is that unmarried parents can claim tax relief in respect of their own child or their partner's child, subject to the conditions above being satisfied.

I have no plans at present to further broaden the categories of those in respect of whom a claim for health expenses relief may be made.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

99 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21745/05]

Given my Department's functions, there was no expenditure from its Vote in respect of either referendum on the Treaty of Nice. However, under the Referendum Act 1994, the expenses of returning officers concerned with the holding of referendums are met from the Central Fund, which is administered by my Department. The Act also provides that postal expenses incurred during the holding of referendums are met from the Central Fund. On 7 June 2001, referendums were held on the proposed 21st constitutional amendment on the abolition of the death penalty; the proposed 22nd constitutional amendment on the Treaty of Nice; and the proposed 23rd constitutional amendment on the International Criminal Court. It is not possible to disaggregate expenditure to identify that which relates solely to the proposed 22nd amendment. The second referendum to which the Deputy refers, held on 19 October 2002 was solely in respect of the proposed 26th constitutional amendment on the Treaty of Nice. The costs met from the Central Fund are detailed in the following table.

Although the Office of Public Works is not funded directly or indirectly by my Department, my Department has asked that office to communicate to the Deputy any relevant information relating to expenditure it incurred in respect of the referendums in question.

7 June 2001

19 October 2002

Expenses of Returning Officers

4,998,364.34

2,233,808.78

Postal Expenses

9,737,311.35

1,189,000.00

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

100 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21746/05]

There are currently eight EU directives for which my Department has responsibility which have yet to be incorporated into Irish Law. Council Directive 2003/98/EC Re-use of Public Sector Information lays down ground rules for the re-use of public sector information for commercial purposes. The statutory instrument effecting the transposition was signed by the Minister for Finance on 16 June 2005 and will be published inIris Oifigiúil on Friday, 24 June 2005. The EU Commission will be formally notified immediately upon its publication therein. The deadline for implementation is 1 July 2005.

Council Directive 2004/106/EC of 16 November 2004 amends Directive 77/799/EEC concerning mutual assistance by the competent authorities of the member states in the field of direct taxation, certain excise duties and taxation of insurance premiums and Directive 92/12/EEC on the general arrangements for products subject to excise duty and on the holding, movement and monitoring of such products. The purpose of the directive is to remove from Council Directive 77/799/EEC and from Council Directive 92/12/EEC any reference to mutual assistance on excise duties. Mutual assistance in the area of excise will now be dealt with by EC Regulation No. 2073/2004. This directive requires transposition by 1 July 2005 and my Department has been examining the matter with the Attorney General's office on the specific aspects, if any, of the directive that remain to be transposed.

Council Directive 2005/19/EC of 17 February 2005 amends Directive 90/434/EEC 1990 on the common system of taxation applicable to mergers, divisions, transfers of assets and exchange of shares concerning companies of different member states. It amends the 1990 mergers directive, which provides tax neutrality for cross-border company restructuring. The amending directive extends tax deferral to a larger number of cases and improves the methods to secure tax neutrality while safeguarding the financial interests of member states. The deadline for transposition is 1 January 2006 and it is expected that it will be transposed by ministerial order before that deadline with confirmation of the order in next year's Finance Bill as is the normal practice.

Council Directive 2004/18/EC: Revised Public Sector Procurement Directive, co-ordinates the procurement procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts. The deadline for implementation is 30 January 2006 and it is envisaged that the directive will be incorporated into Irish law well in advance of this date.

Council Directive 2004/17/EC: Revised Utilities Sector Procurement Directive, co-ordinates the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sector. The deadline for implementation is 30 January 2006 and it is envisaged that the directive will be incorporated into Irish law well in advance of this date.

Council Directive 2004/39/EC: Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, MIFID, allows investment firms to provide their services across the EU on the basis of their home country authorisation, that is, it will give them an effective single passport. The deadline for implementation is 30 April 2006. However, on 14 June 2005, the Commission published a proposal to extend the deadline by which member states must transpose this directive by six months, that is, until 30 October 2006. This recent proposal must be ratified by the Council and the Parliament. It is expected that this directive will be incorporated into Irish law by the deadline of 30 October 2006.

Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructures the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity. The deadline for transposition was 31 December 2003. As was already outlined in response to the parliamentary question reference number 14648/05 of 5 May 2005, Ireland was already in compliance with all significant requirements of the directive prior to the deadline. The outstanding elements of the directive have been provided for in Finance Act 2005, subject to a commencement order in one instance. A letter notifying the Commission of this position has issued.

Council Directive 2004/56/EC of 21 April 2004 amends Directive 77/799/EEC and concerns mutual assistance in the field of direct taxation, certain excise duties and taxation of insurance premiums. It provides for a single set of rules to be applied to the information gathering process by a member state in responding to a request for assistance from another member state. In addition, the directive provides for all information made known to another member state to be subject to the same privacy rules as information gathered under the national legislation of the member state providing the information. The deadline for transposition was 1 January 2005. A statutory instrument is being prepared and it is expected that the directive will be transposed in the coming weeks.

Every effort is being made by my Department, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General and Parliamentary Counsel to the Government, to ensure that any outstanding directives will be transposed as a matter of urgency and that remaining directives will be transposed on time.

Tax Code.

John Perry

Question:

101 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Finance if he will address the concerns raised regarding income tax (details supplied). [21847/05]

There is no specific exemption from income tax for volunteer youth workers.

In the absence of the full facts, it is difficult to comment on the taxation of the individual referred to by the Deputy. From the brief information provided, it seems likely that the individual will be employed and paid by an Irish employer and, therefore, the income he receives will be fully chargeable to income tax in Ireland, notwithstanding that the funding of the salary may be coming from a source outside of Ireland. In addition, the cost incurred by the employer in providing accommodation to the individual in question will constitute a taxable benefit-in-kind.

The question of liability to PRSI is a matter for the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Denis Naughten

Question:

102 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce tax relief for child care fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21853/05]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government is already providing support to parents through child benefit, grants under the equal opportunities childcare programme, capital allowances for expenditure on child care facilities and an exemption from a benefit-in-kind charge where employers provide free or subsidised child care facilities for their employees.

There is a need to examine pragmatically and practically what can be done regarding the provision of child care support to parents. The introduction of any further supports through the tax system would be a matter for consideration in the context of the annual budget and finance Bill.

Water Quality.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

103 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the proposals and practical implantation strategies which have been adopted as a result of interdepartmental consultations and meetings with local interests, in relation to the ongoing threat of an environmental kind to Lough Corrib and Lough Mask in County Galway; his views on these matters regarding the concerned groups in the locality of these lakes who have sought such information from him and his Department. [21660/05]

Primary responsibility for protecting water quality rests with the relevant local authorities and proposals to deal with environmental threats in this area is a matter for these bodies to decide, in consultation with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

I am aware, through the Western Regional Fisheries Board, of the concerns held by local stakeholders about the decline in water quality and the impact on fisheries in Lough Corrib and Lough Mask. Late last year, I met a delegation from the Carra Mask Corrib Water Protection Group Limited, along with my colleagues the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Minister for Agriculture and Food and the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, at which I heard the group's views on the causes and effects of the enrichment of these waters.

I share the concerns expressed for the stocks of salmonids and freshwater pearl mussels and take confidence from the assurances given by the Ministers and the agencies operating under their aegis, to work in partnership with local interests to find practical and effective solutions to address the matter. I assure the Deputy that the central and western regional fisheries boards will make every effort to ensure that fishery concerns are placed high on the agenda when these solutions are being implemented.

Water Pollution.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

104 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his proposals to deal with the urgent environmental issues that arise from the infestation of western waterways with African weed, Lagarosiphon Major. [21659/05]

Under the Fisheries Acts, primary responsibility for the protection and conservation of inland fisheries is a matter for the regional fisheries boards, in this case, the Western Regional Fisheries Board. I am aware, through that board, that an aggressive alien plant species known as Lagarosiphon major or curly water weed has been identified in Lough Corrib. This weed, originally from Africa, poses a serious threat to fish and other wildlife in the area. It is thought the weed was introduced to Ireland through garden centres as a product for ornamental garden ponds.

I am advised that the Central Fisheries Board and the Western Regional Fisheries Board, together with Galway County Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, have recently established a Lagarosiphon task force. The main aim of this task force is to determine and implement all the possible options for the control and the possible elimination of this invasive alien species.

The task force held its first meeting in Oughterard, County Galway on 26 May this year and has already produced an information leaflet detailing what anglers, boat owners and the public should do to combat the spread of the weed. The task force has also issued a press release to relevant national, regional and angling press to inform the general public of the threat associated with this invasive alien species.

I assure the Deputy that the agencies concerned are continuing to work together to address this problem.

Environmental Policy.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

105 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his proposals to respond to the threat to a number of Ireland’s native fish species that a recent report (details supplied) has suggested that certain freshwater fish are under serious pressure as their habitats have been damaged. [21661/05]

On 15 June last, I was pleased to launch, on behalf of the Royal Irish Academy and the Irish Char Conservation Group, their publication entitled "Threatened Irish Freshwater Fishes". This publication makes a very valuable contribution to our knowledge of some of Ireland's rarer native species, which are an important and unique aspect of our natural heritage. The publication brings together important information on what these rare fish species are, their distribution and status, as well as recommendations for their future conservation.

Under the Fisheries Acts, primary responsibility for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish stocks rests with the central and regional fisheries boards. I understand that measures to protect the species referred to in the Royal Irish Academy's publication are being taken by the fisheries boards in the context of the European Union water framework directive.

The status of smelt, shads and lamprey populations is currently being investigated by the central and regional fisheries boards, as part of the national fisheries research programme and in specific locations, on behalf of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. According to the Central Fisheries Board, while some populations of char have become extinct in the past 30 years, smelt and lamprey are more widespread than originally thought and appear to be reasonably stable. The board also advises that while populations of twaite shad continue to occur in south eastern rivers, anecdotal evidence suggests that numbers are significantly depleted.

The knowledge shared through the publication "Threatened Irish Freshwater Fishes" will assist the central and regional fisheries boards in their task of conserving and protecting these species. The fisheries boards are co-operating closely with other Departments and agencies, particularly the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Environmental Protection Agency, in rolling out the water framework agenda. The fisheries boards have assured me that they will make every effort to ensure that, under this agenda, sufficient priority and focus will be placed on addressing the pressures on these particular species and restoring the habitats concerned.

Industrial Relations.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

106 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the concerns regarding the employment practices of Irish Ferries (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21765/05]

The Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources does not have a role in industrial relations matters. I have no statutory function in relation to seafarers' wages.

An agreed joint statement was issued from Irish Ferries and SIPTU on 16 June 2005, stating that the parties have agreed to appoint assessors to conduct a comprehensive review of operations encompassing the Irish Sea and continental corridors.

The parties have requested the assessors to develop a set of recommendations, designed to meet the requirements of the business for their consideration within a six- week timescale.

According to the joint statement, it was also agreed that there would be no action in any form nor would there be any further media statements for the duration of the assessment process.

Telecommunications Services.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

107 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the timeframe and manner in which all of Ireland will be enabled for Wi-Fi broadband access; if he sees a role for Irish local authorities to deploy broadband radio networks based on the 802.11 or Wi-Fi radio standard using mesh technology to like multiple hot spots in view of the success of a similar programme by US local authorities. [21767/05]

The provision of broadband services is a matter for the fully liberalised private sector, regulated by ComReg, the independent Commission for Communications Regulation. ComReg is also responsible for the issuing of fixed wireless access local area, FWALA, licences.

Digital subscriber line, DSL, is the most popular broadband delivery platform in Ireland, with over 84% of broadband customers using this technology. There are, however, limitations to the delivery of broadband by DSL, such as distance from a telephone exchange and line quality, so other delivery platforms such as fixed wireless, optic fibre, satellite and cable modems each have a part to play in the rollout of broadband.

The 120 metropolitan area networks being built by my Department, in association with the local and regional authorities, are optic fibre based and offer the telecommunications sector open access. The broadband delivery method chosen by a service provider is a matter of choice, depending on market conditions and individual customer's needs.

The use of fixed wireless local access is increasing, and a number of companies already offer broadband access using this technology. Wi-Fi is also gaining in popularity and is already on offer in selected locations. Market forces will determine if and when Wi-Fi is offered in a given area.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

108 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the proportion of local exchanges which will be enabled for broadband access by the end of 2005, by the end of 2006 and by mid-2007. [21768/05]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

110 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of businesses and the number of households which had broadband access on 1 January 2005, 1 April 2005, and 1 June 2005; the projections for the number of businesses and the number of households which will have this access on 1 September 2005, 1 January 2006, 1 July 2006 and 1 Jan 2007 and 1 July 2007. [21772/05]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

111 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of businesses and the number of households which had broadband access in January and July 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004; the proportion of the number of businesses and the number of households these figures represent. [21773/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108, 110 and 111 together.

Historical data on total broadband subscribers in Ireland, as supplied to the European Commission by the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg, is available from the following link:

http://europa.eu.int/information_society/topics/ ecomm/doc/all_about/implementation_ enforcement/broadband/broadband_data_ 01012005.pdf

I understand from ComReg that there were over 138,000 broadband subscribers in January 2005. The figure had risen to over 152,000 by 30 March 2005, however, figures for 1 June 2005 are not yet publicly available.

Questions relating to the enabling of telephone exchanges for broadband are operational matters for Eircom. However, I understand that the company has announced that it had over 140,000 working DSL lines by 27 May 2005 and aims to have 90% of lines broadband enabled by March 2006.

ComReg does not have projections for broadband take-up. However, Eircom has stated that it aims to have 500,000 DSL subscribers by December 2007. This is equivalent to 30% of households in Ireland. While DSL will continue to be the dominant broadband delivery platform for the foreseeable future, the rollout of fixed wireless access networks under ComReg's fixed wireless access local area, FWALA, scheme is a development that will help stimulate platform competition which is crucial to increasing broadband penetration in Ireland in the coming years.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

109 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21769/05]

Details of directives awaiting transposition by my Department are set out on the following table.

EU Directives Awaing Transposition.

Title and Purpose

Deadline for Transposition into Irish Law

Expected date of transposition

Directive 2002/91of 16 December 2002 on the energy efficiency of buildings. This Directive provides for new measures aimed at improving energy efficiency of buildings and covers heating, thermal insulation and air-conditioning.

04.01.06

December 2005

Directive 2003/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2003 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas and repealing Directive 98/30/EC.

(5 parts) 1. 01.07.04 2. 01.07.04 3. 01.07.04 4. 01.07.04 5. 01.07.07

1. Transposed 2. Transposed 3. July 2005 4. Late 2005 5. 2007

Directive 2004/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 on the promotion of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market and amending Directive 92/42/EEC.

21.02.06

February 2006

Directive 2004/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 April 2004 concerning measures to safeguard security of natural gas supply.

19.05.06

May 2006

Questions Nos. 110 and 111 answered with Question No. 108.

Natural Gas Grid.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

112 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if the independent risk assessment of the Corrib gas terminal in north Mayo has been totally discredited and compromised in view of the recent revelations that the independent consultants (details supplied) hired to review the safety of the Corrib gas onshore pipeline are part-owned by the project’s major shareholder; if he will halt this development until a new thorough risk assessment is carried out in view of the fact that the onshore, high pressure technology employed by a company (details supplied) in developing this terminal, is not proven in any jurisdiction within the European Union; the practical measures he has put in place to ensure that the people of Erris in north Mayo will benefit from the substantial profits soon to be generated by this company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21774/05]

It is presumed that the Deputy is referring to the quantified risk assessment, QRA, for the onshore section of the gas pipeline and not for the gas terminal.

As regards the assessment that I commissioned on the QRA for the onshore pipeline, the position is that following media queries on 25 May 2005, my Department became aware that the company selected to undertake the QRA review is owned jointly by BP Oil Limited and Shell UK Oil Limited. Notwithstanding that, BP Oil Limited and Shell UK Oil Limited own the company jointly, BPA remains of the view that there is no conflict of interest. While I accept that BPA will have completed the review in a fully professional and objective manner, I remain conscious of the association of Shell UK Oil Limited with BPA by means of its 50% ownership of the company and I regret that this situation ever arose. In the interest of ensuring confidence in the independence of the process of evaluation of the safety aspects of the pipeline as addressed by the QRA version F and considering the public concerns and sensitivities on this issue, I instructed officials of my Department to initiate a further review of the QRA. I can confirm that my Department has engaged a consultant to carry out this further review of the QRA.

My officials are at present completing their assessment of the developers' application to install and commission the onshore pipeline. The decision in relation to this application will not be finalised until the consultant's report in relation to the QRA has been received and assessed. I should also add that the consultant's report will be put into the public domain in north Mayo and on the Department's website as soon as possible after receipt.

I have no function in relation to any profits that the developers gain from the Corrib gas field.

There are many benefits that the people of Mayo and the country at large can gain from the development of the Corrib gas field. Over the life of the Corrib field it will contribute to reduced importation of natural gas and an enhancement of our security of supply of energy. The construction work will contribute to Exchequer income from corporation, payroll and indirect taxation in so far as it relies on sourcing of Irish skills, staff and material. Operations will similarly contribute to the Exchequer and will also yield lease rental income. In addition to sharing in general prosperity, communities in Mayo will benefit where there is local sourcing of workers, services and goods. Direct construction employment will be of the order of 100, will rise to 500 and then fall back to 200 over the project period. It is anticipated that 50 to 60 staff in three shifts will be employed to operate the terminal. It is the stated policy of the operating company to recruit and train local staff to work the terminal and I understand that main contractors and subcontractors on the project have recruited some of their labour requirements locally.

Diplomatic Representation.

Billy Timmins

Question:

113 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in relation to the Irish Consul Office in Ecuador; when a consul will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21677/05]

I have recently approved the appointment of a new honorary consul in Ecuador. However, before an appointment can be confirmed, the agreement of the Ecuadorian authorities must be obtained. Once this has been received I will proceed with the appointment.

Pending finalisation of the appointment, Irish citizens in Ecuador may seek consular assistance from the embassy of any other EU member state in Quito. They may also contact the Embassy of Ireland in Buenos Aires, which is monitoring the situation in Ecuador in relation to consular assistance.

Honorary consuls are not full-time employees of the State but are private individuals who undertake, in addition to their normal work, to provide a range of consular services to Irish citizens abroad. As a condition of their appointment, honorary consuls undertake to put in place the necessary staff and office resources to provide these consular services.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

114 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21748/05]

The cost incurred by my Department in 2001 related to the first referendum on the Nice treaty was €2,368,000 of which €1,644,000 was spent by the Referendum Commission. The balance of the cost was incurred in relation to the production of information materials.

The cost incurred by my Department in 2002 related to the second referendum on the Nice treaty was €4,821,000 of which €4,061,000 was spent by the Referendum Commission. The balance of the cost was incurred in relation to the production of information materials.

International Agreements.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

115 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number, title and purpose of the UN conventions not yet signed or ratified by the Government; and when it is envisaged that these will be signed, ratified and incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21749/05]

As the Deputy will be aware, there are a large number of international agreements, including UN conventions, covering a very wide range of subjects and falling within the functional responsibility of a large number of Departments and offices. The Government must consider on an ongoing basis the desirability of Ireland signing or becoming party to those agreements which it has not already signed or become a party to.

Given the number and range of international agreements involved, signature, ratification or accession will not necessarily be under active consideration in respect of all such agreements at any given time. The situation is kept under review in the context of the ongoing assessment and prioritisation of Ireland's international commitments.

If the Deputy has a query concerning Ireland's position with regard to a particular international agreement which Ireland has not signed or become a party to, I will endeavour to provide him with the information he requires.

Passport Applications.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

116 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the passport of a person (details supplied) has been in the possession of another person (details supplied) since September 2004 when they were deported from the United States and has not yet been returned to them; his views on the unreasonable delay in returning the passport; and if he will take appropriate measures to ensure the passport is returned as soon as possible. [21750/05]

The person in question was deported from Boston to Ireland on 15 March 2005. The previous month the US Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, BICE, requested a travel document for this person from the consulate in Boston to facilitate his deportation. When submitting the request, BICE included a photocopy of an expired passport which had been issued by our embassy in London in May 1994 valid to May 2004. On foot of this request, the consulate in Boston issued a travel document valid from 15 February until 15 March 2005.

The consulate is not aware of any contact from this person since his deportation. If the person claims that there has been misuse of his passport details and-or wishes to obtain a new passport, he should contact the Passport Office, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

117 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21751/05]

The Department of Foreign Affairs does not currently have any outstanding EU directives to be transposed into Irish law.

Sports Capital Programme.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

118 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will allocate a grant under the sports capital programme to a project (details supplied) in County Galway in order to allow the project to proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21703/05]

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 throughout the country. The programme is advertised on an annual basis.

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 the 1,362 applications received before that 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.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

119 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21754/05]

There was no cost incurred by my Department in relation to the two Nice treaty referenda.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

120 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21755/05]

There are no EU directives currently awaiting implementation by my Department.

Job Creation.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

121 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the percentage of all new jobs in greenfield projects created by overseas firms in the years 2000-04, which were sited in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21680/05]

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

In the period 2000-04, new jobs — gross gains — in County Kildare in all IDA assisted companies accounted for 5% of total new jobs in the period. In the same period, new greenfield, first-time jobs in County Kildare in IDA assisted companies accounted for 1% of total new greenfield first time jobs approved.

