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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 8 Nov 2005

Vol. 609 No. 3

Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies received from the Departments. [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 7 to 106, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 107 to 115, inclusive, answered orally.

School Transport.

Shane McEntee

Question:

116 Mr. McEntee asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will review the catchment boundaries for school transport services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32723/05]

Liz McManus

Question:

164 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science when school catchment boundaries will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32768/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 164 together.

Catchment boundaries have their origins in the establishment of free post-primary education in the late 1960s and were determined following consultation with local educational interests. For planning purposes the country was divided into geographic districts each with several primary schools feeding into a post-primary centre with one or more post-primary schools. The intention was and continues to be that these defined districts facilitate the orderly planning of school provision and accommodation needs.

I do not propose to have a general countrywide review of catchment boundaries. However, reviews of specific catchment boundaries may be carried out where appropriate. A number of reviews have been carried out over the years where, for example, a new post-primary school is established in an area where previously there was none or, conversely, where a "sole provider" school closes due to declining enrolment.

The area development planning initiative, involving an extensive consultative process carried out by the commission on school accommodation, will also inform future revisions to catchment areas. An area development plan takes account of demographic changes and projects future enrolments for existing schools and new schools if required. Catchment boundary changes will be made where the implementation of the recommendations in an area development plan requires such adjustments.

Catchment boundaries have provided and continue to provide a very useful tool in facilitating the orderly planning of school provision and accommodation needs and the operation of the national school transport service.

School Curriculum.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

117 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on introducing driver education into the post-primary curriculum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32763/05]

The question of introducing a road safety and driver education syllabus into schools has been examined by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, on foot of a report from a task group set up in 2000 and which included representatives of the Departments of Education and Science and the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the National Safety Council, the Garda Síochána, the Irish Insurance Federation, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, Rosary College Crumlin, the CCEA Northern Ireland and the NCCA. The NCCA also commissioned a study on driver education in post-primary schools from Dr. Ray Fuller of Trinity College Dublin.

The NCCA, whose role is to advise the Minister for Education and Science on curriculum and assessment issues, recommended that road safety be addressed within the context of social, personal and health education, SPHE, and that driver education and specifically learning to drive for pupils aged 17 should not become part of the school curriculum. The NCCA noted that this concurred with the practice in other jurisdictions.

At the start of the 2001-02 school year the National Safety Council, with assistance from my Department, distributed copies of Staying Alive — a road safety resource for transition year and the senior cycle — to all second level schools. This pack contained a wide range of learning opportunities and activities on topics such as personal responsibility and decision-making, environmental issues and risks and rules for road users. A CD-ROM with additional material downloaded from the Internet was included in the pack along with copies of Rules of the Road. In the preparation of the Staying Alive resources material, views were sought from a range of organisations with interests in the promotion of road safety. Prior to its issue to second level schools, the material was piloted in 20 schools and the response from teachers in those schools was very positive.

Youth Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

118 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will increase the funding available for youth work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32778/05]

The financial allocation in the main funding line for the youth work sector in 2005 represents an 18% increase in funding over 2004 and brings that financial provision to €33.889 million in 2005. This is clear evidence of the Government's commitment to the youth work sector in Ireland. This additional funding is catering for a number of developments under the Youth Work Act 2001 and the national youth work development plan and for enhancements to existing youth work services.

In particular, to date in 2005 I have allocated an additional €2 million for the expansion and development of the special projects for youth scheme. This measure is in line with the recommendations of the national youth development plan. Through this scheme, grant-in-aid of just under €16 million is being made available this year in respect of out-of-school projects for disadvantaged and marginalised young people.

In addition, I have increased funding for the ongoing support and advancement of some 31 national and major regional youth work organisations by 8%, bringing support for these organisations to more than €11 million in 2005. I have also established a fund to develop the capacity of these organisations in preparing themselves organisationally for the further rollout of the Youth Work Act 2001. With regard to youth information provision, support for the national network of youth information centres has also been increased by 8% in 2005.

I am extremely conscious of the worthwhile work being carried out by the youth work sector and acknowledge the valuable contribution it makes to the non-formal education of our young people. I assure the Deputy of my ongoing support for the sector and its work.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

119 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will meet with a person (details supplied) currently on hunger strike outside Dáil Éireann in protest at her refusal to include the Morning Star mother and baby unit as an institution for consideration by the Redress Board. [32746/05]

Phil Hogan

Question:

122 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science if additional institutions will be added to the schedule of the Residential Institutions Redress Board; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32798/05]

Bernard Allen

Question:

129 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has met with a person (details supplied) with regard to the inclusion of the Morning Star home under the terms of the Residential Institutions Redress Board; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32797/05]

Gerard Murphy

Question:

153 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the Morning Star home has not been included under the schedule of the Residential Institutions Redress Board; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32796/05]

Paul Connaughton

Question:

198 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Science if the Morning Star home will be added to the schedule for the Residential Institutions Redress Board; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32813/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 119, 122, 129, 153 and 198 together.

As the Deputy is aware, the Residential Institutions Redress Act provides that the Minister may, by order, include in the Schedule to the Act any industrial school, reformatory school, orphanage, children's home, special school which was established for the purpose of providing education services to children with a physical or intellectual disability or hospital providing medical or psychiatric services to people with a physical or mental disability or mental illness in which children were placed and resident and in respect of which a public body had a regulatory or inspection function.

A total of 128 institutions were originally listed on the Schedule. Since the enactment of the legislation, my Department has been contacted by individuals and-or solicitors in relation to various institutions not specified in the Schedule, including the facility mentioned by the Deputies. Following consideration of the matter and consultation with relevant public bodies, I signed an order on 9 November 2004 which provided for the inclusion of 13 additional institutions in the Schedule. A further order was made on 1 July 2005 adding three institutions to the Schedule.

The Department of Health and Children was consulted by my Department in relation to the Morning Star mother and baby unit and it advised that this was a privately run facility which was not subject to State inspection or regulation. As a consequence it is not possible to give further consideration to the placement of this unit on the Schedule. The question of including additional institutions has now been fully considered by my Department in consultation with relevant Departments and it is not proposed to add any further institutions to the Schedule at this point.

It is important to note that in the Government's initiatives to address past abuse, the needs of those who suffered abuse in institutions not covered by the Act is recognised and provided for and a range of measures has been put in place to assist them. These include the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and dedicated counselling and other services for victims of abuse.

I have spoken to the person recently mentioned by the Deputies, and explained the situation to her. Officials in the Department have also outlined the position in relation to the Morning Star mother and baby unit to the person concerned on a number of occasions. An official from my Department also met the person on 20 October 2005 and explained that the legislation does not allow me to consider including the unit in the Schedule to the Residential Institutions Redress Act. However, I understand that she was resident as a child in another institution which is included in the Schedule and she has been advised by Department officials that she could explore, in consultation with her legal representative, the possibility of making an application to the redress board based on what happened to her in that institution.

Educational Disadvantage.

Mary Upton

Question:

120 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the timeframe for the allocation of the €40 million to be provided under the DEIS; the amount which will be provided for 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32782/05]

DEIS, delivering equality of opportunity in schools, the new action plan for educational inclusion, which I launched last May, aims to ensure that the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities are prioritised and effectively addressed.

The plan provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and a new integrated school support programme, SSP, which will bring together and build upon a number of existing interventions for schools with a concentrated level of disadvantage. Approximately 600 primary schools and 150 second level schools will be included in the school support programme. The new action plan will be implemented on a phased basis over the next five years, starting during the current school year, and will involve an additional annual investment of €40 million on full implementation. It will also involve the provision of some 300 additional posts across the education system.

Since 1997, the Government has increased funding on specific measures at primary and second level to tackle educational disadvantage by some 130% — from some €50 million in 1998 to about €120 million in the current year. The additional €40 million annual investment under this action plan on full implementation will represent a 33% increase on current expenditure and a three-fold increase in spending in this area since 1998.

Although the action plan is a five-year programme, a significant proportion of the additional supports involved are scheduled to be introduced during 2006 and 2007. The additional expenditure in 2006 will include investment in areas such as targeted reductions in class sizes at primary level, additional guidance counselling provision and increased access to reading and maths initiatives for pupils with literacy difficulties. While this will involve significant expenditure, announcement of the specific amount involved in 2006 will be made in the context of the publication of the Estimates.

The action plan will address all of the following key issues and needs: improving identification of disadvantage — a standardised approach will allow my Department to target resources more effectively; increasing early childhood education provision in the most disadvantaged communities; improving supports for pupils with low attainment levels in literacy and numeracy; enhancing procedures for measuring the outcomes achieved from educational inclusion measures; enhancing integration and partnership working both within the education sector and cross-sectorally; enhancing professional development supports for principals and school staff; and enhancing research and evaluation.

Medical Education.

Liam Twomey

Question:

121 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans for increasing the number of Irish medical graduates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28900/05]

As the Deputy may be aware, a working group on undergraduate medical education and training recently completed a review of the organisation and delivery of medical training and education in Ireland. I am considering the broad range of recommendations made by the working group in consultation with my colleague, the Tanáiste and Minister for Health and Children. We will bring proposals to Government in the near future on a wide range of issues associated with the delivery of medical education in Ireland, including the so-called cap on numbers in undergraduate medical education.

Question No. 122 answered with QuestionNo. 119.

Special Educational Needs.

Damien English

Question:

123 Mr. English asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on whether some second level schools appear to be referring a large number of students with special educational needs to other schools in their locality; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32708/05]

Willie Penrose

Question:

127 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science if regulations will be introduced to ensure that schools are not permitted to cherry-pick students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32817/05]

Joan Burton

Question:

130 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the action she intends to take to ensure that all post-primary schools welcome and support children with special educational needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32755/05]

Martin Ferris

Question:

165 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science the action she intends to take to end the practice of special needs students being referred on to other schools by certain schools resulting in huge disparities between these schools in the amount of special needs students they must cater for. [32748/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 123, 127, 130 and 165 together.

I am aware that some second level schools do not appear to be doing as much as they could to ensure that students with special needs are as welcome in those schools as students without special needs. I expressed my belief in this regard at the recent annual conference of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals. However, this is a complex area already governed by statute, and I am not sure that it would be amenable to resolution simply by the introduction of regulations.

The Education Act 1998 requires all schools to have in place an admissions policy, detailing admission to and participation by students with disabilities or who have other special educational needs. The Act also requires schools to ensure that as regards that policy the principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents choice are respected.

My Department provides a range of supports to all schools to enable them to welcome students with special educational needs. My Department allocates additional teacher support and special needs assistant support to second level schools and VECs to cater for students with special educational needs. The nature and level of support provided in each case is based on the professionally assessed needs of the individual student. However, this requires a willingness on the part of schools to be proactive in this area and also a willingness on the part of parents to assert their rights more actively in terms of their choice of school.

The level of resources being made available to support students with special educational needs in the second level system has grown significantly in recent years. In the current school year, my Department has allocated approximately 1,614 whole-time equivalent teachers and 1,023 special needs assistants to second level schools to cater for pupils with special educational needs. This represents an increase of approximately 225 teaching posts and 391 special needs assistant posts on the previous school year.

Under section 29 of the Education Act 1998, parents of a student who has been refused enrolment in a school may appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department. Such appeals are dealt with within 30 days of their receipt and where an appeal is upheld the Secretary General is empowered to direct the school to enrol the student.

The Deputies will also be aware that with effect from 1 January 2005, the National Council for Special Education, NCSE, has taken over key functions from my Department in relation to special educational provision. I am confident that the advent of the NCSE will prove of major benefit in ensuring that all children with special educational needs receive the support they require when and where they require it.

School Transport.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

124 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress to date on providing school transport for students living in the Raheen, Mungret and Clarina areas of Limerick who attend a college (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32767/05]

I have considered the case referred to by the Deputy. The key consideration in this matter is that the present arrangement obtaining in this case is contrary to the provisions of the post-primary school transport scheme and is, therefore, being phased out. The Deputy will appreciate that the scheme is intended to be of general application throughout the country and any departure from its provisions damages its integrity. The decision therefore taken earlier this year, to allow the transport arrangement continue for those pupils already availing of the facility, was fair and reasonable.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

125 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of persons who have made compensation applications to the Residential Institutions Redress Board at the latest date for which figures are available; the way in which the number of applications compare with the original estimate made by her Department; the latest estimate of the number of likely applications; the number of awards made to date in 2005; the average amount awarded in each case; the latest estimate available to her Department of the final amount likely to be paid out; the way in which this compares with the original estimate of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32788/05]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

148 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science her Department’s estimate of the cost of payments of compensation by Residential Institutions Redress Board to persons who suffered institutional abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32809/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 and 148 together.

The Residential Institutions Redress Board is an independent body established under statute in December 2002 to provide financial redress to persons who, as children, were abused while resident in industrial schools, reformatories or other institutions that were subject to State regulation or inspection.

The most recent figures available to my Department are up to 31 October 2005. At that date, the board had received approximately 9,100 applications and had processed some 4,119 of these at a total cost of approximately €310.5 million. The average award is running at approximately €77,000.

The redress scheme has now been in operation for almost three years and the board will accept applications up to 15 December 2005. Based on the total number of applications the redress board has received to date, and allowing for legal and administration legal costs, it is estimated that the total cost of the scheme may be of the order of €800 million. I should emphasise that this is very much a tentative estimate and may be subject to change in the light of the ongoing administration of the scheme. The final cost of the scheme will not be known until early 2008 when all applications have been processed by the board.

The Department's estimate prior to the establishment of the redress board was that the amount of compensation would be of the order of €500 million, not including legal and administration costs. Including legal and administration costs, the cost of awards under this estimate would be €610 million. While this is lower than the cost now estimated, it was made prior to the commencement of the scheme when there was considerable uncertainty in relation to the number of applications and the average amount that would be awarded by the board. The recent Committee of Public Accounts report acknowledges that the potential liability for redress is dependent on a number of contingencies and future events and that any estimate of the liability is made in circumstances of uncertainty.

The redress board's estimates in its 2003 and 2004 annual reports were also predicated on a lower number of applications than has turned out to be the case. In its 2003 report the board gave a tentative estimate of final applications of between 6,500 and 7,000 applicants. In its annual report for 2004 the board increased its estimate to between 7,500 and 8,000 applications. The board has emphasised that its estimates of the numbers of applications are tentative as there are no precedents for this scheme.

Nonetheless, I strongly believe that the final cost of the redress scheme must be viewed in the context of the Government's concern to provide reasonable compensation towards the hurt and suffering experienced by victims of abuse and the very substantial costs that would have been incurred in any event if no such scheme had been established and if cases had been processed in the normal manner through the courts.

Special Educational Needs.

John Gormley

Question:

126 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Education and Science the percentage of children with special needs attending non-fee paying schools in designated disadvantaged areas compared with those attending non-fee paying schools in other areas on a school basis. [32731/05]

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled by officials of my Department for the 2004-05 school year and will be forwarded to him as soon as possible.

Question No. 127 answered with QuestionNo. 123.

David Stanton

Question:

128 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the OECD country background report for Ireland, Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers, which indicates that Ireland has a problem with the training of classroom teachers and learning support assistants for the needs of pupils disabilities; her further views on whether this contributes to reluctance on the part of some schools to accept special needs students; the action she intends to take to remedy the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32738/05]

There is no doubt that given the increasing number of children with special needs now availing of the opportunity of a mainstream second level education, there is a need to ensure sufficient training supports are in place to enable teachers to provide them with the best service possible. To this end, my Department has put in place a strategy to meet the needs of teachers working with pupils with special educational needs and to ensure that they get the training and ongoing support and advice that they need.

In terms of initial teacher education and development, pre-service primary teacher training courses in the colleges of education have been updated to ensure that they contain appropriate elements to assist the student teachers in recognising and dealing with children with special educational needs. At post-primary level, the higher diploma in education and education degree programmes include elements on the learning difficulties of pupils as part of a general alertness orientation programme. There has also been a major expansion of the range of postgraduate professional training programmes covering the special education area.

For serving teachers, the provision of in-service training on the area of dealing with special education needs students has been greatly enhanced by the establishment in 2003 and recent expansion of the special education support service, SESS. The SESS is charged with consolidating and co-ordinating in-service provision at local level for personnel working with children with special educational needs.

It also explores various models of in-service and support for teachers in the classroom and is working co-operatively with colleges of education and other agencies to maximise the effects of training and support across the spectrum. Support is also provided to other staff working in schools with special educational needs pupils.

The nature of special education and the changing needs of school personnel working in a variety of settings require the availability of flexible models of provision. The SESS is specifically designed to support teachers and schools in a flexible way to meet their educational and developmental needs, including the provision of e-learning and the existence of a wide geographical spread of trainers who work on a full-time and, especially, part-time basis. The training available to schools involves direct support to individual teachers, groups of teachers or whole school staffs; the provision of expertise on particular aspects of special needs; accessing appropriate training on request; and empowering schools to identify their own training needs and to provide ongoing support.

With these measures now in place, many of the recommendations in the OECD report, Teachers Matter, in relation to the area of special needs education are actually being met at this point.

I am satisfied that with the major improvements that I have just outlined, there is now a comprehensive system of training and other supports in place to ensure that the extra teachers that we have put into schools to assist children with special needs are getting the help they need to give each child the best service possible.

Question No. 129 answered with QuestionNo. 119.
Question No. 130 answered with QuestionNo. 123.

School Evaluation.

Phil Hogan

Question:

131 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position with regard to the release of information regarding the way in which schools operate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32694/05]

I have decided to provide more information, for parents in particular, about our schools in a way that ensures a fair and comprehensive picture of all the different activities in a school.

As I have said on many occasions, I am strongly opposed to the publication of crude league tables based solely on examination or test results. Such tables provide an unbalanced and grossly limited indication of a school's performance.

In contrast to school league tables, I believe that school inspection reports from whole school evaluations, WSE, and other inspections can provide balanced and well informed information on schools. The whole school evaluation process involves not only a full examination of all the varied activities of a school — from teaching standards to the availability of extra-curricular activities, the ethos of the school and the implementation of policies in areas such as bullying and health and safety — but consultation with parents, staff members and students.

These inspection reports can therefore provide valuable information on the educational and social opportunities provided by a school. The comments that they contain are also fully sensitive to the context in which the school operates in a way which is not possible with league tables.

Given the breadth of the contents of whole school evaluation reports, I believe that the publication of these and other school inspection reports could go a significant way to addressing the real needs of parents, students, teachers and others for better information on schools. The type of information provided in WSE reports will help parents who need accurate and balanced information. WSE reports also contain valuable information that will be of interest to schools who may wish to learn from the experience of others.

I am determined to progress this matter in a sensible and responsible way and to ensure that the views of all the education partners are considered before the publication process is finalised. During the summer I put in place a mechanism whereby this can take place. The inspectorate of my Department has held 20 meetings with interested parties in late September and has issued draft guidelines for the publication of inspection reports to the education partners about three weeks ago. Responses to the draft guidelines are expected in mid-November and a final draft of the proposals will be submitted to me in December.

I intend that the publication of school inspection reports will commence from January 2006 for all inspections carried out from the start of the calendar year 2006.

I am confident that the considered and responsible approach that we are taking to the publication of inspection reports will lead to much greater availability of information on schools without inadvertently pitting schools serving entirely different communities against each other in crude comparisons of academic performance alone. I believe that this process will also encourage schools to provide extra information of value to parents.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

132 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has identified the extent to which a reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level can benefit the future education and employment prospects of a child; if sufficient study has been undertaken with a view to identifying such benefits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32790/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

677 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has studied the results of high pupil-teacher ratios and the likely damage to the pupil in terms of access to further education and employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33201/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 677 together.

The Government commitment to reduce class size in junior classes clearly accepts the benefits of class size reductions for younger pupils. The international research shows that reduced class size can produce improved attainment in particular for minority-disadvantaged groups. It also shows that the reduction in class size must be accompanied by a change in teaching style to achieve the benefits and there are indications that variations in teacher quality are particularly important for student achievement.

Major improvements in school staffing have been made in recent years with the hiring of more than 4,500 additional teachers. This represents the largest increase in teacher numbers since the expansion of free education. The annual estimated value of the additional expenditure on these posts is more than €200 million.

In 1996-97, the average class size in our primary schools was 27. It is now 24. In 1996-97, there was one teacher for every 22 children in our primary schools. Today there is one teacher for every 17 children, the lowest pupil-teacher ratio in the history of the State. Aside from decreasing average class size, the unprecedented increase in school staffing in recent years has also greatly improved the services provided for children with special needs and those from disadvantaged areas. While there is more to be done to reduce class sizes further, it should be acknowledged how much progress has been made in this area in recent years.

While the average class size nationally has been brought down to 24, I am committed, in line with Government policy, to delivering further reductions in class sizes for children under nine years of age. In achieving the Government target in relation to smaller class sizes, priority has, in the first instance, to be given to children with special needs and those in disadvantaged areas.

Under the new action plan for tackling education disadvantage which I launched last May, more children in disadvantaged schools will be in classes of 20 in the current school year.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

133 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to allow mother and baby homes to be covered by the redress board; if there are alternative investigations that could be set up; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32725/05]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

569 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to allow mother and baby homes to be covered by the redress board; if there are alternative investigations that could be set up; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33078/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 569 together.

The Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 provides a statutory scheme of financial redress for persons who, as children, were abused while in residential institutional care. The scheme applies in respect of institutions specified in the Schedule to the Act. Section 4 of the Act provides that the Minister for Education and Science may, by order, provide for the insertion in the Schedule of any industrial school, reformatory school, orphanage, children's home, special school which was established for the purpose of providing education services to children with a physical or intellectual disability or a hospital providing medical or psychiatric services to people with a physical or mental disability or mental illness, in which children were placed and resident and in respect of which a public body had a regulatory or inspection function.

