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 11, inclusive, answered orally.

Sport and Recreational Development.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

12 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the immediate and long-term timetable for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road; if a planning application for the stadium’s redevelopment has been lodged; if he anticipates any difficulties with the planning process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34902/05]

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

20 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position regarding the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road. [34808/05]

Seán Ryan

Question:

25 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to the objections of local residents to the proposed new Lansdowne Road stadium; if these concerns have been taken into account in the planning for the new stadium; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34903/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 20 and 25 together.

I refer the Deputies to my reply to the priority question on this matter earlier today. I have already advised the House that Lansdowne Road Stadium Development Company is currently putting together an application for planning permission which it expects to have ready for lodgement with the planning authority by end-2006. It is not realistically possible to estimate with certainty the length of time that will be required to complete the planning process. Working on the assumption that there is no untoward delay, construction work should commence in early 2007. Construction is scheduled to take 29 months and on that basis the end of 2009 could see completion of the redeveloped stadium.

In my earlier reply, I also pointed out that the new design has been created in consultation with the different stakeholder groups, including the local residents. As a result, in order to minimise the impact on those living close to the new structure, the design at the north end has been confined to a single level while there are four levels on the east, west and south sides. The revised design is an innovative solution which I hope will be perceived by local residents as going a long way to address their concerns.

Tourism Industry.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

13 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to the fact that one of the reasons given for the recent extension of pub licensing hours in Northern Ireland is the need to meet tourist demands; his views on whether further extension of pub opening hours here would have extra benefits for tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34888/05]

The Deputy will be aware that I have no responsibility for pub licensing hours — this is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Neither am I familiar with the background or rationale to the extension of pub licensing hours in Northern Ireland.

From a tourism perspective, there is no evidence of any pressing need to extend the opening hours for licensed premises beyond those currently in force. The Deputy will be aware that section 1(7) of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2004 already takes account of concerns expressed by the hotel sector and parts of the licensed trade about opening hours, by extending the watershed for children from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the period from 1 May to 30 September.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is currently reforming the liquor licensing laws. This, I understand, is a complex process and arises from the need to take account of a broad range of public policy objectives while at the same time seeking to accommodate the demands of a range of interested parties and the general public. I understand that the overall proposal to modernise and streamline licensing law has been broadly welcomed by the licensed trade and drinks industry, the Revenue Commissioners, the Courts Service, the Garda and all the organisations with an interest in this area.

Sport and Recreational Development.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

14 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has had any discussions with the Department of Transport concerning the potential disruption to rail services caused by the redevelopment of the Lansdowne Road stadium; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34904/05]

Due to the proximity of the existing west stand of the Lansdowne stadium to the DART rail line, which is owned by CIE, it is inevitable that the work to ensure the safe demolition of the existing stand and the redevelopment of the Lansdowne stadium will impinge on the rail line.

Discussions are ongoing between the Lansdowne Stadium Development Company and CIE and Iarnród Eireann concerning this aspect of the project and the matter has also been discussed between my Department and both CIE and the Department of Transport. It is the intention of all concerned to find a satisfactory solution to the opposing objectives of carrying out the work in the vicinity of the railway line in the shortest possible timeframe while endeavouring to ensure that travelling public who use the southern line of the DART are not disrupted.

National Theatre.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

15 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position regarding the acquisition of the proposed site in the IFSC for the new Abbey Theatre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34595/05]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

22 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has received the report from the Office of Public Works regarding the proposal to locate the new Abbey Theatre to George’s Dock; if any proposal has been brought to Cabinet; if not, when he expects this to happen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34899/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 15 and 22 together.

In July 2005, the Government authorised investigative surveys to be carried out at the George's Dock site to inform further decisions on the development of the theatre there. At my request, the Office of Public Works arranged detailed examination of the site, including archaeological, geotechnical and structural surveys. These studies have now been completed and do not appear to have revealed anything that would cast doubt on the suitability of the site.

I am currently arranging for the preparation of a report for the Government on the outcome of the OPW investigations with a view to moving forward with my plans for the Abbey Theatre redevelopment project.

Departmental Reports.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

16 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the expected date of publication of the report from the synergies group within his Department into developing links between Irish culture and tourism; the issues that are being addressed by the group; the number of bodies that are involved; the level of consultation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34892/05]

A working group was established under the chairmanship of the Secretary General of my Department, in June 2005, to identify further synergies between the tourism, sport, arts and culture areas of my Department and how they could be advanced to enhance the further development of the sectors concerned.

The terms of reference of this working group — the synergies implementation group — are to: identify the arrangements necessary to better package, present and promote our cultural, artistic and sporting products and services; outline the arrangements necessary to leverage and to better co-ordinate with the promotional efforts of bodies outside the remit of my Department; outline the arrangements necessary to better understand and meet customer expectations and requirements in the sectors' products and services; to set out a framework for co-operation and communication for the mutual advantage and development of the arts, culture, sport and tourism sectors, including the financial framework within which this work will be taken forward; and to set out the implementation steps that should be taken and the timetable that should follow the finalisation of the report by the implementation group.

The synergies implementation group includes the chief executives of Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland, the Arts Council, the Irish Sports Council, the directors of the National Concert Hall and National Gallery, as well as senior officials from my Department. My Department provides the secretariat of the group.

The work of the group is being progressed and is expected to be completed over the coming months with a view to a report being available early in the new year. The group has already consulted with all the agencies and bodies under the Department's remit and with Dublin City Council. Further consultation with other Government Departments is to be undertaken shortly.

Tourism Promotion.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

17 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on whether more funding should be provided for promoting Irish horse racing abroad in view of the fact that Ireland is now seen as one of the more affordable destinations for horse racing, especially in comparison to Britain; if he has been in contact with Horse Racing Ireland regarding the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34880/05]

Ireland offers a unique racing experience to the race going public both at home and abroad. I am satisfied that Horse Racing Ireland, in close collaboration with Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, is very much engaged in marketing that unique experience overseas.