Employment figures in IDA assisted companies in Kildare over the last four years were as follows:

Employment Data

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

No. of Companies

29

29

28

28

24

Permanent Employment

10,678

10,108

10,122

10,233

10,310

Kildare continues to thrive across a broad range of activities in the housing, commercial, services and industrial sectors. As a result, many job opportunities are being created within the county. The population of the county continues to grow well above the national average and in 2004 significant developments in overseas investment were announced, namely, the largest ever ICT investment in the country by Intel of €1.6 billion in wafer fabrication; and a €21.4 million technology development centre by Hewlett Packard.

Other overseas companies in the county such as Wyeth Medica, Oral B, Tegral Products, IFS, and Athy Concentrates continue to provide solid job opportunities. Similar opportunities are being provided by the services and local industrial sectors.

Job Protection.

Jack Wall

Question:

122 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he has initiated or will initiate to protect the jobs at a company (details supplied) and to ensure the continuation and growth of the manufacturing industry here. [21696/05]

I am aware that the company in question is undertaking a major restructuring and upgrading of its plant in Naas, County Kildare. Employment will reduce from 480 to 235 following the restructuring. However, I understand that the company has chosen Ireland as the international manufacturing site for its next generation electronic mirrors and that this will involve substantial new capital investment at its plant in Naas. This is expected to ensure the long-term viability of the plant.

The 245 redundancies that the company has deemed necessary, are expected to be achieved through a voluntary redundancy and early retirement scheme. Notwithstanding this, the manager of the FÁS training services unit in the midlands region has visited the company and provided briefing on the full range of services available from FÁS. The company has indicated that it will be in contact with the agency again before the end of this month.

As Minister for Enterprise, my objective is to ensure that our economy remains a globally competitive, profitable and secure location for business. We can best help enterprise, including the manufacturing sector, by continuing to implement policies that are pro-business and by implementing the right balance of enterprise supports and at the right time to help business. When provided with the best supporting and competitive environment, business and industry will develop to capitalise on investment and growth opportunities. It is the Government's intention to enable enterprise growth by policies tailored to address the competitive pressures transforming the global economy.

Manufacturing has been a key driver of prosperity across the economy for many years and enterprise policies will continue to emphasise the strategic importance of the sector to future economic growth. The enterprise strategy group, ESG, recognised the importance of the sector in providing a foundation of skills and technologies on which to build a high performance, high value added and technologically orientated manufacturing sector into the future. We must realise, however, that global competition from fast developing economies is placing unprecedented competitive pressures on manufacturing plants, and particularly those involved in low margin activities. Some firms will be unable to compete in these new competitive circumstances.

Nevertheless, the success of many world class plants gives us some solid cause for optimism that our manufacturing base will continue to operate at the leading edge of technologies and processes, while sustaining significant employment. From a policy perspective it is important to put in place selective initiatives to maximise this potential. Both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland have specific programmes to assist their manufacturing clients tackle competitiveness problems.

I am satisfied that the strategies and policies being pursued by the Government and by the State development agencies under the aegis of my Department will continue to maximise sustainable job creation and investment opportunities. The capacity of our economy to consistently expand quality employment opportunities, not only for our own labour force but for thousands of immigrants, strongly suggests that we have significant competitive strengths in the global context.

Industrial Relations.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

123 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the concerns regarding the employment practices of Irish Ferries (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21766/05]

The labour inspectorate of my Department has general responsibility for the enforcement of compliance with employment rights legislation in this jurisdiction. The inspectorate investigates specific complaints of infringement of those rights in respect of any employee, irrespective of nationality, including employees engaged on an Irish registered vessel.

With regard to the company concerned in this particular case, it is my understanding that an agreed joint statement was issued from Irish Ferries and SIPTU on June 16 2005, stating that the parties have agreed to appoint assessors to conduct a comprehensive review of operations encompassing the Irish Sea and continental corridors.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

124 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21812/05]

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment incurred no costs in relation to the two Nice treaty referenda.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

125 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that this outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21813/05]

The current position in relation to the transposition of EU directives for which my Department is responsible indicates a total of 28 directives to be implemented, including eight for which the deadline for implementation, in full or in part, has passed.

Details of the directives, including, the number, title and purpose of each directive and the current position in respect of transposition are available on my Department's website atwww.entemp.ie/trade/eudirectives.

State Property.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

126 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans for the IDA lands at the proposed Fingal industrial park in Dublin 17; the proposals IDA Ireland has to remove the 40,000 plus tonnes of toxic waste illegally dumped along the River Mayne at that location to remediate the adjoining lands; if he or the CEO of IDA Ireland has contacted the Garda Bureau of Criminal Investigation on the matter. [21814/05]

The management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio, including the purchase and disposal of property, is a day-to-day operational matter for the agency as part of the statutory responsibility assigned to it by the Oireachtas and not a matter in which I, as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, have any direct function.

I have been informed by IDA that in August 2004, the agency made a planning application for the remediation of the landfill site on its lands at Belcamp. Subsequently, in January 2005, following discussions with Fingal County Council and Dublin City Council, IDA Ireland decided to strategically withdraw its planning application relating to these works, with a view to resubmission at a later date.

IDA Ireland was of the view that additional information would serve to better support its application at approval stage. In this regard, IDA is in discussion with the local authorities about submitting a revised application. This process is currently at an advanced stage and it is envisaged that a revised application will be submitted over the coming weeks.

IDA is currently involved in legal action in relation to this case and thus it would not be proper to comment on some of the points raised in the question at this stage.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

127 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will provide a full report on the history and ownership of lands owned by IDA Ireland in Dublin 17; the lands which have been sold in recent years; the lands which remain in public ownership; the history of the lands occupied by a company (details supplied); if those lands triggered emergency legislation in the Oireachtas recently; the losses which accrue to the State from a change in status or sale of the lands; the status of a former company’s lands and facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21846/05]

The management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio, including the purchase and disposal of property, is a day-to-day operational matter for the agency as part of the statutory responsibility assigned to it by the Oireachtas and not a matter in which I, as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, have any direct function.

Compilation of the material required to answer the question requires extensive research and it is not possible to undertake this research in the timescale permitted. I have asked IDA Ireland to revert directly to the Deputy with the information requested within a period of two weeks.

In the interim, the sequence of events leading up to the enactment of the recent emergency legislation in the Oireachtas is outlined for the Deputy's information.

IDA normally sells land by means of a 999-year lease. This lease incorporates a restrictive user clause limiting the use of the land generally to manufacturing and or internationally traded services.

IDA was served with a notice by a leaseholder at Clonshaugh seeking to acquire the freehold interest in the land pursuant to the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rent) Acts. Under the provisions of these Acts, lessees may acquire the freehold interest provided that certain conditions are met. While terms of the lease entered into by the IDA did not meet the criteria set out in the Acts, the company holding that lease created a sub-lease, the terms of which fulfilled the criteria for eligibility to acquire the freehold interest. The sub-lease was acquired by a connected company which immediately applied to acquire the fee simple. Having received clear legal advice that the applicant company was entitled to acquire the freehold interest, the IDA negotiated a settlement with the company the terms of which are the subject of a confidentiality agreement between the parties.

The Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 2005 was enacted on 19 May 2005. The purpose of the legislation is to protect the State's interest in lands acquired by the three industrial development agencies, IDA Ireland, Shannon Development and Udarás na Gaeltachta. The legislation includes these agencies as a bodies excepted from the application of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (No 2) Act 1978. From the operative date, any lessee holding a lease from these agencies or a sub-lease under that lease is restricted from acquiring the fee simple in those lands.

Registration of Patents.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

128 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the security and invigilation procedures which are in place to ensure that the content of all patents filed here are protected for Irish inventors and innovations. [21857/05]

In common with legislation in most other countries, Irish law in section 28 of the Patents Act 1992 provides that a pending patent application shall be published, that is, made open to public inspection and therefore disclosed, as soon as practicable after the expiry of a period of eighteen months from the filing date, or if the priority of an earlier application for the same invention is being claimed, 18 months from the filing date of the earlier application. Up until the expiry of the 18-month period the content of a patent application including the description of the invention remains secret and is not disclosed by the Patents Office to anybody. An application which is withdrawn by the applicant prior to the expiry of the 18-month period is also never disclosed by the office.

Patent applications filed at the Patents Office in Dublin are normally transmitted to the Patents Office in Kilkenny using a courier service. A record is kept of all the documents being transmitted. The office considers this procedure to be secure and has never has a case of a document being lost or a package interfered with.

The Patents Office acts as a receiving office for European patent applications and patent applications filed under the patent co-operation treaty. On receipt, such applications are transmitted by registered post to the European Patent Office in The Hague and to the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva. The office is satisfied that this procedure is secure and does not permit unauthorised disclosure of patent documents.

All documents held within the Patents Office, including unpublished patent documents, are held in a secure modern storage facility. Public access to the Patents Office is restricted and there is no such access to the working or file storage areas. In addition, the staff of the Patents Office are civil servants and are subject to the Official Secrets Act.

The office is satisfied that its internal administrative and security arrangements are such as to prevent the unauthorised disclosure of confidential documents including patent applications and that any disclosure of patent applications is only made in accordance with the legislation.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

129 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason persons (details supplied) in County Mayo have been refused rent supplement that would enable them to transfer from their current address to more suitable accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21858/05]

The regulations governing the payment of rent supplement stipulate that, in general, rent supplement is not paid to people who vacate local authority accommodation. Furthermore, rent supplement is not ordinarily paid unless the local authority is satisfied that the applicant has a housing need which the local authority is not in a position to address. However, the regulations provide the Health Service Executive with discretion to pay a rent supplement where it considers the exceptional or special circumstances of the particular case so warrant.

The family concerned is residing in local authority housing. It has made inquiries about its rent supplement eligibility but has not made a formal application. The western area of the executive has advised that, in its opinion, the circumstances in this case do not warrant payment of rent supplement in respect of private rented accommodation as an alternative. The family has been advised that the most appropriate course of action in its case is to request their local authority to transfer it to another house elsewhere.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

130 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will review the position regarding a pension payable to a person seeking the one parent family payment is taken fully into account with no disregard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21714/05]

The policy in relation to one parent family payment is to encourage and facilitate lone parents in moving into the paid labour force. The main element of this policy is an earnings disregard of €146.50 per week. This disregard is designed to help towards expenses incurred from taking up employment such as travel, child-minding etc. There is no disregard given to a person whose income is an occupational pension.

I have given a commitment in my Department's statement of strategy to review the operation of income support arrangements for lone parents. Pending the findings of this review, there are no plans to amend the qualifying criteria for the one parent family payment.

Dan Boyle

Question:

131 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his plans to extend the right to a free travel pass to persons under 66 years of age, with an identified medical condition, but in receipt of payment of another EU jurisdiction. [21720/05]

The free travel scheme is available to all people living in the State aged 66 years, or over, to all carers in receipt of carer's allowance and to carers of people in receipt of constant attendance or prescribed relative's allowance.

It is also available to people under age 66 who are in receipt of certain disability type welfare payments, such as disability allowance, invalidity pension and blind person's pension. People who are in receipt of a social security invalidity or disability payment from a country covered by EU regulations, or from a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement, and who have been on this payment for at least 12 months, are also eligible for free travel.

Further extensions to the free travel scheme could only be considered in a budgetary context and taking account of the financial and other needs of those not covered by the existing arrangements.

Tax and Social Welfare Codes.

David Stanton

Question:

132 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he has reviewed or intends to review best international practice with regard to delivery systems of the social welfare and benefits system to increase take-up rates of benefits and to improve withdrawal rates as recommended by the Combat Poverty Agency policy statement on child poverty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21838/05]

In its policy statement, Ending Child Poverty, which I launched recently, the Combat Poverty Agency makes recommendations in a number of areas, including the tapered withdrawal of means tested payments and the consideration of delivery mechanisms through the tax system to improve benefit take up.

As I said at its launch, this statement, based on an analysis of income support packages for families in 22 industrialised countries, is a comprehensive, wide-ranging and valuable contribution to the ongoing drive to ending child poverty.

Over the years a number of improvements have been introduced across the social welfare system to make them more employment friendly by removing disincentives associated with loss of benefits on taking up employment. Some current examples are: the one parent family payment — the first €146.50 weekly earnings plus 50% of earnings from €146.51 to €293 are disregarded; unemployment assistance — 40% of net earnings from part-time work are disregarded; farm assist — 30% of earnings from self-employment are disregarded; family income supplement — 40% of net earnings are disregarded; retention of rent-mortgage interest supplement and other secondary benefits on a tapered basis in certain circumstances; and tapered withdrawal of adult and child dependant increases as the spouse-partner's earnings from employment increase.

In the interests of improving take-up, the agency proposes the examination of delivery mechanisms that employ the taxation system as well as the social welfare benefits system. Payment of FIS through the tax system has been considered in this context by a working group including the social partners, the remit of which was to examine the role which refundable tax credits could play in the tax and welfare system.

While the report of the group is awaited, I expect that it will recommend that FIS will continue to be paid by my Department, with a modified system of delivery and sustained efforts to improve take up.

My Department will continue to explore ways in which payment mechanisms can be improved and public awareness of entitlement increased.

The question of further improvements in benefit withdrawal arrangements will be a matter for consideration in a budgetary context and in the context of priorities generally.

David Stanton

Question:

133 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his views on the reform of the lone parent payment system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21839/05]

A sub-group of the senior officials group on social inclusion is examining obstacles to employment for lone parent families, with particular emphasis on income supports, employment, education, child care and support programmes and information. This group is scheduled to report to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion by the end of July.

We must also look closely at income supports and at how we can adjust those supports to better address the social problems that can arise for those who receive these payments. In this regard, my Department has established a working group to review the income support arrangements for lone parents. Issues being addressed include the contingency basis of the one parent family payment, cohabitation, individualisation, maintenance and secondary benefits. The findings of this group will feed into the work of the senior officials sub-group.

I am also giving serious consideration to the introduction of a second tier of child income supports, aimed specifically at families in greatest need. A study being carried out at the moment by the National Economic and Social Council is examining the possibility of amalgamating social welfare child dependant allowances with family income supplement payments. The objective is to provide an integrated channel for resources to low income families without creating disincentives to employment.

It is intended that the outcome of these reviews will contribute to final concrete proposals designed to better support and encourage lone parents in achieving a better standard of living, employment and education opportunities, and a better future for themselves and their children. These will be the main criteria against which recommendations in the reports will be judged.

I am committed to reforms that will improve the quality of life for lone parents and their children by offering them respect and support while avoiding poverty traps.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

134 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21840/05]

No expenditure was incurred by my Department in respect of the two Nice treaty referenda.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

135 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21841/05]

There is one directive which falls within the responsibility of my Department which has not yet been fully implemented.

This is EC Council Directive 2003/41/EC on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision, IORP, more generally known as the IORPs directive, which sets out a framework for the operation and supervision of occupational pension schemes in all member states and will facilitate pan-European pension plans. Member states are required to have the provisions of the directive transposed into national law by 23 September 2005.

In Ireland, the Pensions Act 1990 already provides for much of the framework set down in the directive. A number of further amendments to the Pensions Act were recently included in sections 27 to 37 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2005 to ensure compliance with the directive. Regulations are also required to set out some of the more detailed requirements relating to investment rules, qualifications for trustees of schemes and cross-border arrangements.

The drafting of these regulations is under way and I am confident that all the necessary legislative measures will be enacted before the transposition date.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

136 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if an increase in rent allowance is due in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21844/05]

The Dublin-mid-Leinster area of the Health Service Executive has advised that it is reviewing the rent supplement entitlements of the person concerned. She has been requested recently to complete a form in order to update the executive regarding her circumstances. When the completed form is returned, the executive will determine the appropriate amount of rent supplement payable to her.

Michael Ring

Question:

137 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo, who was granted free schemes, is not being credited with same on their utility bills. [21845/05]

The person concerned has been awarded an electricity allowance with effect from 28 January 2005. She has been awarded a telephone allowance with effect from 25 February 2005, from the date her telephone was installed. A free lifetime television licence has also been awarded to her with effect from the expiry date of her current TV licence. The relevant service providers have been notified to apply the allowances to her accounts.

Her telephone allowance was applied to her last bill which issued to her on 25 May 2005. Her electricity allowance will appear on her next bill which is due to issue on 15 August 2005.

Driving Licences.

Martin Ferris

Question:

138 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Transport if he will consider recognising driving licences issued in the United States held by Irish citizens returning to live in this State and who are currently required to pass the driving test. [21649/05]

Irish driving licence regulations are required to operate within the framework of a harmonised EU system. The criteria essential for recognition of licences from other countries are testing and licensing regimes which meet the requirements of the EU directive and reciprocal recognition of Irish licences.

Ireland does not have a bilateral agreement with the United States of America for the exchange of driving licences due to the diverse nature of the driver testing and licensing regimes in the different States in the USA.

On taking up Irish residence a person who holds a driving licence issued in the USA must obtain a provisional licence and undergo a driving test in order to obtain a driving licence.

Road Safety.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

139 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the regulations governing the sale of child-sized mopeds to minors and adults; if such practice is legal; and his policy in this regard. [21811/05]

Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 provides that it is an offence to supply a mechanically propelled vehicle generally to a person who is under 17 years of age. The only exception to that applies to the supply of mechanically propelled vehicles in respect of which a person who is 16 years of age may hold a driving licence. In such circumstances the prohibition applies in respect of persons under that age threshold.

The penalty for a contravention of that prohibition is a fine not exceeding €3,000 or a prison sentence of up to six months or both.

There are no general restrictions on the supply of mechanically propelled vehicles to persons over the age thresholds set in section 30 of the 2004 Act.

Parking Regulations.

Pat Breen

Question:

140 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Transport if he will consider increasing the fine of €19 to €100 for persons parking in reserved disabled drivers slots which is an ongoing problem throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21676/05]

Where a person is convicted by a court of the commission of the offence of parking illegally in a disabled person's parking bay, he or she is liable to a fine not exceeding €800 for a first offence. The maximum fine for a second or subsequent offence is €1,500 and in the case of a third or subsequent offence committed within a 12 month period €1,500 and-or a prison sentence of up to three months.

Those levels of maximum fines were established in the Road Traffic Act 2002 and represent very significant increases over the maximum fines that could be applied to that offence under previous legislation, which were €190, £150, in respect of a first offence and €440, £350, in respect of a second or subsequent offence.

This offence currently comes within the scope of the on the spot fines system and, in association with the majority of other parking offences, it attracts an on the spot fine of €19.

The Road Traffic Act 2002 provides for the replacement of the on the spot fine system with the new fixed charge system. That system currently applies to the offences of exceeding a speed limit and non-compliance with seat belt regulations. Regulations to provide for the roll-out of that system to a significant number of additional traffic and parking offences are currently being prepared by my Department in consultation with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Garda Síochána. This extension of the operation of the fixed charge system will include its application to the offence of illegally parking in disabled person's parking bays. The level of the charge for that offence will be pitched at a level significantly higher than that which will apply to other parking offences.

The operation of the fixed charge system is dependent on the development of a new computerised processing system for the Garda. I understand that it is expected that the new system will be available later this year.

Light Rail Project.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

141 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Transport his plans to extend the Luas line beyond the Square in Tallaght through the Tallaght west estates to Citywest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21679/05]

Responsibility for the development of specific proposals for the expansion of Luas services lies with the Railway Procurement Agency, RPA.

I understand from the RPA that it has received preliminary proposals from the private sector for the extension of the Luas red line from the existing Belgard stop through to Citywest. I also understand that the RPA is in discussions with South Dublin County Council on this matter. However, these discussions are at a very early stage. At present the RPA awaits firm proposals from the parties who have expressed an interest in supporting this extension.

Public Transport.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

142 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport his views toward the policy of bus lane construction; his concerns regarding bus lanes which are currently unutilised or under utilised; if he remains committed to the development of bus lanes; if the bus lane projects will be developed in 2005; the location and cost of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21704/05]

I am very committed to continuing to expand the network of quality bus corridors, QBCs, in the greater Dublin area. It is a network that is delivering clear benefits in terms of reduced journey times for commuters. This year, 85% of the Department's €40 million traffic management grant budget has been allocated to QBC development and I envisage a similar level of investment in 2006 and 2007.

I provided details of the 2005 QBC work programme, as approved by the DTO traffic management committee, in my reply to the Deputy in a parliamentary question, reference 21160/05, of 22 June 2005.

With regard to service levels on QBCs, Dublin Bus is currently carrying out a review of its network and is examining ways of maximising the utilisation of the existing bus fleet. I am awaiting the outcome of this review.

Cycle Facilities.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

143 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the amount spent on creating cycling lanes since 1997; the number of kilometres converted to cycle lanes since 1997; the number of cyclists in the Dublin region who cycle to work or school; if he will consider a re-evaluation of the cycle lane building programme; his views on the fact that the programme represents value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21705/05]

Some €28.9 million has been spent on provision of cycling facilities in the GDA since 1994. The programme has delivered 220 km of cycle lanes for the investment.

The most recent data available to the DTO on cycling levels in the Dublin area have been obtained from the 2002 census. As the table below shows, the number of cyclists who cycle to work and school in the GDA declined between 1996 and 2002. The decline is particularly pronounced for journeys to school. There has been a decline in numbers cycling to work and to school in every GDA local authority area.