A total of 128 institutions were originally listed on the Schedule. Since the enactment of the legislation, my Department has been contacted by individuals and-or solicitors in relation to various institutions not specified in the Schedule, including mother and baby homes. Following consideration of the matter and consultation with relevant public bodies, I signed an order on 9 November 2004 which provided for the inclusion of 13 additional institutions in the Schedule. A further order was made on 1 July 2005 adding three institutions to the Schedule.

The Department of Health and Children has advised my Department that many of the institutions submitted for consideration, including mother and baby homes, were privately operated establishments which were not subject to State inspection or regulation and could not therefore be included in the Schedule.

The question of including additional institutions has now been fully considered by my Department in consultation with relevant Departments and it is not proposed to add any further institutions to the Schedule at this point. The issue of any alternative investigations in relation to these homes would be a matter for the Minister for Health and Children.

Teaching Qualifications.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

134 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will reform the entry requirements for teacher training in order that Irish is brought into line with English and mathematics; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32703/05]

My Department specifies the minimum academic requirements for entry to primary teacher training courses provided in the colleges of education. As part of these requirements, all candidates, including school leavers, mature students and university graduates, must have secured a minimum of a grade C in higher level Irish in the leaving certificate, or an approved equivalent. This requirement covers both the written and oral element of a student's proficiency in Irish. My Department considers this required entry level to be the minimum standard in Irish necessary for students entering a teacher training course which will equip them to teach Irish to pupils at all levels in primary schools. I have no plans to change the entry requirements to primary teacher training courses at present.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

135 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of teachers in second level schools in counties Cavan and Monaghan who must to teach more than 30 children in individual classrooms; if she is satisfied that teachers can deal with more than 30 adolescent children in one class; the steps she has taken to rectify the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32539/05]

Teacher allocations for second level schools are approved by my Department on an annual basis in accordance with generally applied rules relating to recognised pupil enrolment. In general a ratio of 18:1 is applied in respect of recognised pupils on established junior certificate, leaving certificate, repeat leaving certificate and transition year programmes and a ratio of 16:1 is applied in respect of recognised pupils on the leaving certificate vocational programme, post-leaving certificate courses and leaving certificate applied. Each school management authority is required to organise its curriculum, teaching timetable and subject options having regard to pupils' needs within the limits of its approved teacher allocation.

Significant improvements have been made in the pupil-teacher ratio at post-primary level in recent years. The ratio has fallen from 16:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 13.4:1 in the 2004-05 school year. The rules for allocating teaching posts provide that where a school management authority is unable to meet essential curricular commitments, my Department will consider applications for additional short-term support. An independent appeals committee is available to school authorities which wish to appeal the adequacy of their teacher allocation.

School Staffing.

Seán Crowe

Question:

136 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science when she intends to provide a second adult to the 20 one-teacher schools currently in operation here. [32745/05]

Brendan Howlin

Question:

139 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the health and safety concerns expressed by the one-teacher support group; if she will address their concerns; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32764/05]

Marian Harkin

Question:

566 Ms Harkin asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to deal with safety issues in one-teacher schools (details supplied). [33381/05]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

610 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the appointment of a classroom assistant to the 20 remaining one-teacher schools throughout the country from a health and safety perspective to provide for various emergency contingencies which arise daily; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32645/05]

Joe Costello

Question:

619 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are 20 one-teacher schools here at present; if her attention has further been drawn to the recent establishment of the one-teacher school support council to campaign on their behalf; if a classroom assistant or a special needs assistant will be appointed to each of the one-teacher schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32812/05]

Joe Higgins

Question:

626 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science if each of the 20 one-teacher schools here will be authorised to employ another adult to guarantee the health and safety of the pupils in these schools. [32883/05]

Dinny McGinley

Question:

635 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the establishment of an organisation (details supplied); and her plans to alleviate the difficulties being encountered by teachers and pupils in such schools. [33096/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

703 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if provision can or will be made for an extra teacher or classroom assistant for all one-teacher schools here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33231/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136, 139, 566, 610, 619, 626, 635 and 703 together.

The mainstream teacher allocation of all primary schools, including one-teacher schools, is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous school year. The staffing schedule is outlined in a circular which is issued annually to all primary schools. In addition, such schools may be eligible for additional teacher or special needs assistant allocations in accordance with the criteria for the allocation of special needs resources. The staffing situation of one-teacher schools is being reviewed.

Educational Disadvantage.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

137 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science the extra funding she will provide under the DEIS proposals to the schoolbooks for needy pupils grant scheme; when extra funds will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32802/05]

The new action plan for educational inclusion, DEIS, delivering equality of opportunity in schools, aims to ensure that the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities are prioritised and effectively addressed. The plan provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and a new integrated school support programme, SSP, which will bring together and build upon, a number of existing interventions for schools with a concentrated level of disadvantage. Approximately 600 primary schools, comprising 300 urban-town and 300 rural and 150 second level schools, will be included in the school support programme. The new action plan will be introduced on a phased basis — starting in the current school year — and will involve an additional annual investment of €40 million on full implementation. It will also involve the provision of 300 additional posts across the education system.

The primary and second level school books grant schemes will continue to operate as before. However, the results of the identification process outlined above will be taken into account in allocating resources under the schemes. Targeted additional funding will also be made available through the schemes, on a phased basis, to schools participating in the SSP. This additional funding will be aimed primarily at supporting the establishment, development and continuing operation of book loan-rental schemes. The specific amount involved in 2006 will be finalised in the context of the Estimates process.

Bullying in Schools.

Paul McGrath

Question:

138 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps being undertaken to address the incidence of bullying at primary and secondary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32720/05]

The education of students in both primary and post-primary schools in relation to anti-bullying behaviour is a central part of the social, personal and health education, SPHE, curriculum. SPHE is now a compulsory subject both at primary level and in the junior cycle of post-primary schools. The SPHE curriculum provides for the development of personal and social skills including self-awareness, respect for others, self-esteem and communication skills, all of which are important elements in addressing the issue of bullying. In primary education, the issue of bullying is addressed in the SPHE curriculum in the strand, Myself and Others, from infant classes onwards. In second level education, the issue of bullying is addressed from first year onwards in the SPHE curriculum at junior cycle, in the module, Belonging and Integrating.

My Department, in its guidelines on countering bullying behaviour in schools, has provided a national framework within which individual school management authorities may meet their responsibilities for implementing effective school-based policies to counter bullying. These guidelines were drawn up following consultation with representatives of school management, teachers and parents and are sufficiently flexible to allow each school authority to adapt them to suit the particular needs of the school.

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

The school development planning initiative plays an important role in supporting schools to raise awareness of the need for anti-bullying measures. In addition, my Department funds a number of support services and pilot initiatives which provide direct assistance to schools in dealing with the issue of bullying.

Question No. 139 answered with QuestionNo. 136.

Literacy Levels.

Jack Wall

Question:

140 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if the improved support for pupils with low attainment levels of literacy and numeracy planned for the DEIS action plan will be provided in 2006; if they will be linked to standardised testing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32785/05]

The new action plan for educational inclusion, DEIS, delivering equality of opportunity in schools, aims to ensure that the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities are prioritised and effectively addressed. The plan provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and a new integrated school support programme, SSP, which will bring together and build upon, a number of existing interventions for schools with a concentrated level of disadvantage. Approximately 600 primary schools, comprising 300 urban-town and 300 rural and 150 second level schools, will be included in the school support programme. The new action plan will be introduced on a phased basis, starting in the current school year, and will involve an additional annual investment of €40 million on full implementation. It will also involve the provision of some 300 additional posts across the education system.

A key underlying principle of DEIS is that of early intervention, including assisting children who are having difficulty learning to read and write at an early stage before the problem becomes entrenched. In implementing the action plan a number of measures will be rolled out, on a phased basis, to tackle literacy and numeracy problems in schools serving disadvantaged communities. These measures will include a new advisory service at primary level; more access to initiatives such as reading recovery and maths recovery which enable intensive, individualised teaching to be provided to the lowest attaining pupils at an early stage when intervention can be most effective; targeted extension of the successful demonstration library project at second level in respect of which 40 more schools will benefit on a phased basis; and a new family literacy project.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, has recommended that all pupils should be tested in literacy and numeracy at the end of first or beginning of second class and at the end of fourth or beginning of fifth class and that this should be implemented as soon as it is feasible to do so. My Department is exploring potential implementation models, in advance of entering into discussions with the education partners in the matter. I believe that the introduction of standardised testing on a systematic basis has significant potential to improve the quality of teaching and learning in our schools.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

141 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the activity taking place in each of the properties transferred here under the indemnity agreement with religious congregations; if any of these properties are not currently in use; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32800/05]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

189 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the money and properties that have been transferred under the indemnity agreement with religious congregations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32799/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 189 together.

Under the terms of the indemnity agreement reached with the religious congregations, the property contribution of the congregations is divided into two separate and distinct schedules of properties as follows. The first schedule of properties is properties to be transferred from the congregations to the State, State agencies or local authorities after the date of the signing of the indemnity agreement on 5 June 2002. The total value of these property transfers for the purposes of the indemnity agreement was set at €36.54 million. I can confirm that agreement in principle has been reached with the religious congregations on the transfer of 35 properties under this schedule to the amount of €38.24 million. This figure of €38.24 million includes €4.98 million in cash that was provided by the congregations in lieu of property.

The second schedule of properties is properties transferring from the congregations to the State, State agencies, local authorities or voluntary organisations from 11 May 1999, the date of the Taoiseach's apology to victims of child abuse. The total value of these property transfers for the purposes of the indemnity agreement was set at €40.32 million. I can confirm that transfers of 29 properties to the value of approximately €36.21 million have been agreed in principle under this schedule. This includes a cash payment of €3.25 million made by the congregations in lieu of property.

Taking account the oversubscription on schedule A, the net outstanding balance under the agreement is approximately €2.4 million and this is currently under discussion with the religious congregations. The properties set out on the following lists "A" and "B" were accepted in principle by the Department following receipt of confirmation from relevant Departments and State agencies that it would be to their advantage to accept title to the particular property. The current or future use of these properties is a matter for each of the transferees.

List A

Properties accepted under terms of Redress Scheme

Address of Property (35)

Transferee

Primary School, Waterpark, Newtown Rd, Waterford

Department of Education & Science

Primary School, St. John’s Rd, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Department of Education & Science

Lands at Mullaghmonaghan, Co. Monagahan

Department of Education & Science

Site at Virginia Rd, Kells, Co. Meath

Department of Education & Science

Secondary School, Mounthawke, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Department of Education & Science

Site, Doon, Co Limerick.

Department of Education & Science

3 acre site at Merrion

Dublin City Council

The Vineyard Child Centre, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

Eastern Regional Health Authority

Vacant Buildings and land at Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

Eastern Regional Health Authority

Goldenbridge Group Homes

Eastern Regional Health Authority

1, Garravogue Road, Raheen, Co. Limerick

Mid-Western Health Board

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

Mid-Western Health Board

23, Parnell Square (Coláiste Mhuire)

Office of Public Works

Coiscéim, Cappoquin, Co.Waterford

South Eastern Health Board

Emohruo, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

South Eastern Health Board

Avondale, Smithland North, Kilkenny

South Eastern Health Board

Deenagh House, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Southern Health Board

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

Southern Health Board

23, Woodlee, Tralee, Co.Kerry

Southern Health Board

24, Westcourt, Tralee, Co.Kerry

Southern Health Board

15, The Willows, Mallow, Co.Cork

Southern Health Board

St. Coleman’s, Rushbrooke, Cork

Southern Health Board

Mount St. Joseph, Passage West, Cork

Southern Health Board

Land and buildings at Lota, Glanmire Co. Cork

Southern Health Board

St. Patrick’s Upton, Cork

Southern Health Board

Respite Centre, Garretstown. Cork

Southern Health Board

Former Old Schoolhouse, Garretstown, Co.Cork

Southern Health Board

Site at Cloughmacsimon, Bandon, Co. Cork

Southern Health Board

5, Avondale Drive, Bandon. Co.Cork.

Southern Health Board

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

Southern Health Board

Gentili, Farahoe, Innishannon, Co.Cork.

Southern Health Board

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

Southern Health Board

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

Southern Health Board

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

Southern Health Board

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

Southern Health Board

List B

Properties accepted under terms of Redress Scheme

Address of Property (27)

Transferee

St. Teresa Temple Hill, Blackrock

Alzheimers Society

Creche/childcare at Ballymote, Sligo

Ballymote Childcare Association

Two properties at Tuam

Clúil & G.A.M.H.C.

Holy Cross Gardens, Killarney

Clúil Housing

Playing field at Carna. Co. Galway

Dept of Education & Science

Presentation Sec. School Building, Hospital, Limerick

Dept of Education & Science

Moate National School, Co. Westmeath

Dept of Education & Science

Sec. School & site at Ennistymon, Co. Clare

Dept of Education & Science

Site at Mohill, Co. Leitrim

Dept of Education & Science

Sen. & Jnr. Schools, Portlaoise

Dept of Education & Science

Terenure Secondary School Building

Dept of Education & Science

Site & School at Glenamaddy

Dept of Education & Science

Convent at Barrack Hill,Newport, Co. Mayo

Dominic Housing Association

Site at Dolphin Pk, Crumlin, Dublin 6

Dublin City Council

Gate Lodge at Goldenbridge, Inchicore, Dublin 8

Dublin City Council

Site at Dunardagh, Blackrock

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Co.Co.

28, The Woodlands, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Eastern Regional Health Authority

2, Moyle Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Eastern Regional Health Authority

Presentation Convent, Hospital, Limerick

Hospital Vol. Housing Ass.

Convent land at Barrack St, Limerick

Irish Wheelchair Assoc.

Housing & Services at Belmullet, Co. Mayo

Irish Wheelchair Assoc.

59, Hollybank Rd, Drumcondra, Dublin 9

PACE

Cork Street, Dublin 8 (SOPHIA Housing)

Sophia Housing

Sacred Heart Centre, Waterford

South Eastern Health Board

St. Anne’s Sec. School, Milltown, Dublin 6

St. Vincent de Paul

Site at Long Mile Rd, Walkinstown, Dublin

Walkinstown Association

School at Ballina, Co. Mayo

Western Care Association

School & Site at Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford

Department of Education & Science

Nursery Building at Goldenbridge, Dublin 8

Health Service Executive

Teaching Profession.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

142 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science the initiatives being taken by her to encourage a greater number of males to enter teaching; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32699/05]

I am aware of the decreasing numbers of males entering the teaching profession, and it is an issue that is of concern to me. I believe that it is important to attract more men into teaching for a number of reasons, not least of which is the positive role models that teachers provide in children's lives and the desirability of having both male and female role models in our schools.

I genuinely believe that teaching should be seen as an attractive profession for both men and women. Teaching is fulfilling work which makes a huge social contribution. With the increases in teachers' salaries under partnership agreements and benchmarking in recent years, it is also now a well-paid job.

This Government wants to attract and reward the best teachers. In addition to increasing teachers' salaries, we have also undertaken other initiatives to enhance the status of the profession. Not least of these is the establishment of the Teaching Council as a professional regulatory body.

I have also now received the report of the primary education committee, Males into Primary Teaching. The primary education committee was established to examine a range of issues in relation to males entering primary teaching and to make recommendations on short-term and long-term strategies to increase the numbers in this regard. The report draws on the professional insight of key experts in this area as well as drawing on a number of relevant research studies. The report's findings will be of significant benefit in assisting the development of future policy in this important area.

One of the key recommendations in the committee's report is that a co-ordinated promotion campaign, which would encourage boys as well as girls to enter primary teaching, should be undertaken. Officials in my Department are examining how such a promotion campaign can be run to maximum effect. All other recommendations contained in the report are also receiving active consideration

Special Educational Needs.

Joe Costello

Question:

143 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science the state of progress of the Middletown centre of excellence for autism; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32757/05]

My Department and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland are jointly engaged in the development of the Middletown centre for autism in County Armagh. Both Departments have jointly funded the purchase of the former St. Joseph's Adolescent Centre, Middletown, and plan to refurbish the property with a view to developing a centre of excellence for children and young people with autism throughout the island of Ireland. The centre will be dedicated to improving and enriching the educational opportunities of children and young people with autistic spectrum disorders. Four key services will be provided by the centre, including a learning support service on a residential basis; an educational assessment service; a training and advisory service; and an autism research and information service.

A number of working groups are continuing to address the legal, financial, organisational and infrastructural aspects of the proposal. For example, work is continuing on the development of a campus masterplan for the Middletown property which, when complete, will guide the commissioning of any necessary infrastructure and refurbishment works. Officials from both Departments are working closely on this project and this interaction between the two Departments will continue over the coming months with a view to ensuring that the centre becomes operational as quickly as possible.

School Curriculum.

Dan Boyle

Question:

144 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Education and Science if any reviews have been carried out of transition year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32727/05]

The transition year programme is a one-year optional programme, taken by some 24,000 students annually, which provides a bridge between junior and senior cycle. Its aim is to promote the personal, social, educational and vocational development of students and prepare them for their role as participative and responsible members of society.

The curriculum for the transition year is devised by the individual school, having regard to the guidelines issued by my Department which set the broad parameters within which transition year programmes should operate. The guidelines allow individual schools scope to create a programme of learning experiences that matches the needs of their particular student cohort and that takes account of the resources and opportunities available in the schools and their local community.

An evaluation of the transition year programme in 146 schools was carried out by the inspectorate of my Department in 1996 and the findings were largely positive. My Department has followed through on the recommendations issued to schools during this evaluation in a variety of ways, for example, the transition year curriculum support service has intensified its support in areas identified as needing improvement, and circular letter M1/00 was issued to clarify requirements for schools implementing the transition year programme. Schools were also provided with additional guidelines on writing their transition year programme.

More recently, the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, conducted a study of the transition year programme in schools. This study was funded by my Department and the report was published in January 2005. Based on data gathered from 468 principals, 4,444 students in 108 schools and six case studies, this study provides a comprehensive examination of all aspects of the operation of transition year and of its effect on student outcomes in a range of school contexts. It confirms that the programme has huge potential to develop students' broader life skills and confidence and that it can contribute significantly to building positive student-teacher relationships. The report points to better academic outcomes and increased rates of progression to higher education among transition year students. It identifies making the programme more attractive to disadvantaged schools as a clear challenge for the future. In my response to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, on its advice around senior cycle reform, I have requested that the needs of students in these schools be particularly addressed as the proposed curriculum components are developed further.

The transition year programme is evaluated and reported upon on an ongoing basis in individual schools by my Department's inspectorate as part of its overall inspection plan.

School Meals.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

145 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason her Department has not provided schools with guidelines on the types of foods that are available on school premises; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32700/05]

Schools are privately managed institutions which, although funded by the State, enjoy a large degree of autonomy. It is, therefore, primarily a matter for each school to devise policies around the types of food that are available on the school premises and such policies should be driven by the needs and welfare of the pupils. I know that many schools have developed healthy eating policies in co-operation with their parents' associations and I would encourage others to do so.

School Curriculum.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

146 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to introduce a single science subject for the leaving certificate to encourage more students to follow the science route at third level. [32729/05]

There are five leaving certificate science subjects, each of which is offered at higher and ordinary levels. This range of subjects is necessary to ensure that courses are available in the different branches of science to match the varying needs, interests, ability levels and career plans of senior cycle students. The availability of these subjects also affords schools a degree of flexibility that is important when planning to meet the needs of their students.

Significant progress is being made in regard to curricular reform and in-service support for science at both primary and post-primary levels. Science was introduced as a key component in the revised primary school curriculum in 1999 and it has been implemented in all schools since September 2003. A revised junior certificate syllabus was introduced in September 2003 for first examination in June 2006. I believe that this syllabus with its hands-on investigative approach and its new emphasis on scientific process will be particularly instrumental in encouraging more pupils to continue science in senior cycle, especially as the completion of 30 mandatory experiments will now be a requirement for all students.

For the leaving certificate, revised syllabi have already been fully implemented in biology, physics and chemistry. Each of these curricular changes is being or has been supported by national in-service programmes for teachers. To complete the cycle of revision, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is working on the development of a new leaving certificate physical sciences syllabus to replace the current physics and chemistry combined syllabus and a revision of agricultural science is very well advanced. All of these developments and supports have been designed and implemented to encourage students' interest in science from an early age and to increase uptake of science-related courses at third level.

My Department is fully committed to strengthening the quality of science teaching and learning, promoting increased scientific literacy and encouraging more students to choose science subjects at senior cycle and at third level. Progress in these areas is a vitally important part of our national strategy to support competitiveness and employment. My Department's work in supporting and promoting science work will continue to be progressed and enhanced, as resources permit, in collaboration and consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Forfás and industry.

Psychological Service.

Michael Noonan

Question:

147 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of secondary schools which have access to the National Educational Psychological Service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32709/05]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

170 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of primary schools which have access to the National Educational Psychological Service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32707/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 170 together.

All primary and post-primary schools have access to psychological assessments for their pupils, either directly through National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, psychologists or through the scheme for commissioning psychological assessments, SCPA, that is administered by NEPS. Schools that do not have NEPS psychologists assigned to them may avail of the SCPA, whereby the school can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly. Details of this process and the conditions that apply to the scheme are available on my Department's website.

As of October 2005, NEPS psychologists provided a dedicated service to a total of 1,623 primary schools and to 563 post-primary schools. The latter figure does not include 46 City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee, CDVEC, schools that have a VEC educational psychological service.

NEPS provides assistance to all schools that suffer from critical incidents, regardless of whether they have a NEPS psychologist assigned to them. Also, in relation to all schools, NEPS processes applications for reasonable accommodation in certificate examinations.