HRI, as the national authority for racing, includes within its remit the representation of Irish racing abroad. Through its board, its senior executives and its international marketing subsidiary, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, it promotes and enhances the reputation of the Irish thoroughbred industry internationally. Its five year strategic plan specifically prioritises the development and promotion of Ireland as a world centre of excellence for horse racing and breeding and I have every confidence that it is committing the necessary resources to that task.

I am aware that the HRI specifically targets overseas visitors to Irish race meetings, particularly racegoers in the UK. For 2006, it has earmarked over €1.5 million for overseas promotion. The UK racegoer in particular presents an outstanding opportunity for inward tourism based on the Irish racing product. It is estimated that in the region of 60,000 UK visitors come racing here each year and the three agencies, Horse Racing Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, consider that there is substantial potential for growth from this market given the fact that in excess of 6 million attendances are recorded annually at race meetings in the UK.

This is a highly affluent target sector with a propensity to spend on hotels, restaurant, car hire and other forms of entertainment. UK race goers are used to paying as much as double the Irish rate for reserved enclosure access, which, combined with the favourable sterling-euro exchange rate, gives us an unprecedented opportunity to offer a high quality racing experience at relatively better value than is available in the UK.

In addition to its own initiatives, Horse Racing Ireland, HRI, has a long standing relationship with Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland in jointly promoting Ireland as a destination for racing tourism. At the behest of my Department, the three agencies are actively exploring possible synergies and, in that context, the HRI specifically identified the Punchestown Festival as an attractive event to grow inbound racing tourism. I understand that discussions between the HRI and the tourism agencies are well underway and I am confident that the combined expertise of the agencies will produce the right result for horse racing and for tourism.

Arts Funding.

Willie Penrose

Question:

18 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to recent comments from the chair of the Arts Council to the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs that Ireland’s direct funding of the arts is lower than that of any of its European counterparts; if he believes it is acceptable that direct funding for the arts should be so low; his response to the Arts Council’s direct request for increased funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34895/05]

International comparisons are far less simple than initially appears to be the case. Approaches to what is classified as "arts" spend, for example, can differ quite dramatically from one jurisdiction and context to another. It must also be said that jurisdictions with very high spending across the board also tend to have very high tax rates and that is something that we do not have here. The arts must compete for funding with all other sectors and I have committed myself to securing the best possible deal for the arts in that context. This is the only sensible approach.

It is also an approach which has paid off in recent years. During my own term as the Minister responsible for the arts, funding for the Arts Council has increased by a total of 28% from €47.67 million in 2002 to €61 million in 2005 which, as the chair of the council informed the joint committee, has allowed the council to support a record number of artists and arts organisations. This built on earlier increases of about 80% between 1997 and 2002. This does not include the substantial funding provided by my Department for the capital development of arts and culture facilities around the country in recent years: my Department's ACCESS scheme, for example, provided €45.7 million for the development of 44 facilities, including museums, arts centres, theatres, and multi-purpose arts spaces throughout the country.

These are significant amounts of money in any context, and the amounts of both current and capital funding that have been provided in recent years have transformed the arts, have increased access to the arts and provide an excellent platform for still further developments in the years ahead.

The Arts Council met with the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs on 19 October 2005. As part of its presentation the council outlined its plans for the next three years under the new strategy for the arts which is to be published in mid-December. This is a three year strategy which seeks to increase Exchequer funding to €100 million by 2008. As part of the first phase of the strategy, the council has sought an allocation of €79.3 million in 2006. Following the meeting, the chair of the joint committee wrote to me in support of the council's request for €79.3 million in 2006, leading to €100 million over a three year cycle.

It is entirely appropriate for the Arts Council to request such funding as it believes it needs and for the joint committee to express its view. The Government, however, must balance competing demands from every part of our economy and society. In this context, I am delighted to confirm that I have secured an allocation of €72.319 million for the council in 2006. That represents an increase of almost 19% on 2005 and almost 38% on 2004.

Tourism Industry.

Liz McManus

Question:

19 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to criticisms of restaurants, hotels and the hospitality sector in general contained in the latest edition of the Bridgestone Guide; if his attention has further been drawn to the author’s specific criticisms that tourism here is under threat from bad taste destinations, dodgy tourism developments that litter the coasts and places that deliver less than acceptable experiences for tourists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34886/05]

I am, of course, aware of the Bridgestone Guide and I have seen some of the author’s comments on the state of the hospitality sector in Ireland. As I understood them, these comments are broadly positive. Indeed, in the words of the author, the Bridgestone Guide purports to “sing the good news that we have world-class cooking, world-class chefs and world-class hospitality”. People’s tastes differ on many things and this is certainly true of food and hospitality critics. In that context, the fact that the author in researching his guide encountered some bad experiences — which serve to underline the very positive experiences — should not surprise anybody.

For my part, I tend to rely more on empirical, fact-based research to judge the state of the industry and, for that reason, Failte Ireland's visitor attitudes survey of around 4,000 overseas visitors to Ireland is a vital touchstone. In 2004, the survey showed that: 71% of visitors were "very satisfied" with the quality of top grade hotels, grades 4* and 5*, and 71% were "very satisfied" with the level of customer service; more than nine in ten were satisfied with the quality of food in hotels — 53% "very satisfied" and 40% "fairly satisfied"— and 73% were "very satisfied" with the quality of food in restaurants; overall, 95% of visitors felt that their Irish holiday either exceeded, 30%, or matched, 65%, their expectations and 97% said that they would recommend Ireland as a holiday destination; greatest satisfaction was expressed with the Irish people, the scenery, the history and culture — things that need to be improved include bad roads, poor signposting and the high cost of living, particularly food and drink costs; on environmental issues, 83% of visitors expressed themselves "very satisfied" with the natural and unspoilt environment on offer, 66% were very satisfied with Ireland's attractive cities and towns and 60% were very satisfied that Ireland was litter and pollution free.