Cycling to school and work in the GDA 1996 and 2002.

Cycling to Work

Cycling to School

Year

Trips

Mode share

Trips

Mode Share

1996

25,567

5.3%

20,970

6.4%

2002

21,326

3.4%

12,562

4.0%

Source: Census 2002.

The DTO has informed me that there are several factors that are likely to account for the observed decline in cycling to work and school. These include: an increase in rates of car ownership, which has been very significant over the period nationally and in the greater Dublin area; growth in road traffic, creating a perception among potential cyclists of a more dangerous cycling environment; a relatively hostile cycling environment in many new residential and employment areas; longer average trip lengths to work as a result of the spread of development; and more safety-conscious culture, particularly among parents and teachers.

However, it is worth noting that falling trends in the GDA are not as pronounced as for other Irish cities. Cycle numbers to work and to school fell in every major city in the State between 1996 and 2002, but the GDA's reduction in the six years, and especially County Dublin's reduction, is lower than others. One possible explanation for this is that the investment in infrastructure has slowed the erosion of cycling mode share that would otherwise have occurred due to the above factors.

As regards value for money, I pointed out in my reply to a parliamentary question, reference 21206/05, on 22 June 2005 that my Department proposes to undertake an expenditure review of the traffic management grants scheme, including the Exchequer assistance for cycle facilities, commencing in late 2005. This is part of the ongoing expenditure review initiative, in which all Departments participate. The purpose of these reviews is to evaluate the effectiveness of the relevant public expenditure.

Air Services.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

144 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the individual contracts awarded to airline companies to provide scheduled air services on the six public service obligation regional air routes; the level of subsidy per passenger which applies to each of these six air routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21706/05]

Contracts for the provision of regional air services on PSO routes were recently awarded following an EU procurement process.

Aer Arann has been awarded the contracts for the routes linking Dublin with the regional airports in Donegal, Sligo, Galway and Kerry. Loganair has been awarded the contract for air services on the Knock and Derry routes.

The total maximum contracted subvention for the three-year contract term for the provision of air services on all six routes is €45.8 million. Based on projected passenger numbers and the maximum subvention levels specified in the new contracts, the average subvention per passenger, per flight, in respect of each route would be calculated as follows: Derry — Dublin, €78; Donegal — Dublin, €62; Sligo — Dublin, €51; Knock — Dublin, €87; Galway — Dublin, €37; and Kerry — Dublin, €28.

Loganair and Aer Arann have provided a high quality service under the PSO programme to date and I am confident this will continue under these new contracts. The continuation of Government support for regional air services will have a very positive impact on regional development through increased economic activity, tourism and employment.

Road Safety.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

145 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the statutory basis for speed limits at roadworks; the body that approves them; the criteria used to establish the limit that applies; and the process through which they are approved. [21757/05]

Section 10 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 provides that a county or city manager may make a road works speed limit order for the application of a speed limit on any road or part of a road, including a motorway, where road works are being carried out. A road works speed limit order can be applied for any period of not more than 12 months and the minimum speed limit that may be put in place by such an order is 30 km/h.

Before making an order under section 10, a manager must give notice of the proposal to the Garda Commissioner and consider any representations made by the Commissioner. The consent of the National Roads Authority must be given in respect of any proposals to apply a road works speed limit on any part of a national road or a motorway. Notice of the making of a road works speed limit order must be published in one or more newspapers in circulation in the county or city where the road in respect of which the order is to have effect is located.

Section 9 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 provides for the application through the making of by-laws by the elected members of county and city councils of special speed limits in lieu of the speed limits that apply on a default basis to roads and motorways. The section also provides that the Minister for Transport may issue guidelines to county and city councils in relation to the making of special speed limit by-laws. I issued such guidelines on 18 April and they include a specific reference to the deployment of speed limits at road works. A copy of the guidelines is available in the Oireachtas Library and may also be viewed on my Department's website.

Traffic Management.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

146 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport when he intends to introduce legislation to allow for the enforcement and operation of free-flow electronic toll collection. [21758/05]

My Department is currently reviewing the legislation changes necessary to facilitate the introduction of open road tolling. I anticipate, subject to the other priorities on the legislative programme, that the draft legislation will be introduced in autumn of this year.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

147 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21770/05]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following table. It is my intention that all these directives will be incorporated into Irish law as soon as possible.

Title

Deadline for Transposition

Directive 2002/51/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 July 2002 on the reduction of the level of pollutant emissions from two- and three-wheel motor vehicles and amending Directive 97/24/EC

01/04/2003

Directive 2002/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 March 2002 relating to the type-approval of two-or three-wheel motor vehicles and repealing Council Directive 92/61/EEC (Text with EEA relevance)

09/05/2003

Directive 2000/79/EC of 27 November 2000 concerning the European Agreement on the Organisation of Working Time of Mobile Workers in Civil Aviation concluded by the Association of European Airlines (AEA), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the European Cockpit Association (ECA), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Carriers Association (IACA)

01/12/2003

Commission Directive 2004/86/EC of 5 July 2004 amending for the purposes of adapting to technical progress, Council Directive 93/93/EEC on the masses and dimensions of two-or three-wheel motor vehicles.

31/12/2004

Directive 2002/85/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 November 2002 amending Directive 92/6/EEC on the installation and use of speed limitation devices for certain categories of motor vehicles in the Community

01/01/2005

Directive 2004/3/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC and 80/1268/EEC as regards the measurement of carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption of N1 vehicles.

19/02/2005

Directive 2002/15/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2002 on the organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities.

23/03/2005

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

148 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21771/05]

No costs in respect of the two Nice treaty referenda have been incurred by my Department.

Light Rail Project.

Jack Wall

Question:

149 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Transport the figures relating to subsidies for the project until at least 2007 in view of the fact that his Department described the prospect of a subsidy for the Luas in 2004 as a doomsday scenario; if the progress made with the Luas has not reached expectations; his views on the financial performance of the Luas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21859/05]

It has always been envisaged that there would be an operational deficit in the early period of Luas operations pending a full ramp-up of the system and its customer base. Earlier estimates of the amount of the operating deficit also had to be revised to take account of higher than expected costs for maintenance of trams, infrastructure and ticket machines and of insurance costs more than doubling.

It is expected that an operational subsidy will be required until 2006 and that the total subsidy required for 2004, 2005 and 2006 will be €7.1 million. This estimate assumes that the current relationship between costs and revenues will be maintained to negate the impact of inflation. It is expected that the requirement for an operational subsidy will cease after 2006.

Road Network.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

150 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, in regard to the grants announced on 16 June 2005 for accommodation roads in County Donegal, the name of the successful applicant in each case will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21702/05]

The following is a list of successful applications under scéim na mbóithre áise 2005-06 for County Donegal.

Applicant Name

Grant

Aodh Mac Géidigh, Glais a’Chú, Mín Lárach

10,825

Micheál Ó Bradaigh, Mín Lárach

19,046

Manus Ó Cuireáin, Mín Lárach Uacht.

17,750

Patsy Ó Gallchóir (Séamus) Mín Lárach

5,460

Bríd Halley, An Ardaidh Mhór, Gort an Choirce

5,200

Caitlín Harley, An Ardaidh Bheag, Gort an Choirce

8,125

Máire Mhic Géidigh, Ailt, An Ardaidh Bheag, Gort an Choirce

3,900

Nóra Ní Churráin, Doire Chonaire, Gort an Choirce

7,500

Eamon Ó Cuireáin, Sráth na Corcra, Doirí Beaga

10,725

Johnny Ó Ceallaigh, Baile an Easa, An Fál Carrach

17,000

Eileen Mhic Pháidín, “Ceol na Mara”, Mín na Loch, Bun na Leaca

5,525

Caitlín Uí Cholm, An Ardaidh Bheag, Gort an Choirce

14,500

Grace O’Connor, Bun na Leaca

11,700

Séamus Ó Baoill, Droim na hÁtha, Baile na Finne

6,375

Seán Ó Fríl, Bun na Leaca

14,625

Pádraig Mac Cearráin, Druim Leath Druid, Leitir Mhic an Bhaird

4,330

Tomás Ó Flatharta, Carraic Mhic Eachmharcaigh, Doirí Beaga

2,850

Anna Ní Chnaimhsí, Doire Theanaí, An Dúchoraidh

1,600

Eamon Mac Giolla Bhríde, Machaire Chlochair, Doirí Beaga

5,850

Séamus Ó Domhnaill, Bá Uachtair, Leitir Mhic an Bhaird

29,711

Seán Ó Canainn, Bá Uachtair, Leitir Mhic an Bhaird

22,500

Séamus Ó Dochartaigh, Cnoc a ’Stolaire, An Bun Beag

6,500

Máire Ní Chomhaill, Na Gleanntaí

3,600

Pádraig Ó Briain, Mín an Chladaigh

15,000

Pádraig Ó hAnluain, Bá Uachtair, An Dúchoraidh

1,867

Donal Ó Gallchóir, Baile Lár, Doirí Beaga

6,500

Antóin & Bríd Mhic Giolla Bhríde, Gort na Bráid, Carraig Airt

3,300

Séamus Mac Briartaigh, Bogah, An Charraig

27,060

Donal Ó Suibhleáinn, Tullach, Carraig Airt

3,898

Brian Ó Gallchóir, Na Fánaibh, An Tearmann

3,910

Aodh Ó Fríl, Dumhach Mór, Cionn Droma

2,812

Séamus Ó hAilis, An Mhalainn Bheag, Gleann Cholm Cille

7,440

Conal Ó Gadhra, An Charraig Íocht., An Charraig

5,512

Cornelius O’Connor, An tAtharach, An Charraig

7,420

Coiste Forbartha Rann na Feirste

4,000

Proinsias Mac Giolla Easbuic, An Chróibh, An Charraig

10,812

Donal & Áine Mhic Gairbheith, Béal na Cruite, Cionn Caslach

2,850

Caoimhín Mac Ceallbhuí, Cnoc an Aonaigh, An Clochán Liath

2,678

Ailéin Mullis, Cnoc na gCorach, An Clochán Liath

4,463

Eoghan Mac a’Bhaird, An Céideadh, Ailt an Chorráin

2,500

Donal Mac Suibhne, Mullach Dearg, Cionn Caslach

5,200

Caitlín Mac Ruairí, 16 Mullach Dubh, Cionn Caslach

3,120

John Bosco & Bríd Uí Dhomhnaill, CeidiúÍocht., Cionn Caslach

9,000

Breandán & Lorna Ó Domhnaill, Leiphín, An Clochán Liath

3,080

Micheál Ó Fearraigh, Bun an Inbhir, Bun na Leaca

8,125

Máire Nic Aoidh, Griall, Anagaire

6,885

Eibhlín Uí Chnaimhsí, Mullach Dubh, Cionn Caslach.

9,750

Iomlán

392,379

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

151 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21827/05]

My Department had no function in relation to the two Nice treaty referenda.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

152 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21828/05]

There are no EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to my Department's work.

Inland Waterways.

Willie Penrose

Question:

153 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the level of progress that has been made in relation to the reopening of the Royal Canal to full navigability and the stretch of canal leading from Abbeyshrule towards the Shannon; the amount of money which is allocated for the completion of the navigability project; if he has satisfied himself that same is adequate to carry out the necessary work; and timescale for the completion of the said works. [21829/05]

The issue raised by the Deputy, in relation to the works on the Royal Canal is the day-to-day responsibility of the North-South body, Waterways Ireland.

I understand from Waterways Ireland that the Royal Canal is open to navigation between Dublin and Abbeyshrule, County Longford, a distance of 70 miles. Work on the restoration of the remaining 20 miles is in progress with a view to reopening the navigation in early 2008.

I have provided for an allocation of €11 million per annum up to 2007 to Waterways Ireland to cover capital works in the South under my Department's capital programme. I am satisfied that there is sufficient funding within this allocation to allow Waterways Ireland to complete the programme of reopening the Royal Canal to the Shannon.

Forestry Policy.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

154 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the changes she proposes to make in forestry policy in order to address such issues as have been raised with her by spokespersons on behalf of the communities in the catchment areas of both Lough Corrib and Lough Carra in County Galway, as to the environmental impact of existing forestry policy and practice to these lakes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21652/05]

A delegation from the Carra, Mask and Corrib water protection group met on 24 November 2004 with the responsible Ministers, including myself and the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Following the meeting, arrangements were put in place for officials from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, my Department and Coillte Teoranta to meet with the local group to discuss their concerns and proposals in more detail. Contact continues between the group and Coillte Teoranta regarding forestry practices in the area.

I am advised that forestry comprises only a small percentage of the land area in the catchment of Lough Corrib and Lough Carra and there is no scientific evidence available which suggests that forestry policy and practices have a significant environmental impact on these important lakes. However, a full review of the relationship between the afforestation and water quality generally has commenced under the auspices of one managing authority for the western river basin district and my Department, is closely involved in this review.

Forestry is already a very regulated sector. All forestry operations in Ireland must be carried out in full compliance with the code of best forest practice and a suite of environmental and forestry practice guidelines, which include forestry and water quality and forest harvesting. The code and guidelines outline best practices and procedures to mitigate against any potential negative effects of forestry operations on water quality and the environment.

In addition, further regulation is provided through SI 538 of 2001, which introduced a statutory consent system with regard to initial afforestation. As part of the standard grant application process, appropriate proposed afforestation sites are assessedvis-à-vis water quality, designated habitats, archaeology, landscape and other environmental conditions, and are referred to the relevant prescribed body according to an agreed protocol. These bodies include regional fisheries boards, local authorities, the national parks and wildlife service, national monuments and An Taisce. The regulations also provide for public consultation through notice of the proposed afforestation printed in local press and submissions or observations invited.

EU Directives.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

155 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the measures she proposes to take to implement the nitrates directive, particularly in the catchment areas of such water bodies as Lough Corrib and Lough Carra in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21654/05]

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

Following the submission of an action programme in October 2004 and the EU Commission response that it did not fully meet Ireland's obligations under the nitrates directive, my Department has been working closely with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on the preparation of a revised action programme. There have been a series of discussions with the Commission and I understand that the revised programme will be sent to the Commission shortly.

The nitrates action programme will apply from 1 January 2006 on a national basis and will include measures on the timing and procedures for the land application of fertilisers, limits on the land application of fertilisers, requirements on the capacity of storage vessels for livestock manure and general provisions on storage management. It will also provide for the monitoring of the effectiveness of these measures.

Grant Payments.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

156 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if area aid will be awarded to a person (details supplied); the status of this application. [21697/05]

Neither of the persons named have entitlements established under the single payment scheme because they did not receive any direct payments during the reference period 2000 to 2002.

The late son of the second person named, submitted an application for an allocation of entitlements from the single payment scheme national reserve under categories A and D. Category A caters for farmers who inherit, lease or otherwise receive free of charge or for a nominal consideration a holding from a farmer who retired or died, as the case maybe, before the closing date for receipt of the single payment application in 2005 and that holding was leased by the previous owner to a third party during the reference period. Category D caters for farmers who are new entrants to farming since the reference period. They must have commenced their farming activity after 31 December 2002 or during 2002 without having received direct payments in respect of that year.

In view of the tragic circumstances of this case, my Department will now accept an application to the national reserve from the second person named to replace that of his late son. If he has not retired from farming and has not been farming during the past five years, he may be eligible to apply to the reserve under category D. I have arranged for an application form to be sent to him for completion. I should point out that he would not be eligible to apply under category A as it was he who decided to lease out his land during the reference years.

In the event that he does submit an application, the second person named will be notified of his eligibility or otherwise as soon as all applications are processed.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

157 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will consider the single payment application for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [21698/05]

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

Michael Ring

Question:

158 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person, details supplied, in County Mayo will be awarded the beef premium. [21699/05]

The person named above submitted two applications under the 2004 special beef premium scheme, in respect of a total of 16 animals. The first application, in respect of 14 animals, was received on 3 December 2004. The second application, in respect of two animals, was received on 29 December 2004. The area aid application for the person named, which had been the subject of a query, has now been fully processed. Accordingly, payment under the 2004 special beef premium scheme will issue shortly.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

159 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding an application for the single payment entitlements under the national reserve for a person, details supplied, in County Galway. [21717/05]

The person named submitted an application for an allocation of entitlements from the single payment scheme national reserve under category A, which caters for farmers who inherit, lease or otherwise receive free of charge, or for a nominal consideration, a holding from a farmer who retired or died, as the case maybe, before the closing date for receipt of the single payment application in 2005 and that holding was leased by the previous owner to a third party during the reference period. He was written to on 22 March 2005 seeking clarification on a number of issues with regard to his application. No reply to this correspondence has been received in my Department to date. As soon as a satisfactory response is received, a decision will be taken on his application.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

160 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the cost to her Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21744/05]

My department has incurred no costs with regard to the two Nice treaty referenda.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

161 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to her Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21756/05]

The European directives to be implemented by my Department are set out in the schedule below. I intend to have the directives implemented by the due date in each case.

Directives to be implemented by Department of Agriculture and Food: 12.

Title of directive

Date by which directive is to be implemented

Council Directive 2004/117/EC of 22 December 2004 amending Directives 66/401/EEC, 66/402/EEC, 2002/54/EC, 2002/55/EC and 2002/57/EC as regards examinations carried out under official supervision and equivalence of seed produced in third countries. (OJL 14/01/05, p18)

1 October 2005

Directive 2004/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 amending Directive 2001/82/EC on the Community code relating to veterinary medicinal products. (OJL 136, 30/04/04, p58)

30 October 2005

Council Directive 2004/68/EC of 26 April 2004 laying down animal health rules for the importation into and transit through the Community of certain live ungulate animals, amending Directives 90/426/EEC and 92/65/EEC and repealing Directive 72/462/EEC. (OJL L139, 30/04/04, p321)

20 November 2005

Commission Directive 2005/34/EC of 17 May 2005 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include etoxazole and tepraloxydim as active substances. (OJL 125, 18/05/05, p5)

30 November 2005

Commission Directive 2005/37/EC of 3 June 2005 amending Council Directives 86/362/EEC and 90/642/EEC as regards the maximum levels for certain pesticide residues in and on cereals and certain products of plant origin, including fruit and vegetables. (OJL 141, 04/06/05, p10)

4 December 2005

Commission Directive 2005/13/EC of 21 February 2005 amending Directive 2000/25/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants by engines intended to power agricultural or forestry tractors, and amending Annex I to Directive 2003/37/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the type-approval of agricultural or forestry tractors. (OJL L55, 01/03/05, p35)

31 December 2005

Directive 2004/41/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 repealing certain Directives concerning food hygiene and health conditions for the production and placing on the market of certain products of animal origin intended for human consumption and amending Council Directives 89/662/EEC and 92/118/EEC and Council Decision 95/408/EC. (OJL 195, 02/06/04, p12)

1 January 2006

Commission Directive 2005/6/EC of 26 January 2005 amending Directive 71/250/EEC as regards reporting and interpretation of analytical results required under Directive 2002/32/EC. (OJL 24, 27/01/05, p33)

16 February 2006

Commission Directive 2005/8/EC of 27 January 2005 amending Annex I to Directive 2002/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on undesirable substances in animal feed. (OJL27, 29/01/05, p44)

16 February 2006

Commission Directive 2005/7/EC of 27 January 2005 amending Directive 2002/70/EC establishing requirements for the determination of levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in feedingstuffs. (OJ L27, 29/01/05, p41)

18 February 2006

Commission Directive 2004/97/EC of 27 September 2004 amending Commission Directive 2004/60/EC as regards time limits. (OJL 301, 28/09/04, p53)

28 February 2006

Council Directive 2005/24/EC of 14 March 2005 with regard to the use of ova and embryos and storage centres for semen from pure-bred breeding animals of the bovine species. (OJL 78, 24/03/05, p43)

24 March 2007

Veterinary Inspection Service.

Denis Naughten

Question:

162 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the action she is taking to investigate the background to a case (details supplied) in County Waterford; when she intends to conclude the investigation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21775/05]

As the Deputy is probably aware, this event occurred during July 2002, almost three years ago, and involved the slaughter on-farm by the herdowner of some 4,000 pigs over a five-day period. A five-minute video, reportedly commissioned by the herdowner, was brought to the attention of the Department by the media. The Department on Friday last requested a copy of the video from the journalist who had shown it to officials, so far no copy has been received.

Following the discovery by Department veterinary inspectors of quantities of carbadox on the farm and an admission by the herdowner that he had spread the substance on the floors of pig pens, the movement of any animals from this herd — except under specific licence from the Department — had been prohibited by the Department in the period preceding slaughter in order to protect public health. Carbadox is a carcinogen — cancer-causing substance — which is banned by the EU and deemed to be unsafe at any level. Prosecutions have since been issued against the herdowner, alleging a range of offences relating to the use of this feed additive and other matters, including the illegal movement of pigs from the farm. The herdowner has issued proceedings against the Department under two headings.

While there was no question of permitting the pigs to be slaughtered for human consumption, the Department wrote to the herdowner's solicitors on 7 May 2002 explicitly stating its willingness to allow him to pursue the option of his making arrangements, acceptable to the Department, with a dedicated plant for their slaughter. However, he elected not to pursue this option. Instead, he sought permission to slaughter the pigs himself on his farm on welfare grounds. He had discussed this approach with Department veterinary inspectors and they are satisfied that he understood fully what would be involved and that he displayed both the competence and confidence to undertake the task.