The number of NEPS psychologists has increased almost three-fold, from 43 on establishment to 123 at present. The Public Appointments Service has recently established new recruitment panels for NEPS. Regional panels are now in place and this will enable my Department to give priority to filling vacancies in areas of greatest need. Any increase in the number of psychologists in NEPS will depend on the availability of resources and must also take account of Government policy on public sector numbers.

Question No. 148 answered with QuestionNo. 125.

Stay Safe Programme.

Billy Timmins

Question:

149 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the percentage of primary schools which have implemented the Stay Safe programme; the number of times this should be carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32772/05]

Gerard Murphy

Question:

183 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools here offering the Stay Safe programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32697/05]

Simon Coveney

Question:

192 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of primary schools which do not offer the Stay Safe programme; the reasons these schools do not offer the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32698/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 149, 183 and 192 together.

Child protection and the implementation of the stay safe programme for all children in every primary school are priorities for my Department. The Stay Safe programme, which is also known as the child abuse prevention programme, CAPP, is a primary school-based approach to the prevention of child abuse. The programme aims to reduce vulnerability to child abuse through the provision of in-service training for teachers, parent education and personal safety education for children at primary school level.

The Stay Safe programme is a four-stage approach to preventing child abuse involving children's safety education; teacher training; parent education; and community awareness. The programme aims to give children the skills necessary to enable them to recognise and resist abuse-victimisation and teaches them that they should always tell an adult who can help of any situation which they find unsafe, upsetting, threatening, dangerous or abusive. Stay Safe is a personal safety skills programme which can be used with primary school children from senior infants to sixth class. It seeks to enhance children's self-protective skills by participating in lessons on safe and unsafe situations, bullying, touches, secrets, telling and strangers.

An initial one-day in-service training seminar on the stay safe programme has been provided for all primary schools. Since the programme was introduced, 99.7% of primary schools have participated in this training. At present, approximately based on a sample survey 80% to 85% of primary schools are teaching the programme to their students, but it should be recognised that the Stay Safe programme is not mandatory and schools can decide whether to introduce the programme.

It should be noted, however, that the central elements of the programme, primarily personal safety strategies and, more importantly, the overall issue of child protection, are now taught as integral parts of the subject of social, personal and health education, SPHE, which is part of the curriculum taught in every primary school. Specifically, the strand unit entitled Safety and Protection provides material for teachers to explore with children appropriate strategies in personal safety which incorporate elements of the stay safe programme. In addition, the implementation of my Department's child protection guidelines for all primary schools has given an additional impetus to the Stay Safe programme as well as the overall issue of child protection.

The current high level of take-up of the Stay Safe programme combined with the implementation of my Department's child protection guidelines and the incorporation of the central elements of the Stay Safe programme in addition to the coverage of the overall issue of child protection within SPHE is very positive. I would strongly encourage all schools to use the Stay Safe programme.

Educational Disadvantage.

Mary Upton

Question:

150 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the standardised approach to identification of disadvantage planned under the DEIS action plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32783/05]

A key element of DEIS, delivering equality of opportunity in schools, the new action plan for educational inclusion, is the putting in place of a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage in our primary and second level schools, which will result in improved targeting of resources at those most in need. The identification and analysis process is being managed by the Educational Research Centre on behalf of my Department. This process is being assisted by an advisory group, and will be supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through my Department's regional offices and the inspectorate.

As a result of the identification process, approximately 600 primary schools, comprising 300 urban-town schools and 300 rural schools, and 150 second level schools will be included in a new school support programme, SSP. The SSP will bring together and build upon a number of existing interventions for schools and school clusters-communities with a concentrated level of educational disadvantage. It is anticipated that the identification process will be completed by the end of the year.

School Staffing.

Simon Coveney

Question:

151 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Education and Science if she is satisfied with the interview processes that are used to fill vacant positions at second level schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32795/05]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

190 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science if complaints have been made to her with regard to the interview processes used for the filling of positions at second level schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32794/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 190 together.

The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill vacancies in an individual second level school is a matter for the relevant school authority. First-time appointment is normally achieved through a system of open competition following advertisement which details the subject requirements of the post. Selection is by means of interview which takes into account the suitability of the qualifications of the applicant for the post as advertised, any relevant experience as well as other factors relating to the applicants general suitability for the post. There is a responsibility on the school authorities to ensure that the selection process is fair and impartial. The objective is to select the most suitable candidate for the post.

From time to time, my Department receives complaints from disappointed applicants for teaching positions. As the matters complained of generally come within the remit of the school authority, the complainants are advised to bring the matters complained of to the attention of the relevant authority. In the event that the complainant is dissatisfied with the response of the school authority, contact may be made with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment which operates a comprehensive employee rights advisory service.

Education Welfare Service.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

152 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Science the average caseload per officer at the National Educational Welfare Board; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32712/05]

The Education (Welfare) Act 2000 established the National Educational Welfare Board as the single national body with responsibility for school attendance. The general functions of the board are to ensure that each child attends a recognised school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education. To discharge its responsibilities, the board is developing a nationwide service that is accessible to schools, parents-guardians and others concerned with the welfare of young people. For this purpose, educational welfare officers, EWOs, have been appointed and deployed throughout the country to provide a welfare-focused service to support regular school attendance and discharge the board's functions locally.

The service is developing on a continuing basis. The total authorised staffing complement is 94, comprising 16 headquarters and support staff, five regional managers, 12 senior educational welfare officers, SEWOs, and 61 educational welfare officers, EWOs. Towns which have an educational welfare officer allocated to them include Dundalk, Drogheda, Navan, Athlone, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Bray, Clonmel, Tralee, Ennis, Sligo, Naas, Castlebar, Longford, Tuam, Tullamore, Letterkenny and Portlaoise. In addition, the board will follow up on urgent cases nationally where children are not receiving an education. Since September 2005 every county in Ireland is served by an educational welfare service.

The board has indicated to my Department that the average caseload of each educational welfare officer as at September 2005 was about 108. This has reduced from the July average of 164 arising from the filling of the ten additional EWO posts. The board is continually reviewing the protocols for prioritising children and families who require intervention to ensure that children with greatest need gain maximum benefit from available resources and working with local agencies in prioritising children's and family needs.

In this regard, there are some 490 staff in education disadvantage programmes whose work involves a school attendance element. My Department is anxious to ensure that the maximum benefit is derived from these substantial personnel resources. Consequently work is ongoing to develop appropriate protocols for integrated working between the different services involved.

Question No. 153 answered with QuestionNo. 119.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

154 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science her timescale for reducing class size at both primary and post-primary level to EU norms; when she will implement the undertaking in An Agreed Programme for Government that the average size of classes for children under nine years will be brought below the international best-practice guidelines of 20:1; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32811/05]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

624 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Science the timescale for the reduction of infant class sizes to 15 per teacher in accordance with international best practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32864/05]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

625 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Science the amended timescale for the achievement of the programme for Government commitment to reduce class sizes for all children under nine years of age to 20:1 in accordance with best European practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32866/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

676 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress which has been made to reduce pupil-teacher ratios in line with best practice in other European countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33200/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

679 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if further improvements will be made in the pupil-teacher ratio at primary or second level schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33203/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 154, 624, 625, 676 and 679 together.

Since 1997, the Government has dramatically increased the number of teachers in schools. At primary level more then 4,500 additional teachers, including nearly 2,500 resource teachers, have been employed. At post-primary level approximately 1,900 additional teaching posts have been allocated during this period. These additional teaching posts have been used to reduce class sizes, to tackle educational disadvantage and to provide additional resources for children with special needs.

The pupil-teacher ratio, which includes all the teachers in the school including resource and learning support teachers, has fallen from 22.2:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 17.1:1 — projected — in 2004-05 at primary level, and from 16:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 13.6:1 in the 2003-04 school year at post-primary level. At primary level average class size has been reduced from 26.6 in 1996-97 to 23.9 in 2003-04. Significantly smaller classes have been introduced in disadvantaged schools involved in the Giving Children an Even Break — Breaking the Cycle programme, with approximately 47,700 pupils in 243 participating schools availing of reduced class sizes of either 15 or 20 pupils per class.

The Deputy will be aware of the new action plan for educational inclusion, DEIS, delivering equality of opportunity in schools. This action plan will result in the reduction in class sizes of 24:1 at senior level and 20:1 at junior level in 150 primary schools serving communities with the highest concentrations of disadvantage.

The mainstream staffing of a school is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous year. At primary level, the staffing allocation system is based on ensuring an overall maximum class of 29 in each school. Where some classes in a school have class sizes of more than 29, it is generally because a decision has been taken at local level to use their teaching resources to have smaller numbers in other classes in the school.

In relation to providing for children with special educational needs, there are now more than 5,000 teachers in our primary schools working directly with children with special needs, including those requiring learning support. This compares with fewer than 1,500 in 1998. One out of every five primary school teachers is now working specifically with children with special needs.

In line with the commitment in the programme for Government, class sizes will be reduced still further. The deployment of additional posts will be decided within the context of the overall policy that priority will be given to pupils with special needs, those from disadvantaged areas and junior classes.

Teacher allocations to second level schools are approved annually by the Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. The rules for allocating teaching resources provide that where a school management authority is unable to meet its curricular commitments, the Department will consider applications for additional short-term support. An independent appeals mechanism is available to school authorities who wish to appeal the adequacy of their teacher allocation.

In recent years improvements have been made under various schemes. In 1999 an ex-quota allocation was made to all second level schools in the free education scheme in respect of remedial education and the home-school-community liaison scheme was extended to all schools designated disadvantaged.

In 2000 a decision was made to reduce the general pupil-teacher ratio for appointment purposes from 19:1 to 18:1 and additional posts were also provided for leaving certificate applied, junior certificate programme and the guidance enhancement initiative resulting in approximately 1,000 additional posts in the sector.

The number of teaching posts allocated to cater for pupils with special educational needs has increased from 559 whole-time equivalents, WTE, in 2001-02 to 1,599 whole-time equivalents, WTE, in the current school year. In addition, the Department has provided for an additional allocation of 100 posts to guidance from September 2005.

School Curriculum.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

155 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools offering relationships and sexuality education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32721/05]

All recognised primary and post-primary schools are required to offer relationships and sexuality education, RSE. It is an integral part of the social, personal and health education, SPHE, curriculum at primary level and at junior cycle post-primary level. In addition, all schools are required to have an agreed school policy and a suitable relationships and sexuality education programme in place for senior cycle pupils. Comprehensive guidelines for junior cycle and senior cycle have also been published and distributed to schools by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, to support the RSE aspects of the curriculum. An integrated SPHE programme at senior cycle incorporating RSE is also being developed.

The overall aims of the SPHE curricula are to foster the personal development, health and well-being of students and help them to create supportive relationships and become responsible citizens; to develop a framework of values, attitudes, understanding and skills that will inform their actions and decision making; and to establish and maintain healthy patterns of behaviour.

The RSE programme at senior cycle deals further with these issues and, in addition, addresses issues such as pregnancy, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual harassment, sexual assault and accepting sexual orientation.

A national SPHE support service was established in September 2000 and provides a full-time support service in collaboration with the health boards to assist schools to deliver the programme. SPHE programmes are designed to enable children and young people to develop a framework of values, attitudes, understanding and life skills that will inform their decisions and actions both during their time in school and in their future lives.

Multi-Denominational Schools.

Richard Bruton

Question:

156 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the level of funding made available to Educate Together to advance multi-denominational teaching here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32701/05]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

178 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science if €500,000 will be provided to Educate Together in order that it can fulfil the role in the absence of the State doing so, of providing inter-denominational education at primary level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32762/05]

Jerry Cowley

Question:

596 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to provide core funding to a group (details supplied); her views on the increasing demand among persons here for education of this type; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32551/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 156, 178 and 596 together.

The level of funding that my Department provides to Educate Together as a school management body is on a par with that provided to Foras Patrúnachta na Scoileanna Lánghaeilge, the Church of Ireland Board of Education, the Islamic Board of Education and the National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education.

However, following discussions with Educate Together my Department has provided additional funding to Educate Together in 2005 to meet the immediate issues of concern to that body. The amount provided in 2005 was €81,133.

The matter of the future funding to be provided to the primary management bodies, including Educate Together, in 2006 will be considered as part of the normal Estimates process.

In accordance with the provisions of the Education Act 1998, I, as Minister, am obliged to have regard to the need to reflect the diversity of educational services provided in the State.

Applying this provision to the development of multi-denominational education, at primary level, my Department has supported the establishment of a significant number of new multi-denominational schools in recent years. Of the 24 new schools granted provisional recognition in the past three years alone, 12 are multi-denominational. At post primary level, the requirement for multi-denominational education is met by the State sector through non-designated vocational education committee schools.

To underpin the establishment of new schools, my Department has made a number of changes in recent years which have assisted patron bodies in the provision of accommodation. One of these changes, which was strongly welcomed by the patron body for multi-denominational schools, was the abolition of the local contribution to the building costs for State-owned school buildings, which had cost up to €63,000 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 multi-denominational school in Griffeen Valley, Lucan, which was designed and built in less than 13 months.

Many multi-denominational primary schools are established in areas of rapidly expanding population growth. School building projects in these areas are assigned a band one rating under the published prioritisation criteria for large-scale building projects. This is the highest band rating possible which results in the delivery of permanent accommodation in the shortest timeframe achievable.

These measures are a strong indication of my Department's commitment to supporting an educational diversity agenda, including multi-denominational education provision. It will continue to do so as part of its own statutory obligations and in the context of the national development plan which is structured to support the development of all educational sectors regardless of ethos.

Computerisation Programme.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

157 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science the support available to schools to implement information technology programmes and to use broadband; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32761/05]

The provision of broadband connectivity is one of a number of facets of my Department's ICT initiative which aims to integrate information and communications technology into teaching and learning in first and second level schools. The key elements to achieving this objective are access to the technologies, the development of skills in their usage and the availability of high quality curricular relevant digital content. Broadband connectivity is seen as a key enabler within this process. The Deputy will be aware that significant resources have been invested in ICT infrastructure in schools since 1998, initially in the acquisition of computers and peripherals and more recently in the development of computer networking facilities in schools.

In parallel a range of teacher training courses have been developed by the National Centre for Technology in Education and made available to teachers via the regional education centres. The courses range from basic computer operation to higher order technical skills of network management, website design, Internet use, digital media and a number of general and subject specific pedagogical ICT courses. In addition an ICT advisory service has been developed to provide school authorities and teachers with advice and assistance in the range of technical and pedagogical needs.

High quality digital content is essential to ensuring effective use of ICT in the classroom. In this context, the Scoilnet portal has been developed to provide a focal point of reference and a resource for teachers, students and parents. This portal site provides significant amounts of curriculum relevant content linking to over 6,000 websites, the content of which is aligned directly to curricular and subject areas. Work is ongoing, in collaboration with teachers, in building relevant indigenous content on the site, much of it in partnership with other agencies such as RTE, subject teachers' associations and others.

The NCTE is also working with the European Schoolnet, EUN, to implement a technological infrastructure to allow Irish schools to share access to a wide range of online educational databases located around Europe. An important aspect of this process is the development of an application profile for Irish curricular content to facilitate metatagging of content to international standards. The NCTE is collaborating with the NCCA in this regard and the acquisition of a range of on-line reference libraries is also being considered.

Schools Building Projects.

John Perry

Question:

158 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science when the number of bundles of schools to be offered to the market as part of the latest PPP school building announcement will be known; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32717/05]

Damien English

Question:

171 Mr. English asked the Minister for Education and Science when the latest round of PPP school projects will go to market; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32716/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158 and 171 together.

On 29 September 2005 I announced plans for the provision of 23 new post-primary and four primary schools through public private partnership procurement in the period 2005 to 2009. This is one of the most ambitious building programmes ever undertaken in the education sector.

My Department, in consultation with the National Development Finance Agency, is engaged in finalising the content of the first bundle of schools to be delivered under the current programme and I will be announcing the schools in the bundle in the near future. It is expected that the NDFA will be in a position to go to the market with this bundle in the first half of 2006. I will be launching the remaining bundles on a rolling basis thereafter as part of the four-year delivery plan.

Early Childhood Education.

Martin Ferris

Question:

159 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has been in contact with the CDI concerning its initiative A Place for Children: Tallaght West; and the Department which will be co-ordinating the Government’s response to same. [32791/05]

I met Ms Katherine Zappone, the project leader of the childhood development initiative in Tallaght earlier this year. The regional office of my Department in Tallaght also participated in the consultative group of regional agencies which provided advice and information in respect of the development of the project.

This initiative will be considered by my Department in the context of existing and future programmes to tackle educational disadvantage.

School Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

160 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the degree to which she proposes to address the issue of overcrowded classrooms at primary and second level schools throughout the country with particular reference to those schools most seriously overcrowded or deficient in terms of structures or facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32789/05]

The Government has invested in the largest school building programme in the history of the State. Between 1998 and the end of 2004, almost €2 billion was invested in school buildings and in the region of 7,500 large and small projects were completed in schools, including 130 brand new schools and 510 large-scale refurbishments-extensions. Funding for school building and renovation projects has increased five-fold since 1997. In 2005, €493 million will be spent on school building projects, compared to just €92 million in 1997.

Well in excess of 1,300 schools will benefit from the announcements that I have made so far this year with regard to the school buildings and modernisation programme.

The list of projects approved to date includes: large-scale projects to tender and construction over the next 12 to 15 months — 122, 89 primary and 33 post-primary; small schools initiative — 97, all primary; permanent accommodation initiative — 75, 70 primary and five post-primary; prefabs — 140, 137 primary and three post-primary; authorised to enter design phase — 43, 32 primary and 11 post-primary; summer works — 741, 452 primary and 289 post-primary; progress through architectural planning — 124, 73 primary and 51 post-primary; and PPPs — 27, 23 post-primary and four primary in 22 locations.

The total number of schools benefiting from this year's announcements is 1,369. The total allocation for my primary and post primary capital budget this year is an unprecedented €493 million, €270 million for primary and €223 million for post-primary.

This level of investment will need to be maintained if the goal of eliminating sub-standard accommodation is to be achieved. The Government remains committed to continuing the work that it has started and to consolidating the substantial progress that has already been made to ensure that the needs of schools throughout the country are met over time.

School Staffing.

Joan Burton

Question:

161 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that many primary schools with high numbers of children with special learning needs have lost teachers as a result of the introduction of the weighted system; if teachers will be restored to those schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32756/05]

As the Deputy is aware, the general allocation of learning support-resource teachers, LS-RTs, is intended to cater for children with learning support and high incidence special educational needs. The system was constructed so that LS-RT allocations would be based on pupil numbers, taking into account the differing needs of the most disadvantaged schools and the evidence that boys have greater difficulties than girls in this regard.

The new system has a number of benefits associated with it. It puts resources in place on a more systematic basis, thereby giving schools more certainty about their resource levels; it facilitates early intervention as the resource is in place when the child enrols; it reduces the need for individual applications and supporting psychological assessments; and it allows flexibility to school management in the deployment of resources, leading to a more effective and efficient delivery of services.

In introducing the general allocation system transitional arrangements were also introduced whereby transitional hours were allocated to schools to cater for children for whom individual teaching resources had previously been allocated but which it would not have been possible for the school to continue to provide from its general allocation. In the circumstances no child should have experienced a loss of resource teaching support.

It has always been the case, however, that schools in receipt of resource teacher support in respect of pupils with special educational needs would lose teacher support, either full posts or part-time hours, when the pupils that triggered the extra support left the school.

In the circumstances I do not propose to restore learning support-resource teachers to schools that no longer need them. It is intended that a review of the general allocation model will be undertaken within three years of operation.

I am satisfied that at this stage the general allocation system is working well and has been favourably received by schools. My Department will continue to work with schools and the education partners with a view to ensuring that this remains the case going forward.

I would add that there are now more than 5,000 teachers in our primary schools working directly with children with special needs, including those requiring learning support. This compares to fewer than 1,500 in 1998. Indeed, one out of every five primary school teachers is now working specifically with children with special needs.

Third Level Qualifications.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

162 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to proposals from universities here to reduce bachelor of engineering programmes to a three-year degree and provide a two-year masters programme as a follow-on; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32759/05]

I am aware of ongoing discussions regarding the structure of engineering degrees. I understand that this has been taking place in the context of changing professional standards as well as the Bologna declaration on a European area of higher education. I am also aware that the engineering professional body, Engineers Ireland, is engaged in a consultative process on its proposals with all stakeholders, and I look forward to receiving further information in due course.

Teaching Qualifications.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

163 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education and Science if exceptions can be made to the basic requirements for posts in the VEC sector which would allow for the recruitment of a person who does not meet the basic requirements for any given position; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32793/05]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

176 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if candidates for posts in the VEC sector, who claim relevant qualification for any given post, are subject to having their qualifications examined or scrutinised prior to appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32792/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 176 together.

The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching vacancies that arise in the VEC sector is a matter for the relevant VEC.

It a matter for a VEC to satisfy itself as to the suitability of the qualifications of any applicant for any given post prior to making an appointment. Where the VEC is in any doubt as to the suitability of an applicant's qualifications, my Department will arrange for the qualification(s) in question to be assessed on receiving all relevant details regarding the post and the qualifications from the VEC.

Where a doubt exists and where no other more suitably qualified applicant exists, a VEC may proceed with the conditional appointment of the most suitably qualified applicant subject to the qualifications being assessed.

Question No. 164 answered with QuestionNo. 116.
Question No. 165 answered with QuestionNo. 123.

Teaching Profession.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

166 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of males entering primary level teaching for the most recent year for which statistics are available; the number entering primary level teaching; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32706/05]

In the current school year, of the 1,749 permanent and temporary qualified teachers appointed for the first time at primary level, 189 were male.