Only 3% of visitors mentioned food quality as a potential disadvantage and only 2% mentioned litter or hygiene. By any yardstick, these results represent a strong endorsement of the quality of the holiday experience in Ireland.

Question No. 20 answered with QuestionNo. 12.

Sports Funding.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

21 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on whether alcohol sponsorship has a place in sport; his further views on whether legislation needs to be introduced to remove any option open to sporting organisations regarding alcohol sponsorship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34881/05]

On 22 September 2004, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children launched the second report of the strategic task force on alcohol. My Department and the Irish Sports Council were represented on the task force. The report refers to proposed legislation, currently being drafted by the Department of Health and Children, which aims to restrict alcohol advertising to children and young people. It also recommends that national sporting bodies with high youth participation develop a proactive strategy to find an alternative to alcohol sponsorship.

I support this recommendation, which is in keeping with the provisions of the Irish Sports Council's Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children's Sport in Ireland which most national governing bodies of sport have signed up to.

Question No. 22 answered with QuestionNo. 15.

Tourism Industry.

Joan Burton

Question:

23 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the way in which the construction involved in Transport 21 will affect tourism over the coming decade whilst works are ongoing; his further views on whether the plan will lead to an irreversible downturn in tourism numbers due to inconveniences caused by the construction; his plans to carry out a study on the effect the transport plan will have on tourism numbers whilst the plan is being implemented; his further views on whether there are ways of combating the negative effects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34876/05]

Joe Higgins

Question:

29 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the recent trends in tourism that have led to a huge influx of tourism in Dublin and the decline in the regions, especially in the west; his views on whether the Transport 21 plan will only serve to increase this imbalance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34877/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 29 together.

As the Deputies are aware, I am not responsible for implementing Transport 21. That responsibility lies with my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen. Any questions regarding the implementation of the plan might be more usefully addressed to him.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to welcome and endorse Transport 21, the Government's radical new initiative to tackle the infrastructure catch up which is required as a result of our unprecedented economic success of recent years. I, my Department and the tourism action plan implementation group have been in close dialogue over the past two years with my colleague, Deputy Cullen, and his Department to ensure that tourism needs are more closely integrated in transport policies and programmes. I believe that Transport 21 addresses this agenda.

As was the case with the enhancement of the DART, the building of the Luas and the delivery of major new motorways, I do not anticipate any sustained negative tourism fallout from the implementation of Transport 21. Indeed, by delivering a much improved transport infrastructure, the plan should have a positive impact on enhancing tourism growth across all parts of the country.

Sports Funding.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

24 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the €70 million increase in the projected cost for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road; if any of this estimated increase will be met by the Government or if it will be paid for exclusively by the FAI and IRFU; if he is concerned at the spiralling cost of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34901/05]

The detailed design for the Lansdowne Road stadium project has been completed by HOK Sports with the assistance of Irish architects Scott Tallon Walker and I was very pleased to launch the design for the stadium on 17 October last. The revised design is an innovative solution for the site which now provides more corporate and premium seats than was contained in the initial outline design. The project has been costed at €365 million, including VAT, which includes the increased cost of the improved facilities.

The January 2004 estimate of the cost of the stadium emerged from a feasibility study which was based on a particular design concept. The detailed design plan and detailed costings now in the public domain relate to a radically different design concept for a much improved stadium, in terms both of design and quality of facilities, compared with that envisaged in the original feasibility study.

The Government commitment to the project is to provide a maximum of €191 million towards the project with the balance being provided jointly by the IRFU and FAI. The Government commitment to this amount has been reiterated and is accepted and understood by both the IRFU and FAI. Both sports organisations have confirmed that they will meet the additional cost from increased income streams from forward selling of the additional corporate boxes and premium seats.

Question No. 25 answered with QuestionNo. 12.

Tourism Industry.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

26 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the status of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report on the reorganisation of the regional tourism associations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34913/05]

Joe Sherlock

Question:

32 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the specific efforts he has made to increase levels of tourism to the regions; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that certain rural areas remain under-developed in terms of tourism infrastructure; the efforts he has made to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34896/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

87 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if any particular region throughout the country has under performed from a tourism point of view in the past 12 months; his proposals to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35067/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26, 32 and 87 together.

I have no direct responsibility for individual actions or measures relating to tourism promotion or development in so far as specific areas of the country are concerned. These are, at present, day-to-day functions of the State tourism agencies.

Fáilte Ireland, in response to a recommendation in the tourism action plan set out in the report of the tourism policy review group, towards the end of last year commissioned PriceWaterhouseCoopers, PWC, to conduct a major study of regional tourism structures, as it sought to determine how best to carry out its new development mandate countrywide. The report has been published and is available on the Fáilte Ireland website. This work was supplemented by a short engagement facilitated by a small independent group, chaired by Mr. John Travers, with the relevant parties to satisfy interests in the Dublin region that the mechanisms of consultation were complete.

The PWC report highlights the need for a much wider brief for regional tourism, playing a strategic rather than administrative role and inputting more directly into national policy. It recommends a greatly increased emphasis on targeted marketing, product development and enterprise support. It suggests establishing an integrated linkage between regional tourism strategy and national policy and exploiting avenues to leverage increased resources.

At the end of July, I indicated to Fáilte Ireland that I was satisfied it should proceed with the proposed revision of regional tourism structures on the basis of the PWC and Travers reports. An implementation group has been established to assist Fáilte Ireland in implementing the recommendations. Mr. Finbarr Flood has agreed to chair this group. It has already begun its work and Fáilte Ireland expects that changes on foot of its work will be seen in the regions by the middle of next year.