During the five-day period, two veterinary inspectors, including an animal welfare expert, from the Department visited the farm on numerous occasions in order to assess the ongoing slaughter operation. At no stage did he express concerns or disquiet on animal welfare grounds with regard to the slaughter method or seek to suspend operations on grounds of professed animal welfare concerns. A non-veterinary official of the Department was present on the farm during the five-day period in question, whose primary function was ensuring proper disposal of the carcases, that is, to ensure they did not enter the human food chain.

The circumstances in this case were highly unusual. On-farm slaughter of animals in any number is an exception rather than the rule and occurs only in extreme circumstances, for example, the FMD outbreak in Cooley, where it is not possible to move the animals to a dedicated slaughter plant or where there are compelling reasons, for example, fear of disease spread, for not attempting to so do. In this particular case, the herdowner had decided to slaughter his animals on farm and the Department considered at the time that it could not legally have forced him to have the operation conducted in a slaughter plant. The approach which the Department generally employs in circumstances in which it proves necessary to have numbers of animals slaughtered — for example, cattle, where BSE is detected — is to have slaughter carried out in a dedicated slaughter plant.

Farm Retirement Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

163 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps she intends to take to implement the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food report on the farm retirement scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21852/05]

The Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food has produced a report on a broad range of issues relating to the early retirement scheme, not all of which are within my remit. I expect to be in a position shortly to respond to the report. In responding, it will be necessary to take account of the EU regulations governing the early retirement scheme. I intend also to have regard to an expenditure review of the scheme, which was carried out by my Department.

Crime Levels.

Joe Costello

Question:

164 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of cases of murder in which firearms were used in respect of each year from 1998 and to date in 2005; the number of such cases in which prosecutions for murder were initiated; the number of such cases in which convictions were secured; if he is satisfied with the level of detection and conviction in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21644/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of murders in which firearms were used in respect of each year from 1998 to 22 June 2005 are as set out in the following table. I am informed by the Garda authorities that murders involving the use of firearms tend to have lower conviction rates than other murders. This is not unique to Ireland. The number of violent deaths — murder and manslaughter — recorded in 2004 is 45, the lowest number recorded in ten years, despite our population increasing by 400,000 during the same period. I am assured by the Garda Commissioner that the highest priority is given by the Garda Síochána to the investigation of murders and the detection of those responsible.

As the Deputy is aware, the Director of Public Prosecutions is statutorily independent in the performance of his functions and it would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to comment on his decisions. Furthermore, judges are independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and subject only to the Constitution and the law. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment on their decisions also.

As the Deputy will be also aware, the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which is currently at Second Stage in the House, provides for a comprehensive package of anti-crime measures which will enhance the powers of the gardaí in the investigation and prosecution of offences. In the context of the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, I propose to bring forward, on Committee Stage of the Bill, a series of measures to increase sentences for the more serious range of firearm offences, including the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences in some cases. I am also introducing a new offence of illegally modifying a firearm, for example, sawing off a shotgun barrel, and the imposition of severe penalties for this offence. My full range of proposals will be announced in the House in the normal way in due course.

Murders involving firearms 1998 to 22 June 2005.

Year

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings commenced

Convictions

1998

4

3

2

1

1999

12

7

7

5

2000

12

6

5

2

2001

9

4

2

2

2002

10

4

3

2

2003

20

10

4

1

*2004

9

6

5

1

*2005

9

1

1

0

*Figures for 2004 and 2005 are operational and liable to change.

Question No. 165 answered with QuestionNo. 20.

National Drugs Strategy.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

166 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to recent comments from a person, details supplied, that a pilot scheme aimed at diverting young persons in Dublin away from drugs and crime should be run in every area and town in the country; if he will report on the success of the juvenile arrest referral scheme; his views on whether this scheme is a valuable and important means of tackling drug abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16671/05]

The juvenile arrest referral scheme in Dublin's north inner city is currently a pilot initiative involving a partnership arrangement between the Health Services Executive, the Garda Síochána and the Dublin north inner city local drugs task force. Under this scheme, young people arrested for drugs offences, or offences believed to be related to drug misuse, in the Garda Dublin north central division are offered the opportunity of voluntary referral to local health services regarding their possible drug misuse. During 2003, my Department provided funding of €20,000 to the north inner city local drug task force to commission research into the operation of arrest referral schemes, including an examination of the operation of the above pilot scheme. The research study was publicly launched on April 11 2005 by my colleague, the Minister for State with special responsibility for the national drugs strategy, Deputy Noel Ahern. I understand that the findings of the study, including proposals for the appropriate development of the pilot scheme, will now be brought forward by the north inner city local drugs task force for consideration by the parties involved in the current pilot scheme.

Paramilitary Activities.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

167 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has been briefed on the ongoing processes of recruitment and acquisition of weapons referred to in a report of the International Monitoring Commission, on the part of republican and loyalist paramilitary groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18492/05]

I am aware of the findings of the fifth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission with regard to the continuing activities of paramilitary groups, including recruitment, training and weapons acquisition. I also receive regular security briefings from the Garda authorities in respect of this and other matters. These security briefings fully confirm the findings of the Independent Monitoring Commission.

Asylum Applications.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

168 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on recent reports that it is a burden to have to implement the UNHCR’s procedures for dealing with immigrants arriving on Irish shores; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18480/05]

I presume the Deputy is referring to the State's obligations under the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees and to recent exchanges at the Select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights in the context of consideration by that committee of my Department's Estimates for 2005.

The Deputy's question refers selectively to comments made during those proceedings in which I outlined the comprehensive nature of the resources being allocated annually across Departments and agencies to support the asylum process which in 2004 amounted to some €375 million. Some €125 million of this expenditure was made by my Department in supporting asylum and immigration related services such as the processing of asylum applications, provision of legal advice and representation by the Refugee Legal Service, provision of accommodation to asylum seekers on a countrywide basis and the operation of the immigration system, including the deportation process.

At the committee, I also referred to the major improvements which have been made both with regard to the reduction in timescales for processing asylum applications and the reduction in the number of such applications on hands in the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, ORAC, and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, RAT. This is illustrated, for example, by the major improvements made in reducing processing timescales with asylum applications from prioritised countries — Nigeria, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and South Africa — and having current average processing times of 14 working days at first instance and ten working days at appeals stage. Applications from the countries in question cover some 46% of total applications for refugee status. Other improvements include the elimination of the backlog of asylum applications with fewer than 3,000 cases awaiting a decision now as compared to some 5,414 cases at the end of May 2004 and some 10,000 cases in 2000; and the fact that there are only some 700 cases awaiting an asylum decision over six months old as compared to some 6,500 such cases in September 2001.

The allocation of such a comprehensive level of resources by the State, along with the very great improvements which have been achieved in the reduction in processing times and the number of applications on hands, point very clearly to both our commitment to continuing to meet our obligations under the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees and the success of our asylum strategy.

As I pointed out in a statement, which I issued on 7 June 2005 setting out the real facts about the asylum and deportation systems, our approach to the issue of protection is based on achieving a balance between fairness and firmness — fairness in ensuring that those genuinely in need of protection receive that protection quickly and firmness in dealing with abuses in our system which tie up large amounts of public funds which could be better utilised elsewhere. The State's asylum strategy is based on a number of key principles: meeting our obligations under international law such as the 1951 Geneva Convention and, of course, under national law relating asylum; dealing fairly but efficiently with the large number of unfounded asylum claims which are being received which represent over 90% of the total number of asylum applications being processed annually; ensuring that persons who are found, after a fair and efficient determination process, not to need protection are returned to their countries of origin as quickly as this can be arranged; and ensuring that we have robust systems in place to root out and prevent abuse in our protection system by persons who are entering the State for purposes other than seeking protection from persecution.

However, as I pointed out to the select committee, I will not shirk from my responsibilities to protect our refugee protection system from abuse. The level of such abuse is well illustrated not only by the nature of some of the grounds being put forward for protection but also by the level of non-co-operation which exists with the asylum and immigration authorities. Despite the comprehensive nature and fairness of our independent asylum process, involving a determination at first instance and appeal by two independent agencies and access to comprehensive legal advice and interpretation services, some 90% of applicants for asylum are found not to be in need of refugee status.

A recent analysis by my Department of the accelerated processing arrangements for prioritised asylum applications introduced on 25 January 2005, which involves a full merits consideration by ORAC at first instance and access to an appeal to the RAT, indicated that of the 365 decisions issued by ORAC up to the week ending 27 May 2005, some 359 were refusals and of 136 decisions issued by RAT, some 134 upheld the determination of the ORAC.

Our recognition rates at first instance compares favourably to other European countries as follows: Denmark, 4.9%; Ireland, 6.2%; Spain,2.6%; Norway, 3.6%; Germany, 3.3% and the United Kingdom, 3%. It must also be recognised that many of those claiming refugee status in the State do not comply with their statutory obligations to co-operate with the immigration and asylum authorities.

The analysis of the accelerated process introduced in January last also shows that some 33% of applicants are not complying with their daily reporting requirements to the Reception and Integration Agency. Similarly, some 46% of those who have failed the asylum process and who are seeking leave to remain in the State have not complied with their daily signing requirement with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Many applicants are also not in possession of travel and identity documentation even though a travel document is essential in order to be allowed access to an aircraft to travel to the State by air. For the period May 2004 to May 2005, some 88% of the 1,174 Nigerian nationals without documents stated to ORAC that they travelled by air at some stage in their journey. Large numbers of other nationals are also arriving without travel documents but indicate to ORAC that they travelled by air, as follows: Romania, 40%; Democratic Republic of the Congo, 100%; Ukraine, 42% and Moldova, 33%. Recognising that there will always be some people with genuine protection needs who have to flee their countries of origin without their identity documents, the fact remains that with no direct flights between the countries I mentioned and Ireland, the inescapable conclusion is that destruction and concealment of travel documents is a central feature of a well developed trafficking strategy.

The State will continue to meet its obligations under the 1951 Geneva Convention to those genuinely needing protection. However, I also intend to continue to intensify the drive against unfounded asylum applications. The processing of applications will continue to be speeded up consistent with fairness and due process and every effort will continue to be made to ensure that applicants comply with their duty to co-operate and report. Persons found to have no protection needs will be returned to their countries of origin as quickly as this can be arranged. The need for a comprehensive repatriation strategy in the circumstances I have outlined, is recognised by all States with developed asylum systems and by the UNHCR.

Citizenship Applications.

Dan Neville

Question:

169 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for residency under the Irish born child scheme will be processed for a person, details supplied, in County Limerick. [21653/05]

An application for permission to remain in the State under the revised arrangements announced by me on 15 January 2005 for the processing of applications from the non-national parents of Irish born children born before 1 January 2005 was received from the person concerned on 9 March 2005.

Some 18,000 applications were received under the revised arrangements and more than 7,300 have been processed to date. Given the number of applications still to be processed, it will be some weeks before the processing of the person's application will be completed.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

170 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amounts of funding made available by his Department to towns, villages and communities for the installation of closed circuit television; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21655/05]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the community based CCTV scheme that I launched earlier this month. This scheme has been developed in response to a demonstrated demand from local communities across Ireland for the provision of CCTV systems. The purpose of the scheme is to support local communities who wish to install and maintain CCTV security systems in their area, with the aim of increasing public safety and reducing the risk of anti-social and criminal activity.

The scheme is designed to provide financial assistance to qualifying local organisations towards meeting the capital costs associated with the establishment of local community CCTV systems. Under this scheme, individual communities will be able to avail of grant aid funding of up to €100,000 from my Department to install a CCTV system in their area.

I am also delighted to say that further to discussions between our respective Departments, my colleague, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cúiv, has given a commitment to provide successful applicants from RAPID areas with a further grant to a maximum of €100,000 subject to the total grant aid from both Departments not exceeding €200,000 or 100% of the capital costs of the project, whichever is the lesser. These CCTV systems will have to be installed to a high-end technical specification and operated in compliance with a strict code of practice. Access to these CCTV systems will also have to be given to the Garda Síochána as required.

The scheme is being managed on behalf my Department by Area Development Management Ltd, ADM. Communities that are not ready to apply for full scheme funding may apply for pre-development supports to assist in the formulation of high-quality proposals which will have the necessary elements of local support and sustainability. Full details of the scheme, together with the relevant application forms and guidelines, are available on my Department's website: http://www.justice.ie, or the ADM website: http://www.adm.ie. They are also available directly from ADM, Holbrook House, Holles Street, Dublin 2. Any queries about this scheme should be directed to ADM at telephone: 01-2400700; fax: 01-6610411 or e-mail: enquiries@adm.ie.

Citizenship Applications.

Billy Timmins

Question:

171 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position with regard to an application for Irish citizenship for a person, details supplied, in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21656/05]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a formal certificate confirming the Irish citizenship of the person concerned issued to her by registered post on 16 June 2005.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Pat Breen

Question:

172 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Question No. 452 of 3 February 2004 the reason the closed circuit television system which was promised for Ennis, County Clare in 2004 will not be completed until the end of 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21657/05]

As the Deputy is aware, Ennis is one of 17 locations nationwide which has been selected to receive a Garda CCTV system. This programme of implementation of CCTV systems is being implemented on a phased basis as follows: phase one — Bray, Dundalk, Dún Laoghaire, Finglas, Galway and Limerick; phase 2 — Athlone, Clondalkin, Tallaght and Waterford; and phase three — Ballyfermot, Carlow, Castlebar, Clonmel, Ennis, Kilkenny and Sligo.

Phase one has been completed in five of the six locations. Installation of the CCTV systems is of necessity a detailed, complex and lengthy process and the Garda authorities have been giving careful consideration to a restructuring of the manner in which these Garda CCTV systems go to tender. I am anxious to accelerate the implementation of the remaining CCTV programme, and reduce as far as possible the workload of the Garda Síochána in this regard. I believe that the proposed redesign of the tender document provides an opportunity to outsource the installation of Garda CCTV systems to the greatest possible extent, making use not only of the technical but of the project management expertise in the private sector. In that regard, I asked the Garda Commissioner to submit proposals for a revised tender document for the 11 locations in the remaining two phases, with a view to achieving implementation in priority locations by the end of 2006.

As a first step in this process, the Garda authorities have placed a request for tender document on the Government e-tenders website seeking tenders for consultancy services for the procurement, supply and implementation of town centre CCTV systems to the Garda Síochána. A total of six tender proposals have been received and are currently being evaluated. In order to procure the most rapid delivery of these systems, the Garda Síochána is endeavouring to establish the most appropriate procurement model available. This process will involve the successful tenderer examining all aspects of Garda involvement in CCTV systems, including: installation, operation and management of systems; monitoring, recording and related activities; accommodation and situation of facilities and staff with regard to the town scheme and Garda station premises; and assessment of civilianisation of Garda CCTV monitoring conducted under the management of the Garda Síochána.

The successful tenderer must also examine and recommend which procurement model is considered to be the most suitable in terms of commercial viability and cost effectiveness for the provision of town centre CCTV systems. It is the ambition of the Garda Síochána to maximise outsourcing of all processes in making Garda town centre CCTV systems available in the most efficient and effective manner.

Visa Applications.

Billy Timmins

Question:

173 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position with regard to a visa application for a person, details supplied, in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21658/05]

The application referred to by the Deputy was only recently received, on the 15 June 2005, by my Department's visa section and is pending assessment. Applications are currently taking, on average, four to six weeks to process.

Citizenship Applications.

Mary Upton

Question:

174 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will reply to correspondence from a person, details supplied, in County Dublin; and if he will give sympathetic consideration to this application for residency. [21685/05]

There is no record in the immigration division of my Department of an application for residency having been received from the person concerned.

Registration of Title.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

175 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a dealing will be completed for a person, details supplied. [21729/05]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that this is an application for transfer of part, which was lodged on 7 April 2004. Dealing Number D2004CK008150T refers. I am further informed that this application was completed on 21 June 2005.

Citizenship Applications.

John Gormley

Question:

176 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person, details supplied, who has applied for residency here; if this person will be eligible for residency if their spouse were to undertake a third level course here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21730/05]

The person in question is a failed asylum seeker who is the subject of a deportation order. He subsequently sought to invoke European Union law on free movement to have that order set aside on the basis of his marriage to an EU national worker. Following consideration of the relevant provisions as enshrined in Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68, the application was refused as the EU national was not working in the State.

The European Court of Justice has acknowledged that Article 1 of Directive 93/96 allows member states to require of students who are nationals of a different member state and who wish to exercise the right of residence on their territory that they satisfy the relevant national authority, by means of a declaration, that they have sufficient resources to avoid becoming a burden on the social assistance system of the host member state during their period of residence. Furthermore, where a member state takes the view that a student who has recourse to social assistance no longer fulfils the conditions of his right of residence, it may take measures, within the limits imposed by Community law, either to withdraw his residence permit or not to renew it. In addition the person in question must have sufficient resources to support his non-EEA national spouse. Thus, it would appear on the basis of the information available that the provisions in question are not applicable.

Visa Applications.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

177 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a visa application for a person, details supplied, in County Cork. [21731/05]

Although the Deputy has not supplied a visa application reference number, my officials believe they have located the application in question, reference number 1518085. I can inform the Deputy that this application was approved by my Department on 2 June 2005.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

178 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a holiday visa application for a person, details supplied, in County Cork. [21732/05]

The application referred to by the Deputy was received by my Department on 23 May 2005. The application in question was to enable the wife of a non-EEA national employed under the employment permit scheme travel to the State to reside with him. A worker employed under the employment permit scheme may be joined by their spouse and minor children after the worker has been in the State for one year and has been offered a contract for a further year. The worker must also be able to fully support the family members in question without the need to have recourse to public funds.

Following examination and assessment of the application by a visa officer of my Department, it was determined that the supporting documentation did not show that the worker in question was in a position to fully support his wife. Consequently, the application was refused on 13 June 2005 on grounds of insufficient finances. It is open to the applicant to appeal this decision in writing within two months of receipt of the decision to refuse the application. Any appeal should be accompanied by appropriate additional documentation that the applicant feels will address the reasons for refusal given.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

179 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding a visa application for a person, details supplied, in County Cork. [21733/05]

Although the Deputy has not supplied a visa application reference number, my officials believe they have located the application in question, reference number 1518084. I can inform the Deputy that this application was approved by my Department on 2 June 2005.

Victims of Crime.

Richard Bruton

Question:

180 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the outstanding details which he needs to obtain from Victim Support before he will be in a position to recommence core funding for the organisation. [21734/05]

I have no plans at present to recommence core funding for the Victim Support organisation. The disbursement of funding to support victims of crime is now a matter for the new Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime. The commission is an independent body established in March 2005 with a remit to devise an appropriate support framework for victims of crime into the future and disburse funding for victim support measures.

I am advised that the commission has received over 60 applications for funding for measures to support victims of crime in response to a public advertisement and that these include a number of applications from separate groupings within Victim Support, some of which are no longer associated with that body. The commission will examine each application on its merits and will make an independent decision with regard to eligibility for funding.

It should be noted that I decided to terminate funding of Victim Support with effect from 31 March 2005 because of reductions in service levels and concerns with regard to governance, accountability and value for money arising from ongoing internal difficulties in that organisation. An independent review carried out early in 2005 concluded that the organisation was terminally damaged. My Department agreed to make a final allocation to Victim Support in respect of expenditure up to 31 March this year, on production of relevant accounts, subject to verification by the Department. Material was received from Victim Support in this regard on 31 May 2005 and that is currently under examination in my Department. Victim Support is aware that the commission is not in a position to consider its application for funding until these matters have been concluded to my satisfaction and until I am in a position to advise the commission that issues of accountability for public funds already allocated to Victim Support have been resolved.

I should reiterate that the commission will make an independent decision with regard to funding on the merits of each proposal it has received. I might add that the commission has recently allocated its first tranche of funding for measures to support crime victims. A sum of €50,000 was allocated to the Rape Crisis Network for court accompaniment for victims of rape and sexual assault and a sum of €28,000 was allocated to Women's Aid for court accompaniment for victims of domestic violence.

Registration of Title.

Willie Penrose

Question:

181 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he will take to furnish copy of deeds to a person, details supplied, in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21735/05]

I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that there is no record of an application pending on the folio number quoted by the Deputy at present. If the Deputy can provide me with the date of lodgement of the application and a Land Registry reference number, I will make further inquiries on his behalf.

Refugee Legal Services.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

182 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if asylum-seekers who apply for a judicial review of their case, having failed at all previous stages of their application for residence here, are entitled to free legal aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21736/05]

As the Deputy may be aware, the Refugee Legal Service, RLS, is a specialised service within the Legal Aid Board providing confidential legal advice and assistance at all stages of the asylum process to persons applying for asylum in Ireland. The services provided by the RLS include assistance with regard to judicial review of recommendations of the Office of Refugee Applications Commissioner, ORAC; decisions of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, RAT, or with regard to leave to remain applications or deportation orders.