I am aware of the decreasing numbers of males entering the teaching profession, and it is an issue that is of concern to me. It is important to attract more men into teaching for a number of reasons, not least of which is the positive role models that teachers provide in children's lives and the desirability of having both male and female role models in our schools.

I have now received the report of the primary education committee, Males into Primary Teaching. The primary education committee was established in order to examine a range of issues in relation to males entering primary teaching, and to make recommendations on short-term and long-term strategies to increase the numbers in this regard.

One of the key recommendations in the committee's report is that a co-ordinated promotion campaign, which would encourage boys as well as girls to enter primary teaching, should be undertaken. Officials in my Department are examining how such a promotion campaign can be run to maximum effect.

All other recommendations contained in the report are also currently receiving active consideration.

Departmental Projects.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

167 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Education and Science the renewable energy research projects funded by her Department over the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32728/05]

I am arranging for the information requested by the Deputy to be collated and it will be sent to the Deputy shortly.

Educational Disadvantage.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

168 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science when the new integrated school support programme will be introduced; when she will announce which schools will be included in the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32806/05]

The new action plan for educational inclusion, DEIS, delivering equality of opportunity in schools, which will be introduced on a phased basis starting during the current school year, aims to ensure that the educational needs of children and young people, from pre-school to completion of upper second level education — three to 18 years — from disadvantaged communities are prioritised and effectively addressed. The new plan is the outcome of the first full review of all programmes for tackling educational disadvantage that have been put in place over the past 20 years and it will involve an additional annual investment of €40 million on full implementation. It will also involve the creation of about 300 additional posts across the education system generally.

A key element of this new action plan is the putting in place of a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage in our primary and second level schools, which will result in improved targeting of resources at those most in need. As a result of the identification process, approximately 600 primary schools, comprising 300 urban-town and 300 rural, and 150 second level schools will be included in a new school support programme, SSP. It is anticipated that the identification process will be completed by the end of the year.

The action plan addresses all the following key issues and needs: improving identification of disadvantage — a standardised approach will allow my Department to target resources more effectively; increasing early childhood education provision in the most disadvantaged communities; improving supports for pupils with low attainment levels in literacy and numeracy; enhancing procedures for measuring the outcomes achieved from educational inclusion measures; enhancing integration and partnership working, both within the education sector itself and cross-sectorally; enhancing professional development supports for principals and school staff; and enhancing research and evaluation.

School Discipline.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

169 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science if funding will be provided in budget 2006 to implement proposals expected from the task force on student behaviour in second level schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32816/05]

Liam Twomey

Question:

207 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for Education and Science when the task force on student behaviour will deliver its final report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32715/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169 and 207 together.

The task force on student behaviour will complete a final report, including recommendations, later this year. In its interim report, the task force recognises that the most important feature of its work is to generate a set of recommendations that will impact in a positive way and will help to curtail the spread of disruptive behaviour in our schools. At its interim report stage, the task force decided to document the broad areas that are emerging and that will form the bedrock of its recommendations in its final report which is expected in December 2005.

Since the task force was established early this year, it has come to grips with the breadth and complexity of this vitally important area. In tackling its job it has consulted widely and built upon submissions, research and its own analysis to define sharply the areas where, in its final report, it will make recommendations to underpin future change.

I am particularly impressed with the ability of the task force to focus on the core issues. It has indicated to me that it is on target to produce a final report and detailed recommendations in December of this year. Before producing that report it wanted to engage further with the wide range of interests in this area and to review what works and does not work both domestically and internationally. I am greatly encouraged by this interim report and I look forward to receiving the final report and its recommendations.

Question No. 170 answered with QuestionNo. 147.
Question No. 171 answered with QuestionNo. 158.

Physical Education Facilities.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

172 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of primary schools which have a sports facility on-site or access to a sports facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32705/05]

The information in the format requested by the Deputy is not readily available. However, in relation to PE facilities in primary schools generally, the PE curriculum has been designed on the basis that facilities in schools may vary. Many primary schools have a general purpose room and practically all schools have outdoor play areas which are used for teaching different aspects of the physical education programme. In addition, many schools use adjacent local facilities, including public parks, playing fields and swimming pools.

My Department fully recognises the key role of physical exercise within the school environment and continues to respond to the need to improve PE facilities. The provision of such facilities is an integral part of the design process for new school buildings or where an existing school building is undergoing major refurbishment. New PE equipment such as balancing benches and gym mats are funded as part of any major building programme.

In addition to this, the school planning section of my Department is working proactively with some local authorities to explore the possibility of the development of school provision in tandem with the development of community facilities. This enhanced co-operation has the effect of minimising my Department's land requirements and thus reducing site costs while at the same time providing local communities with new schools with enhanced facilities such as sports facilities, playing pitches etc.

The Deputy may also be aware that the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism is undertaking a national audit of sports facilities in communities around the country, which will also provide useful information on facilities available to schools.

Educational Disadvantage.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

173 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science if the drop-out rate from schools in poorer areas is a crisis; and the way in which she proposes to address same. [32815/05]

David Stanton

Question:

180 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the efforts she is taking to address educational disadvantage, in particular in relation to the high school drop-out rates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32739/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 173 and 180 together.

Given the clear link between early school leaving and continued socio-economic disadvantage in adult life, the Government is determined to do all that is possible to ensure that every child gets all the opportunities and support they need to enable them to complete their education.

To this end, we are providing increased resources for schools in disadvantaged areas to improve their school completion rates by offering extra supports for their students. These include extra educational supports and services such as breakfast clubs and homework supports. Working with parents to promote school attendance is also an important part of the work of the home school community liaison officers appointed to our disadvantaged schools.

Other measures designed to improve school completion include the establishment of the National Educational Welfare Board in 2002 with a remit to monitor school attendance, help parents to get a school place for their child and run promotional campaigns on the importance of finishing school. The priority that this Government attaches to tackling early school leaving is evident from the fact that the budget for the welfare board has been increased by 20% in 2005.

A total of €24 million is being provided this year for the school completion programme, which is one of our key interventions to combat early school leaving and educational disadvantage and is developing strong links between primary and post-primary schools in disadvantaged areas. In addition, my Department supports youth encounter projects, YEPs, which provide educational facilities to young people who have become alienated from the conventional school system.

Increased integration will also be promoted between the work of second level schools and centres catering for young early school leavers, particularly Youthreach centres and senior Traveller training centres.

Under the new action plan for educational inclusion, DEIS, which I launched in May, additional supports are being targeted at children in the most disadvantaged schools to encourage them to stay in school. The key principle of early intervention to identify and help children at risk of leaving school early is a major component of the plan.

Under DEIS, additional clusters will be created under the school completion programme which provides a wide range of targeted supports on an individual and group basis to children and young people who may be at risk of early school leaving. The services of the home school community liaison scheme will also be extended and a continuing emphasis will be placed on the development of effective transfer programmes by building on the existing work of the HSCL scheme and the school completion programme. An additional guidance counselling provision, being made available for second level schools having the highest concentrations of disadvantage, will also assist to increase retention rates.

We anticipate being in a position to notify participating schools in relation to the outcome of the ongoing identification process under DEIS by the end of the year. I am committed to ensuring our policies strive to increase the retention rate of students in our schools.

Post-Primary Education.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

174 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the fact that for Ireland to fulfil the requirements of the Lisbon Agenda, increased resources are needed for post-primary schools in order that they can reduce their class sizes and provide young persons with the supports they need, especially those with learning disabilities and those who are at risk of dropping out of school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32777/05]

The strategic goal set at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000 is to make the European Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, by 2010. Education and training have a central role in achieving the Lisbon goal. My Department has taken a range of policy initiatives and measures in recent years which contribute to developing the knowledge society and achieving the Lisbon goal.

At post-primary level, significant improvements have been made in the pupil-teacher ratio in recent years. The pupil-teacher ratio has been reduced from 16:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 13.4:1 in the 2004-05 school year. My Department will continue to provide further reductions in the pupil-teacher ratio within available resources and subject to spending priorities within the education sector. Priority will be given to pupils with special needs and those from disadvantaged areas.

As the Deputy is aware, there has been enormous progress made over the past number of years with regard to increasing the number of teachers in our schools who are specifically dedicated to providing education for children with special educational needs. To date, at second level, there are 1,614 whole-time equivalent teachers in place to support pupils with special educational needs. This compares to 200 teachers that were in place in 1998 for such pupils. In addition, there are 1,023 whole-time equivalent special needs assistants in our second level schools.

Since 1 January 2005, the National Council for Special Education, NCSE, through its network of locally based special education needs organisers, is responsible for processing any applications for additional special educational needs resources. I am confident that the advent of the NCSE will prove of major benefit in ensuring that all children with special educational needs receive the support they require, when and where they require it.

Given the clear link between early school leaving and continued socio-economic disadvantage in adult life, the Government is determined to do all that is possible to ensure that every child gets all the opportunities and support he or she needs to enable her or her to complete his or her education. To this end, we are providing increased resources for schools in disadvantaged areas to improve their school completion rates by offering extra supports for their students. These include extra educational supports and services such as breakfast clubs and homework supports. Working with parents to promote school attendance is also an important part of the work of the home school community liaison officers appointed to our disadvantaged schools.

Other measures designed to improve school completion include the establishment of the National Educational Welfare Board in 2002 with a remit to monitor school attendance, help parents to get a school place for their child and run promotional campaigns on the importance of finishing school. The priority that this Government attaches to tackling early school leaving is evident from the fact that the budget for the National Educational Welfare Board has been increased by 20% in 2005. A total of €24 million is being provided this year for the school completion programme, which is one of our key interventions to combat early school leaving and educational disadvantage. In addition, my Department supports youth encounter projects that provide educational facilities to young people who have become alienated from the conventional school system. Increased integration will also be promoted between the work of second level schools and centres catering for young early school leavers, particularly Youthreach centres and senior Traveller training centres.

Under the new action plan for educational inclusion, which I launched in May, additional supports are being targeted at children in the most disadvantaged schools to encourage them to stay in school. The key principle of early intervention to identify and help children at risk of leaving school early is a major component of the plan. My Department is committed to further advancing the Lisbon Agenda to the maximum extent possible. To this end, the statement of strategy for my Department is informed by, and explicitly acknowledges, the importance of the Lisbon strategy.

Garda Vetting Procedures.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

175 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science the categories of workers within the educational system that are vetted by the Garda with regard to the risk of child abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32807/05]

Denis Naughten

Question:

195 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science when teachers and other school staff will be subject to vetting procedures; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32711/05]

Dan Neville

Question:

197 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on whether all school board of management members should be subject to vetting before appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32710/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 175, 195 and 197 together.

Ensuring the protection, health and welfare of children is a key concern for the Government, for parents, for agencies that work with children and for society generally and I assure the Deputy that the Government is determined to do all it can to keep our children and vulnerable adults safe.

In the education sector, vetting is available in respect of prospective employees of children in detention schools as well as special needs assistants and bus escorts to children with special needs. My colleague, Deputy Brian Lenihan, Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science with special responsibility for children, announced a doubling of the number of staff employed in the unit to ensure that they can handle a greater volume of requests from employers. The unit will commence the augmentation of its existing vetting arrangements upon decentralisation targeted for mid-November this year. The provision of additional staff resources will enable the Garda Síochána's vetting services to be extended to all persons working with children and vulnerable adults. This will include teachers, caretakers, bus drivers and others working with children.

The issue of vetting members of boards of management raises the wider issue of vetting people who volunteer in the education sector. My view is that the determining factor in deciding whether or not such persons should be vetted is the extent to which they have unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults. In consultation with the education partners, I intend to examine this issue closely as the Garda vetting service expands.

Question No. 176 answered with QuestionNo. 163.

Road Accident Investigations.

Jack Wall

Question:

177 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science when the Bus Éireann report on the school bus crash in County Meath will be published; if she will support the giving of as much information to the families of those who died or were injured as would be considered not prejudicial to a possible court action, following consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32787/05]

My Department has been informed by Bus Éireann that the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, has requested that the publication of the report of the committee of inquiry set up by Bus Éireann to investigate the cause of the Navan bus tragedy of 23 May 2005 be deferred until the DPP's office has concluded its deliberations. My Department has also been informed by Bus Éireann that the DPP expressed his concern in a letter to the company that nothing should be published that might prejudice any criminal proceedings which might be brought. My Department further understands that Bus Éireann was in contact with the bereaved families and the families of the other students involved in the tragic accident to privately communicate this development to them.

Question No. 178 answered with QuestionNo. 156.

Multi-Denominational Schools.

John Deasy

Question:

179 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of multi-denominational primary and secondary schools here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32719/05]

The number of primary multi-denominational schools established in this country to date is 39. At post-primary level, the requirement for multi-denominational education is met through the State's network of non-designated VEC schools, of which there are 195. A complete list of schools together with addresses and contact numbers is available on my Department's website, http://www.education.ie.

Question No. 180 answered with QuestionNo. 173.

Child Protection.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

181 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science if her Department monitors the implementation of the Department of Education and Science child protection guidelines for post-primary schools to ensure that they are implemented in all post primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32760/05]

The child protection guidelines for post-primary schools were drawn up following a consultation process with the education partners. The guidelines are based on children first, the national guidelines for the protection and welfare of children. Sufficient copies of the guidelines have issued to all post-primary schools so that each staff member can be provided with his or her personal copy. An area of my Department's website, http://www.education.ie, has been specifically designated to the subject of child protection.

Boards of management are required to formally adopt the guidelines as official school policy on child protection and are required to formally appoint a designated liaison person, DLP, usually the principal, and deputy designated liaison person. The DLP is responsible for briefing all school staff on the adoption and implementation of the guidelines.

A training programme for designated personnel commenced in November 2004 and ran throughout the last school year. Schools which were unable to avail of this training in 2004-05 have since been offered a further programme of courses in the first term of the current school year. A programme of follow-up training for DLPs and deputy DLPs will commence in 2006. Following discussions with the three post-primary management bodies, agreement was reached on the provision by those bodies of an advisory service to support DLPs in delivering in-school briefings on the guidelines and in dealing with issues arising. This service commenced in September of this year. On completion of the final schedule of introductory in-service, my Department will be seeking confirmation from each school that the board of management has formally adopted the guidelines and appointed a DLP and a deputy DLP.

Teachers’ Remuneration.

Seán Ryan

Question:

182 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science the yearly cost of paying teachers’ salaries in fee-paying post-primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32803/05]

The cost of salaries and allowances paid to teachers in fee-paying post-primary schools for the 2004-05 school year was €89,612,639. The State has traditionally paid the salaries of teachers in fee-paying schools for a number of reasons. For example, if fee-paying schools were to close and the pupils were to move to the non-fee paying sector, the cost to the State would be higher. Whether children attend fee-paying or non-fee-paying schools, teachers would have to be paid. It also ensures all teachers, irrespective of where they teach, are paid equally in accordance with their qualifications and experience.

Considerations of State support for minority religions have also been important, given that much of the fee-paying sector has traditionally been made up of Protestant schools and those with a minority religious ethos. The funding of teacher salaries in fee-paying schools by the State has been a long standing feature of our education system and one continued by successive Governments.

Question No. 183 answered with QuestionNo. 149.

Education Welfare Service.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

184 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will report on the current roll-out of educational welfare officers; when the full complement of 300 will be employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32735/05]

The Education (Welfare) Act 2000 established the National Educational Welfare Board as the single national body with responsibility for school attendance. The Act provides a comprehensive framework promoting regular school attendance and tackling the problems of absenteeism and early school leaving. The general functions of the board are to ensure that each child attends a recognised school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education.

Since its formal launch in December 2003, the aim of the National Educational Welfare Board has been to provide a service to the most disadvantaged areas and most at-risk groups. The service is developing on a continuing basis. The total authorised staffing complement is currently 94, comprising 16 HQ and support staff, five regional managers, 12 senior educational welfare officers and 61 educational welfare officers. Five regional teams have been established, with bases in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, and staff have been deployed in areas of greatest disadvantage and in areas designated under the Government's RAPID programme. Towns which have an educational welfare officer allocated to them include Dundalk, Drogheda, Navan, Athlone, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Bray, Clonmel, Tralee, Ennis, Sligo, Naas, Castlebar, Longford, Tuam, Tullamore, Letterkenny and Portlaoise. Since September 2005, every county in Ireland is served by an educational welfare service. In addition, the board will follow up on urgent cases nationally where children are not currently receiving an education.

There are some 490 staff in education disadvantage programmes whose work involves a school attendance element. My Department is anxious to ensure that the maximum benefit is derived from these substantial personnel resources. Consequently, work is ongoing to develop appropriate protocols for integrated working between the different services involved. I will be keeping the issue of the National Educational Welfare Board's staffing under review. However, I am anxious to secure greater efficiencies through integrated working and by examining the scope for improvements in operational procedures.

Post-Primary Education.

Tom Hayes

Question:

185 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if all second level schools will produce an annual school report detailing their activities under a broad range of headings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32718/05]

Bernard Allen

Question:

196 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Education and Science if all second level schools will be mandated to produce an annual school report including information on a wide range of topics including exam results; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32696/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 and 196 together.

There is no requirement for second level schools to produce such a report. However, the Education Act 1998 requires the board of management of a school to establish procedures for informing the parents of students in the school of matters relating to the operation and performance of the school. Such procedures may include the publication of a report on the operation and performance of the school in any school year. The methods by which such information is provided remains a matter for the board of management.

For example, I understand that it is common practice in many schools that an annual report is prepared for the final meeting of the board of management each year. This normally refers to how successfully policies were implemented during the year, highlights particular achievements and states priorities for the next school year. Some schools may send a synopsis of this report to parents. The practice of reporting in the above manner to boards of management is encouraged by some of the trustee bodies. Reports are normally sent to the trustee body.

There is also a growing trend whereby principals give a report on the activities of the school in the previous school year, as well as indicating planned activities for the coming school year, to the AGM of the parents' association at the beginning of a new school year. Many schools send a newsletter to parents at intervals during the year or at the end of the school year. Normally, information is included on planned and achieved school activities.

In my address to the annual conference of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals last month, I also spoke of the value of schools sharing the outcomes of their ongoing self-review processes with parents and encouraged more to do so. As the Deputy will be aware, I am determined to provide more information, for parents in particular, about our schools, in a way that ensures a fair and comprehensive picture of all the different activities in a school.

As I have said on many occasions, I am strongly opposed to the publication of crude league tables based solely on examination or test results. Such tables provide an unbalanced and grossly limited indication of a school's performance. In contrast to school league tables, I believe that school inspection reports from whole school evaluations and other inspections, when read in their entirety, can provide balanced and well-informed information on schools. The whole school evaluation process involves an examination of all the varied activities of a school, from the quality of teaching and learning to the availability of extra-curricular activities and the implementation of policies in areas such as bullying and health and safety. The inspection process also includes consultation with the school's board, parents and staff members, and, at second level, with the school's students. Whole school evaluation reports can, therefore, provide valuable information on the educational and social opportunities provided by a school. The comments that they contain are also fully sensitive to the context in which the school operates in a way which is not possible with league tables.

Given the breadth of the contents of whole school evaluation reports, I believe that the publication of these and other school inspection reports could go a significant way to addressing the real needs of parents, students, teachers and others for better information on schools. The type of information provided in whole school evaluation reports will help parents who need accurate and balanced information. Whole school evaluation reports also contain valuable information that will be of interest to schools which may wish to learn from the experience of others.

I am determined to progress this matter in a sensible and responsible way and to ensure that the views of all the education partners are considered before the publication process is finalised. During the summer, I put in place a mechanism whereby this can take place. The inspectorate of my Department has held no less than 20 meetings with interested parties over the past month and is currently preparing draft guidelines for the publication of inspection reports which will be circulated shortly to the education partners. Responses to the draft guidelines will then be sought and a final draft of the proposals will be submitted to me in December. I intend that the publication of school inspection reports will commence from January 2006 for all inspections carried out from the start of the calendar year 2006.

While I do not want to pre-empt the outcome of the consultation process, the discussions held to date have been very fruitful and constructive. I know that each of the partners realises the need to address the information deficit that exists at present in terms of ensuring full public access to balanced information on schools. This is especially important to those who, like myself, are opposed to the publication of league tables and want to find a better way.

I am confident that the considered and responsible approach that we are taking to the publication of inspection reports will lead to much greater availability of information on schools without inadvertently pitting schools serving entirely different communities against each other in crude comparisons of academic performance alone. Whether intended or not, academic league tables would be a likely consequence of publishing exam results in an annual report for each school.

Education Schemes.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

186 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has satisfied herself with the support given to young mothers to stay in school or return to education. [31001/05]

My Department provides for home tuition to be made available to pupils who are absent from school during the later stages of pregnancy or immediately following the birth of a baby when attendance may be impractical. Grants are available for nine hours tuition per week for a period of up to ten weeks.

In addition, under the school completion programme, as a specific gender equality measure, my Department currently supports the educational element of six teenage parenting projects under the teenage parenting support initiative. Following an evaluation of the pilot phase, this initiative was mainstreamed under the Crisis Pregnancy Agency and my Department is represented on the advisory committee. Each teenage parenting support project has made links with a school completion project in their area, assisted by the school completion project national co-ordination team and the teenage parenting support initiative co-ordinators.

The young parents supported by the teenage parenting projects are given the opportunity to reach their full potential through continued participation in education and training. It is envisaged that this will improve their life opportunities and reduce the likelihood of the young family experiencing poverty and social exclusion and being long-term dependants on State support.

To facilitate the participation of people with child care responsibilities in further education, my Department provides funding to VECs to assist towards the child care expenses of participants in certain further education programmes. These are the vocational training opportunities scheme, Youthreach and senior Traveller training centre programmes. The administration of these grants is a matter for individual VECs and students in the relevant programmes can apply for them, as appropriate.