National tourism policy has been evolving in recent years, with a particular emphasis on putting policy measures in place to achieve a wider spread of tourism business arising from the New Horizons policy review. The development of good quality direct access to the regions has been a major impediment to growth in the past. Fortunately, this situation has improved greatly in recent times and this summer has seen the greatest ever number of air seats to Ireland, particularly servicing the west. These new routes from Britain, mainland Europe and the US continue to be promoted heavily by Tourism Ireland to optimise their tourism impact.

Visitors cannot be forced to go to a particular location against their will. The responsibility primarily lies with the individual communities and operators in the regions to present and market compelling attractions, facilities, accommodation and experiences that deliver value for money and quality service. However, at a time of overall national tourism growth, I remain concerned that the issue of regional spread should be proactively and energetically addressed. In that context I am pleased that the programmes and initiatives being operated by the State tourism agencies and the action plan set out in the report of the tourism policy review group fully reflect this objective.

Such programmes and initiatives include: the strategic investment in the sustainable development of tourism capital infrastructure in underperforming areas through the tourism product development scheme, which aims to match the quality of the product available on the ground with ever greater consumer expectations; the differential levels of support offered to regional tourism authorities for marketing purposes; an expanded domestic tourism marketing campaign; the use of predominantly rural imagery in the advertising and promotion of Ireland, both at home and abroad; the regional coverage with respect to visiting media; the specific focus on achieving a wide spread of visitors with regard to access transport policies.

In total this year, Fáilte Ireland is investing of the order of €27 million on developing regional tourism, from supporting local festivals to building capability and strengthening the tourism product itself. As regards the promotion and development of tourism by the regions themselves, Fáilte Ireland is channelling in the region of €7.4 million directly into the regional tourism companies to strengthen and enhance their operational and marketing capabilities this year. This investment is designed to ensure both a high quality visitor servicing experience at key tourist information offices and also a strong overseas promotional effort.

In their programmes for 2005, both Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland are rolling out a number of innovative approaches which should heighten the regional impact of Ireland's marketing activities both nationally and overseas: all regions will feature prominently in the full range of marketing activities; a dedicated marketing fund for tactical co-operative initiatives with the regional tourism authorities and their members is available for 2005; a region to region approach is being adopted in Britain which is capitalising on direct access links to the regions; specific marketing campaigns involving joint co-operation activities by the regional tourism authorities and other regional interests have been launched for both the western seaboard and the north west this year; a sponsor a region approach has been adopted in Europe whereby each market office is focusing attention alternately on a particular Irish region to enhance the awareness of the local trade of what that region has to offer; an enhanced consumer website with increased functionality and a strong regional input is providing for more dynamic and up-to-the minute packages to entice the domestic traveller; and a strong focus on event based holidays is being complemented by a more streamlined and targeted festivals and cultural events fund which will continue to favour the lesser developed regions.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

27 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has been in contact with the various stakeholders regarding price increases in view of concerns regarding a Ryder Cup rip-off mounting; the outcome of these meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34883/05]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed reply on this matter to Question No. 5 of 13 October 2005. As I have already indicated, the State tourism agencies are being particularly vigilant about the risk of excessive prices being charged by certain elements of the Irish tourism and hospitality industry in the context of Ryder Cup 2006. In all of their dealings with the industry, they are taking the opportunity to encourage a commonsense approach to the pricing of our tourism products during the staging of the event. For my part, I will continue to raise this issue, as appropriate, in my regular contacts with the industry in the build up to the Ryder Cup.

The Deputy might also note that my Department wrote to the Director of Consumer Affairs earlier this month requesting that a special initiative be undertaken around the time of the Ryder Cup to ensure that price lists in restaurants and public houses are displayed prominently, and has been informed that the appropriate checks will be carried out.

Question No. 28 answered with QuestionNo. 8.
Question No. 29 answered with QuestionNo. 23.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

30 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if, in view of emphasis on obesity and fitness levels, the lack of swimming pools and the waiting list facing parents at swimming pools in Dublin city concerns him; his plans to provide funding to alleviate waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34882/05]

My Department is anxious to encourage the construction of attractive, public sports and leisure facilities to ensure that the Government's strategies to promote good health and fitness are advanced. As evidence of this commitment the level of funding provided in 2005 by my Department, at almost €62 million in respect of the sports capital programme, €34 million in respect of the Sports Council and €32 million in respect of the local authority swimming pool programme, shows clearly the Government's increasing commitment to sport and leisure.

In respect of the local authority swimming pool programme, my Department provides grant aid to local authorities in respect of the capital costs of a new swimming pool, a replacement pool or the refurbishment of an existing pool. The programme provides for a maximum grant level of 80% of eligible costs, 90% in the case of disadvantaged areas, subject to a maximum of €3.8 million and the grant is allocated at tender approval stage.

The closing date for receipt of applications under the current programme was 31 July 2000 and since then 55 projects have been or are being dealt with. Of the 55 projects within the programme, 18 have been completed and eight are under construction. Eight are at tender stage and are expected to submit the tender documentation for approval in coming months, thereby allowing construction to commence, 13 are at contract documents stage and eight are at preliminary report stage.

Eight of the overall 55 projects are in the Dublin area. Of these, two have been completed and are located in Finglas and Ballymun and two are under construction in Ballyfermot and Jobstown. The remaining four projects are at various stages of the programme, that is, the Clondalkin project is at tender stage, the Glenalbyn and Skerries projects are preparing contract documents and the Dundrum project is at preliminary report stage.

The financial profile of the local authority swimming pool programme over the last five years demonstrates the increasing level of commitment to providing a network of public pools throughout the country. The funding provided for the swimming pool programme over the past three years is €9 million, €15 million and €32 million.