The Legal Aid Board, including the RLS, provides services in accordance with the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the regulations made thereunder. Any applications for legal aid, including those by asylum seekers, must satisfy both the financial and merits criteria set out in this legislation. The merits criteria relate to the prospects for success of the case. These include the following requirements: that the proceedings are such that a reasonably prudent person would be likely to seek such services at their own expense; that a solicitor or barrister acting reasonably would be likely to advise him or her to obtain such services at their own expense; that there are reasonable grounds in law for instituting proceedings; that the applicant is reasonably likely to be successful; that the proceedings represent the only appropriate remedy; and that it is otherwise reasonable to grant a certificate having regard to all the circumstances of the case.

Any person applying to the RLS for service is also subject to the financial eligibility criteria and payment of the appropriate financial contribution, which is as follows: an advice fee, currently a minimum of €6, payable by all applicants and an additional aid fee, currently a minimum of €29, payable by those in receipt of legal aid, that is, proceedings before a court or the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The aid fee may be waived but there is no provision to waive the €6 advice fee. Applicants may register with the RLS at any stage of the asylum process — initial application, appeal stage and post asylum — with regard to matters such as applications for humanitarian leave to remain.

Garda Investigations.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

183 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the revelations contained in the Morris tribunal, he will reopen the investigation into the death of a political activist, details supplied, in Donegal in 2003. [21778/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that following a post mortem the cause of death of the person referred to in the Deputy's question was found to be drowning. The death was fully investigated by the Garda Síochána. This included a visit to the scene by a scene of crime examiner before the body of the deceased was removed and an examination of the deceased's car. All known witnesses were interviewed also. The evidence from the investigation would suggest that the death was as a result of an accident.

I am further informed that as a result of representations made by members of the deceased's family, a review of the initial investigation was carried out by a detective superintendent. This review did not reveal anything to suggest that the death had not been accidental. In addition, the State pathologist was consulted and agreed with the findings of the pathologist who carried out the post mortem examination on the deceased's body at Letterkenny General Hospital.

A coroner's inquest was held on 5 September 2003 and the jury returned a verdict that death was in accordance with medical evidence and that the deceased had died from drowning. I have no reason to believe that this incident was not fully and comprehensively investigated and I am therefore of the view on the current facts that there would be no benefit to be gained by reopening the investigation at this time.

Deportation Orders.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

184 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received the report prepared by Athlone Families Together outlining the events leading up to the deportation of persons, details supplied, in County Westmeath; if he will reverse the deportation of the these persons, facilitate the reunification of the families in Ireland, and allow them to remain here on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate considerations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21779/05]

I would refer the Deputy to the replies I made to Questions Nos. 290, 293, 295 and 298 on Wednesday 15 June 2005 and to the statement made by the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cuív, to the Seanad during the Adjournment debate there on 15 June 2005 about these cases. The position remains the same. I do not intend reversing the decisions to deport these persons and return them to Ireland.

Garda Vetting Procedures.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

185 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are now unvetted staff working in child care posts in the South Western Area Health Board area due to the fact that the board’s child care directorate will no longer refer employees who are not directly employed and funded by an ADM staffing grant, that is, community employment child care workers, to the Garda vetting unit, and that this has made it impossible to obtain Garda clearance for community employment child care workers, due to the fact that this is a requirement of staffing grants under ADM Limited contracts, and due to the fact that FÁS is refusing to get involved and the Garda vetting unit will not deal directly with an employer; and the action he will take to resolve this matter, including communication with his counterparts in other Departments. [21780/05]

I would the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos. 8 and 43 of today's date. The Garda central vetting unit, GCVU, carries out criminal record vetting in respect of,inter alia, prospective full-time employees of the Health Service Executive and in certain agencies funded by the executive, as well as in respect of prospective child care workers on equal opportunities childcare schemes funded by my Department. The unit currently deals with approximately 100,000 vetting applications per annum. Although the groups referred to by the Deputy cannot currently avail of this vetting regime, these will be covered by a planned phased extension of Garda vetting arrangements to all relevant sectors and groups. I am pleased to state that this extension will commence later this year, as soon as the necessary practical arrangements are in place, and public announcements will occur in this regard in due course.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

186 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21781/05]

My Department did not incur any expenditure with regard to the two Nice treaty referenda.

Unlicensed Trading.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

187 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the actions that have been taken to curb the pirating, renting, selling and other distribution of uncertified Indian films; and the action which will be taken with regard to this against the owner of a shop, details supplied, in Dublin regarding whom it is alleged that, despite previous conviction, continues such activity. [21782/05]

I understand from the Garda authorities that the retailer concerned is in possession of a retail licence issued in accordance with the powers conferred on the official censor under section 18 of the Video Recordings Act 1989 to sell video recordings by retail or to let them on hire from his business premises. I am informed by the Garda authorities while the retailer referred to by the Deputy was the subject of a Garda investigation in 2002 leading to a court conviction, no complaints have been received since then. I am further informed that the Garda Síochána monitors outlets in accordance with the Video Recordings Act 1989 and where breaches of the law are detected, appropriate action ensues.

Probation and Welfare Service.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

188 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide a list of voluntary bodies and community groups providing a range of locally based services for offenders funded or part-funded by his Department through the probation and welfare service. [21783/05]

I can advise the Deputy that my Department, through the probation and welfare service, provides funding to 69 community based-projects and programmes nationally. The target group for the projects, supported by the probation and welfare service, are offenders who have been before the courts or who have been released following a period of detention. The overall objective of the projects-programmes is to assist with the reintegration of offenders into their community and to reduce the risk of re-offending. Details of these projects are set out in the following tabular statement.

Name of project

Address

Adventure Sports Project

72 Seán McDermott Street, Dublin 1, (Rutland Street, National School)

Aftercare Recovery Group

176 North Strand Road, Dublin 1

Aiseiri, Wexford

Roxborough, Wexford Town

Aiseiri, Cahir

Townspark, Cahir, County Tipperary

Aislinn

Adolescent Addiction Treatment Centre, Ballyraggett, County Kilkenny

Anna Liffey Drugs Project

112 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1

Athy Alternative Project

Community Service Centre, Stanhope Place, Athy, County Kildare

Auto Crime Diversion Project, Cork

Unit 4, Southside Industrial Estate, Pouladuff Road, Cork

Ballinasloe Workshop

Canal House, Harbour Rd, Ballinasloe, County Galway

Ballymun Youth Action Project

1A Balcurris Road, Ballymun, Dublin 11

Blanchardstown, EQUAL

Deanstown House, Main Street, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

BOND Project

37A Coolmine Industrial Estate, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Bridge Project

125 Parnell Street, Dublin 1

Candle Community Trust

P.O. Box 1145, Lynch’s Lane, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10

Ceim ar Ceim, Moyross, Limerick

Unit 5, Shannon Development Units, Knockalisheen Road, Moyross, County Limerick

Churchfield Youth Community Trust

109 Knockfree Ave, Churchfield, Cork

Clarecare, Bushy Park, Ennis

Bushy Park, Ennis, County Clare

Clonmel Youth Training Enterprise Centre

The Wilderness, Fethard Road, Clonmel, County Tipperary

Coolmine Ltd

19 Lord Edward Street, Dublin 2

Cork Probation Hostel

Westview House, Audley Place, Patrick’s Hill, Cork

Cork Alliance for Justice and Social Care

Presentation Centre, Evergreen Street, Cork

Cox’s Demesne

15-16 Oakland Park, Dundalk, County Louth

Crinian Youth Project

72 Seán McDermott St, Dublin 1

Cuan Mhuire, Athy

Cardington, Athy, County Kildare

Cuan Mhuire, Bruree

Bruree, County Limerick

Cuan Mhuire, Coolarne

Turloughmore, County Galway

Cuchulainn Probation Project Dundalk

The Ramparts, Dundalk, County Louth

Dochas don Oige, Westside, Galway City

Liosban Industrial Estate, Tuam Road, Galway City.

Education Trust

7, Upper Leeson St., Dublin 4

Fellowship House, Cork

Spur Hill, Togher, Cork

Granada Institute (Lighthouse)

Crinken House, Crinken Lane, Shankill, County Dublin

Guild of St. Philip de Neri

Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 8 New Cabra Road, Dublin 7

Harristown House, Roscommon

Harristown, County Roscommon

Horticultural Workshop

Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9

INPRO Ltd, Grattan House IPS

Grattan House, Grattan St, Cork

Kazelain, Sligo

Kazelain, Finisklin Road, Sligo

Kerry Adolescent Counselling Centre

St. John’s Parish Centre, Castle Street, Tralee, County Kerry

Kilkenny Employment for Youth

Garden Row, High Street, County Kilkenny

Le Chéile Mentoring Project

Northside Civic Centre, Bunratty Road, Coolock, Dublin 17

Linkage

32 Lower O’Connell Street, Dublin 2

Lionsvilla Probation Hostel

Chapelizod, Dublin 20

Matt Talbot Community Trust

Kylemore Road, Dublin 10

Matt Talbot Services, Cork

Cara Lodge, Ahiohill, County Cork

Merchants Quay

4 Merchants Quay, Dublin 8

MOVE (Ireland)

Carmichael House, North Brunswick St, Dublin 7

Nenagh Community Reparation Project

Connolly Street, Nenagh, County Tipperary

PACE

7 Upper Leeson Street, Dublin 4

Ruhama

Senior House, All Hallows College, Grace Park Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9

SAOL Project Dublin

58 Amiens Street, Dublin 1

Southill Outreach

Unit 16, Kilmallock Road, Enterprise Centre, Kilmallock, Limerick City

St. Patrick’s Welfare Association

Eoin Cumiskey, 21 Ferndale Ave, Glasnevin, Dublin 11

St. Vincent’s Trust

9 Henrietta Street, Dublin 2

Stepping Out Project, Athlone

Belhavel Training Services, Golden Island, Athlone, County Westmeath

Tabor Lodge, Cork

Ballindeasig, Belgooly, County Cork

Tallaght Probation Project

Deonach: Fettercairn House, Cookstown Lane, Fettercairn, Tallaght, Dublin 24

Tivoli Youth Training Centre

Tivoli Terrace, off York Rd, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin

Tower, North Clondalkin Probation Project

St. Mark’s Lane, Neilstown Rd, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Treble R Industries

Chancery Lane, Dublin 2

TREO

34 Tycor Business Centre, Tycor, Waterford

Tuam Community. Training Centre

Vicharschoraland, Tuam, County Galway

Tus Nua

136 North Circular Rd, Dublin 7

Victim/Offender Mediation, Restorative Justice Services

Tallaght Business Centre, Whitestown Business Park, Tallaght, Dublin 24

Village Project

Poppintree Mall, Finglas Village, Dublin 11

Waterford Probation Hostel

15 Bath St, Waterford City

Wexford Area Partnership (Cornmarket)

Cornmarket Project, Cornmarket, Mallin Street, Wexford Town

Wexford Centre Project

Lincoln House, Lincoln Lane, Smithfield, Dublin 7

WHAD, Ballyfermot

No. 11 Drumfin Park, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10

WRENS, Tallaght

Killinarden Enterprise Centre, Killinarden, Tallaght, Dublin 24

Waterford Youth Training and Education Centre

Ballinaneashagh, Cork Road, Waterford

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

189 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21784/05]

There are seven EU directives which have been adopted by the Council of the European Union but have yet to be transposed into domestic legislation in Ireland. One of these directives, Directive 2004/57/EC, has passed its deadline for transposition. It is anticipated that this directive will be transposed later this year by way of a Statutory Instrument under section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972. Three of the directives listed below are Schengen-related measures and as such, the deadlines for transposition apply to Schengen member states only. Ireland is not a Schengen member state. However, following the Council decision of 28 February 2002 concerning Ireland's request to take part in some of the provisions of the Schengenacquis, Ireland must transpose these measures before the Council can take a decision approving Ireland’s implementation of these aspects of the Schengen acquis. Work is under way to prepare the necessary legislation to transpose the directives into Irish law. The remaining three directives have deadlines in 2006 and 2007. Work is also under way to allow for their transposition into domestic legislation.

Number

Title

Purpose

Transposition deadline

Expected date of transposition

2004/57/EC

Commission Directive 2004/57/EC of 23 April 2004 on the identification of pyrotechnic articles and certain ammunition for the purposes of Council Directive 93/15/EEC on the harmonisation of the provisions relating to the placing on the market and supervision of explosives for civil uses

Directive 93/15/EEC applies to explosive materials and articles which are considered to be such in the United Nations Recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods and which fall within Class 1 of those recommendations. Pyrotechnic articles, however, are expressly excluded from the scope of that Directive. Consequently, in order to ensure the uniform application of Directive 93/15/EEC throughout the Community, it is necessary to identify, by reference to the relevant United Nations recommendations, articles which are to be considered to be pyrotechnic in nature. So that it is clear precisely what Directive 93/15/EEC covers, Directive 2004/57/EC lists 1) the articles in the UN recommendations considered to be pyrotechnic or ammunitions and 2) those Articles in respect of which a determination is required as to whether those Articles are pyrotechnic articles or explosives.

31/12/2004

2005 It is proposed to transpose the Directive into Irish law by way of Statutory Instrument under Section 3 of the European Communities Act, 1972. A draft instrument has been prepared within the Department and has been forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office for formal drafting.

2004/38/EC

Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States amending Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 and repealing Directives 64/221/EEC, 68/360/EEC, 72/194/EEC, 75/34/EEC, 75/35/EEC, 90/364/EEC, 90/365/EEC and 93/96/EEC.

The Directive lays down the conditions governing the exercise of the right of free movement and residence within the territory of the Member States by Union citizens and their family members; the right of permanent residence in the territory of the Member States for Union citizens and their family members; the limits placed on the rights above on grounds of public policy, public security or public health.

30/04/2006

2006

2004/83/EC

Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on the minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted

The purpose of this Directive is to lay down minimum standards for the qualification of third country nationals or stateless person as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted. The main objective of this Directive is, on the one hand, to ensure that Member States apply common criteria for the identification of persons genuinely in need of international protection, and, on the other hand, to ensure that a minimum level of benefits is available for these persons in all Member States.

10/10/2006

Summer 2006

Number

Title

Purpose

Transposition deadline

Expected date of transposition

2004/113/EC

Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services

The Directive is aimed at laying down a framework for combating discrimination based on sex in access to and supply of goods and services, with a view to putting into effect in the Member States the principle of equal treatment between men and women.

21/12/2007

Work is at a preliminary stage of examination.

2002/90/EC

Council Directive defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence

The purpose of this Directive is to provide a definition of the facilitation of illegal immigration and consequently to render more effective the implementation of Framework Decision 2002/946/JHA on the strengthening of the penal framework to prevent the facilitation of unauthorised entry transit and residence.

Deadline for transposition does not apply to Ireland1.

2006

2001/40/EC

Council Directive 2001/40/EC of 28 May 2001 on the mutual recognition of decisions on the expulsion of third country nationals

The purpose of the Directive is to make possible the recognition of an expulsion decision issued by a competent authority in one Member State against a third country national present within the territory of another Member State. The Directive will not apply to family members of citizens of the EU who have exercised their right of free movement.

Deadline for transposition does not apply to Ireland1.

Draft Regulations, under the European Communities Act, 1972, are currently being finalised.

2004/82/EC

Directive 2004/82/EC of 29 April 2004 on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data

The Directive aims at improving border controls and combating illegal immigration by the transmission of advance passenger data by carriers to the competent national authorities.

Deadline for transposition does not apply to Ireland1.

To be transposed by means of a Regulation.

1While the measures specify a deadline for transposition, this deadline applies to Schengen member states only. However, following the Council decision of 28 February 2002 concerning Ireland's request to take part in some of the provisions of the Schengenacquis, Ireland must transpose these measures before the Council can take a decision approving Ireland’s implementation of these aspects of the Schengen acquis.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

190 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application for citizenship in the case of persons, details supplied, in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21785/05]

Applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to by the Deputy were received in the citizenship section of my Department on 21 January 2005. The average processing time for such applications is currently 24 months. On the basis of the current average processing time, therefore, it is likely that the applications of the individuals concerned will be finalised in early 2007. I will inform the applicants and the Deputy when a decision has been made on the applications.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

191 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current and expected residency status in the case of a person, details supplied, in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21786/05]

There are two aspects of this case under consideration at present. The first is an application under section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996 by the person's son, who is a recognised refugee, to have her remain with him in the State by way of family reunification. That issue is under consideration by the Refugee Applications Commissioner at present, as required by law. The second is an application she made for humanitarian leave to remain in the State. That issue will fall for consideration in the event of the first application being unsuccessful.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

192 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current and expected status of an application for naturalisation in the case of a person, details supplied, in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21787/05]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in the citizenship section of my Department on 16 June 2004. The average processing time for such applications is currently 24 months. On the basis of the current average processing time, therefore, it is likely that the application of the individual concerned will be finalised in mid-2006. I will inform both the applicant and the Deputy when a decision has been made on the application.

Organised Crime.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

193 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which efforts have been made to target overseas locations in which Irish criminals and criminal gangs are known to frequent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21788/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

194 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the efforts being made through Interpol and other agencies with a view to targeting Irish crime gangs here and overseas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21789/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 193 and 194 together.

I have been informed by the Garda Síochána that the successful targeting of criminal assets in this country has caused many of the major crime figures to re-locate and direct their criminal activity from outside this jurisdiction. I am further informed that the Garda Síochána maintains contact with other police forces through established channels which provide for the structured exchange of intelligence on matters, particularly with regard to organised crime and criminals.

Members of the Garda Síochána participate in many international fora with regard to organised crime. Four Garda liaison officers are permanently based in major European capitals. These officers facilitate inquiries relating to significant criminal investigations which have connections with this jurisdiction. There are also members of the Garda Síochána seconded to Europol and Interpol. Europol is the intelligence co-ordination agency for all European law enforcement organisations and members of the Garda Síochána actively participate at all levels in its activities. Where intelligence is available regarding the location and activities of Irish criminals abroad, this intelligence is disseminated to the relevant police authorities through Interpol or Europol.

The exchange of evidence for criminal prosecutions between jurisdictions is governed by international conventions; currently all exchanges are subject of the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 — Part VII. The Garda Síochána continues to actively participate in extensive, formal, informal and bilateral relationships with police forces and order law enforcement agencies throughout the world. It is continuously developing its support services in co-operation with other law enforcement agencies.

The National Bureau of Criminal Investigation is continually adapting to new challenges in relation to targeting Irish crime gangs here and overseas. The bureau regularly assesses the effectiveness of new legislation and implementing strategies that will efficiently combat organised crime to facilitate responses to emerging trends.

Proceeds of Crime.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

195 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the value of properties seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau arising from criminal investigations; if it is intended to accelerate this programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21790/05]

I have been informed by the Garda Síochána that the Criminal Assets Bureau takes civil proceedings focused on assets which are believed to be the proceeds of criminal conduct. These investigations will, in most cases, follow from earlier criminal investigations. The seizure of assets in criminal investigations or proceedings is carried out by the Director of Public Prosecutions under separate provisions.

The Criminal Assets Bureau takes actions under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996, as amended, to seize property which is shown, in the High Court, to be the proceeds of crime. Since 1996, the total value of orders obtained under section 3 of the aforementioned Act is €14,145,245, Stg£2,830,175 and US$5,472,747. The bureau continues to pursue its statutory functions and it will target the proceeds of criminal conduct and seize the proceeds of such activity.

The amendments in the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 have enhanced the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau in this regard through allowing for the disposal of assets by agreement with relevant parties before the end of the seven-year waiting period established as a safeguard for disposal orders in the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996. The following table gives a year by year breakdown of the value of section 3 orders obtained by the bureau since its inception.

Interlocutory orders under section 3.

Stg £

$

2004

1,688,652

375

0

2003

71,699

557,070

0

2002

2,504,669

1,993,094

5,247,821

2001

1,705,196

279,636

224,926

2000

1,292,562

0

0

1999

1,033,134

0

0

1998

1,410,100

0

0

1997

1,899,757

0

0

1996

2,539,476

0

0

Total

14,145,245

2,830,175

5,472,747

Security Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

196 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the new initiatives he proposes to take to crack down on infiltration of the security industry by criminals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21791/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

199 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has observed any evidence to the effect that criminal elements have infiltrated the security industry at nightclubs or special events; the efforts which are ongoing to combat this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21794/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 and 199 together.

I continue to be concerned that there is some evidence of unacceptable elements entering the private security industry. My concern with regard to door management was one of the reasons I brought forward legislation to regulate the private security industry. The Private Security Authority, which was established in October 2004, will commence a phased rollout of licensing of the private security industry in October 2005. I understand that the authority proposes to commence licensing contractors providing door supervisor and security guarding services.

The authority has put in place stringent criteria to protect the industry from infiltration by criminals. All licence applicants will undergo criminal records checking by the Garda Síochána. This will apply to employees, principals and directors of private security companies. Contractors supplying private security services will be required to provide valid tax clearance certificates. The authority has contracted the National Standards Authority of Ireland to develop a suite of standards for each sector of the industry. Compliance with these standards will also be a prerequisite for the issuance of a contractor's licence. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Síochána is continually monitoring developments in the security industry to ensure, in so far as is possible, that all breaches of criminal law are detected.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

197 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of applications for citizenship received in the past three years; the number approved and the number rejected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21792/05]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following tabular form.