I recently launched a booklet entitled information for young parents in education, published by Treoir. The booklet provides information on the various options which are available to young parents and pregnant teenagers to enable them to remain in or return to education. It contains information on various programmes which are currently available for young parents, including financial supports and supports for child care. In addition to programmes provided under the remit of the Department of Education and Science, these include the back to education allowance scheme. This scheme is administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and is a second chance educational opportunities programme designed to encourage and facilitate unemployed people, lone parents and people with disabilities to improve their skills and qualifications with a view to joining or returning to the workforce.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

187 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that solicitors charged fees to their clients on top of the costs paid by the Residential Institution Redress Board in advance of the publicity in recent weeks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32814/05]

Section 27 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 provides that all reasonable legal costs and other costs associated with the preparation and presentation of an application to the board will be met by the board. In the event that agreement cannot be reached between the board and the applicant's legal representative, the matter is referred to the taxing master of the High Court for determination.

The board's published guidelines and other publicity material on the redress scheme specifically highlight the fact that all reasonable legal costs incurred in respect of applications for redress are payable by the board. Furthermore, as solicitors are required under law to fully inform their clients, in writing, of the legal costs payable in their case, it is incumbent on the solicitor to inform an applicant to the board that all reasonable legal costs will be met by the board and that the applicant should not have to pay any legal costs.

The Law Society of Ireland is the body responsible under law for regulating the solicitor profession and as such it is a matter for the society to investigate complaints about the conduct of a solicitor. Earlier this year, my Department became aware that the society had taken the view that it was precluded from investigating complaints from applicants with regard to overcharging by solicitors as a result of the prohibition on disclosure of information under section 28 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002. Arising from this, I included an amendment to this section on Committee Stage of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Bill 2005 to enable the Law Society to investigate such complaints. This Bill was enacted into law on 9 July 2005.

The redress scheme was set up by the Government to help alleviate the injury and suffering experienced by victims of child abuse in residential institutional care. Awards made by the board are payable in full to the applicant, without any deduction for costs. It is a disgraceful practice that some solicitors would take advantage of their clients by overcharging as reported. I welcome the steps which are being taken by the Law Society to examine and deal with the issue of overcharging by solicitors. I understand that some people have already been refunded by solicitors and that the society will take whatever further action is appropriate, first, to ensure that all persons who were wrongly charged fees are fully reimbursed and, second, to prevent a recurrence of this practice. I have also discussed the matter with the Attorney General, who is in correspondence with the Law Society on the issue. I expect that the results of the investigation undertaken by the society will be made known to the Government and the public as soon as possible.

Youth Services.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

188 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Science the level of funding allocated to the national youth work development plan; the level of funding estimated to implement the plan in full; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32704/05]

The national youth work development plan, together with the Youth Work Act 2001, provides a framework for youth work in Ireland. The plan identifies four main goals and proposes 50 action points to achieve these goals over a five-year period.

To date, a number of priority action areas have been addressed. In 2003, €80,000 was spent on the implementation of a child protection training programme for the sector. In 2004, €500,000 was made available for the roll-out of the plan and was spent on further support for the child protection training programme, development of projects funded under the special projects for youth scheme and increased support to youth information centres and the youth information support partnership. In 2005, an 18% increase in the main funding line for the youth work sector has been provided. This additional funding is catering for a number of developments under the Youth Work Act 2001 and the national youth work development plan and for enhancements to existing services.

With regard to the national youth work development plan, to date in 2005, additional funding has been provided in the following areas: the establishment of ten new special projects for disadvantaged youth; the upgrade of 20 single worker special projects to two worker projects; review of youth work funding; review of youth information provision; continued support of the child protection training programme; establishment of a development fund for youth work organisations and North-South youth work training endorsement panel. It is expected that in the region of €1.6 million will be expended in 2005 on these and other action areas which are currently being progressed. The financial provision required for 2006 and 2007 will be determined by the actions of the plan identified and agreed for implementation each year, having regard to available financial resources.

Question No. 189 answered with QuestionNo. 141.
Question No. 190 answered with QuestionNo. 151.

Education Welfare Service.

Willie Penrose

Question:

191 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science if a significant increase in funding will be provided to the National Educational Welfare Board in order that it can fulfil its mandate throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32818/05]

The Education (Welfare) Act 2000 established the National Educational Welfare Board as the single national body with responsibility for school attendance. The Act provides a comprehensive framework promoting regular school attendance and tackling the problems of absenteeism and early school leaving. The general functions of the board are to ensure that each child attends a recognised school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education.

To discharge its responsibilities, the board is developing a nationwide service that is accessible to schools, parents or guardians and others concerned with the welfare of young people. For this purpose, educational welfare officers have been appointed and deployed throughout the country to provide a welfare-focused service to support regular school attendance and discharge the board's functions locally. The total authorised staffing complement of the board is 94, comprising 16 HQ and support staff, five regional managers, 11 senior educational welfare officers and 62 educational welfare officers. Towns which have an educational welfare officer allocated to them include Dundalk, Drogheda, Navan, Athlone, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Bray, Clonmel, Tralee, Ennis, Sligo, Naas, Castlebar, Longford, Tuam, Tullamore, Letterkenny and Portlaoise. Since September 2005, every county in Ireland is served by an educational welfare service. The board will also follow up on urgent cases nationally where children are not currently receiving an education.

In addition to National Educational Welfare Board staff, there are 490 staff in education disadvantage programmes whose work involves a school attendance element. My Department is anxious to ensure that the maximum benefit is derived from these substantial personnel resources. Consequently, work is ongoing to develop appropriate protocols for integrated working between the different services involved.

The budget allocated to the National Educational Welfare Board for 2005 was €7.838 million, an increase of €1.3 million or 20% on the 2004 allocation. I will keep the level of funding under review. However, I am anxious to secure greater efficiencies through integrated working and by examining the scope for improvements in operational procedures.

Question No. 192 answered with QuestionNo. 149.

Third Level Education.

Michael Ring

Question:

193 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of recommendations from the OECD report on higher education here that she intends to actively prioritise over the coming 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32713/05]

The OECD review of Irish higher education makes a series of far-reaching recommendations for reform and development of the sector, against the backdrop of the crucial role which has been identified for it in helping to achieve the broad strategic national goal of becoming a leading knowledge-based society.

Earlier this year, the Government approved the broad reform agenda outlined by the OECD and the bringing forward of legislative proposals to transfer responsibility for management of the institutes of technology from my Department to the Higher Education Authority.

This Bill is being drafted and effecting this transfer will be a key priority of my Department in the coming year. The bringing together of universities and institutes of technology under a common management structure will facilitate the development of a more strategic approach to higher education within a unified policy framework and the gradual devolution to the institutes of technology of greater academic and managerial autonomy.

In April of this year, in outlining a detailed response to the OECD recommendations, I announced my intention to create a strategic innovation fund to incentivise reform and modernisation in the sector. Planning for this is at an advanced stage, with detailed criteria for the fund currently being finalised by my Department and the Higher Education Authority. I expect to be in a position to announce funding for a call for proposals in 2006 shortly. Development of a new funding model for third level institutions by the Higher Education Authority is also at an advanced stage.

Action on a number of other issues raised in the review is also already underway, in particular the proposal by the OECD that research and development issues should be co-ordinated across Departments and agencies. The interdepartmental committee on science, technology and innovation is now playing an active role in planning for our needs into the future and ensuring that national objectives are pursued and achieved in a "joined up" manner.

I have signalled my intention, where necessary, to bring forward comprehensive new legislation to give effect to those OECD recommendations that will involve legislative change. I view the OECD recommendations as a framework which will ensure that higher education institutions have the capacity to help Ireland's transition to the knowledge society and I have also made it quite clear that the final shape of future policy proposals for the sector will take account of the views of those working in and with it. To this end, my Department and I have already engaged in an extensive consultation process with stakeholders and I look forward to this dialogue continuing into the future.

Post-Primary Education.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

194 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science if substantial extra funding will be provided to raise the amount spent on post-primary education from the current position of 21 out of 27 OECD countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32754/05]

The OECD report referred to by the Deputy examines changes in expenditure since the mid-1990s. It shows that public expenditure on education in Ireland has increased substantially between 1995 and 2002 at all levels, even when allowing for inflation. According to data provided by my Department, per pupil expenditure in Ireland at second level has increased by 16% from €5,845 in 2002 — constant 2004 prices — to €6,788 in 2004.

Increased national income and public expenditure has enabled us to reduce average class size over time as well as increase expenditure on salaries and other areas of current expenditure. In the case of the student-teacher ratio, the figure for Ireland at second-level has fallen to 13.6 in 2003-04, which is in line with the international average.

In recent years, second level schools have benefited from substantial increases in direct funding. The standard capitation grant, which is the main source of funding towards the running costs of secondary schools, now stands at €286 per pupil from 1 January last. In the case of disadvantaged schools, an additional per capita grant of €38 is paid, bringing the total per capita grant to €324.

Introduced with effect from the 2000-01 school year, the per capita grant paid under the school services support initiative for secondary schools now stands at €145 per pupil from January last. This increased grant is paid in addition to the range of equalisation grants of up to €15,554 —€44.44 per pupil — per annum that have also been approved for voluntary secondary schools. A secondary school with 500 pupils now receives annual grants of up to €255,761 —€275,000 in the case of disadvantaged schools — towards general expenses and support services. These significant increases in the funding of post-primary schools is a clear demonstration of my commitment to prioritise available resources to address the needs of schools.

Question No. 195 answered with QuestionNo. 175.
Question No. 196 answered with QuestionNo. 185.
Question No. 197 answered with QuestionNo. 175.
Question No. 198 answered with QuestionNo. 119.

Special Educational Needs.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

199 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science if there was a reduction in the amount of money spent by the State on court cases relating to education provision for children with special needs in 2005 in comparison to the €10 million spent for such a purpose in 2003 and 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32765/05]

To date in 2005 my Department has spent a total of approximately €907,000 on legal costs and settlements associated with court cases relating to educational provision for children with special needs compared to a total of approximately €10.13 million in 2003 and 2004. These figures do not include the costs of the State's legal defence which is borne by the Attorney General's office. It is the case that legal costs associated with such cases may take some time to be submitted and processed and it is possible that further costs will be incurred before the end of the year.

I stress there has been enormous progress made in recent years in increasing the number of teachers and other supports in our schools which are specifically dedicated to providing education for children with special educational needs.

At primary level there are now approximately 5,000 teachers in our schools working directly with children with special needs, including those requiring learning support. This compares to under 1,500 in 1998. Indeed, one out of every five primary school teachers is now working specifically with children with special needs. At second level, there are approximately 1,600 whole time equivalent resource teachers in place to support pupils with special educational needs. This compares to the approximately 200 teachers that were in place in the 1997-98 school year for such pupils. Furthermore there are approximately 6,300 whole time equivalent special needs assistants, SNAs, in our primary and second level schools supporting children with special needs.

In addition to the issue of resources at school level, the National Council for Special Education has also been established. This council has approximately 100 staff, the great majority of whom are special educational needs organisers, SENOs, who are locally based throughout the country. The role of the SENOs is to ensure that all special educational needs in their areas are addressed in an effective manner.

In particular, the SENOs are a focal point of contact for parents/guardians and schools, and process applications for resources for children with special educational needs. I am satisfied that the establishment of the Council and the work of the SENOs is transforming the delivery of special educational services in this country.

I am confident that as a State we have faced up to the issue of providing appropriate educational provision for all children with special needs and that much work has been done to ensure that the necessary resources and structures are in place. I can confirm that I will continue to prioritise the issue of special needs education and, in co-operation with the National Council for Special Education, ensure that all children with special needs are adequately resourced to enable them to meet their full potential.

School Management.

Seán Ryan

Question:

200 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science the percentage of primary school boards of management under the patronage of the Roman Catholic Church that are chaired by a priest; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32804/05]

The appointment of the chairperson of the board of management of a primary school is a matter for the patron of the school. The appointment must be made in accordance with the procedures set out in the handbook, Boards of Management of National Schools Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure.

According to my Department's records, approximately 62% of the chairpersons of boards of management of primary schools under the patronage of the Roman Catholic Church are priests.

School Transport.

Michael Ring

Question:

201 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of concessionary students being carried on the school transport system; the number carried last year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32722/05]

The number of concessionary pupils currently being carried on school transport is 6,557. This figure may fluctuate from time to time. The numbers carried at the end of September 2004 was 6,900.

On concessionary pupils, I should clarify that a pupil at primary level is eligible for school transport if s/he resides 3.2 kilometres — two miles — or more from the nearest suitable primary school. At post-primary level, a pupil is eligible if s/he resides 4.8 kilometres — three miles — or more from the post-primary centre in the catchment area in which they live.

In the case of primary and post-primary pupils who are ineligible for school transport on the basis of the distance requirements, transport may be offered on a concessionary fare-paying basis. Such pupils are not guaranteed school transport for every year of their schooling. Rather, the granting of such concessionary transport is dependent on the availability of additional capacity on the buses used to transport eligible students. Any such additional capacity is calculated on a year-to-year basis.

Languages Programme.

Liz McManus

Question:

202 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to provide for the teaching of languages other than English or Irish in primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32769/05]

Modern European languages are currently taught in 394, or 12%, of our primary schools as part of an initiative that was introduced by my Department in September 1998. The aims of this initiative include the development of communication skills in a modern European language, the fostering of positive attitudes to language learning and the diversification of the languages taught in our schools. In the participating schools, the pupils in fifth and sixth classes are taught one of four languages, French, German, Italian and Spanish. A dedicated support structure for the teachers in the schools concerned has been in place since the initiative was implemented.

At the request of my Department, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, carried out a study on the feasibility of modern languages in the primary curriculum. It reported to the Minister in spring 2004 and its recommendation, that any decision on the place of modern languages in the primary curriculum should be deferred until the revised primary school curriculum has been implemented in full, was accepted. This will be 2007 at the earliest. In the interim, the NCCA is engaging in additional research and a number of pilot projects with schools participating in the initiative to further inform its final advice.

My Department is working closely with language experts from the Council of Europe on an analysis of language practice at primary and post-primary level, with a view to the formulation of an integrated language policy. The outcomes of this process, together with the NCCA's advice, will be key considerations in planning the future of modern language provision at primary level.

In any comparison with other European countries around the provision of modern foreign languages in school curricula, it is important to note that all students in our schools are already required to study our two official languages, Irish and English.

School Transport.

Seán Crowe

Question:

203 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science if it is her Department’s policy to refund money paid for school transport where they have been told they are outside the catchment area, when in fact they are within it; and the number of such cases. [32744/05]

Bus Éireann administers the school transport services on behalf of my Department. School bus routes are organised on a local basis by 11 regional Bus Éireann offices. Payments for school transport tickets are processed by each regional office.

If issues arise regarding refunds of payments made, these should be brought to the attention of Bus Éireann, in the first instance, for further investigation.

At the end of September, Bus Éireann informed my Department that 151 post-primary and 234 primary school applicants, who applied for transport on a concessionary basis, were refunded moneys because no transport was available on the routes concerned for concessionary applicants.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

204 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of primary teachers in counties Cavan and Monaghan which have 30 or more children in their classes; if she has satisfied herself that a teacher can deal with classes of up to 40 and yet give sufficient individual attention to the needs of slow or weaker children; the steps she intends to take to bring about a situation where no class would be over 30; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32528/05]

The most recent data on class size available to my Department shows that, in the 2004-05 school year, of the 322 ordinary classes in primary schools in Cavan, 44 classes had 30 or more pupils and of the 266 ordinary classes in primary schools in Monaghan, 40 classes had 30 or more pupils.

Major improvements in school staffing have been made in recent years with the hiring of more than 4,500 additional teachers. This represents the largest increase in teacher numbers since the expansion of free education. The annual estimated value of the additional expenditure on these posts is over €200 million.

In 1996-97, the average class size in our primary schools was 27. It is now 24. In 1996-97 there was one teacher for every 22 children in our primary schools. Today there is one teacher for every 17 children, the lowest pupil-teacher ratio in the history of the State. The Deputy will be happy to know that the average class size in both Cavan and Monaghan was below the provisional national average in 2004-05 at 22.9 in Cavan and 23.2 in Monaghan.

Aside from decreasing average class size, the unprecedented increase in school staffing in recent years has also greatly improved the services provided for children with special needs and those from disadvantaged areas.

While there is more to be done to reduce class sizes further, it should be acknowledged how much progress has been made in this area in recent years. While the average class size nationally has been brought down to 24, I am committed, in line with Government policy, to delivering further reductions in class sizes for the under-nines. In achieving the Government target on smaller class sizes, priority must, in the first instance, be given to children with special needs and those in disadvantaged areas. Under the new action plan for tackling education disadvantage which I launched last May, more children in disadvantaged schools will be in classes of 20 in the current school year.

On the number of classes of over 30 in our schools, the Deputy should be aware that the general rule is that schools are staffed on the basis of having a maximum class size across the school of 29. Where some classes in a school have class sizes of greater than 29, it is often because a decision has been taken at local level to use their teaching resources to have smaller numbers in other classes.

The Deputy has drawn attention to the provision of support for weaker pupils. While the primary responsibility for all pupils rests with class teachers, the Deputy will be aware that additional teaching and special needs assistant supports are made available to schools to cater for pupils with learning support, special educational and special care needs.

A general allocation scheme has been introduced under which schools have been provided with learning support/resource teaching hours, based on their enrolment figures, to cater for children with learning support needs and those with high incidence special educational needs such as dyslexia.

My Department has issued a comprehensive circular, Sp Ed 02/05, to all primary schools regarding the organisation of teaching resources for pupils who need additional support in mainstream primary schools. The main purpose of this circular is to provide guidance for schools on the deployment and organisation of the teaching resources that were allocated under the general allocation model. Reference is also made in this circular to the deployment of additional teaching resources that are allocated to schools for the support of individual pupils with low incidence disabilities.

Schools Building Projects.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

205 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on the expenditure of €45 million on 51 sites for new schools in the past five and a half years; her proposals to reduce the cost of sites for educational purposes for the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32766/05]

The purchase of new school sites is underpinned by a thorough assessment of the need for new educational facilities at primary and post-primary level in any given area.

In general, where the need for a new school site has been identified, the property management section of the Office of Public Works acquires the site on behalf of my Department. The process of site acquisitions takes account of all relevant factors, including public procurement procedures. My Department's policy on site acquisitions is to treat them with the strictest confidentiality until the acquisition has been completed. This is to ensure that my Department will achieve best value for money.

As part of the site acquisition process, my Department also monitors county development plans and area action plans and meets with local authorities as required to establish the location, scale and pace of major housing developments. An assessment is carried out of the likely implications of such developments in the capacity of existing schools and, where appropriate, the local authority is requested to reserve a site for educational purposes. Such reservations may ultimately result in the acquisition of the site and the development of a school or schools.

While it would be fair to say that the cost of sites impacts on the overall capital envelope available for school buildings it is important to note that the question of acquiring suitable land per se rarely in practice retards the delivery of a school building project in a rapidly developing area.

There is of course an issue as to whether my Department ends up paying a fair and reasonable price for school sites and what contribution, if any, a developer should make. The Deputy will be aware that provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2000 do not place any onus on developers to provide school sites other than at market rates. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, and I are considering whether legislative change might be of assistance or prove the best way forward here. I would remind the House that any changes in this area would require careful consideration in the context of constitutional protection for private property and indeed in weighing up how any reduction in the price per acre of any land given for schools development might impact on the unit costs and affordability of houses developed on the remaining lands.

School Inspector Reports.

John Deasy

Question:

206 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science if her Department will sanction the release of school inspector reports on all schools here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32695/05]

I announced some time ago that in the future reports arising from the inspection of schools and centres of education will be published. Consultations have been held with the educational partners and draft guidelines for the publication of inspection reports have been prepared and issued by the inspectorate of my Department to the educational partners in recent weeks. Following responses from the partners in the near future, a final draft of the guidelines will be submitted to me for my consideration in December 2005.

I intend that the publication of inspection reports will commence from January 2006 for all inspections carried out from the start of the calendar year 2006.

Question No. 207 answered with QuestionNo. 169.

Schools Building Projects.

Joe Costello

Question:

208 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science the evaluation her Department has carried out in advance of her announcement of the public private partnership school building programme, on the cost effectiveness and lessons to be learned from the schools built already using this model; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32758/05]

My Department has conducted a rolling review, evaluation and monitoring process of the first school bundle PPP project from project delivery through the first three years of the operation phase. This process involves regular meetings with the school principals both as a group and individually, regular meetings with Jarvis personnel and detailed review of the monthly reports for each school provided by the operator as provided for under the project agreement.

In addition, an interim evaluation report on the operation of the schools post occupancy is at present being undertaken on each of the five schools. This covers the operation of the contract on the ground and any issues of concern that have arisen. In terms of educational impact the schools will be examined as part of the programme of whole school evaluation, WSE.

An initial value for money audit of the project was undertaken by the Comptroller and Auditor General. This report was undertaken with the full co-operation and participation of my Department and is a welcome addition to the overall knowledge base on PPPs. The report by the Comptroller and Auditor General covered the pilot bundle of five schools from inception, through contract negotiation to completion of construction, but not the operation phase. His work has already informed the revision of the Department of Finance guidelines for future PPP procurement. Furthermore, the Minister for Finance has decided that the NDFA will establish a centre of expertise and procure the next phase of school projects to be delivered by PPP.

It is important to recognise that the PPP contract covers a 25-year period and that by definition an all encompassing value for money test over the full life cycle of the buildings can ultimately be carried out only with the passage of time. The Comptroller and Auditor General recognised this in his report on the project when he stated that "ultimately, the full value for money represented by the grouped school project will be determined over the 25-year life cycle of the project".