The 2005 Estimate provision at €32 million, more than double the 2004 provision, includes a budget allocation of €3.7 million to support the provision of a swimming pool for special needs users at St. Michael's House in Dublin. In addition to the projects funded under the local authority swimming pool programme, the Department has also supported the provision of Ireland's first ever 50 metre pool at the University of Limerick and provided €71 million towards the development of the National Aquatic Centre at Abbotstown.

It is important to bear in mind that the local authority swimming pool programme is not centrally driven in that it provides grant aid in response to demand by local authorities. It is a matter for local authorities to devise funding and operational arrangements, as they see fit, for the provision of swimming facilities in their areas. Experience shows that there is potential for private sector involvement in the provision and operation of local authority swimming pool facilities and many local authorities are exploring various ways of involving the private sector in their projects.

My Department is carrying out an expenditure review of the programme, which is examining, among other things, how it has worked to date, the benefits which have accrued to the areas where pools have been built under the programme and what amendments, if any, are required to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of the programme. On completion of this review, the question of re-opening the programme will be considered.

Sport and Recreational Development.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

31 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the sports that are constituted on an all-Ireland basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34812/05]

The national governing bodies of sport, recognised by the Irish Sports Council, which are constituted on an all-Ireland basis are listed below. I fully support the constructive and positive level of co-operation which exists between the Irish Sports Council and the Sports Council for Northern Ireland as well as the all-island national governing bodies, in their efforts to promote and develop the various sports throughout the island of Ireland.

The governing bodies are: Angling Council of Ireland, Athletics Association of Ireland, Badminton Union of Ireland, Basketball Ireland, Bol Chumainn na hÉireann, Bowling League of Ireland, Cerebral Palsy Sport Ireland, Comhairle Liathróid Láimhe na hÉireann, Cumann Camógaíochta na nGael, Cumann Peile Gael na mBan, Cycling Ireland, Equestrian Federation, GAA, Golfing Union of Ireland, Irish Amateur Archery Association, Irish Amateur Boxing Association, Irish Amateur Rowing Union, Irish Amateur Fencing Federation, Irish Amateur Wrestling Association, Irish Baseball and Softball Federation, Irish Blindsports, Irish Canoe Union, Irish Clay Pigeon Shooting Association, Irish Cricket Union, Irish Gymnastics, Irish Hockey Association, Irish Ice Hockey Association, Irish Judo Association, Irish Ladies Golf Union, Irish Olympic Handball Association, Irish Orienteering Association, Irish Rugby Football Union, Irish Sailing Association, Irish Squash, Irish Surfing Association, Irish Table Tennis Association, Irish Taekwondo Union, Irish Tenpin Bowling, Irish Underwater Council, Irish Waterski Federation, Irish Wheelchair Association Sport, Motor Cycling Ireland, Motor Sport Ireland, Mountaineering Council of Ireland, National Community Games, National Rifle and Pistol Association, ONAKAI, Paralympic Council of Ireland, Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland, Racquetball Association of Ireland, Special Olympics Ireland, Speleological Union of Ireland, Swim Ireland, Tennis Ireland, Triathlon Ireland, Volleyball Association of Ireland.

Question No. 32 answered with QuestionNo. 26.
Question No. 33 answered with QuestionNo. 9.

Tourism Industry.

Willie Penrose

Question:

34 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the recent figures from the Central Statistics Office showing a fall of almost 5,000 in the number of visitors from North America to Ireland for the first eight months of this year; the reasons for this shortfall and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34894/05]

I am aware that, for a variety of reasons, there was a slow start to the North American tourism market this year which has left overall numbers from January to August down less than 1% on last year. However, I am heartened by the fact that according to the latest CSO figures for August, visitor numbers from North America grew by 6.2% over the same month last year. This follows on from an 8.9% increase in July and a 7.2% increase in June over the same months in 2004. These strong summer season results bode well for the growth of the important US leisure market.

The latest market intelligence available to Tourism Ireland suggests that this trend has continued through the shoulder season and there are grounds for optimism that the year will end with a real increase in the number of US visitors. This would result in Ireland's performance being more or less on a par with our nearest competitors in Europe. Official figures from the US Department of Commerce show that travel by US citizens to Europe only grew by 2% in the first half of this year.

Air capacity is a key factor in developing the North American market. As was evident in 2004, the large numbers of Irish travelling to the US, particularly in the early part of the year, have restricted the availability of seats at competitive fares for US travellers wishing to visit Ireland. With the new services by American Airlines from Boston and Chicago and the new continental route to Belfast coming on stream in May last, we have seen a far greater take-up of seats by US visitors.

There are now four major American based carriers serving Ireland, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, Continental Airlines and American Airlines. There has never been a time when so many American carriers have served Ireland. In addition, the number of direct gateway cities has been gradually increasing. In this context, the recent announcement by my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, on changes to the US-Ireland air bilateral agreement, is extremely significant from a tourism perspective. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, the proposed new arrangements have major potential to open up a range of new air services between Ireland and the United States. According to some tourism industry sources, this agreement gives Ireland the potential to double the number of US visitors by 2012 to two million and should add, each year, an extra 150,000 visitors and €100 million in revenue to the Irish economy.

It is also very timely in terms of our marketing efforts in this vital market. Tourism Ireland has recently begun a review of the North American market, which follows on from similar reviews of Great Britain and continental Europe. This review aims to ensure that Ireland's marketing approach is designed to deliver maximum growth from North America in 2006 and beyond. Tourism Ireland has established consultative steering groups of industry members on both sides of the Atlantic to ensure that a commercial perspective is brought to bear on all aspects of the review's work. Tourism Ireland aims to complete the market review by the middle of 2006.

In summary, while the US market this year has proven challenging, the scene is now set for a much stronger Irish performance over the coming years.