Year

Number of naturalisation applications received

Number of certificates of naturalisation issued

Number of certificates of naturalisation refused

Number of declarations of post-nuptial citizenship received

Number of certs issued (PNC)

Number refused (PNC)

2005 (end of May)

1,760

577

860

1,317

1,072

2

2004

4,074

1,335

759

2,825

2,449

1

2003

3,580

1,664

179

2,491

2,272

0

2002

3,574

1,332

109

1,728

1,550

4

In addition, a further 634 applications were deemed ineligible in 2005 on the basis that the applicants did not meet the statutory residency criteria set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1956 to 2004.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

198 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of economic emigrants deported from here in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21793/05]

Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, sets out nine categories of persons in respect of whom the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform may make deportation orders. An "economic emigrant" is not,per se, one of those categories. However, if the Deputy is referring to non-EEA nationals working in the State pursuant to permits issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, I would refer him to the reply I gave to Question No. 362 on 31 May 2005.

Question No. 199 answered with QuestionNo. 196.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

200 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of reported gun crimes including killings in each of the past three years; the extent to which successful prosecutions have followed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21795/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of headline offences where a firearm was involved from 2000 to 2004 is as set out in the table below. With regard to the extent of the number of successful prosecutions, as the Deputy is aware, the Director of Public Prosecutions is statutorily independent in the performance of his function and it would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to comment on his decisions. Furthermore, judges are independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and subject only to the Constitution and the law. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment on their decisions also.

Headline offences where a firearm was used from 2000 to 2004.

Year

Recorded

Detected

Convictions

2004

638

204

37

2003

447

118

75

2002

528

188

90

2001

396

166

113

2000

425

229

105

Figures provided for 2004 are provisional and liable to change.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

201 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount of cash stolen in robberies since the beginning of 2005; the amount recovered to date; the extent of the number of successful prosecutions arising therefrom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21796/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the information requested is as set out in the following table. It covers the three robbery offences of robbery from the person, robbery from an establishment-institution and robbery of cash-goods in transit. It should be noted that many of the proceedings commenced have not yet been completed.

With regard to the extent of the number of successful prosecutions, as the Deputy is aware, the Director of Public Prosecutions is statutorily independent in the performance of his function and it would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to comment on his decisions. Furthermore, judges are independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and subject only to the Constitution and the law. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment on their decisions also. I should mention that the figures relate to robberies within this jurisdiction. However, approximately €4 million has been recovered by the Garda Síochána which it is believed relates to the Northern Bank robbery.

Robbery offences and amount of cash taken and recovered in 2005.

Recorded

1,061

Detected

370

Proceedings commenced

162

Convictions

5

Cash Taken

€6,269,378

Cash Recovered

€32,036

Figures provided are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Juvenile Offenders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

202 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he has taken in the past three years to address the issue of juvenile crime with particular reference to the need for custodial or rehabilitative care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21797/05]

The Government's approach continues to support the underlying principles of the Children Act 2001 — namely, that prevention through early intervention is desirable, that detention should be used a last resort and that diversion and community sanctions should be available and used wherever appropriate.

There is a well-acknowledged recognition of the need to join up strategy and operation of services for children, and this is reflected in the cross-cutting and interdependent nature of the Children Act 2001. The Act has established a sound statutory framework for a modern youth justice system, but I believe there is merit in reviewing the institutional and strategic environment in which it is to operate. To this end, I established a project team in my Department to examine the scope for rationalising and restructuring the delivery of the State's services in the area of youth justice.

The project team has consulted widely with the statutory bodies which are involved in the delivery of services to young offenders and to young people who are considered to be at risk of offending. The project team has consulted closely with the Departments of Education and Science and Health and Children, in particular. The team has also consulted with a broad spectrum of non-governmental service providers, community interests and other experts active in the youth justice sector. I expect the team to report to me shortly.

Due to the fact that the Children Act is a complex and comprehensive piece of legislation, its provisions are being implemented on a phased basis, as was envisaged at the time of enactment. The Act gives a statutory basis to the Garda juvenile diversion programme, when the relevant sections in Part 4 of the Act were commenced in May 2002. The programme has proven to be highly successful in diverting young people away from crime by offering guidance and support to juveniles and their families. In the more serious cases, juveniles are placed under the supervision of Garda juvenile liaison officers, who are specially trained members of the Garda Síochána responsible for administering the programme at the local level. Part 4 introduced the concepts of restorative justice, specifically restorative cautioning and restorative conferencing, to the juvenile diversion programme. The community sanction provisions are largely a matter for the probation and welfare service of my Department to implement. In line with this, provision is being made by the probation and welfare service to allow for the commencement, on a phased basis, of the remaining sections of the Act relevant to the probation and welfare service.

Currently, young offenders coming before the courts may be placed under the supervision of the probation and welfare service in accordance with section 2 of the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 — probation orders — or section 3 of the Criminal Justice (Community Service) Act 1983 — in the case of those aged 16 years or over.

Since May 2002, a restriction on movement order — sections 133-136 of the Children Act — may be imposed. In addition, since July 2004, courts can order that a family conference be arranged by the probation and welfare service with all interested parties in a case so that an action plan can be drawn up in the individual case. The child concerned must have acknowledged his or her culpability and the action plan must come back to court for approval. If the child complies with the elements of the action plan, the court may, at the end of the period covered by the plan, dismiss the charge or charges.

A pilot mentor project — sections 131-132 — is due to commence very shortly in the north Dublin area. The programme will serve as a model for the development of the mentor — family support — order. Recruitment of staff for this new and innovative project has taken place with the employment of a co-ordinator and administrator. The programme will recruit volunteers who will act as mentors to young people who have been before the courts and are under the supervision of the probation and welfare service. It is envisaged that parental supervision orders — sections 112-113 — will be commenced on a pilot basis later this year.

Other provisions under the Act require capital investment prior to commencement for buildings, equipment and expanding programmes. Work is already under way regarding some of these provisions, details of which are as follows. In regard to a day centre order — Part 9, sections 118-123 — a new probation office which is due to open in Cork very shortly will have provision for meeting the requirements of the day centre order. The development of a similar provision for the Tallaght area has been incorporated into plans for the new Tallaght probation and welfare service office which is expected to be completed in 2006. In regard to a probation — training or activities programme — order — Part 9, section 124 — the probation and welfare service has identified programmes already being funded through the service that meet the service requirements under this sanction. In addition, the service is also working towards the development of additional facilities suitable for use. In regard to a probation — intensive supervision — order — Part 9, section 125 — preliminary meetings have taken place to explore the feasibility of establishing two pilot intensive supervision programmes in Cork and Dublin, utilising existing intensive probation supervision projects. Preparatory work is ongoing in this regard. In regard to a probation — residential supervision — order — part 9, sections 126 to 127 — it is envisaged that this section will commence later this year. A document has been prepared outlining standards for probation and welfare service-funded hostels. In preparation for meeting these standards, staff of hostels will require training and development. Work is under way to identify suitable training which will meet these needs and training will be organised for staff over the coming months. In addition, Cork probation hostel is being extended and refurbished to meet the required standards and this hostel is expected to reopen very shortly. In regard to a suitable person — care and supervision — order — Part 9, sections 129 to 130 — this order will require the same rigorous recruitment, screening and training elements as outlined in the standards on practices and procedures in foster care. Suitable persons will have to be recruited and trained. Work on implementation of this order is expected to commence early next year. In regard to a dual order — Part 9, sections 137 to 139 — this sanction will be developed, on a phased basis, as day centres become available.

In addition, there are in existence a total of 64 Garda youth diversion projects. Funding of €5.471 million has been allocated to these and other related projects in the current year. The Garda authorities and I remain strongly committed to the principle and practice of diversion in the criminal justice system, a commitment warranted by consistent findings of national and international criminological research. Although the Garda juvenile diversion programme and the Garda youth diversion projects are not appropriate for all juveniles or in all situations, they nevertheless provide an important intervention in the lives of those juveniles who have taken a wrong turn in the process of maturing into young adults. Moreover, research indicates that of all those formally diverted from prosecution, some 88% do not come to the attention of the Garda Síochána again by their 18th birthday.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

203 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to address the issues raised in the first and second Morris reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21798/05]

I refer the Deputy to my replies to Questions Nos. 17 and 19 today.

Organised Crime.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

204 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to combat organised crime with all its associated activities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21799/05]

As the Deputy will be aware, the control of operational matters is an issue for the Garda Síochána. I wish to inform the Deputy that there are a number of multi-disciplinary and inter-departmental structures in place which facilitate an integrated and co-ordinated approach to tackling and-or preventing serious and organised crime including the Criminal Assets Bureau, the institutional structures created under the national drugs strategy and the money laundering contact steering committee which is chaired by the Department of Finance.

The establishment of specialist Garda units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Garda national drug unit, operating under the Assistant Commissioner in charge of national support services, has enabled the Garda Síochána to tackle organised crime effectively.

Moreover, a broad range of strong legislation is available to the Garda Síochána to confront organised crime. Our criminal legislative framework which reflects international developments in response to the global growth of organised crime and specific issues within our own domestic situation, is kept under continuous review.

The Private Security Services Act 2004 was signed into law on 4 May 2004. This Act allows for,inter alia, the establishment of a Private Security Authority to control and supervise persons providing security services and to maintain and improve standards in the provision by them of those services. The functions of the authority include the granting and renewal of licences, the issuing of identity cards to licences, the suspension or revocation of licences, the specification of standards in the provision of security services, the specification of qualifications and training requirements and monitoring of the services and service providers in the industry generally.

The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 was signed into law earlier this year. This Act substantially bolsters the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau in the continuing battle to target the proceeds of all types of crime and will extend those powers to the proceeds of white-collar crime and corruption. The Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which is currently on Second Stage in the House, provides for a comprehensive package of anti-crime measures which will enhance the powers of the gardaí in the investigation and prosecution of offences. Part 3 of the Bill makes provision for the admissibility as evidence in court of statements by witnesses who subsequently refuse to testify or who retract their original statements. Proposed amendments to the Bill which are under consideration include, among others, proposals to provide for criminal offences with regard to participation in a criminal organisation.

Ireland also has extensive legislation in place to tackle money laundering activities. The main provisions in Irish law relating to money laundering are set out in section 31 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994, as amended. This Act allows for the designation of certain bodies and persons for anti-money laundering purposes and for the prescribing of certain activities for the purpose of anti-money laundering. The Act requires that, when providing certain specified services, designated bodies and persons are obliged to identify customers and retain certain records. In addition designated bodies and persons must report to the Garda Síochána any suspicion that a money laundering offence has been or is being committed with regard to their business.

The Act also requires designated bodies to adopt measures to prevent and detect the commission of a money laundering offence including,inter alia, the establishment of appropriate internal preventative and detection procedures and the provision of appropriate training of employees, directors and officers. A money laundering steering committee established under the chairmanship of the Department of Finance oversees this aspect of the legislation.

As the Deputy will also be aware, Operation Anvil was initiated by the Garda Commissioner in the Dublin metropolitan region in May this year. This operation is an intelligence-led policing initiative, the focus of which is the targeting of active criminals and their associates involved in serious crime by preventing and disrupting this criminal activity through extensive additional overt patrolling and static checkpoints, and by uniform mobile and foot patrols, supported by armed plain-clothes patrols.

In addition to this, overt patrolling intelligence-led covert operations are also being undertaken in the course of Operation Anvil involving local units and personnel from national Garda investigative units. This operation is being run in conjunction with regular policing activities. The Garda authorities have assured me that combating organised crime will remain at the forefront of its operational activities and my Department will, in consultation with the Garda Síochána, continue to review the situation to ensure that organised crime is tackled effectively.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

205 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gun associated robberies reported in County Kildare in each of the past five years; if successful prosecutions have been taken in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21800/05]

With regard to crime figures, the Deputy will be aware that on becoming Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I arranged for the publication of headline crime statistics on a quarterly basis in order to improve the quality of information available to the public. While caution should be exercised in interpreting levels of crime between quarters, I am pleased to note that during my term of office as Minister, the quarterly crime rate has decreased from 6.7 per 1,000 population to six per 1,000 over the longer period of 11 quarters for which figures are available. This trend is reflected throughout most Garda districts in the country. In interpreting these figures, account must also to be taken of the introduction of the new PULSE computer system by the Garda Síochána in 1999, which led to more complete and comprehensive recording of crimes reported than was previously the case. The Deputy will also wish to be aware that, taking into account the significant increase in our population since 1995, the headline crime rate has fallen from 29 per 1,000 population in 1995 to 25 per 1,000 population in 2004.

With regard to the extent of the number of prosecutions, as the Deputy is aware, the Director of Public Prosecutions is statutorily independent in the performance of his function and it would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to comment on his decisions. Furthermore, judges are independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and subject only to the Constitution and the law. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment on their decisions also.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following tables show the robbery offences where a firearm was involved for each Garda district in the Carlow-Kildare division from 2000 to 2004.

2004.

Garda district

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings commenced

Convictions

Baltinglass

1

0

0

0

Carlow

4

1

0

0

Kildare

4

1

1

0

Naas

10

3

1

0

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

2003.

Garda district

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings commenced

Convictions

Baltinglass

2

0

0

0

Carlow

2

1

1

0

Kildare

3

1

1

0

Naas

3

2

1

0

2002.

Garda district

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings commenced

Convictions

Baltinglass

3

1

1

0

Carlow

3

2

1

1

Kildare

1

0

0

0

Naas

5

1

1

0

2001.

Garda district

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings commenced

Convictions

Baltinglass

0

0

0

0

Carlow

4

2

1

0

Kildare

0

0

0

0

Naas

3

1

0

0

2000.

Garda district

Recorded

Detected

Proceedings commenced

Convictions

Baltinglass

0

0

0

0

Carlow

3

1

1

1

Kildare

3

1

1

0

Naas

2

1

0

0

Drug Seizures.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

206 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of drug seizures in each Garda division in County Kildare in the past five years; the extent to which the problem is on the increase or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21801/05]

It has not been possible within the timeframe involved to collate the information required by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy directly when information is to hand.

Garda Strength.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

207 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the net number of extra gardaí currently available and posted to the various stations in County Kildare; the way in which this compares with the number of five years ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21802/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

213 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the proposed location of the extra gardaí likely to be made available to the various Garda stations throughout County Kildare from the promised 2,000 extra gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21808/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 and 213 together.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of each Garda station in County Kildare as at 30 June 2000 and 22 June 2005 was as set out in the table hereunder:

Station

30 June 2000

22 June 2005

Naas

76

79

Clane

6

6

Kill

3

3

Celbridge

14

17

Maynooth

14

16

Kildare

25

27

Newbridge

28

29

Robertstown

3

3

Kilcullen

3

2

Carbury

1

2

Monasterevin

3

3

Rathangan

2

3

Athy

17

16

Castledermot

2

2

Ballytore

1

1

Ballymore Eustace

1

0

Leixlip

22

26

Kilcock

6

5

Total

227

240

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 service is provided to the public. With regard to Garda resources generally, I am very pleased that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members on a phased basis, in line with the Agreed Programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

The Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. In this context, the needs of the various Garda stations in County Kildare will be fully considered within the context of the needs of Garda stations throughout the country. Clearly, of course, the additional resources will be targeted at the areas of greatest need, as is envisaged in the programme for Government. The programme identifies in particular areas with a significant drugs problem and a large number of public order offences, but it will be possible to address other priorities as well, such as the need to very significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. One thing I have already promised is that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties. They will be put directly into frontline, operational, high-visibility policing. They will have a real impact.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

208 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the net number of extra gardaí, excluding retirement, resignations and replacement who have taken up duty throughout the country in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21803/05]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of the Garda Síochána as at 31 December 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 and the net increase in each of those years on the previous year, was as set out in the table hereunder.

Date

Strength

Net increase on previous year

31/12/99

11,458

223

31/12/00

11,640

182

31/12/01

11,815

175

31/12/02

11,895

80

31/12/03

12,017

122

31/12/04

12,209

192

With regard to Garda resources generally, I am very pleased that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members on a phased line basis, in line with the Agreed Programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

Garda Stations.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

209 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he intends to introduce extended opening hours for any of the Garda stations throughout County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21804/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

210 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the opening hours of each of the Garda stations in County Kildare; if he intends to extend the opening hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21805/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda stations throughout County Kildare which are not currently occupied other than by the green man; his plans for the future of such stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21806/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 209 to 211, inclusive, together.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the number of hours each Garda station in County Kildare are open during a 24-hour period is as set out hereunder.

Station

Hours

Naas

24 hours

Celbridge

Nine hours

Clane

Three hours

Maynooth

Nine hours

Kill

Three hours

Kildare

24 hours

Newbridge

24 hours

Robertstown

Three hours

Kilcullen

Three hours

Carbury

Three hours

Monasterevin

Three hours

Rathangan

Three hours

Athy

Ten hours

Castledermot

Three hours

Ballytore

Two hours

Ballymore Eustace

Two hours

Kilcock

Three hours

Leixlip

Three hours

Local Garda management states that resources are utilised to ensure that stations are opened for the periods outlined, in conjunction with ensuring car patrols, foot patrols and all other areas of policing are also addressed. I am further informed that local Garda management does not intend to extend the opening hours of any of the stations in County Kildare attached to the Carlow-Kildare division at this time, as it is considered that the extension of the opening hours of any of those stations would necessitate the employment of more staff on indoor administrative duties who may be employed more productively on outdoor policing duties.

With regard to Garda resources generally, I am very pleased that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members on a phased basis, in line with the Agreed Programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

The Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. In this context, the needs of the various Garda stations throughout County Kildare 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 very significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. One thing I have already promised is that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties. They will be put directly into frontline, operational, high-visibility policing. They will have a real impact.

Missing Persons.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

212 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of people registered as missing at the present time; the extent to which the section dealing with this issue has adequate resources and staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21807/05]

I have made inquiries with the Garda authorities and the information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table. The figure for 2004 is provisional and liable to change.

Missing Persons Untraced 1990-2004.

Year

Missing Persons Untraced

1990

10

1991

11

1992

7

1993

9

1994

12

1995

17

1996

10

1997

3

1998

10

1999

15

2000

20

2001

53

2002

57

2003

58

2004

81

When a person is reported missing, the local Garda superintendent takes direct responsibility for the investigation and appoints an investigation team to include any specialised unit deemed necessary, for example, the national bureau of criminal investigation or the technical bureau. The Garda authorities have assured me that every effort is made to locate all missing persons and that they consider the current procedures for dealing with missing persons to be adequate. All files remain open and under continuous review. The procedures are also kept under constant review.

The Garda missing persons bureau is attached to Garda headquarters and is responsible for data relating to missing persons. It also has responsibility for the compilation and updating of data in this regard, along with the administration of the Irish missing children's website,www.missingkids.ie, launched in September 2004 in association with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. The Garda authorities are satisfied that adequate resources and staff are in place to deal with this issue and are in line with best international policing practice.

Question No. 213 answered with QuestionNo. 207.

Crime Levels.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

214 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour throughout County Kildare in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21809/05]

In respect of crime figures, the Deputy will be aware that on becoming Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I arranged for the publication of headline crime statistics on a quarterly basis in order to improve the quality of information available to the public. While caution should be exercised in interpreting levels of crime between quarters, I am pleased to note that during my term of office as Minister, the quarterly crime rate has decreased from 6.7 per 1,000 population to six per 1,000 over the longer period of 11 quarters for which figures are available. This trend is reflected throughout most Garda districts in the country.

In interpreting these figures, account must be taken of the introduction of the new PULSE computer system by the Garda Síochána in 1999, which led to more complete and comprehensive recording of crimes reported than was previously the case. Taking into account the significant increase in our population since 1995, the headline crime rate has fallen from 29 per 1,000 population in 1995 to 25 per 1,000 population in 2004. Statistics relating to 2000 and 2001 are not comparable with the statistics for subsequent years. This is due to the phased introduction of a new IT based charge and summons system by the Garda Síochána in 2001. The first full year captured on the new crime recording system for proceedings commenced was 2002.

Public order and assault offences for Carlow/Kildare Division 2000-2004.

District

Baltinglass

Carlow

Kildare

Naas

Total

Proceedings Commenced 2004*

215

1,230

798

757

3,000

Convictions 2004*

76

395

279

191

941

Proceedings Commenced 2003

227

1,144

972

897

3,240

Convictions 2003

88

467

449

422

1,426

Proceedings Commenced 2002

190

1,236

1,081

909

3,416

Convictions 2002

83

431

536

401

1,451

Proceedings Commenced 2001

60

620

380

331

1,391

Convictions 2001

34

243

191

146

614

Proceedings Commenced 2000

7

26

51

33

117

Convictions 2000

3

9

43

27

82

*Statistics for 2004 are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Garda Deployment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if consideration has been given to the formation of any Garda divisions or sub-divisions throughout County Kildare or affecting County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21810/05]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently no plans to change the formation of any Garda divisions, districts or sub-districts in County Kildare.