Sport and Recreational Development.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

209 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to introduce dual use sports facilities in conjunction with local communities to encourage more participation in sport, especially by girls; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32770/05]

My Department provides funding for physical education halls, general purpose rooms and outdoor play areas in schools as part of the schools' capital investment programme.

General purpose rooms at primary level and PE halls at post-primary level are considered an integral part of the design stage for any major refurbishment programme of existing school buildings, providing that the site is of sufficient size or where a new school on a greenfield site is being built.

Applications for the provision of PE or sports facilities in existing schools are considered in the context of all other applications on hand for capital investment, that is, applications for new schools, refurbishment projects, extensions, new sites, remediation programmes etc. These facilities are available to all pupils, boys and girls.

The primary responsibility of my Department in this area is the provision of school facilities for the effective delivery of the curriculum. In addition, school authorities have a considerable degree of autonomy in how their premises are managed and utilised at local level.

However, I recognise that there is a lack of recreational facilities for community use in certain areas which could be met if school premises were made available to the wider community. To encourage schools in this respect, my Department issued a circular to all school authorities earlier this year urging trustees and boards of management to make their facilities available where possible for community education and recreation purposes. Decisions in the use of school facilities remain entirely at the discretion of the school authorities, subject to the condition that the needs of the students attending the school are prioritised in the first instance.

My Department has also progressed a number of school building projects within the Fingal area whereby the council provides additional funding for larger GP rooms which are then made available as community resources outside school hours. The Department's position is that the availability of such facilities should be self-funding, that is, adequate to cover the heat-light-caretaking arrangements as well as making some contribution to the repair of wear and tear on premises caused by increased use. Of utmost importance, schools should ensure that insurance and security are covered as it is unlikely that the school's insurance policy would cover non-school activities or that a caretaker would be routinely available to open/lock up premises.

Public Service Staff.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

210 Mr. Morgan asked the Taoiseach the number of public sector employees here at present; and the percentage of the overall workforce which is employed in the public service. [32541/05]

The latest CSO figures on public sector employment are for June 2005 and indicate that there were 350,100 persons employed in the public sector. The figures are based mainly on administrative data sources and include the Civil Service, Defence Forces, Garda Síochána, regional bodies, health and education, excluding private institutions, and semi-State bodies, excluding their subsidiaries.

The latest estimate of total employment in the State, based on the Quarterly national household survey, is that there were 1,929,200 persons in employment in the March-May quarter of this year.

Departmental Records.

Dan Neville

Question:

211 Mr. Neville asked the Taoiseach the number of children born to single mothers in 2004. [32819/05]

The number of births registered outside marriage in 2004 was 19,938.

Dan Neville

Question:

212 Mr. Neville asked the Taoiseach the marriage rate per 100,000 in 2004. [32820/05]

The number of marriages registered in 2004 was 20,619. This equates to 510 marriages per 100,000 population. This figure is subject to revision.

Dan Neville

Question:

213 Mr. Neville asked the Taoiseach the number of separated and divorced persons in 2003 and 2004. [32828/05]

Population estimates, including details by marital status, are compiled on an annual basis in respect of mid-April. The following table provides estimates of separated and divorced persons for the past three years. These figures are preliminary and subject to revision after the publication of the 2006 census totals.

Number of separated and divorced persons, 2003-2005 (mid-April estimates)

Separated

Divorced

Total Thousands

2003

83.5

22.4

105.9

2004

79.8

23.7

103.5

2005

86.5

28.8

115.3

Decentralisation Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

214 Ms Shortall asked the Taoiseach the offices of his Department which are situated on the north side of Dublin; the locations where each of them are scheduled to relocate to under decentralisation and when; those that are not yet assigned a location; and those that will be retained in their present location. [32096/05]

There are no proposals to decentralise any section of my Department or any of the bodies or agencies operating under its aegis. A significant part of the Central Statistics Office is already located in Cork. Of the bodies under the aegis of my Department, the National Economic and Social Development office is the only one situated on the north side of Dublin, at Parnell Square.

Departmental Expenditure.

John Deasy

Question:

215 Mr. Deasy asked the Taoiseach the expenditure by his Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the years 2002, 2003 and 2004; and the breakdown of the expenditure under training, translation, advertising, bilingual signage and other. [32468/05]

The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Year

Training

Translation

Advertising

Bilingual Signage

Other

Total

2002

700

11,280.60

4,975.14

None

None

16,955.74

2003

None

28,245.01

2,179

None

None

30,424.01

2004

None

40,673.03

2,787

None

None

43,460.03

Total

700

80,198.64

9,941.14

None

None

98,839.78

The Irish language training needs of staff in the Department of the Taoiseach are predominantly met by the Centre for Management and Organisation Development, CMOD, which provides Irish courses for the public service, Gaeleagras na Seirbhíse Poiblí, the costs of which are met from the central budget.

A number of staff have participated and continue to participate in a Gaeleagras scholarship scheme. In addition, one staff member participated in a diploma in applied Irish, Dioplóma sa Ghaeilge Fheidhmeach, which was run by the department of modern Irish in UCD. The Department of the Taoiseach refund of fees scheme covered the cost of this programme of study which was €700.

In addition, there were costs associated with updating the design of the Department's website in 2003. As the redesign involved both Irish and English versions of the websites, it is not possible to extract the cost for the redesign of the Irish version only.

As the Deputy will be aware, section 11 of the Official Languages Act provides for preparation by my Department, among others, of a scheme of delivery of our services to the general public in the Irish language. In light of this, we have published a scheme with a commencement date of 1 September 2005 to ensure a higher standard and a better availability of our services through Irish. I do not expect that this scheme will give rise to significant additional costs in the future.

The following two tables outline the detailed expenditure in each of 2002, 2003 and 2004 in respect of the translation and advertising costs.

Translation Costs

Year Translation Costs Incurred

Title of Document

Cost

2002

Ireland and the European Union: Identifying Priorities and Pursuing Goals

2,240

2002

Translation & Printing of SI 522 of 2002 (British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Act 2002 (Commencement) Order

155.16

2002

Strategy Statement to 31 December 2003

1,205.23

2002

Telecommunications Working Group Report

1,870.51

2002

Grangegorman Working Group Report

482.70

2002

Translation into Irish of executive summary of consultation document “Towards Better Regulation”

735

2002

Translation of LINK Newsletters 2002

2,348

2002

The Green Paper on Basic Income

2,244

2003

DEC Telecommunications Working Group Report

1,870.51

2003

Translation of LINK Newsletters 2003

4,299

2003

Ireland and the European Union: Identifying Priorities and Pursuing Goals (2nd edition)

3,313

2003

2001 Annual Report

2,783

2002 Annual Report

5,396.80

*Strategy Statement 2003-2005

1,885.60

2003

Translation of Sustaining Progress Partnership Agreement

8,213.46

2003

Code of Conduct for Office Holders

483.64.

2004

Statutory Instrument 664 of 2004 Statistics (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order

44.77

2004

**2003 Annual Report

4,648.65

Human Resource Strategy 2003-2005

3,386.97

2004

Department Customer Charter — Charter and Customer Comment/Complaints

408.18

Procedure. The Charter was published bilingually

6,912.75

2004

Translation of lunch & dinner invitation on the occasion of the Irish Presidency eGovernment Conference

60.50

2004

Invitation — IFSC Lunch hosted by the Taoiseach

48.40

2004

Invitation re European Year of People with Disabilities

48.40

2004

Menu — IFSC Lunch hosted by the Taoiseach

48.40

2004

Invitation — Special Olympics Supporter Breakfast

48.40

2004

Translation services for Presidential Inauguration

60.50

2004

Translation services for Presidential Inauguration invitations

60.50

2004

Booklet — National Day of Commemoration

60.50

2004

Departmental Legislation Website

484.48

2004

Mid-Term Review of Part Two of Sustaining Progress — Pay and the Workplace

817.17

2004

Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution’s notice inviting submissions on Family Rights

50.00

2004

Translation of LINK newsletters 2004

6,994

2004

Translation of Progress Report on the Programme for Government

15,277.46

2004

Translation into Irish of executive summary of White Paper on Better Regulation

1,213

*There are printing costs associated with printing the strategy statement in both Irish and English but as this was a combined Irish-English document it is not possible to extract the printing cost for the Irish version only.

**There are printing costs associated with printing the annual report in both Irish and English but as this was a combined Irish-English document it is not possible to extract the printing cost for the Irish version only.

Advertising Costs

Year Advertising Costs Incurred

Nature of Costs

Cost

2002

Advertisement in Iris Oifigiúil in Irish (British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Act 2002 (Commencement) Order

17.14

2002

Advertising in Iris Oifigiúil

4,958

2003

Advertising in Iris Oifigiúil

2,179

2004

Advertising in Iris Oifigiúil

2,787

Departmental Records.

Martin Ferris

Question:

216 Mr. Ferris asked the Taoiseach the number of farmers in County Kerry who have ceased production since 1 January 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32169/05]

The exact information requested by the Deputy is not available. In June 2000, there were 8,500 farms in County Kerry and there were 22,700 farms in the south-west region, that is, Cork and Kerry. The latest estimate, which is at a regional level, is from the June 2003 farm structure survey. This indicates that there were 21,800 farms in the south-west region in June 2003.

Commemorative Events.

Finian McGrath

Question:

217 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Taoiseach his plans for 1916 commemorations. [32906/05]

I am presently considering the most appropriate way of marking the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising next year, with particular emphasis on how this may present an opportunity to put in place, over the following decade, a wide-ranging programme of activities and events in the lead up to the centenary commemorations. I propose to enter into discussions with party leaders shortly on how these matters may be progressed.

In the meantime, the military parade by the Defence Forces, Óglaigh na hÉireann, commemorating the 1916 Rising, traditionally organised to take place each Easter at the GPO but in abeyance since 1971, will be restored to the annual calendar. I expect that this parade will reflect the evolved role of the Defence Forces and include significant representation of their peacekeeping service abroad with the United Nations.

Appointments to State Boards.

James Breen

Question:

218 Mr. J. Breen asked the Taoiseach the number of persons with disabilities he has appointed to State boards under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33013/05]

Details of membership of bodies established under the aegis of my Department are not held by reference to any disabilities. Members of State boards and bodies under the aegis of my Department are appointed through well established nominating procedures, having regard both to the remit of the boards and bodies and, consequently, the competencies and skills expected of their members. In many instances, the members are nominated through relevant nominating panels. NESC and NESF, for example, comprise representatives of the various pillars involved in social partnership, namely, employer bodies, trade unions, farming organisations and community and voluntary organisations.

Domestic Violence.

M. J. Nolan

Question:

219 Mr. Nolan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her plans to increase the funding made available to organisations that provide support services for the survivors of domestic violence in view of the concerns expressed by the UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32378/05]

I have received a significant number of submissions and representations on this issue. My Department does not directly fund or co-ordinate health and personal social services to victims of abuse. Moneys are made available each year, formerly through the health boards, and now through the Health Service Executive, for the provision of services to women victims of violence. In recent years there has been a substantial increase in funding so that now over €12 million is provided annually for the provision of such services. The distribution of this funding is a matter for the Health Service Executive. The Tánaiste asked the HSE to carry out an analysis of the current level of service provision in this area and to report back to her. The Tánaiste awaits this report with interest and will be further informed by its findings.

Health Services.

Paul McGrath

Question:

220 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when an application for the domiciliary care allowance will be processed for a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and the reason for the delay in processing same. [32682/05]

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.

Joe Higgins

Question:

221 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will designate a specific agency to take overall responsibility for monitoring the health database of persons living near a plant (details supplied) in County Limerick. [32871/05]

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

222 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if respite care (details supplied) which was terminated, will be reinstated pending implementation of respite services for this person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33218/05]

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.

Departmental Meetings.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

223 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the meetings that were held by officials from her Department with Dundalk based private hospital promoters or correspondence entered into in June 2003 and to date in 2005; and the purpose of these meetings and correspondence. [32376/05]

Over the past year, I have had discussions with numerous people on a great variety of different proposals to develop private hospitals on public hospital grounds throughout the country. In relation to Dundalk, I met a group proposing to develop a private hospital in Dundalk in May 2005. Officials in my Department met the group in July 2003. I recently made a policy direction to the board of the Health Service Executive in relation to private hospital developments that would free up new public beds. It is for the HSE to implement this policy.

Official Engagements.

Martin Ferris

Question:

224 Mr. Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will visit Kerry General Hospital so she can see first-hand the problems facing staff and patients at the hospital in particular with the accident and emergency unit, the maternity unit and with cardiology services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32377/05]

The Deputy will wish to note that it is my intention to visit Kerry General Hospital when I am next in the region. My office will be in contact with the hospital when arrangements for this visit are available.

Crisis Pregnancy Agency.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

225 Mr. McCormack asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the steps she has taken in relation to the Crisis Pregnancy Agency in view of the fact that it advertises abortion as a positive option alongside other options; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32388/05]

Richard Bruton

Question:

237 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if claims that the Crisis Pregnancy Agency is advertising abortion as a positive option for persons with a crisis pregnancy has been investigated; and the outcome of the investigations. [32433/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 225 and 237 together.

The manner in which persons or agencies provide information about pregnancy termination services outside the State is regulated by the Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State for Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995. This Act permits the provision of abortion information to a pregnant woman only in the context of full counselling as to all available options and without any advocacy of abortion.

I am informed by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency that Positive Options, an information campaign, seeks to empower women to make an informed decision to deal with their crisis pregnancy by informing them, in a neutral way, of the support services available. The Crisis Pregnancy Agency has advised me that it has received legal advice that the contents of Positive Options comply with the terms of the Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State for Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

226 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason the home help service to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo was stopped; and when same will be restored. [32392/05]

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, the 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.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

227 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a response has not been received to Parliamentary Question No. 109 of 25 May 2005; if she will provide this reply; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32393/05]

I understand that the Health Service Executive has recently issued a response to the Deputy concerning Question No. 109 of 25 May 2005.

Niall Blaney

Question:

228 Mr. Blaney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will increase funding to centres (details supplied) in County Donegal to provide the necessary services required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32396/05]

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.

Niall Blaney

Question:

229 Mr. Blaney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the out-of-hours general practitioner services which are available in County Leitrim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32397/05]

Niall Blaney

Question:

230 Mr. Blaney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of bases in place for out-of-hours general practitioner services; the number of personnel in each base on any given night in County Leitrim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32398/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 and 230 together.

The Deputy's questions relate 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.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

231 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a full-time speech therapist and a full-time occupational therapist will be appointed to a special school (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32400/05]

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 Cards.

John McGuinness

Question:

232 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be issued on medical grounds to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will expedite a decision. [32403/05]

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.

Hospital Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

233 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny can be relocated to a hospital where their spouse is a patient; and if she will expedite a decision in the case. [32404/05]

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, the 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.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

234 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will request the Health Service Executive to carry out an independent assessment of the capital and staffing needs for Kerry General Hospital in view of its previous underfunding by the Southern Health Board; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32409/05]

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 have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

235 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a medical card holder is entitled to obtain a hearing aid free of charge. [32411/05]

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.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Michael Lowry

Question:

236 Mr. Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a medical appointment will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason for the two year waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32412/05]

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 case investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 237 answered with QuestionNo. 225.

Health Service Executive Correspondence.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

238 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in the Health Service Executive responding to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 450 and 451 of 28 September 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32447/05]

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, the Department previously 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. The Department has again raised this matter with the HSE.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

John McGuinness

Question:

239 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to previous parliamentary questions regarding a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; the reason the operation cannot be arranged in view of the condition of the patient and the fact that the operation is being arranged under the treatment purchase scheme; if the files were lost in this case; if the case will be investigated and a decision expedited. [32448/05]

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. My Department understands that the HSE has been in correspondence with the Deputy in relation to the case mentioned. My Department has, therefore, asked the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to respond to the further issues raised by the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure.

John Deasy

Question:

240 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the expenditure by her Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of 2002, 2003 and 2004; and the breakdown of the expenditure under training, translation, advertising, bilingual signage and other. [32469/05]

This Department has not separately accounted for expenditure related to providing services through the Irish language from 2002 to 2004 so the information sought is not directly available. However, information on training in respect of the Irish language for those years is as follows: 2002, €533; 2003, €990; and 2004, €720. The total cost of translation services from English to Irish between 1 January 2004 and 30 November 2004 in my Department was €27,432, excluding VAT.

My Department has provided detailed information in respect of translation and advertising costs for 2005, the first year such accounts have been compiled.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

241 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the cost of extending BreastCheck to women over the age of 64 years in County Kildare. [32496/05]

I have asked my Department, in association with BreastCheck, to prepare an estimate of the cost of extending the programme nationally to women over the age of 64. As soon as these costings are completed, I will advise the Deputy accordingly.

Health Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

242 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that 242 children have been waiting more than two years for orthodontic treatment in County Kildare; the reason additional orthodontists cannot be employed on a full-time basis to clear the waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32505/05]

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.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

243 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the waiting times for eye tests for children in Maynooth Health Centre is seven months which is more than twice the waiting time for such tests in Newbridge and Athy health centres at three months; if additional resources will be directed to Maynooth to reduce the waiting time there; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32522/05]

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.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

244 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the waiting time for hearing tests in County Kildare for both adults and children; and the waiting time for the provision of hearing aids following the hearing test. [32523/05]

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.

Community Care Units.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

245 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the capital cost of providing the Maynooth community care unit in County Kildare; and the annual running cost of same. [32525/05]

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, the 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.

Hospital Services.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

246 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when the review of the mobile day hospital for Maynooth and Carbury will be completed. [32526/05]

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, the 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.

Care of the Elderly.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

247 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if there was a 40% reduction in the home help hours provided for older persons in Kildare and west Wicklow between 2003 and 2005 from 440,883 hours in 2003 to 277,800 hours in 2005. [32527/05]

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, the 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.

John McGuinness

Question:

248 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if payment of the mobility allowance will be expedited in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow. [32529/05]

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 Records.

John McGuinness

Question:

249 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if all the medical records relating to a deceased person (details supplied) will be released to the person’s family; if the information requested in writing by persons will be released; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32530/05]

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.

Patient Private Property Accounts.

John McGuinness

Question:

250 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the status of complaints made by a person (details supplied) relating to funds managed by the Health Service Executive for long-stay patients; if the investigation will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32531/05]

The Health Service Executive, in discharging its duty of care to long-stay patients, operates a patient private property account system to manage the private money of long-stay patients. The administration of these accounts is a service offered to patients on admission to long-stay care and is a service expected of the health service. The executive in September of this year established a multidisciplinary working group on patient private property accounts. The working group was established to ensure that the administration of these accounts meets all legal and regulatory requirements; operates in the best interests of patients in as responsive a way as practical; takes appropriate account of the input of patients, relatives and friends in so far as is practical; is consistent with best practice in terms of financial controls, transparent accountability and corporate governance arrangements; and is efficient and represents value for money in the use of staff and HSE resources.

On the complaint in question, documentation previously received in the Department has been again forwarded to the Health Service Executive for investigation. My Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter followed up as a matter of urgency and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Staff.

John Perry

Question:

251 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Question No. 272 of 28 June 2005, the progress which has been made regarding the 32 staff working at a nursing home (details supplied) in County Sligo who were employed by a council (details supplied) which no longer exists; when they will be employed by the Health Service Executive; the reason they have not yet received pay parity, including retrospective pay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32542/05]

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, the HSE has informed my Department that it will issue a reply directly to the Deputy regarding Question No. 272 of 28 June 2005 as a matter of urgency.

Departmental Records.

Billy Timmins

Question:

252 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her Department has statistical information for the birth rates for Blessington, Hollywood and Dunlavin in County Wicklow for the past three years; and if she will provide the information (details supplied). [32544/05]

Fertility data are compiled by the Central Statistics Office and published in the annual and quarterly reports on vital statistics. "Area of residence of mother" is coded to the level of county and county borough. With the exception of certain urban districts, which in the case of County Wicklow include Bray, Arklow and Wicklow towns only, the CSO does not provide a further detailed breakdown on the "area of residence of mother".

The data sought by the Deputy on County Wicklow for 2002 to 2004 are presented in the following table. The Deputy's attention is drawn to the fact that the data for 2003 and 2004 below are provisional and relate to the number of births registered in the years concerned.

Year

No. of births registered

Rate per 1,000 population

2002

1,905

16.6

2003

1,912

16.3

2004

1,993

16.7

Source: Central Statistics Office.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

John McGuinness

Question:

253 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a response will be expedited from the Health Service Executive relative to the care and needs of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if a report will be provided by the medical officer relative to their requirements for home improvements and proper sanitary services. [32552/05]

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. This includes responsibility for the provision of the housing aid scheme for the elderly, on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Accordingly, the 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 Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

254 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Question No. 70 of 13 October 2005 regarding a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17, when a decision will be made regarding the funding required for a home care package in this case; if a comprehensive response relative to the level of care needed in this case either through a public hospital or by private care will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32553/05]

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.

Public Private Partnerships.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

255 Mr. O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding public private partnerships in the health sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32554/05]

The only public private partnership, PPP, I have initiated in the health sector relates to the Government's plan for a national network of radiation oncology services, which I announced last July. The network will consist of four large centres in Dublin, Cork and Galway and two integrated satellite centres at Waterford Regional Hospital and Limerick Regional Hospital. The capital investment involved is of the order of €480 million, most of which is being funded through PPP. The necessary preparatory work is under way under the aegis of the National Development Finance Agency and the Health Service Executive.

National Development Plan.