Sport and Recreational Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

35 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his proposals regarding the previously proposed national stadium at Abbotstown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34910/05]

On 27 January 2004, the Government decided not to proceed with the development of a national stadium at Abbotstown and instead to provide funding of €191million to the joint IRFU-FAI project for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road stadium. The Lansdowne stadium project has made very good progress and the company charged with delivery of the project, Lansdowne Road Stadium Development Company, is finalising the planning application and has set a target of the end of 2005 to have work on this application completed. An innovative detailed design for the stadium has been provided by stadium designers HOK Sport with the assistance of Irish architects Scott Tallon Walker. The redeveloped Lansdowne Road stadium, with a crowd capacity of 50,000 all-seated, together with the redeveloped Croke Park, with a crowd capacity of 82,300, should be more than adequate for all the needs of major spectator sport in this country.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

36 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the audit of facilities that is under way is to include both sports and arts facilities; if this work is being carried out by his Department or by outside consultants; when the audit will be finalised; the use which this body of work is intended to be put to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34868/05]

The Government has given a commitment in the programme for Government to complete a national audit of local sports facilities. This work is being undertaken as part of the development of a long-term strategic plan for the provision of sports facilities. There is no proposal at present to carry out an audit of the arts facilities in the country.

An inter-agency steering group has been established to oversee the development of the sports facilities strategy, part of which will include overseeing the commencement of the proposed audit of sports facilities. Work has commenced on establishing a comprehensive record of national and regional sports facilities with a view to developing an overview on the adequacy of existing key strategic facilities. The Deputy will appreciate that this is one of the building blocks in the formation of an effective long-term strategy. While the Department is undertakingthis work internally with the assistance of the Central Statistics Office, there may be a need for external expertise at some future stage, particularly in addressing any of the information technology requirements.

The audit, when completed, will map the location of the various sports facilities throughout the country and will assist the Government in addressing any gaps that might still exist in Ireland's sporting infrastructure, particularly at regional and national level. While carrying out an effective and comprehensive national audit of local facilities is a major undertaking, it is hoped to have phase one of the audit completed during 2006, with work commencing thereafter on identifying need at local level.

Tourist Accommodation.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

37 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to comments from the chief executive of Tourism Ireland that one in ten bed and breakfasts will cease trading by the end of 2005 due to increased competition with hotels for guests; his views on the threat to bed and breakfasts here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34890/05]

As I have previously advised the House, I do not have responsibility for the registration and listing of tourist accommodation facilities as this is a day-to-day function of Fáilte Ireland under the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003. However, I am aware that the bed and breakfast and guesthouse sector has experienced a loss in market share in recent years for a number of reasons, including changes in consumer preferences, growth in urban and short-haul holiday taking and the large addition of budget hotel accommodation stock. In response to concerns about its short and medium term prospects, a strategic review of the bed and breakfast sector was commissioned by Fáilte Ireland. Recently, the consultants' recommendations were presented to representatives of the sector's main associations for their views.

In the meantime, Fáilte Ireland is continuing to support the bed and breakfast and small and medium-sized accommodation sector through specific marketing initiatives and a range of activities in support of this sector was announced as part of its 2005 marketing and development plans. Programmes include co-operative marketing activities and education programmes for bed and breakfasts, establishment of a representative national forum for guesthouses, working with marketing groups representing one star and two star hotels and support for other accommodation sectors.

In addition, Fáilte Ireland's small and medium sized enterprise scheme continues to support keysectors such as the bed and breakfasts, self-catering, caravan and camping, rural tourism and hostels in the areas of market supports, e-business and capability building at both the sector and enterprise level, and a business solutions toolkit is available to assist small businesses in understanding basic, but key, areas of business operation.

Sport and Recreational Development.

Joan Burton

Question:

38 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the further analysis requested by the Government from the Office of Public Works into phase one of the proposed development of sporting facilities at Abbotstown in west Dublin is now complete; when this analysis and proposals in this regard will be brought to Cabinet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34906/05]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Priority Question No. 1 on this matter which I gave to the House earlier today.

The House will recall that the Government decided in 2004 to proceed, as financial resources permit, with the development of a campus of sports facilities at Abbotstown. Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Limited, CSID, undertook an in-depth preparatory process, which included engaging with the major governing bodies of sport and stakeholders, and drew up proposals for the development of the sports campus in a series of phases. Phase one of the development control plan proposes the development of pitches and ancillary accommodation catering mainly for rugby, soccer and Gaelic games, the sports which engage the greatest number of people in Ireland. In addition, an indoor sports centre is planned, to cater for a range of indoor sports with spectator accommodation and publicly accessible all-weather floodlit synthetic pitches are included.

The Government had an initial discussion on the proposal last September and requested that further analysis be carried out by the Office of Public Works in connection with the delivery of the project. I have now reported to my Cabinet colleagues on the outcome of this additional analysis which will be factored into consideration of my Department's capital envelope for 2006-2010 to be published on budget day. I am hopeful that there will be a positive outcome and, in that eventuality, it would be my intention to establish a statutory agency to oversee the Abbotstown project. I am very conscious of the need to have top class sport facilities in place in good time to create opportunities which would promote Ireland as a location for foreign teams wishing to avail of training for the London Olympics in 2012.