Garda Strength.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

216 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the personnel strength of all ranks of the Garda Síochána on 29 September 2003, nationally. [21860/05]

The personnel strength of all ranks of the Garda Síochána as at 30 September 2003 was 11,916. This is the nearest date for which figures are readily available. The personnel strength of all ranks of the Garda Síochána as at 22 June 2005 was 12,186. In respect of Garda resources generally, I am very pleased that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members on a phased line basis in line with the Agreed Programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

Crime Levels.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

217 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the provisional headline crime statistics for the Carlow-Kildare division in 2004; and the provisional detection rate. [21861/05]

In respect of crime figures, the Deputy will be aware that on becoming Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I arranged for the publication of headline crime statistics on a quarterly basis in order to improve the quality of information available to the public. While caution should be exercised in interpreting levels of crime between quarters, I am pleased to note that during my term of office as Minister, the quarterly crime rate has decreased from 6.7 per 1,000 population to six per 1,000 over the longer period of 11 quarters for which figures are available. This trend is reflected throughout most Garda districts in the country.

In interpreting these figures, account must be taken of the introduction of the new PULSE computer system by the Garda Síochána in 1999, which led to more complete and comprehensive recording of crimes reported than was previously the case. Taking into account the significant increase in our population since 1995, the headline crime rate has fallen from 29 per 1,000 population in 1995 to 25 per 1,000 population in 2004. The following table shows the headline offences for 2004 for the Carlow-Kildare division.

Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Carlow/ Kildare Division for 2004.

Year 2004

Recorded

Detected

Homicide

0

0

Assault

201

143

Sexual Offences

88

46

Arson

62

13

Drugs

87

86

Thefts

2,293

683

Burglary

1,634

204

Robbery

74

18

Fraud

169

115

Other

61

39

Total

4,669

1,347

*Statistics are provisional/operational and liable to change.

Criminal Prosecutions.

John Perry

Question:

218 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prosecutions that have been issued to motorists in County Sligo for uninsured and untaxed vehicles; if due to a lack of Garda check points many vehicles are uninsured and untaxed: the measures he will put in place to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21865/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that statistics are not compiled in such a way as to give a breakdown of prosecutions taken against motorists in County Sligo for untaxed and uninsured vehicles. The number of cases in which proceedings were commenced for the last three years within the Garda division of Sligo-Leitrim for no tax and for no insurance is shown in the following table.

Year

No Tax

No Insurance

2004*

421

50

2003

609

65

2002

524

53

*Figures for 2004 are provisional, operational and subject to change.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that enforcement of motor tax and insurance legislation is a daily activity of members of the Garda Síochána in County Sligo through both scheduled checkpoints and unscheduled checks. The variation in the numbers of cases in which proceedings were commenced is independent of the level of Garda enforcement activity.

Road Traffic Accidents.

John Perry

Question:

219 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the measures he has put in place since January 2004 to address the number of fatal road traffic accidents; the resources which have been made available to the Garda Síochána to address this in view of the many lives that are shattered as a result of a fatal road traffic accident; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21867/05]

The toll of deaths and serious injuries on our roads is a cause of serious concern for me. Huge strides have been made by the Government in improving the safety on our roads by building new ones, upgrading existing ones and setting appropriate speed limits. Unfortunately, the fact remains that all too many road users do not act responsibly in their use of the roads. In these circumstances, the Garda Síochána must give a high priority to enforcing the law with regard to road users. One of the strategic goals in the Government Road Safety Strategy 2004-2006 and the Garda Síochána Corporate Strategy 2005-2007 is reducing the incidence of fatal and serious injury collisions. There are significant developments under way in this area.

Last November I announced the establishment by the commissioner of a Garda traffic corps. The Deputy will also be aware 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 the commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government. As each cycle of recruit training is completed, the Garda Commissioner will assign these new members to the areas of greatest need with particular regard to certain priorities, which include the traffic corps. I am informed that the strength of the Garda traffic corps over the next four years will be as set out hereunder:

Year

Number

2005

563

2006

805

2007

1,030

2008

1,200

The traffic corps will reach its planned staffing complement in 2008. I also published the Garda strategic review of traffic policing last November. The strategic review is a blueprint for a transformation in the enforcement of road traffic law. A key recommendation of the strategic review is that a new position of assistant commissioner in charge of all aspects of road traffic law should be created. The Government subsequently approved the appointment of Mr. Eddie Rock as assistant commissioner and the Commissioner then gave him responsibility for traffic matters including the traffic corps. Assistant Commissioner Rock is a member of the top management team in the force and brings authority and visible leadership to the traffic corps from the outset. He has been tasked with implementing the recommendations contained in the strategic review of traffic policing.

The Government has also approved a new road safety strategy for the period 2004-06. The strategy proposes that 11.1 million vehicle speeding checks be carried out per year by the end of the strategy. In order to enable this target to be achieved, the strategy proposes that the Garda Síochána enter into arrangements for the engagement of a private sector concern for the purpose of the provision and operation of a nationwide programme for the detection of speeding offences. The strategy makes clear that the overall performance criteria to be applied to the outsourced detection of speeding offences would be determined by the Garda Síochána and camera detection facilities would be used at locations where the Garda Síochána determines there is an established or prospective risk of collisions. The purpose of the initiative will be to increase road safety and thereby reduce death and injuries, not increase revenue. Outsourcing of the operation of camera equipment would enable the Garda to withdraw from non-core policing matters and so would free up Garda resources for enforcement purposes, thus allowing gardaí to concentrate on detections requiring direct interception, such as driving while intoxicated.

A working group chaired by my Department, and consisting of representatives of the Garda Síochána, the Department of Transport and the National Roads Authority has reported to me and my colleague, the Minister for Transport, on how the provision, operation and processing of the output of speed cameras might operate. We expect to bring proposals to Government shortly. I am informed by the Garda authorities that each Garda division has identified 30 locations, utilising internal and external sources of information, where specific intercept enforcement can be conducted with a view to reducing deaths and injuries on our roads. Priority is given to the prevention and detection of drink driving, seat belt, speeding and road transport-road haulage offences. An ongoing monthly schedule of enforcement and visibility measures at 30 locations is being implemented. Locations and schedules are varied where appropriate.

In addition, co-ordinated national corridor operations are being conducted to ensure visibility and visible enforcement along national routes. National co-ordinated operations are also conducted targeting drink driving, where the focus is on access and egress routes to and from selected urban centres, and heavy goods vehicles, where the focus is on road transport-road haulage offences. I am further informed by the Garda Síochána that other road traffic initiatives are also undertaken locally based on local intelligence and available internal and external sources of information.

School Transport.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

220 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will provide information on the age of the school bus fleet with details of the number of buses in specific age categories with yearly intervals. [21760/05]

The specific information requested by the Deputy is not readily available. Bus Éireann informed my Department that the average age of its own large capacity bus fleet is 16 years. The average age of all vehicles used is 11.5 years.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

221 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will provide details of the school bus fleet with a breakdown of the number of buses in each capacity range. [21761/05]

The following is a breakdown of the number and type of vehicles used for school transport. Bus Éireann has 650 large buses and two mini-buses. It contracts out 462, 450 and 1,213 large buses, medium buses and mini-buses, respectively. Contractor cars number 255. The above figures were extracted by Bus Éireann from the October 2004 census.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

222 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will provide details of the school bus fleet with details of the number of coaches which have seat belts; the number which are capable of having seat belts retrofitted and the number which are not. [21762/05]

Bus Éireann has advised my Department that the most recent figures available indicate that 1,590 vehicles have seat belts and 1,483 are without seat belts. The vehicles with belts include taxis. The question of retrofitting vehicles with seat belts is being assessed to establish which buses are suitable.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

223 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide details of the number of school buses which are driven by Bus Éireann drivers; and the training that is provided to them for this purpose. [21763/05]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

224 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide details of the number of school buses which are driven by non-Bus Éireann drivers together with details of the qualifications and training required of these drivers. [21764/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 and 224 together.

The following is a breakdown of the number of vehicles which are driven by Bus Éireann drivers and non-Bus Éireann drivers. Bus Éireann has 650 large buses and two mini-buses. It contracts out 462, 450 and 1,213 large buses, medium buses and mini-buses respectively. Contractor cars number 255. The above figures were extracted by Bus Éireann from the October 2004 census.

Bus Éireann school bus drivers are required to undergo a pre-employment medical examination by a nominated doctor and may be subject to ongoing medical review. All Bus Éireann school bus drivers must hold a current driving licence appropriate to the size of vehicles they are required to drive. The company also provides training to bring drivers up to the requisite standard, if necessary. In addition, Bus Éireann school bus drivers must pass a driving assessment conducted by specially trained and qualified Bus Éireann inspectors. Vehicle familiarisation with different types of school buses is carried out on an ongoing basis. Bus Éireann school bus drivers have also attended a disability awareness training course, especially designed to take account of the requirements of children with special needs who travel under the school transport scheme. This course is ongoing at the present.

Contractor school bus drivers are required to undergo a pre-employment medical examination by a nominated doctor and may be subject to ongoing medical review by the chief medical officer of CIE. It is a condition of the contract agreement that no persons shall be allowed to drive a school bus if having been requested, they refuse to submit themselves for medical examination or if they are certified unfit. All contractors must hold a current driving licence appropriate to the size of vehicles they are required to drive. Bus Éireann maintains a record of driving licences on file for all nominated contractor school bus drivers.

Bus Éireann extended the disability awareness training course for its own personnel to include contractors and their school bus drivers who drive services under the school transport scheme for children with special needs. This training course is ongoing at present. Contractors, as independent private bus operators, may at their own discretion provide additional training for their employees.

School Staffing.

Paul McGrath

Question:

225 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will investigate the allocation of resource teaching facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath in order that a person and others who have had assessments and recommendations for resource hours have the facilities to which they are entitled. [21668/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

246 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that resource teachers allocated to a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath have been reduced from four to 1.4 for the forthcoming academic year; if she is satisfied that this is adequate; if she is further satisfied with these arrangements; if she will immediately order a review of this provision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21836/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 225 and 246 together.

As the Deputies are aware, a new general allocation scheme has been announced under which schools will be provided with resource teaching hours based on their enrolment figures to cater for children with high incidence special needs, such as dyslexia, and those with learning support needs. The general allocation for the school in question is one full-time teaching post and ten part-time hours. The school may also retain 2.5 part-time hours under transitional arrangements.

I can confirm that the school contacted my Department with a proposal to retain additional resource teaching posts in the school. My officials recently agreed a position with the school authorities resulting in the retention of extra resource teaching posts through a combination of general allocation hours, low incidence hours and also transitional hours. Liaison with the school is ongoing in this regard. It is a matter for each school to determine the pupils with high incidence special education and learning support needs who will receive this support. Each school will have enough resource teaching hours to provide its pupils with a level of support appropriate to their needs. The school can then use its professional judgment to decide how these hours are divided between different children in the school to ensure all their needs are met.

Research shows that some children with special needs will respond better with one-to-one tuition. Others do better when taught in small groups. Often, it is best for resource teachers to work with children in the classroom rather than taking them away to a separate room as the children then have to catch up on work done by the rest of the class in their absence. The type of response needed depends on the child. I can confirm that the local special educational needs organiser, SENO, will meet with the school authorities in the coming days to discuss a number of issues concerning special education resources in the school. This discussion will also include the special educational needs, SEN, of the pupil in question.

School Accommodation.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

226 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science the further work which has been undertaken by her Department with a view to providing the long overdue secondary school on the Donabate-Portrane peninsula, County Dublin; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the community is voicing a consensus on the CDVEC as the patron body, has a free site and has a large demand for places in such a new school; when this community will have local secondary education by way of a school. [21669/05]

Officials in the school planning section of my Department are carrying out a review of educational needs in the north Dublin-east Meath-south Louth area, including Donabate and Portrane, by way of a draft area development plan. The need for a post-primary school in Donabate is being considered in this context. The draft plan is nearing completion and I hope to be in a position to publish it shortly. Following this, a public consultation process will be conducted by the commission on school accommodation. The process will culminate in a final area development plan that will provide a blueprint for educational infrastructure in the area for the next decade including the need or otherwise to provide a post-primary school in Donabate.

School Staffing.

Billy Timmins

Question:

227 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if she will allocate the extra teacher; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21670/05]

The staffing of this school for the 2005-06 school year was considered by the appeals board on 14 June 2005. The board, having considered the appeal with regard to the criteria outlined in Department circular 19-02, was satisfied that a departure from the staffing schedule is not warranted in this case. The board of management of the school was notified in writing of the decision of the appeals board on 15 June 2005. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to intervene in the operations of the independent appeals board.

School Transport.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

228 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that pupils attending a primary school (details supplied) in County Carlow have to wait almost half an hour after school finishes to be collected by the school bus; the person who is responsible for minding the children during this time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21671/05]

The school transport appeals board considered an appeal in this case and found that the present level of service to the school referred to by the Deputy in the details supplied is reasonable and that the benefits of an exclusive service would not justify the costs involved. The question of the legal responsibility for the safety of children while boarding or alighting a school bus or while waiting for a service can only be determined having regard to the particular circumstances of each case, including the age of the children in question.

School Staffing.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

229 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason her Department decided to let go three teachers in a primary school (details supplied) in Dublin 24; if this decision means a 20% reduction in the teaching staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21672/05]

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 the Department of Education and Science and the education partners. In the current school year, the staffing of the school referred to by the Deputy comprises a principal and ten mainstream class teachers based on an enrolment of 273 pupils at 30 September 2003. In addition, the school has two learning support posts and three resource teaching posts.

In accordance with the staffing schedule that issued recently to boards of management, the mainstream staffing of the school for the 2005-06 school year will be a principal and nine mainstream class teachers based on an enrolment of 238 pupils at 30 September 2004. To ensure openness and transparency in the system, an independent appeal board is now in place. The criteria under which an appeal can be made are set out in the Department of Education and Science's primary circular 19-02, which is also available on its website. The appeal board met on 14 June and will meet again in July and October to consider appeals on the mainstream teaching allocation to schools for the 2005-06 school year.

The closing dates for appeals for the forthcoming July and October meetings are 24 June and 7 October 2005 respectively. Appeals must be submitted to the primary payments section, Department of Education and Science, Athlone on the standard application form, clearly stating the criteria under which they are being made. The application form is available from the primary payments section of my Department or on my Department's website. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to intervene in the operation of the independent appeal board.

I recently announced the introduction of a general allocation model to provide for teaching supports for pupils with high incidence disabilities and those with learning support requirements. Two posts have been allocated to the school referred to in respect of this cohort of pupils. Individual allocations of resource teaching support for pupils with low incidence disabilities will continue to be provided on the basis of an individual application for each child. Such applications are processed by the local special educational needs organiser. My Department's records indicate that this school is eligible to retain one post in respect of pupils with low incidence special educational needs for the forthcoming school year. The net effect is that the school will be retaining three of its special education posts to cater for the needs of pupils with learning difficulties and special educational needs for the forthcoming school year. The levels are appropriate in the context of reducing enrolments and the current number of pupils with special educational needs requiring a service. I am satisfied that the resources available to the school are sufficient to provide for the ongoing needs of these pupils.

Institutes of Technology.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

230 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason for the delay in announcing budgetary decisions for capital projects; when she will provide capital funding for the Tallaght Institute of Technology; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21673/05]

The Deputy will be aware that since November 2004, I have made a series of announcements regarding capital projects across all three sectors. Accordingly, I do not accept the Deputy's suggestion that there has been a delay in announcing budgetary decisions for capital projects. In November 2004, I ended the freeze on third level capital funding following the report of the review group on the prioritisation of all capital projects in the third level sector, the Kelly report, when I gave immediate approval for key projects in the sector. The projects selected were identified as being of a high national priority and include a number of new facilities to support the provision of additional health skills places and the expansion of teacher training places.

I also announced the reintroduction of a devolved grant scheme for minor capital works in the institutes of technology sector. The Institute of Technology, Tallaght received funding under this scheme. These announcements are the first steps in the process of addressing the infrastructural deficit in the third level sector. There are many further higher education projects recommended for funding in the Kelly report, including the projects at the Tallaght institute. I am considering how best to advance a number of these projects in the context of the capital envelope of funding available to me.

School Staffing.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

231 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason eight full-time special needs assistants employed at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24 will be required to present for interview for four full-time and five part-time special needs assistant posts in September 2005 when most of the staff have three years' service with the school; the reason specific purposes contracts have been issued to special needs staff who were informed at the start that their posts would be permanent and pensionable; the reason there are no agreements in place with regard to issues of redundancy for special needs assistants who may be let go after three years' service; the reason the school in question has not been informed of the type of contracts that will be issued to the special needs assistants in September 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21681/05]

There are eight SNAs employed in this school at present, some of whom are catering for the needs of pupils enrolled in special classes attached to the school. The school has sanction for four full-time posts and five part-time posts from next September. My Department has recently issued a letter to schools which have surplus SNA staff that contained guidelines for schools in selecting staff that should be let go. The letter confirmed that the selection criteria for determining whose contract should be terminated will be on a last in, first out, LIFO, basis subject to the contractual position pertaining in schools. This means that, unless the most junior SNA in the school has a written child specific contract that entitles her or him to remain in the school, her or his contract should be terminated on the basis that she or he is the most junior SNA in the school in terms of length of service.

If, however, the school has operated on the basis of employing all SNAs on child specific contracts and offered such contracts to the SNAs, it is the SNA who is attached to the child who has been identified as no longer needing the services of an SNA that should be released. I can also confirm that my Department has recently agreed with the union representing SNAs the issue of compensation payments for SNAs who may be let go after a number of years' service or who may have their posts reduced from full-time to part-time. Details of this agreement will be made available to schools as soon as possible.

An official of my Department has spoken with the principal of the school in question in respect of the issues raised by the Deputy. It appears that the eight SNAs currently employed in the school all had child specific contracts and all of the children in respect of whom those contracts applied will have left the school by the end of this school year. In the circumstances and as it is considered that all of its SNAs were out of contract, the school was proposing to interview for the posts that it has sanction for in September.

It is the case that as some of the SNAs who had child specific contracts have been re-assigned to other children without any change being made to their contract, the school may have been operating ade facto seniority system rather than a child specific contract system. In the circumstances my Department has advised the school to raise the matter with the relevant school management body and to seek advice from that body as to how it should proceed. My Department has also advised the school that it may if it wishes combine the part-time posts to form full-time posts subject to it being satisfied that the needs of the children would be satisfactorily catered for under such an arrangement. I would add that if it is the case that current SNA staff are made redundant or have their posts reduced from full-time posts to part-time posts, the compensation scheme recently agreed with the union representing SNAs will apply.

Special Educational Needs.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

232 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science if the necessary facilities will be sanctioned, approved and put in place from the point of view of classroom, full-time resource teaching and special needs assistance for 13 year old twins with autism to enable them to begin secondary education at a school (details supplied) in Cork South-West on 1 September 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21718/05]

The National Council for Special Education, NCSE, has been established as an independent statutory body with responsibilities as set out in the National Council for Special Education (establishment) Order 2003. With effect from 1 January 2005, the NCSE through local special educational needs organisers, SENOs, will process resource applications for children with special educational needs. Where a pupil with special educational needs enrols in a post-primary school, it is open to the school to apply to the local SENO for additional teaching support and-or special needs assistant support for the pupil.

The NCSE has confirmed to my Department that an application for additional resources for the pupils referred to by the Deputy has been received and is currently being processed. My Department's school planning section is also processing an application received from the management authority concerned for the provision of additional accommodation to accommodate the pupils in question.

Departmental Staff.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

233 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of principal officers, assistant principal officers and higher executive officers in her Department; the number who can provide a comprehensive service through the medium of the Irish Language. [21719/05]

There are 278 officers serving in principal, assistant principal and higher executive officer posts in my Department. As part of the preparation of a three year scheme under section 11 of the Official Languages Act 2003, staff in my Department were surveyed and asked to identify their fluency in the Irish language. An analysis of the survey showed that 13 officers in PO, AP and HEO posts considered themselves to have fluent Irish and to be able to deliver a comprehensive service through Irish. In addition to these 13 officers, there would be others who would have a degree of fluency in the Irish language but who do not consider themselves able to deliver a comprehensive service through Irish. Under section 13 of the Act, public bodies have a duty to ensure that an adequate number of its staff are competent in the Irish language. The Department's scheme under section 11 of the Act will identify how this will be addressed.

School Staffing.

Pat Breen

Question:

234 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Question No. 199 of 12 May 2004, if the local SENO has made direct contact with the school authorities (details supplied) regarding a special needs assistant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21737/05]

As the Deputy is aware, the National Council for Special Education, NCSE, has been operational since 1 January 2005 and is responsible for processing applications for special educational needs, SEN, supports. My officials have been advised by the NCSE that the local special educational needs organiser, SENO, has examined the application for the pupil in question. I can confirm that the pupil has been sanctioned five hours' resource teaching support and access to a full-time special needs assistant. The school authorities have been notified accordingly.

Teachers’ Remuneration.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

235 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason arrears were not awarded to teachers. [21739/05]

The management authorities of schools must employ qualified teachers for casual substitute and part-time teaching where possible. Where a suitably qualified teacher is not available, they may engage an unqualified person while continuing to actively seek a qualified replacement. Prior to December 2001, all part-time and substitute teachers in post-primary schools were paid a standard hourly rate of pay. With the introduction of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001, the Department introduced separate rates of payment for qualified and unqualified substitute and part-time teachers. Interim arrears backdated to December 2001 were paid by the schools to qualified substitute and part-time teachers, for example, teachers who hold a degree with teaching subjects and a higher diploma in education.

School Staffing.