Richard Bruton

Question:

256 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the extent to which the projects identified in the economic and social infrastructure element of the National Development Plan 2000-2006 have been completed; the cost of the elements that have been completed; the way in which this compared to the original assessment of their cost; the elements and their associated cost which have been completed by way of PPP. [32573/05]

Richard Bruton

Question:

257 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the extent to which projects identified in the economic and social infrastructure element of the National Development Plan 2000-2006 have yet to be completed; the expenditure to date on these elements; the expected cost of completing them; the way in which the projected cost at completion compares with the original projection; the elements and their associated cost which have been completed by way of PPP; and the projected expenditures and years in which they will be incurred to complete the remaining projects. [32576/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 256 and 257 together.

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. This includes responsibility for the bulk of capital projects identified in the economic and social infrastructure operational programme under the National Development Plan 2000-2006. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated as soon as possible. My Department will then be in a position to collate the relevant information and furnish a reply directly to the Deputy.

Genealogical Records.

Denis Naughten

Question:

258 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason there are no genealogy facilities or room available at the new General Register Office in Roscommon town; if she will provide such facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32584/05]

Denis Naughten

Question:

259 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of persons who avail of the genealogy facilities at the general register offices in Dublin on an annual basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32585/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 258 and 259 together.

Statutory responsibility for the administration of civil registration in Ireland, which includes the provision for facilities for genealogical or family research, rests with an tArd-Chláraitheoir, the Registrar-General. His office, Oifig an Ard-Chláraitheora, the General Register Office, GRO, is the central repository for all records relating to the civil registration of births, deaths, marriages, domestic adoptions and stillbirths in the State.

The modernisation programme for civil registration includes the capture and storage in electronic format of all historical paper-based records from 1845, when civil registration was first introduced in Ireland. Civil registration initially applied to non-Roman Catholic marriages only and was extended in 1864 to include births, deaths and Roman Catholic marriages. Thus far, birth records from 1864 to date, death records from 1924 to date and marriage records from 1920 to date are available on a live computer system. The remainder of the data — death records from 1864 to 1923 and marriage records from 1845 to 1919 — have been captured electronically but a substantial amount of data cleaning and conversion work is required before it can be released to the computer system.

I have made inquiries of an tArd Chláraitheoir regarding the matters raised by the Deputy and he advises me that the number of persons who avail of the genealogical or family research facility maintained by him in Dublin varies from year to year but that the number, on average, is in the order of 15,000 persons per annum.

Searches of GRO records involves accessing index books to records of births, deaths and marriages; searching these indices to identify specific entries in the records; and, if required, purchasing either photocopies or certified copies of the identified entries in the records. This facility is also available at superintendent registrars' offices in respect of events registered within their districts.

The head office of the GRO relocated from Dublin to Roscommon in April of this year, a move which was in line with Government policy on the decentralisation of Government offices. Accommodation provided at GRO, Roscommon, includes accommodation for a genealogical or family research facility which will be commissioned on completion of a major project to create, as part of the modernisation programme, an electronic database of the index books to the records of births, deaths and marriages maintained in the research facility at GRO, Dublin.

From a research perspective, the creation of an electronic database of indices will facilitate easier and more efficient record searches. It will also facilitate the extension of the availability of the indices beyond the single physical repository at GRO, Dublin, to the research facility at GRO, Roscommon, and the various HSE registration offices nationwide where civil registration is carried out. It is also the intention that the database will be extended in due course to facilitate on-line research. Planning for these developments is under way and I am satisfied that substantial benefits from its implementation in due course will accrue to professional genealogists and private individuals alike.

Health Services.

John Perry

Question:

260 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the action she will take regarding the application of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32592/05]

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, the 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.

Compensation Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

261 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if there is any compensation package available for persons who worked at Peamount Hospital, Newcastle, County Dublin, and were subsequently diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness; the person who can be contacted to make a claim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32635/05]

As the issue raised is a matter for the Health Service Executive, my Department has asked the executive to respond directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

262 Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of children in the mid-western area on the waiting list to access speech and language therapy; and the length of time a child may be on the list. [32636/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Seán Haughey

Question:

263 Mr. Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if patients undergoing urostmy operations will be allowed to receive without charge drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances under the long-term illness scheme in view of the fact that for many this condition is permanent and cannot be reversed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32648/05]

Finian McGrath

Question:

280 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the free drugs scheme to include crohns disease; and if she will make this a priority issue as it has not been updated since 1970. [32890/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 263 and 280 together.

Under the 1970 Health Act, the Health Service Executive may arrange for the supply, without charge, of drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances to people with a specified condition, for the treatment of that condition through the long-term illness scheme, LTI. The LTI does not cover general practitioner fees or hospital co-payments. The conditions are mental handicap; mental illness — for people under 16 only; phenylketonuria; cystic fibrosis; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; diabetes mellitus; diabetes insipidus; haemophilia; cerebral palsy; epilepsy; multiple sclerosis; muscular dystrophies; parkinsonism; conditions arising from thalidomide; and acute leukaemia. There are no plans to extend the list of eligible conditions.

The medical card and drugs payment schemes provide assistance towards the cost of approved drugs and medicines for people with significant ongoing medical expenses. People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. Non-medical card holders and people with conditions not covered under the LTI can use the drugs payment scheme. Under this scheme, no individual or family unit pays more than €85 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. In November 2004 I announced that from 1 January 2005 income guidelines to be used for assessments of full eligibility to medical cards would be increased by 7.5% with the objective of issuing an additional 30,000 medical cards. At that time, I also announced my intention to introduce 200,000 GP visit cards which would allow the holders of these cards to receive general practitioner services free of charge.

In June I simplified the means test for medical cards and GP visit cards. It is now based on an applicant's and spouse's income after income tax and PRSI and takes account of reasonable expenses incurred in respect of rent or mortgage payments, child care and travel to work. On 13 October 2005, I announced that the income guidelines for both medical cards and GP visit cards would be increased by an additional 20%. This means the income guidelines are now 29% higher than this time last year.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Michael Ring

Question:

264 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24 will be called to Temple Street Children’s Hospital for an MRI scan. [32655/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Michael Ring

Question:

265 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be admitted to Beaumont Hospital. [32680/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this case investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Dan Neville

Question:

266 Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when work will be completed to a house under the special housing aid for the elderly (details supplied) in County Limerick. [32681/05]

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, the Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Dan Neville

Question:

267 Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the outcome of an appeal to refuse a medical card for a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [32685/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

John McGuinness

Question:

268 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a hearing test has not been arranged for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if there is a waiting list for the service; if so, the reason therefor; and if a decision on the case will be expedited. [32740/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

National Children’s Strategy.

David Stanton

Question:

269 Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her plans to establish the national children’s office as an independent statutory body; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32743/05]

The national children's office, NCO, is a cross-cutting Government office established in 2001 to improve all aspects of children's lives by leading and supporting the implementation of the national children's strategy. The implementation of the strategy is spearheaded by the Minister of State with responsibility for children who reports to the Cabinet committee on children. The head of the NCO reports to the Secretary General of the Department of Health and Children. The NCO also has an advisory board of senior officials from Departments involved in implementing the strategy. There are no plans to establish the office as an independent statutory body.

Health Services.

James Breen

Question:

270 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a unit will be provided in County Clare for patients suffering from behavioural and learning problems; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32780/05]

James Breen

Question:

271 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of patients in County Clare suffering from behavioural and learning problems who were transferred to Northern Ireland or UK in 2004; the cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32781/05]

James Breen

Question:

272 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of patients with behavioural and learning problems in psychiatric units in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32784/05]

James Breen

Question:

273 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason persons with behavioural and learning difficulties and with no psychiatric difficulties are being admitted to psychiatric units and are medicated unnecessarily; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32786/05]I

I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 to 273, inclusive, together.

The Deputy's questions relate 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 HSE to arrange to have these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Suicide Incidence.

Dan Neville

Question:

274 Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the suicide number registered in each Health Service Executive region between 2000 and 2004 inclusive by age and gender and average per annum rate per 100,000 population. [32844/05]

Data on mortality are compiled by the Central Statistics Office and published in the annual and quarterly reports on vital statistics. Place of residence is coded to the level of county and county borough. The information requested by the Deputy in relation to suicide by county for 2000 to 2004 is set out in the following tables:

Table 1

Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury: Number of Deaths and Rates per 100,000 Population by County, 2000 to 2004

2000

2001

2002

2003*

2004*

County

Number

Rate

Number

Rate

Number

Rate

Number

Rate

Number

Rate

Carlow

2

4.5

8

17.8

3

6.5

6

12.8

6

12.5

Cavan

7

12.8

9

16.2

10

17.7

8

14.0

9

15.5

Clare

8

8.1

13

12.9

16

15.5

13

12.4

14

13.0

Cork

67

15.4

100

22.7

62

13.8

64

14.1

69

15.0

Donegal

13

9.7

15

11.1

20

14.5

14

10.1

18

12.7

Dublin

115

10.5

120

10.9

103

9.2

111

9.8

104

9.0

Galway

20

10.0

23

11.3

26

12.4

21

9.9

15

6.9

Kerry

20

15.5

20

15.3

13

9.8

9

6.7

21

15.5

Kildare

20

13.1

12

7.6

21

12.8

18

10.6

13

7.4

Kilkenny

17

21.8

15

19.0

11

13.7

11

13.5

10

12.1

Laois

6

10.7

7

12.2

6

10.2

4

6.7

3

4.9

Leitrim

4

15.8

6

23.5

7

27.1

3

11.5

4

15.3

Limerick

32

18.8

16

9.3

30

17.1

24

13.5

25

13.9

Longford

3

9.8

6

19.5

4

12.9

2

6.4

5

15.8

Louth

13

13.3

7

7.0

14

13.8

16

15.4

12

11.3

Mayo

17

14.8

17

14.7

18

15.3

10

8.4

11

9.1

Meath

11

8.8

19

14.7

19

14.2

11

7.9

24

16.7

Monaghan

11

21.2

2

3.8

4

7.6

8

15.1

8

15.0

Offaly

18

29.2

12

19.2

11

17.3

7

10.8

12

18.3

Roscommon

6

11.4

5

9.4

4

7.4

3

5.5

1

1.8

Sligo

3

5.3

10

17.4

4

6.9

7

11.9

10

16.9

Tipperary

20

14.6

23

16.6

22

15.7

26

18.4

17

11.9

Waterford

12

12.2

17

17.0

12

11.8

8

7.8

16

15.3

Westmeath

9

13.2

9

12.9

6

8.4

6

8.2

7

9.3

Wexford

23

20.6

19

16.7

17

14.6

23

19.3

11

9.0

Wicklow

9

8.2

9

8.0

15

13.1

11

9.4

12

10.0

Ireland

486

12.8

519

13.5

478

12.2

444

11.2

457

11.3

*Provisional figures based on year of registration.

Source: Central Statistics Office.

Table 2

Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury

Number of Deaths by County and Age Group, 2000 to 2004

2000

2001

2002

2003*

2004*

County

Under 25 Years

25-44 Years

45 Years and Over

Under 25 Years

25-44 Years

45 Years and Over

Under 25 Years

25-44 Years

45 Years and Over

Under 25 Years

25-44 Years

45 Years and Over

Under 25 Years

25-44 Years

45 Years and Over

Carlow

1

0

1

5

1

2

1

2

0

1

5

0

1

3

2

Cavan

2

1

4

2

4

3

2

3

5

1

4

3

2

4

3

Clare

3

3

2

2

6

5

5

6

5

4

5

4

2

7

5

Cork

19

26

22

10

49

41

11

30

21

13

24

27

11

24

34

Donegal

2

7

4

8

6

1

5

6

9

4

2

8

5

10

3

Dublin

25

57

33

20

53

47

19

54

30

24

59

28

19

41

44

Galway

4

9

7

6

8

9

9

10

7

5

9

7

6

4

5

Kerry

3

10

7

3

9

8

1

7

5

1

4

4

2

7

12

Kildare

6

7

7

1

6

5

8

8

5

4

7

7

5

6

2

Kilkenny

7

4

6

3

9

3

4

3

4

5

3

3

2

6

2

Laois

2

4

0

2

3

2

0

3

3

2

1

1

0

2

1

Leitrim

1

3

0

1

0

5

1

3

3

1

0

2

1

2

1

Limerick

7

19

6

5

9

2

12

10

8

6

9

9

7

8

10

Longford

0

1

2

2

1

3

0

1

3

0

1

1

0

3

2

Louth

1

7

5

0

3

4

3

6

5

7

5

4

4

6

2

Mayo

2

7

8

4

2

11

3

6

9

3

3

4

2

4

5

Meath

2

1

8

4

8

7

3

8

8

3

2

6

4

13

7

Monaghan

1

8

2

2

0

0

1

0

3

2

1

5

1

3

4

Offaly

4

10

4

4

7

1

5

4

2

3

3

1

3

5

4

Roscommon

1

2

3

2

1

2

0

2

2

0

1

2

0

1

0

Sligo

1

1

1

2

6

2

1

3

0

3

4

0

2

5

3

Tipperary

3

10

7

7

10

6

5

9

8

5

8

13

4

9

4

Waterford

3

4

5

4

9

4

2

4

6

2

4

2

2

7

7

Westmeath

3

1

5

1

6

2

0

2

4

2

2

2

1

4

2

Wexford

6

8

9

5

6

8

3

8

6

7

10

6

5

3

3

Wicklow

1

4

4

3

2

4

4

6

5

4

4

3

4

5

3

Ireland

110

214

162

108

224

187

108

204

166

112

180

152

95

192

170

*Provisional figures based on year of registration.

Source: Central Statistics Office.

Table 3

Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury:

Number of Deaths by County and Gender, 2000 to 2004

2000

2001

2002

2003*

2004*

County

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Carlow

1

1

8

0

3

0

5

1

5

1

Cavan

6

1

7

2

8

2

5

3

7

2

Clare

5

3

9

4

15

1

12

1

8

6

Cork

57

10

82

18

46

16

47

17

51

18

Donegal

10

3

12

3

17

3

9

5

15

3

Dublin

93

22

90

30

77

26

81

30

81

23

Galway

15

5

19

4

23

3

21

0

12

3

Kerry

15

5

17

3

11

2

7

2

17

4

Kildare

13

7

10

2

19

2

15

3

13

0

Kilkenny

14

3

15

0

11

0

11

0

9

1

Laois

5

1

5

2

6

0

4

0

2

1

Leitrim

4

0

4

2

5

2

2

1

3

1

Limerick

28

4

15

1

22

8

20

4

20

5

Longford

3

0

6

0

2

2

2

0

3

2

Louth

11

2

7

0

10

4

13

3

8

4

Mayo

13

4

15

2

16

2

9

1

8

3

Meath

10

1

17

2

13

6

11

0

20

4

Monaghan

10

1

2

0

4

0

8

0

7

1

Offaly

16

2

11

1

11

0

6

1

8

4

Roscommon

5

1

4

1

4

0

2

1

1

0

Sligo

3

0

8

2

3

1

6

1

8

2

Tipperary

16

4

19

4

19

3

21

5

12

5

Waterford

10

2

15

2

8

4

6

2

12

4

Westmeath

6

3

8

1

6

0

5

1

6

1

Wexford

20

3

17

2

15

2

20

3

10

1

Wicklow

6

3

7

2

13

2

10

1

10

2

Ireland

395

91

429

90

387

91

358

86

356

101

*Provisional figures based on year of registration.

Source: Central Statistics Office

Drugs Payment Scheme.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

275 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow has received a bill from a pharmacy. [32846/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Staff.

Marian Harkin

Question:

276 Ms Harkin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the situation regarding the employment of surgical oncologists here. [32850/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Accommodation.

James Breen

Question:

277 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Clare in a nursing home will be transferred to St. Joseph’s in Ennis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32851/05]

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, the Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

James Breen

Question:

278 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare has not been offered sheltered accommodation in order to allow them a degree of being able to live independently; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32885/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Finian McGrath

Question:

279 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32889/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 280 answered with QuestionNo. 263.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Jimmy Devins

Question:

281 Dr. Devins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will be called to Beaumont Hospital, Dublin for an operation. [32891/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

282 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason extra hours regarding home help have not been allocated to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32892/05]

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 HSE to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

283 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the funds which are available to community-based not-for-profit organisations seeking to purchase automatic external defibrillators; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32912/05]

In September 2004 a national task force on sudden cardiac death was established to address the problem of sudden cardiac death in Ireland. The task force, chaired by Dr. Brian Maurer, will make recommendations on the prevention of sudden cardiac death and on the detection of those at high risk. It will also advise on equipment and training programmes to improve the outcome in those suffering from sudden cardiac collapse and on the establishment of appropriate surveillance systems.

I understand that the task force has been involved in widespread consultation with individuals and organisations and that a report will be published shortly. Funding will be provided through the Health Service Executive to support the implementation of the task force's recommendations.

Richard Bruton

Question:

284 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of inpatient admissions to date in 2005 and for the same period in 2004. [32916/05]

Richard Bruton

Question:

285 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of inpatient procedures to date in 2005 and for the same period in 2004. [32917/05]

Richard Bruton

Question:

286 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of accident and emergency attendances to date in 2005 and for the same period in 2004. [32918/05]

Richard Bruton

Question:

287 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of day case admissions to date in 2005 and for the same period in 2004. [32919/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 284 to 287, inclusive, together.

Data on the number of inpatient admissions, day cases and accident and emergency attendances relating to publicly funded acute hospitals for the period January to August 2004 and 2005 are provided in the following table. Information on inpatient procedures is available from the hospital inpatient inquiry, HIPE, system which gives details of activity in all publicly funded acute hospitals in the state as well as in two private hospitals. Comprehensive data for 2005 are not yet available. The HIPE system shows that in 2004 1,546,235 inpatient procedures were carried out. This figure covers all inpatient procedures including minor diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. More than one procedure may be carried out per hospital stay.

Publicly Funded Acute Hospitals: Summary Activity Data, January to August 2004 and 2005

January to August

2004

2005

In-Patient Admissions

380,437

378,646

Day Cases

322,114

326,324

A&E Attendances

832,713

837,505

Note: All figures are provisional.

Source: Integrated Management Returns, Department of Health and Children.

Richard Bruton

Question:

288 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the cost of standard case mix in 2004 for day surgery and inpatient surgery. [32920/05]

Separate national base prices for surgery only cases are not produced as all patient types, surgical, medical and other, are encompassed within the national case mix programme. The present case mix classification system categorises patients into 665 surgical, medical and other diagnosis related groups, or DRGs. What is termed the case mix adjusted base price for inpatients and day cases is the average cost of a case nationally when all national data, collected in the 37 hospitals that participate in the programme, for all 665 DRGs, surgical, medical and other, have been aggregated for all patients in the programme. This is the cost of treating a standard case with a complexity of one.

Data regarding 2003 activity and costs are €540 and €3,644 respectively. These figures have already been released to the Deputy. Data regarding 2004 are being audited, as part of the annual case mix budget adjustments which will form part of the 2006 financial allocations, and will be available in early January.

Medical Cards.

Richard Bruton

Question:

289 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of patients with medical cards in 2004 and to date in 2005; and the number of these which are in respect of persons aged 70 or over at each date. [32921/05]

The number of persons with a medical card in December 2004 was 1,148,914 and the number of persons with a medical card in October 2005 was 1,149,418. The number of persons aged over 70 with a medical card in December 2004 was 316,928 and the number of persons over 70 with a medical card in October 2005 was 325,654.

Health Service Staff.

Richard Bruton

Question:

290 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number employed in the health services in 2004 and to date in 2005 and for the same period in 2004; the way in which that has grown since 1997; the way in which these numbers are distributed between programmes, general hospital, long-stay facilities, disability, mental health, community health, doctors, nurses, paramedics and so on and administrative back-up. [32922/05]

Employment information is collected by my Department every quarter on the basis of grade and employing agency and does not include any data on a programme by programme basis as requested by the Deputy. However, employment growth in each of the grade categories of health service staff on the basis of employing authority that is, the Health Service Executive, intellectual disability services and voluntary hospitals, is as set out in the following table for the period requested by the Deputy.

The latest available data are in respect of the end of June 2005. Between 1997 and that date, there was an increase in the level of employment of 33,093, or 48.78%, excluding home helps, in whole-time equivalent terms. In this context, comparing employment levels in June 2005 with those in December 1997, there were 43.89%, or 2,177 more medical and dental personnel,127.8%, or 7,588 more health and social care professionals and 27.6%, or 7,545 more nurses employed in the health services in whole-time equivalent terms. Caution should be exercised in comparing employment growth between grade categories, however, owing to some changes in their composition over the period. Almost two thirds of health services personnel formally classified as management or administrative are involved in direct service provision to the public.

Hospital Services.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

291 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her proposals to move the ear, nose and throat department at Kerry General Hospital to a Cork hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32934/05

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 have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Bernard Allen

Question:

292 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has been told that they will have to wait until October 2007 to get a mammogram at the South Infirmary Victoria Hospital, Cork. [32935/05]

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 these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Michael Ring

Question:

293 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the average waiting list for adults and children from each county in the Health Service Executive western area to see an ear, nose and throat specialist. [32952/05]

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.

Community Care.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

294 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if elderly returning emigrants requiring nursing care, and seeking this care in a community nursing unit here, will be assessed for subvention where they live currently rather than having to wait until they return here to be assessed by the authorities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32953/05]

Jerry Cowley

Question:

295 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if elderly returning emigrants requiring nursing care, and seeking this care in the private nursing home sector here, will have their medical needs assessed by a consultant geriatrician in the country where they are living rather than having to wait until they return here to have their medical needs assessed by a consultant geriatrician; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32954/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 294 and 295 together.

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, the 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.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

296 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in sanctioning phase 3c and 3d of the redevelopment at Naas General Hospital; when tenders will be invited for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32955/05]

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 Staff.

Jack Wall

Question:

297 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of occupational therapists employed by the Health Service Executive in the Kildare and west Wicklow area; if the stated occupational therapists are available to children attending mainstream education that need such treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32956/05]

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.