Tourism Industry.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

39 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of actions that were proposed in the new horizons for Irish tourism that have been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34912/05]

I refer the Deputy to the Dáil Debates of 13 October 2005, column 1364, where I outlined the position in relation to the implementation of the first two year tourism action plan as recommended in the tourism policy review group's report, New Horizons for Irish Tourism: An Agenda for Action. I expect to receive the implementation group's third and final report early in 2006.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

40 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his reaction to new figures from the Central Statistics Office showing that the number of Irish people travelling abroad has increased by more than a million in five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34893/05]

I am very conscious of the fact that our greater economic prosperity over the last number of years has meant that Irish people are in a position to go on holidays more often and further afield. This has also been good for domestic tourism which has seen a significant increase over a similar period. CSO figures show that international trips by Irish residents have increased from 3.77 million in 2000 to 5.46 million trips in 2004, up 1.69 million. Over the same period, domestic travel by Irish residents also increased from 5.48 million to 7 million trips, up 1.52 million. In 2004, a total of 7 million trips were taken within the Republic by Irish residents, with an expenditure of €1 billion. This represents an increase of 5% on the number of domestic trips taken in 2003 while expenditure increased by 7%.

Fáilte Ireland has responsibility for promoting the home holiday market and has been very active in working with the industry to optimise the increasing potential of the domestic holiday maker. In 2005, some €4 million has been allocated by Fáilte Ireland to home holiday promotion. Fáilte Ireland's consumer website for the domestic market, Ireland.ie, which was launched early this year, has proven particularly successful in generating quality year round business for the sector. Fáilte Ireland also publishes the highly successful Discover Ireland series of brochures aimed at the domestic consumer.

Health Services.

Tom Hayes

Question:

41 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the funding issue for a refuge (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [34991/05]

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.

Labelling of Foodstuffs.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

42 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a market (details supplied) in County Mayo should be subject to a compulsory labelling system similar to that of big commercial supermarkets; her views on whether this is unfair in view of the fact that the market only operates four hours per week and some during summer months only; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34996/05]

The general labelling of foodstuffs in Ireland is controlled under the European Communities (Labelling, Presentation and Advertising of Foodstuffs) Regulations 2002 to 2005. These regulations apply to the labelling of pre-packaged foodstuffs for sale to the ultimate consumer or for supply to mass caterers. The principle underlying food labelling is that the purchaser must not be misled: thus pre-packaged food sold at markets is not exempt from the labelling requirements that apply to such food sold by other means. However, foodstuffs sold loose, that is, without pre-packaging, such as olives sold from drums or cheese sliced at the request of the consumer, need only indicate the name of the food, either on the label or displayed on a notice near the food.

Hospital Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

43 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if assistance will be given to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8. [34990/05] -

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.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Michael Noonan

Question:

44 Mr. Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she has received an application from mid-west region of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland for funding of a respite home at a former hotel (details supplied); if the capital grant sought will be sanctioned; if arrangements will be made with the Health Service Executive to provide funding on an annual basis to cover the ongoing running costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34997/05]

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 Staff.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

45 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the procedure to be followed by public health nurses wishing to transfer from the former Eastern Health Board areas to the former Western Health Board area; if such requests will be entertained as processed as expeditiously as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35002/05]

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.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Bernard Allen

Question:

46 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork is being refused an electrical wheelchair. [35015/05]

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.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

47 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the long waiting period for inter-country adoption assessment arising from the inadequate provision of social workers is a financial issue, or arises from a shortage in the availability of social workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35031/05]

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.

Children in Care.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

48 Ms Enright asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the allowances and assistance available to persons (details supplied) in County Offaly who are caring for children following intervention by the Health Service Executive due to the failure by a parent to provide for the children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35052/05]

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.

Dan Boyle

Question:

49 Mr. Boyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason certain coronary procedures are only available at Cork University Hospital on a Monday to Friday basis. [35082/05]

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.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

50 Mr. O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are no designated palliative care beds for cancer patients at Waterford Regional Hospital; her proposals regarding same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35084/05]

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.

Pat Breen

Question:

51 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated with a special designed bed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35085/05]

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 Health Service Executive. 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.

Denis Naughten

Question:

52 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children , further to Question No. 235 of 12 April 2005, if her Department has completed its examination on the introduction of a vaccine damage compensation scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35090/05]

My officials are continuing to examine the feasibility of introducing a vaccine damage compensation scheme. The investigation into the most relevant models from a clinical, administrative and fairness point of view is ongoing.

Hospital Staff.

Denis Naughten

Question:

53 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of nursing vacancies in each acute, long stay elderly and psychiatric hospital in Counties Roscommon, Galway, Mayo, Leitrim, Westmeath and Sligo; the number of agency staff employed in each institution on an average monthly basis since the start of 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35091/05]

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

Pension Provisions.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

54 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason an employee who opted out of the spouses’ and children’s scheme when it was introduced for women in 1984 will be liable for contributions to the scheme on retirement as will be the case for a person (details supplied) in County Louth. [35092/05]

The Deputy's question relates to the administration of the local government superannuation scheme and its allied spouses' and children's contributory pensions scheme, which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive; in this case the HSE, north-eastern area. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances.

John Perry

Question:

55 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will intervene with the Health Service Executive north west on behalf of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo and have a mobility allowance granted in view of their medical condition. [35093/05]

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.

John Perry

Question:

56 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 282 of 25 October 2005, if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) in County Sligo has not been called for their treatment in Beaumont Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35094/05]

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

Hospital Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

57 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her plans to expand facilities at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35104/05]

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.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

58 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of capital projects within her Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35256/05]

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 considering new capital proposals or progressing those in the health capital programme. Accordingly, my Department is requesting 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 direct to the Deputy.

Mobile Telephony.

John Gormley

Question:

59 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Finance, further to correspondence received from his Department, if all mobile phone base stations located on a house (details supplied) in Dublin 6 have been de-activated; and, if they have not been de-activated, when the promised de-activation will take place. [34995/05]

The Commissioners of Public Works have requested the two mobile network operators to switch off their transmitters and are at present in discussion with them about how this can be achieved.