Pat Carey

Question:

236 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Education and Science if, in view of the special circumstances of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 11, the staffing allocation will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21740/05]

The school referred to by the Deputy is included in the disadvantaged areas scheme, DAS, and the Giving Children an Even Break programme, GCEB. Under the scheme, the school benefits from additional capitation grants of €38.09per capita, a refund of the television licence fee and eligibility for 95% building grants for building projects. Designated disadvantaged schools are included in the home school community liaison scheme and the school has access to the services of a shared home school community liaison co-ordinator.

Under the urban dimension of Giving Children an Even Break, the school is benefiting from supplementary funding to provide additional educational supports for pupils who are considered to be at risk of educational disadvantage and early school leaving. The level of funding provided under this scheme is commensurate with the number of "at risk" pupils in the school. The school is not considered eligible for additional teaching staff under this scheme based on the level of concentration of at risk pupils within its enrolment.

As the Deputy will be aware, a new general allocation scheme has been announced under which schools will be provided with resource teaching hours based on their enrolment figures to cater for children with high incidence special needs such as dyslexia and those with learning support needs. The introduction of this new system will involve the provision of an estimated additional 340 permanent posts in primary schools from September next. A further 320 posts are being provided on a temporary basis to facilitate the transition to the new system and to ensure continuity of service for children who have previously been given an individual allocation until those children leave the primary school system.

The original allocation to the school was one post and 15 part-time hours. However, on consideration of the contents of the correspondence referred to by the Deputy, the general allocation has been increased to two teaching posts. This decision has been communicated to the school authorities. In addition, the school in question may be able to form an additional teaching post based on low incidence hours in the school. My officials are liaising with the school principal regarding the matter. I can confirm that the school's resource teaching allocation under the new scheme is based on its status as a mixed school, for instance, the first post is allocated at 145:1. Schools whose allocations are based on 80:1 are those disadvantaged schools that are specifically eligible for additional staffing under the urban dimension of the Giving Children an Even Break scheme. This school is not eligible for such additional staffing and so does not qualify for the special 80:1 ratio for resource teacher allocation.

Schools Building Projects.

Phil Hogan

Question:

237 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science when a design team will be appointed for the construction of a new school on behalf of the board of management of a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21741/05]

The Deputy should be aware that the school to which he refers is on the list of schools to begin architectural planning, which I published in March 2005. The design team will be Department-led and officials in the school building section will be in contact with the school authorities shortly.

School Accommodation.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

238 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the provision of additional accommodation at a school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the current progress on the provision of this extension as five teachers out of a staff of 11 are teaching in temporary accommodation such as prefabs and portacabins. [21742/05]

The extension project at the school to which the Deputy refers has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria. The project will be considered in the context of the School Buildings and Modernisation Programme 2005-2009.

Grant Payments.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

239 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wexford has not been awarded the transport grant from the Department of Education in respect of transport for their child; when payment will restart; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21743/05]

The family referred to in the details supplied were paid a grant to the end of May 2005. My Department is currently considering the provision of suitable transport for the child in question.

School Staffing.

Denis Naughten

Question:

240 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will meet with a delegation (details supplied) in County Roscommon; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21776/05]

An independent appeals board was established to adjudicate on appeals from boards of management on mainstream staffing teacher allocations in primary schools. The appeals board operates independently of the Minister and the Department and its decision is final. A circular outlining these procedures issued to all primary schools. The staffing of the school referred to by the Deputy for the 2005-06 school year was considered by the appeals board on 14 June 2005 and the board of management of the school was notified in writing of the decision of the appeals board on 16 June 2005. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to intervene in the operations of the independent appeals board. Accordingly, I am not in a position to meet with a delegation on this matter.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

241 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the cost to her Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21830/05]

There were no costs incurred by my Department in respect of the two Nice treaty referenda.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

242 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to her Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21831/05]

All EU directives currently in force for which my Department has responsibility have been transposed into Irish law.

Schools Funding.

Finian McGrath

Question:

243 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will give the maximum support and financial assistance to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5 in 2005 and 2006. [21832/05]

As a result of measures intended to streamline the funding allocation process, my Department now provides a budget allocation to the CABAS Kilbarrack pilot project on a school year basis. These arrangements were implemented during the 2003-04 school year. For the 2004-05 school year, CABAS Dublin was allocated a budget of €1,006,321.61 to cater for 24 children. The funding allocation for the 2005-06 school year will represent an increase on this figure to take into account the additional resources required to fund the expansion of CABAS to cater for 30 children.

Irish Language.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

244 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education and Science the action she proposes to take in respect of the teaching of Irish in the Gaeltacht in view of the recent COGG report relating to the position of Irish in Gaeltacht schools, and also in view of the apparent dramatic drop in standards; if she will furnish any information available regarding the standard of Irish in other schools throughout the country. [21833/05]

The recent report of the Irish language commissioner highlighted the fact that despite appreciable time devoted to Irish in the school system, many students emerge from primary and post-primary education without achieving a reasonable command of the language. Particular concerns were raised about students' command of the spoken language. The report by An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta raised similar concerns about the level of Irish being used in Gaeltacht schools.

While I accept that the standard of oral Irish in particular of many of our young people is not as it should be, it is important to note that significant efforts have been made by my Department in recent years to improve standards in the teaching and learning of Irish in our schools. The revised Irish language programme at primary level places a strong emphasis on oral Irish. This programme, implemented in all schools since September 2003 and supported by extensive in-service training by the primary curriculum support programme, should bring significant improvement to the standard of spoken Irish over time. This development at primary level complemented similar curricular changes at second level where syllabus reform is ongoing.

Significant improvements are being made in regard to the provision of materials and resources for the teaching of Irish. An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta has been established to advance this area and to provide support services for schools. Funding has been provided to An Chomhairle to support this task and I know that this is an area that will need further work. Marino Institute of Education now provides Irish courses at different levels for teachers and an enhanced range of supports for those studying for the Scrúdú le hAghaidh Cailíochta sa Ghaeilge has been put in place.

At the request of my Department, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, is carrying out a review of languages in the post-primary curriculum, which will include Irish. My Department has invited the Council of Europe to carry out an analysis of language practice at primary and post-primary levels. The position of Irish will be a particular consideration during this analysis. A team of international experts will complement the NCCA's review. The Council of Europe's report will be due in 2006.

The inspectorate of my Department, on foot of a major review of Irish language policies carried out in the Department last year, has recently prepared an internal report for policy discussion regarding areas where further improvements could be made. The Coimisinéir Teanga, along with other interest groups, contributed to that process. The inspectorate is currently preparing a composite report on the teaching and learning of Irish in the junior cycle in post-primary schools. This report will be based on evaluations that were carried out in 75, just over 10%, of post-primary schools during 2004-05. It will provide evidence-based findings on strengths and weaknesses and will contain recommendations for improvement to support schools, teachers and the system in general. I have also recently met with An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta to discuss further improvements that could be made to support schools in improving the teaching and learning of Irish and to promote high quality education through the medium of Irish.

It is important to note that the issue of promoting the Irish language is not one that can be advanced by schools alone. Societal attitudes to the Irish language certainly impact on students' desire to learn it. This Government has demonstrated a clear commitment to promoting our national language. It is hoped that the continuing initiatives in education along with the increased emphasis on the use of Irish in the Official Languages Act 2003 will create in time a positive climate whereby students will realise the value of learning our native language. As a consequence, language competence will prosper.

Schools Funding.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

245 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science if funding will be increased and if she will grant parity of funding to the National Office of Educate Together due to the major development of Educate Together schools in the Dublin region and elsewhere here and the continuing and expanding strong contribution of Educate Together to Irish primary education. [21835/05]

My Department is currently engaged in discussions with Educate Together in respect of annual funding. The provision of some additional funding in 2005, to meet the immediate issues of concern to Educate Together is under discussion with their longer term needs. The current level of funding my Department provides to Educate Together as a school management body is on a par with that provided to Foras Patrunachta na Gaelscoileanna, the Church of Ireland Board of Education, the Islamic Board of Education and the National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education.

Regarding support for the establishment of new multi-denominational schools, it should be noted that my Department has supported the establishment of many new Educate Together schools in recent years. Of the 24 new schools granted provisional recognition in the past three years, 12 of them are under Educate Together patronage. My Department has made a number of changes in recent years that have made the provision of accommodation for new schools much easier. One of these changes, strongly welcomed by Educate Together, was the abolition of the local contribution to the building costs for State-owned school buildings, which had cost up to €63,500 per school. Other innovations include the development of the design and build model to provide permanent accommodation much faster, such as in the case of the new Educate Together school in Griffeen Valley, Lucan, which was designed and built in under 13 months.

Question No. 246 answered with QuestionNo. 225.

Adult Education.

David Stanton

Question:

247 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the report (details supplied) published by the ESRI; if the findings of the report that in education people with disabilities aged 25 to 34 are four times less likely to have a qualification beyond primary level and are half as likely to reach third level as their peers; her plans to address this situation. [21837/05]

There is evidence to confirm that the proportion of students with a disability is growing in third level. The preliminary results of a recent survey of participation in third level conducted by the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability, AHEAD, indicate that participation by students with a disability in third level education has improved over the past five years and in 2003-04 represented 2.4% or 2,732 of all undergraduate students in higher education institutions compared to a participation rate of 0.6% ten years before in 1994.

A substantial proportion of this rise in participation is accounted for by increased participation or identification of students with specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, who form over 52% of students with a disability. Other categories and percentages include 16% who have a mobility disability, 5% who are blind or visually impaired, 7% who are deaf or hard of hearing, 8% who have mental health difficulties and 12% who have other disabilities. The fund for students with disabilities, which is administered by the national office, provides support for students who have serious sensory, physical or learning disabilities. The aim of the fund is to assist students with disabilities to access and participate fully in higher and further education by providing support for the provision of equipment and services.

The types of supports and assistance for which funding can be sought fall into three broad categories, namely, assisting technology equipment and software, such as AT items that are directly linked to the students disability, learning support, including personal assistance, and transport, for example, for students with a physical disability who cannot avail of public transport. Under the fund for students with disabilities for the 2004-05 academic year, the total number of individual students provided with funding was 1,459 with 332 group applications also benefiting. The total amount allocated under this fund for 2004-05 was €6.7 million.

In addition to the above, the enactment of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 and the establishment of the National Council for Special Education, which has been operational since 1 January 2005, provide a legislative and structural framework for the support of all children with disabilities. The Act provides a comprehensive legislative framework to govern the delivery of these services while the establishment of the National Council for Special Education will improve and speed up the delivery of services to pupils with special needs, their parents and schools.

I would point out to the Deputy that the Government has provided an unprecedented level of resources to enable children with disabilities to achieve their full potential. As of next September, there will be over 5,000 teachers in our primary schools working directly with children with special needs, including those requiring learning support. This compares to under 1,500 in 1998. One of every five primary school teachers is now working specifically with children with special needs. Furthermore, the number of special needs assistants has increased from approximately 300 in 1998 to over 6,300 today. I can assure the Deputy that the Government is deeply committed to improving services for children with special needs.

School Transport.

John Perry

Question:

248 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) with regard to school transport and the waiving of the fees in view of the fact that she has three children attending school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21849/05]

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

Schools Refurbishment.

John Perry

Question:

249 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that despite pre-election promises made by the Government for a school (details supplied) in County Sligo the school has to embark on a fund-raising campaign to generate revenue; when the necessary approval will be granted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21866/05]

The project at the school to which the Deputy refers has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria. The project will be considered in the context of the School Buildings and Modernisation Programme 2005-2009.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

250 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Defence the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21752/05]

Costs were incurred in the administration of the postal vote facility for Permanent Defence Force, PDF, personnel and in the transport by the Defence Forces of ballot papers to and from certain offshore islands by helicopter. Due to the nature of their duties, PDF personnel are provided with a postal vote facility. When an election or referendum is called, the military authorities are responsible for the sorting and preparation of postal votes for distribution to all military units both at home and overseas.

Full detailed figures in respect of the costs incurred by this Department in respect of the activities outlined above are not readily available. However, an outline of the approximate additional costs incurred by the Department, where available, in respect of military pay over and above normal pay and allowances and other non-pay items relating to the second Nice referendum held on 19 October 2002 is set out in the following table. An approximately similar figure would have been expended on the first Nice referendum.

Estimated Additional Cost to Department of Defence in relation to 26th Amendment to the Constitution Bill (2002) Treaty of Nice Referendum held on 19 October, 2002.

Item

Estimated Cost

Administrative Work — 20 military personnel on special duties

3,400

Private Courier Services

400

Military Overseas Couriers: Travel & Subsistence, excluding airline tickets cost — figure not available

14,000

Military helicopter services to offshore islands

4,000

Total

21,800

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

251 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Defence the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that these outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21753/05]

The question does not arise at present in so far as my Department is concerned.

Local Authority Housing.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

252 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of housing completions nationally for the years 2000-2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21648/05]

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

253 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of housing starts in County Kildare for the years 2000-2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21647/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 252 and 253 together.

Numbers of actual housing starts by the three local authorities in County Kildare under their construction-acquisition programmes for the years 2000-04 are set out in the following table.

Local Authority

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Kildare County Council

177

204

7

86

232

Athy Town Council

2

0

7

9

10

Naas Town Council

11

66

1

2

0

Local authorities completed or acquired 3,207 housing units nationally in 2000, 5,022 units in 2001, 5,074 units in 2002, 4,972 units in 2003 and 4,510 units in 2004. Detailed information on the number of local authority houses completed-acquired by local authorities for the years 2000 to 2004 is available on the Department's website atwww.environ.ie.

EU Directives.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

254 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures he proposes to take to implement the nitrates directive particularly in the catchment areas of such water bodies as Lough Corrib and Lough Carra in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21650/05]

Ireland's national nitrates action programme will be introduced on 1 January 2006 and will apply in all areas. The programme will provide for a range of measures differentiated by zone to protect waters against pollution by nitrates from agricultural sources and will include measures such as set periods when land application of fertilisers is prohibited, limits on the land application of fertilisers, livestock manure storage requirements and monitoring of the effectiveness of measures.

Natural Heritage Areas.

Paul McGrath

Question:

255 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason an application for a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath lodged in September 2004 for permission to sell bogland in an NHA has not been processed; and if this application will be expedited. [21709/05]

In July 2004, my Department concluded an agreement with the farming pillar under Sustaining Progress that involved increased rates of compensation for the cessation of turfcutting in bogs that have been proposed as designated conservation areas. Since this agreement, there has been significant interest in the scheme and a very large volume of applications have been received. I have been advised that the application from the person referred to was received in my Department on 12 January 2005. The application is currently being processed and my Department will be in contact with the applicant shortly.

Architectural Heritage.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

256 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the establishment of an Irish National Trust; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21710/05]

Policy on the protection of the built heritage has been under review and in this context I will be bringing proposals to Government for the establishment of a trust type organisation to acquire and manage significant heritage properties. This trust should have a strong commercial focus and could be an alternative to State ownership in appropriate cases.

Planning Issues.

Dan Boyle

Question:

257 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the large number of quarries throughout the country that are now applying for retrospective planning permission; and the extent to which the local authorities that are determining these decisions are accessing materials from these unapproved sites. [21711/05]

My Department does not have detailed information on the number of applications for retention planning permission currently being made for quarries. It may be that a number of such pre-October 1964 quarries are taking the opportunity to regularise their position under the planning code in the context of the new registration process mandated by section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Section 261 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, which was commenced from 28 April 2004, introduced a once-off system of registration for all quarries, except those for which planning permission has been granted in the last five years. Under the registration system, quarry operators must supply full details of their operations to the planning authority, including information on the area of the quarry, the material being extracted, the hours of operation and the traffic, noise and dust generated by the quarry. This information was required to be supplied within a year, for example, by 27 April 2005.

Regarding quarries that have registered, a planning authority may restate, modify or add to conditions on the operation of a quarry that has received planning permission over five years ago. A planning authority may also impose conditions on the operation of a pre-October 1964 quarry or, if such a quarry would be likely to have significant effects on the environment and has an extracted area that is greater than five hectares, it must require an application for planning permission and the submission of an environmental impact statement.

Guidelines on quarries and ancillary activities to assist with the implementation of section 261 were issued to planning authorities at the time the section was commenced. Local authorities have also been reminded by my Department on a number of occasions, most recently in the memorandum on grants for non-national roads of February 2001, that there should be full compliance with the planning laws in relation to any proposed use of land as temporary quarries during the duration of any works.

Air Pollution.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

258 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21713/05]

Under the Air Pollution Act 1987, as amended by the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, primary responsibility for monitoring air quality and the nature, extent and effects of emissions rests with local authorities. Statutory responsibility for the enforcement of the Act is vested in local authorities and they are empowered to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit air pollution. They may direct a person on whom notice is served to take such measures as may be specified to prevent or limit air pollution. Pollutant in this context includes a substance that gives rise to odour.

In the case of activities licensable by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, as amended by the Protection of the Environment Act 2003, responsibility for the proper management of odours by the activities concerned is a matter for the agency. The rural environment protection scheme, administered by the Department of Agriculture and Food, requires that participating farmers do not spread slurry within 50 metres of any school grounds, public building or amenity area. A buffer strip of up to 50 metres is recommended where land spreading takes place adjacent to private dwellings. In addition, slurry must only be applied with low trajectory spreaders, band spreaders or injection methods.

A number of local authorities have also issued good practice guidelines to farmers for slurry and fertiliser spreading in order to minimise any environmental impact. Finally, Ireland's nitrates action programme, which will come into effect on 1 January 2006, will provide for a range of measures to strengthen the application of good agricultural practice in all areas. These measures, in tandem with the measures already in place, will considerably reduce the problems of odour from slurry.

Departmental Expenditure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

259 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the cost to his Department related to the two Nice treaty referenda. [21815/05]

No costs are incurred directly by my Department by the holding of a referendum. Costs incurred by returning officers in this regard are recouped to them from the Central Fund by the Department of Finance. Details of the costs involved are not available in my Department.

EU Directives.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

260 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number, title and purpose of the EU directives not yet incorporated into law relating to his Department’s work; and when it is envisaged that this outstanding directives will be incorporated into Irish law in each case. [21816/05]

There are currently seven directives in my Department's area of responsibility that are outstanding for transposition. Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles contains two stages of transposition, the first by 21 April 2002, for new vehicles sold after 1 July 2002, and the second by January 2007 for all other vehicles. It is anticipated that this directive will be fully transposed in 2005.

The second is Directive 2002/49/EC on assessment and management of environmental noise, for which the drafting of regulations for transposition is well advanced and transposition is intended during this summer. The third and fourth are Directive 2002/88/EC on measures against the emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants from internal combustion engines to be installed in non-road mobile machinery and Directive 2004/26/EC amending Directive 97/68/EC on the approximation of the laws of member states relating to emissions from internal combustion engines in non-mobile road machinery. Draft regulations transposing both directives are nearing completion with a view to transposition during this summer.

Directive 2002/95/EC and 2002/96/EC with its amending Directive 2003/108/EC are two related directives and deal respectively with restrictions on the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and arrangements for dealing with waste electrical and electronic equipment. These directives will be fully transposed before 13 August 2005 when the take-back of electrical and electronic waste will become operable. Legislative proposals for the transposition of Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information, repealing Directive 90/313/EEC, are in drafting. It is intended that this directive will be transposed by the end of the year.

I am keenly aware of the importance of timely transposition of EU environmental legislation, some 200 items of which, including more than 140 directives, have by now been transposed in this country. More recently, external legal and drafting expertise have been utilised in order to expedite this.

Radon Gas Levels.

John Perry

Question:

261 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of homes in County Sligo where high levels of radon are present; his plans to introduce grant aid to home owners for the provision of radon barriers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21864/05]

During the years 1992 to 1999, the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, RPII, carried out a national survey of radon concentration levels in domestic dwellings aimed at assessing the extent of the radon problem in homes. The survey involved the measurement by the RPII of radon for a 12 month period in a random selection of homes in each 10 km by 10 km grid square throughout the country, involving a total of over 11,000 houses.

Of the 270 homes measured for radon in County Sligo during the survey, 54 or 20% exceeded the national reference level of 200 Becquerels per cubic metre, Bq/m3, and the average concentration level was 145 Bq/m3. The highest level measured in the county was 969Bq/m3. Over the years, the Government, largely through the RPII, has committed significant resources to assessing the extent of the radon problem throughout the country and to increasing public awareness of radon. While the provision of Exchequer grant assistance for remediation works is not envisaged, efforts will continue to be directed at improving information to householders so as to enable them to address monitoring or remedial requirements effectively and economically. Radon detection kits are widely available from general hardware stores at a cost of approximately €40.

Upgraded building regulations introduced in June 1997 require all new houses that commenced construction on or after 1 July 1998 to incorporate radon protection measures. In October 2004, my Department published an updated edition of Technical Guidance Document C, TGD-C, on Part C of the Building Regulations — Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture, incorporating enhanced radon prevention measures for new buildings commencing on or after 1 April 2005. This new guidance document is aimed at ensuring that the 1997 radon protection measures are carried out more effectively. Both the RPII and my Department will continue to use all appropriate opportunities to raise public awareness of radon, to urge householders, particularly those in high radon areas, to have their homes tested for radon and to encourage householders with radon concentrations above the national reference level to undertake the appropriate remediation works.