Jack Wall

Question:

298 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of orthodontic specialists employed in the Kildare and west Wicklow areas of the Health Service Executive; if this number is compatible with the allocated number of specialists for this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32957/05]

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 Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

299 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the timescale predicted to erode the waiting list for orthodontic treatment with the Kildare and west Wicklow section of the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32958/05]

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.

Ambulance Service.

Seán Haughey

Question:

300 Mr. Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her plans for a national ambulance service; the way in which the operation of the Dublin Fire Brigade fits into these plans; if a central control room, additional ambulances, additional premises and additional staff will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32978/05]

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 Services.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

301 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason music therapy is not profiled in her Department’s consolidated salary scales booklet thereby leaving it unable to feature as a listed profession in service delivery and thus ensuring there is no system to enable services to appoint music therapists; if she will make a statement on the response by the Health Service Executive to Question No. 286 of 25 October 2005. [32979/05]

The purpose of the consolidated pay scales issued by my Department is to show the nationally approved pay scales for recognised grades within the public health service. The appointment of Health Service Executive staff and their terms and conditions are matters for the executive itself in the first instance in the overall context of the provisions of the Health Act 2004 and national policies on public sector pay and employment. The establishment of new grades within the public health service, including the grade of music therapist, is also a human resource management matter for the Health Service Executive which must have regard to service requirements, the extent to which the service concerned can be provided by existing staff or professions and the distinct qualifications required. My Department is writing to the Health Service Executive to clarify the position.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Beverley Flynn

Question:

302 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the recent decision of the Health Service Executive to discontinue the payment of enhanced discretionary subventions to qualifying patients in private nursing homes in the west region; and the reason enhanced subvention has been discontinued in the west since 18 October 2005. [32980/05

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, the 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.

Accident and Emergency Services.

Seán Haughey

Question:

303 Mr. Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her plans to improve and expand physically the accident and emergency department in Beaumont Hospital; if other physical changes to the hospital in general are envisaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32989/05]

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 Staff.

Michael Lowry

Question:

304 Mr. Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of new specialist graduates in orthodontics that will be assigned to County Tipperary and the mid-west region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32990/05]

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 Services.

Michael Lowry

Question:

305 Mr. Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of children under treatment in the mid-west region and in each other regional orthodontic department; if she will work with the Health Service Executive on this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32991/05]

The Deputy's question, regarding the number of children under orthodontic treatment, 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. The aim of my Department is to develop the treatment capacity of orthodontics in a sustainable way over the long term. My Department continues to work with the Health Service Executive to achieve this aim.

Hospital Services.

Michael Lowry

Question:

306 Mr. Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary with a medical card is being charged for hospital services; if she will work with the Health Service Executive to ensure that this person is not charged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32992/05]

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 case investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Appointments to State Boards.

James Breen

Question:

307 Mr. J. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of persons with disabilities she has appointed to State boards under the aegis of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33014/05]

The process by which a person is appointed to a State board reflects the conditions for appointment laid down in the relevant statutory instrument establishing the board. When making such appointments, I must have due regard to the nature of the work of the board and the consequent requirement for any appointee to hold the necessary skills and expertise required to discharge the functions of that particular board. My Department does not hold personal information on members of State boards under its aegis, including whether or not a person has a disability.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Denis Naughten

Question:

308 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will be furnished with a hearing aid; the reason for the ongoing delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33030/05]

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, the 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 Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

309 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to correspondence (details supplied), if she will furnish a response to the query raised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33031/05]

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, the 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.

Vaccination Programme.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

310 Mr. O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 280 of 2 November 2005, her views on whether the Health Service Executive leaflet on the influenza vaccine is misleading as it indicated that the vaccine is free to all persons in the at-risk groups when this is effectively only the case for medical card holders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33034/05]

I am satisfied that the Health Service Executive materials are not misleading. For instance, the public poster, Anyone can catch the flu!, clearly states:

Over 65s and younger people with chronic diseases are especially vulnerable. The vaccine is free to these groups. GPs charge a consultation fee to those without a medical card.

The leaflet with frequently asked questions states that the vaccine is free to all persons over 65 and those in the younger "at risk" groups with a chronic disease and that family doctors charge a consultation fee to patients not covered by a medical card.

This information is correct. As stated in my reply to Question No. 280 of 2 November 2005, the influenza vaccine is available free of charge from general practitioners to medical cardholders who are deemed to be "at risk" of serious illness as a result of contracting the disease. Persons in the "at risk" group who do not have a medical card can obtain the vaccine free of charge, however, the fee for administering the vaccine in such cases is a matter between the general practitioner and the patient.

Medical Cards.

John Deasy

Question:

311 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the new general practitioner visit cards will be distributed on a first come, first served basis or a pro rata basis throughout the Health Service Executive regions; if the money allocated for the scheme will be sufficient for the take up by the public; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33256/05]

Applications for GP visit cards are assessed by the Health Service Executive, HSE, with reference to the national income assessment guidelines which I have established in agreement with the executive. The Deputy will be aware that I have made a number of changes to enable a greater number of people, particularly families with children, to qualify for these cards. All persons assessed as qualifying for a GP visit card will be issued with such a card.

In January 2005, I increased the income guidelines used in the assessment of medical card applications by 7.5%. In June, it was apparent that the effect of rising income in our successful economy meant that the expectation that 30,000 additional medical cards would be issued was unlikely to be fulfilled. At that time I simplified the means test for both medical cards and GP visit cards. It is now based on an applicant's and spouse's income after income tax and PRSI, and takes account of reasonable expenses incurred in respect of rent or mortgage payments, child care and travel to work. This is much fairer to applicants. On 13 October 2005, I announced that the income guidelines for both medical cards and GP visit cards would be increased by an additional 20%. This means that income guidelines are now 29% higher than this time last year. My Department and the HSE will actively encourage people to apply for these benefits and continue to monitor the number of cards issued.

Hospital Staff.

Niall Blaney

Question:

312 Mr. Blaney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views regarding the appointment of a consultant neurologist for the north-west region; if the extension of the service being provided in Galway will be investigated by providing an additional consultant neurologist to cover northern counties such as Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo to prevent patients having to travel to Dublin or Galway to see a neurologist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33267/05]

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 will request the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Site Acquisitions.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

313 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if an agreement has been reached for the purchase of the necessary access route to the rear of a Garda station (details supplied) in County Cork; if so, the refurbishment programme proposed for the Garda station and the estimated timeframe. [32406/05]

The Commissioners of Public Works are continuing with negotiations on the proposed acquisition of a strip of ground to the rear of the Garda station in Dunmanway with the vendor. When negotiations and legal matters relating to the acquisition have been concluded, the commissioners will proceed with the refurbishment to the Garda station in Dunmanway, County Cork.

Until such time as these matters are concluded by both parties a timeframe for the refurbishment programme cannot be given. The commissioners are continuing to treat this matter with the urgency it has been given by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and are progressing the matter with priority.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

314 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Finance the steps taken by the property management section of the Office of Public Works to secure a site for the new national school for Kill in the past 12 months. [32488/05]

The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland act as agents for the Department of Education and Science in the acquisition of sites for primary schools. The commissioners have publicly advertised for expressions of interest from landowners, had a meeting with the local authority and are in correspondence with that body at present with a view to identify a suitable site for the school in Kill.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

315 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Finance if he has received the technical assessment report on the site for the new national school for Ardclough; if he will sanction purchase of the site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32492/05]

The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland act as agents for the Department of Education and Science in the acquisition of sites for primary schools. Negotiations are currently ongoing for the acquisition of a site for a new national school for Ardclough.

Architectural Heritage.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

316 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Finance the further works planned for Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare, in addition to the improved perimeter security and structural strengthening of the main staircase and landing; if he intends to carry out work at the entrance to Castletown from Main Street, Celbridge; and if the restoration of the obelisk at Barrogstown, Maynooth, will be included in these further works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32503/05]

Plans for future works at Castletown, including improved access, are largely contingent on developments involving land acquisition which are still under review. Proposals regarding the entrance from Celbridge are still under consideration at present. No major works are planned for the obelisk.

Site Acquisitions.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

317 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the provision of a site for a probation and welfare service centre in Dublin 15; and if a site has been identified. [32642/05]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

318 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if every effort is made to expedite the fit-out of probation and welfare service offices in Dublin 15, in view of the fact that this service has already been delayed by three years. [32643/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 317 and 318 together.

It is understood that the probation and welfare service has identified a suitable site for a service centre in the Dublin 15 area. The probation and welfare service is currently in discussion with Fingal County Council with a view to acquiring the site.

Office accommodation has also been identified by the OPW to meet the requirements of the probation and welfare service. A technical report on the offices is expected shortly. When office accommodation has been acquired the fit-out will be carried out as quickly as possible.

Tax Code.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

319 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the amount in revenue VAT receipts collected in the city of Dublin for 2004. [32691/05]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the net VAT receipts collected for 2004 in respect of businesses managed and controlled in the geographical area covering Dublin city centre, the south city, the north city, south county, Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown was €3,342 million.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

320 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the amount collected in stamp duty for the city of Dublin in 2004. [32692/05]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that statistics on stamp duty transactions are not compiled by reference to the address of the property purchased and, accordingly, it is not possible to provide the information requested.

Departmental Properties.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

321 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the steps he proposes to take for the sale of a property (details supplied) in Dublin 4 which is no longer required for the purposes which it was first purchased by the State; if the method of sale will be by auction or public tender; the timeframe within which it is intended to put the property up for sale; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32827/05]

Broc House, Nutley Lane, is being transferred to the affordable housing initiative at present and will not be placed on the market for sale.

Tax Code.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

322 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Finance his plans to modify the exemption scheme for writers and artists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32863/05]

As the Deputy will be aware, in budget 2005, I announced that my Department, in conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners, would undertake this year a detailed review of certain tax incentive schemes and tax exemptions, including the artists' exemption scheme. This review is almost complete.

With regard to plans that I may be considering to modify the scheme, I would refer the Deputy to the long-standing practice of Ministers for Finance not to comment on what may or may not be contained in upcoming budgets. I do not intend to depart from that approach.

National Anthem.

Finian McGrath

Question:

323 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when the national anthem composed by Peadar Kearney in 1907 will be reclaimed and the correct words (details supplied) will be inserted at all public and State occasions. [32906/05]

My Department holds the copyright in the national anthem. The principal reasons for holding the copyright are to ensure that it is freely available, to prescribe that performance fees are not to be charged or collected in respect of the use of the national anthem, and to ensure that it is not used in an inappropriate context and without due deference, such as to render it an object of scorn or derision. I am satisfied that the current version of the national anthem is the appropriate and correct interpretation of the words as composed by Peadar Kearney.

Departmental Correspondence.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

324 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the meetings or correspondence which have taken place with promoters of a private hospital in Dundalk. [32385/05]

Neither I nor the relevant officials in my Department are aware of any such meeting or correspondence.

Inland Fisheries.

John McGuinness

Question:

325 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if the consultants involved in the design of the Lacken Weir, County Kilkenny, have accepted that there is a design fault in the weir and fish pass; if he will clarify the person who is to pay for the extra work carried out to date in 2005 and the underpinning which is required on the weir; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32394/05]

The questions which have arisen in relation to Lacken Weir have been raised with the consultants in question. The OPW will seek to recover all costs relating to the remedial measures required at Lacken Weir. I would be pre-empting due process in expanding further on these issues at this time.

National Monuments.

Enda Kenny

Question:

326 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the amount allocated for work in 2005 in relation to having the Great Blasket Island declared a national monument or park; the works specified for implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32395/05]

Three structures on the Great Blasket Island are designated national monuments, namely, the houses of Tomás Ó Críomhtháin, Muírís Ó Suilleabháin and Peig Sayers, while 12 other sites of archaeological interest are listed in the record of monuments and places, all protected under the National Monuments Acts.

It is not intended at this juncture to designate the whole island a national monument nor is it intended to seek national park status for the island. A Government decision has approved an overall provision of €8.5 million for implementation of the proposals contained in the management plan for the island, including: purchase of lands and property; provision of piers on both the island and mainland at Dún Chaoin; conservation of the core conservation area; administration; and consultancy. To date, a total of €711,000 has been spent on the overall project.

Inland Fisheries.

John McGuinness

Question:

327 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance the cost of the timber fabricated piece fitted to the fish pass at Lacken Weir, County Kilkenny; the labour and other costs related to this work; the cost of the concrete extension fitted to the same fish pass in summer 2005; the labour and other costs related to this work; the cost of installing a second fish pass during summer 2005 on the same weir; the name of the consultants involved in this work and their cost; the number of quotations obtained and from whom in relation to the plan to observe the fish pass on camera; when this work is likely to be carried out; if a short-term solution will be implemented to enable salmon to pass this weir; the person or body responsible for providing a long-term solution to the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32402/05]

The timber fabricated piece fitted to the fish pass at Lacken Weir, County Kilkenny, was purchased and installed by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the Southern Regional Fisheries Board, SRFB. The Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has confirmed the cost of fabrication of the wooden structure as €7,350.30. Labour and other costs related to this work amounted to €12,115.88. As the timber extension was a temporary measure, the extension and timber baffles have been recovered and may be reused. The work to fit a concrete extension to the denil fish pass and the installation of a second fish pass during summer 2005 were carried out as a single operation. The total costs were as follows:

Denil Pass

Groyne Pass

Item Cost

(€)

Item Cost

(€)

Labour

12,242.04

Labour

24,484.09

Materials

5,459.30

Materials

10,918.60

Plant Hire

3,486.54

Plant Hire

3,486.54

Total

21,187.88

Total

38,889.23

There was no requirement for consultancy services in the carrying out of this work. Any plans to introduce fish cameras at Lacken Weir is a matter for the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

The second, groyne, fish pass installed during summer 2005 has been inspected recently following reports of salmon mortalities in its vicinity. The SRFB have informed the OPW that the groyne pass is not operating at optimum capacity during low flows and have identified a requirement for a minor adjustment to the rock armour.

Since the remediation works were carried out there has been no evidence of a hold up of salmon at Lacken Weir and fish have been seen ascending both the denil pass and the groyne pass. It is regrettable that inaccuracies in recent newspaper reports on the subject in both national and regional papers may have lead members of the public to believe otherwise. A press statement has been issued to the papers concerned detailing the facts. A copy of this statement is available on request from my office to anybody interested in the facts in this matter.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

328 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the office space occupied by public services activities listed for decentralisation as early movers; its location and floor area; if it is owned or leased; and if it is planned to dispose of the space post decentralisation in each case. [32421/05]

Richard Bruton

Question:

329 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the size of the office space planned in each of the decentralised locations designated as early movers; the site area being acquired and the estimated cost of the site and of the building where this is available. [32422/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 328 and 329 together.

The office space occupied by public service activities in Dublin which have been designated as early movers is in the region of 90,000 square metres. This comprises State owned space and leased space. The question of which vacated buildings will be disposed of is under consideration. Ultimately, any decisions on disposals will depend on a range of factors, including the following: The particular requirements of the Departments remaining in Dublin; the specific circumstances associated with each building, including location, quality and design, tenure, office area and whether it is leasehold or freehold; the timing of property sales are directly affected by prevailing market conditions; and the timing of the relocation of staff to decentralised offices. The area of space which will be acquired in decentralisation locations will be broadly equivalent to the space being vacated in Dublin. The cost of acquiring sites-properties for the early moving Departments is estimated to be in the region of €47 million, excluding VAT.

Although property solutions will include leasing and fitting out of existing buildings, it is anticipated that, in the majority of cases, the accommodation facilities will be provided by the construction of new office buildings and cost estimation can be approached on this basis. However, in advance of actual market testing of any procurement methodology, it is possible, at this time, only to assign the most general measurements of cost to such a large scale, diverse and complex programme.

Current OPW cost norms in respect of standard office accommodation would indicate an average build-cost to fit-out standard, in the range of €1,800 to €2,200 per square metre in suburban-rural locations. Such figures exclude VAT, professional fees, inflation and site-works. In addition, the cost of equipping the accommodation to standard office equipment levels could be estimated at circa €4,000 per person. This would exclude the cost of information and technology and specialised equipment requirements.

Such general measures of cost do not include specialised facility and equipment requirements and other variables, which would arise from the spread of possible procurement methodologies. It should be noted that general cost indicators of this type are subject to change over time.

Richard Bruton

Question:

330 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the disposals of property in Dublin which have occurred under the decentralisation programme to date in; the revenue they have yielded; and the activity relocated to facilitate the disposal in each case. [32423/05]

There is no property disposed of in Dublin to date in 2005 as a direct consequence of decentralisation. The following properties have been disposed of in accordance with the transforming of State assets programme.

Property Disposed

Sale Price

€million

Lad Lane, Dublin 2.

22.5

72-76 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.

52.3

14-16 Lord Edward Street, Dublin 8.

8.78

St. John’s Road (Westgate).

44.9

The following properties are currently on the market to be disposed before the end of 2005,26-27 Eden Quay, Dublin 1 and the former Veterinary College, Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Special Areas of Conservation.

Enda Kenny

Question:

331 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if a copy of the draft management plan for the Great Blasket Island will be laid in the library of Dáil Éireann; the members of the Great Blasket management group; the location and extent of rights of way of the Great Blasket Island; if all visitors to the Great Blasket Island have the right to walk such rights of way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32424/05]

It is not proposed to lay the management plan in the library of Dáil Éireann. I will, however, forward a copy to the Deputy for his perusal.

The membership of the new local management committee has not yet been finalised. Roads and pathways on the island are currently in the ownership of the landowners but it is intended that when the lands are acquired, the Office of Public Works will be responsible for their maintenance and use by visitors to the island. Overall access to the island will be limited initially to a maximum of 400 visitors per day in the interests of conserving its unique heritage.

Tax Code.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

332 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the criteria he may consider in proposals to alter the balance between direct and indirect taxation for budget 2006 and in any proposals to change rates of indirect and direct taxation for budget 2006. [32443/05]

As Deputies are aware, it is a long-standing practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment in advance of the budget on possible budget decisions.

Tax Collection.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

333 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of tax generated by stamp duty at each of the current levels for the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and to-date; and the amount expected to be collected by the end of 2005 and in 2006 if rates remain the same. [32444/05]

I understand the Deputy is seeking a breakdown of stamp duty yield, in each of the years referred to, according to the main available stamp duty categories, and furthermore in the case of residential property, a breakdown of yield according to the various stamp duty rates that applied in each year.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that information is not available to provide a breakdown of the residential stamp duty yield appropriate to each rate in each year. However, the following table shows the Revenue Commissioners' net yield from stamp duties by category in each of the years 1998 to 2004 and in the nine month period to the end of September 2005.

Category

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005 end Sep.

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Residential Property

213

263

282

265

349

528

752

672

Non-Residential Property

174

288

392

406

317

547

709

760

Stocks & Shares

161

226

231

346

303

256

261

227

Companies Capital Duty

38

19

49

76

28

21

24

15

Financial Cards, Cheques, etc.

34

37

42

45

48

100

112

113

Bank Levy*

103

103

Insurance & Misc. Items

67

79

94

85

95

110

109

80

Total**

687

913

1,090

1,223

1,139

1,664

2,070

1,867

* The Bank Levy for 2005 is at present being processed.

** Any apparent discrepancies in the totals are due to rounding of constituent figures.

The total net receipt from stamp duties was €2,180 million in the ten months to 31 October 2005. A breakdown by category of this end-October total is not yet available. In the remaining two months of 2005, additional stamp duties in excess of €300 million are profiled for collection in accordance with the monthly profile of expected tax revenue receipts published by my Department in January last. As regards a forecast for stamp duty yield for 2006, this will be published, as usual, in my budget speech next month.

I also understand the Deputy is seeking information on the various rates of stamp duty for residential property applicable since 1998. The following table shows the rates applicable to second-hand residential property during the period requested by the Deputy:

Date

Bands

First-time Owner-occupiers

Other Owner-occupiers

Investors

%

%

%

2/12/04 to date

Up to 127,000

Nil

Nil

Nil

127,001-190,500

Nil

3

3

190,501-254,000

Nil

4

4

254,001-317,500

Nil

5

5

317,501-381,000

3

6

6

381,001-635,000

6

7.5

7.5

Over 635,000

9

9

9

1/1/02 to 1/12/04

Up to 127,000

Nil

Nil

Nil

127,001-190,500

Nil

3

3

(Conversion to Euro. No change in rates.)

190,501-254,000

3

4

4

254,001-317,500

3.75

5

5

317,501-381,000

4.5

6

6

381,001-635,000

7.5

7.5

7.5

Over 635,000

9

9

9

£

6/12/01 to 31/12/01

Up to 100,000

Nil

Nil

Nil

100,001-150,000

Nil

3

3

150,001-200,000

3

4

4

200,001-250,000

3.75

5

5

250,001-300,000

4.5

6

6

300,001-500,000

7.5

7.5

7.5

Over 500,000

9

9

9

27/1/01-5/12/01*

Up to 100,000

Nil

Nil

3

100,001-150,000

Nil

3

3

150,001-200,000

3

4

4

200,001-250,000

3.75

5

5

250,001-300,000

4.5

6

6

300,001-500,000

7.5

7.5

7.5

Over 500,000

9

9

9

15/6/00-26/1/01

Up to 100,000

Nil

Nil

9

100,001-150,000

Nil

3

9

15,001-200,000

3

4

9

200,001-250,000

3.75

5

9

250,001-300,000

4.5

6

9

300,001-500,000

7.5

7.5

9

Over 500,000

9

9

9

23/4/98-14/6/00

Up to 60,000

Nil

Nil

Nil

60,001-100,000

3

3

3

100,001-170,000

4

4

4

170,001-250,000