Flood Relief.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

60 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance his proposals to implement the St. John’s river flood relief scheme in Waterford city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35038/05]

A steering committee has been set up comprising officials from both Waterford City Council and the Office of Public Works with a view to progressing the St. John's river flood relief scheme. The first meeting of the committee took place on 21 October 2005 at which it was agreed that all options to integrate flood relief proposals into future development would be considered as well as identifying any opportunities to carry out works in "high risk" areas in advance of the major scheme works. It is intended that the steering committee would have a clear view by mid-2006 on the best means to advance the proposed flood relief works for Waterford city.

Tax Code.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

61 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if a provision whereby no capital gains tax should arise on the disposal of farmland to a local authority for road building or road widening purposes will be introduced in budget 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35041/05]

It is not the practice to comment in the lead-up to the annual budget and Finance Bill on the intention or otherwise to make changes in taxation.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

62 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if a provision will be introduced in budget 2006 to give discretion to the Revenue Commissioners to review the conditions for eligibility for capital gains tax, CGT, retirement relief on the transfer of farmland to a son or daughter who is taking up farming as his or her career where the land has had to be leased prior to its transfer due to unavoidable family circumstances (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35042/05]

Paddy McHugh

Question:

63 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if the conditions attached to CGT retirement relief will be revised in order that the ten year period for ownership before disposal shall commence in the period up to the initial letting of the land to a family member, provided the eventual disposal of the lands is to that family member; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35043/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62 and 63 together.

It is not the practice to comment in the lead-up to the annual budget and Finance Bill on the intention or otherwise to make changes in taxation.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

64 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if a targeted farm consolidation reinvestment relief will be introduced in budget 2006 whereby proceeds from the sale or transfer of farmland by farmers are reinvested into other farmland without charges to capital gains tax subject to certain conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35044/05]

Paddy McHugh

Question:

65 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if relief from stamp duty on the purchase of farmland by farmers up to 50 years of age who meet certain criteria for farm consolidation will be extended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35045/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 65 together.

It is not the practice to comment in the lead-up to the annual budget and Finance Bill on the intention or otherwise to make changes in taxation.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

66 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if the current 100% stamp duty relief on purchases or transfer of farmland to young trained farmers for a five year period commencing 1 January 2006 will be renewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35046/05]

It is not the practice to comment in the lead-up to the annual budget and Finance Bill on the intention or otherwise to make changes in taxation.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

67 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if a provision to abolish the employee PAYE tax credit and to pass on in full the savings to all taxpayers through the system of personal tax credits will be introduced in budget 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35047/05]

It has been the practice of successive Ministers for Finance not to comment on tax changes in the run-up to the annual budget and I do not propose to depart from that approach.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

68 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if the flat rate VAT refund to non-VAT registered farmers from its current 4.8% to 5.8% with effect from 1 January 2006 will be increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35048/05]

The position is that the calculation of the farmers' flat rate is governed by EU VAT law and is based on the relevant macroeconomic data for the farming sector for the preceding three years. The purpose of the flat rate addition is to compensate unregistered farmers on an overall basis for VAT which they incur on their business inputs. The flat rate addition is not there to provide any form of income support to farmers or to compensate for increases in wages or costs generally.

The flat rate refund for unregistered farmers is examined every year in the lead up to the budget. It is not customary for me to comment on any possible changes to the existing rate which may arise in the context of the forthcoming budget.

Tax Relief.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

69 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the number of taxpayers who availed of tax relief for trade union membership in 2004; the cost to the Exchequer of this relief; and the estimated cost to the Exchequer if such relief were granted at source. [35053/05]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent year for which complete relevant information is available on relief for trade union subscriptions relates to the income tax year 2002, in respect of which some 229,600 claims for tax relief were allowed at an estimated cost to the Exchequer of approximately €11 million. It is not possible to estimate the additional cost of allowing tax relief for trade union subscriptions at source, but it is not likely to be significant.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

70 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the number of taxpayers who availed of tax relief for local authority charges in 2004; the amount awarded against which relief was claimed; the amount received by local authorities in the relevant year for which relief was claimable; and the cost to the Exchequer if all such charges were fully offset against tax. [35054/05]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent year for which complete information on tax relief is available on local authority service charges is for the income tax year 2002. In that year an estimated number of 124,900 claimants availed of the tax relief for the service charges at an estimated cost to the Exchequer of €5.2 million, on the basis of allowable claims in respect of domestic refuse charges totalling €26 million.

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is responsible for national waste management policy. I understand from his Department that based on returns received from local authorities in respect of their 2004 adopted budgets, income from domestic refuse charges applied by local authorities themselves is estimated to amount to €113 million for 2004. This figure does not include income accruing to private collectors who are involved in the provision of a waste collection service in 20 of the 34 city/county councils as the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government does not collect data from this source.

In view of the fact that full data are not available on the total cost of waste collection it is not possible to say what the additional cost to the Exchequer would be if all such charges were fully offset against tax.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

71 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the number of taxpayers who availed of tax relief for medical expenses in 2004 and for each of the previous three years; the proportion of persons who received relief at the standard rate of tax and at the higher rate of tax; the cost of such relief to the Exchequer; and the amount saved by the Exchequer by excluding the first €125 of such expenses from qualifying for relief. [35055/05]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the latest relevant information available is based on income tax returns filed for the short income tax year ending 31 December 2001 and the year ending 31 December 2002. It is set out in the following table.

Year

Estimated cost of tax relief for medical expenses

Number of claimants

Proportion of taxpayers who received relief at the standard rate of tax**

Proportion of taxpayers who received relief at the higher rate of tax

Estimated amount saved by the Exchequer through the operation of the de minimis amount

€ million

%

%

€ million

2001

36

106,000

45

55

4

2002

63

144,000

41

59

7

** Includes a small number on marginal relief.

The 2001 income tax year was a short transitional tax year running from 6 April to 31 December 2001 which preceded the first full calendar tax year 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002. It should be noted that PAYE taxpayers were charged to tax on their earnings in the period from 6 April to 31 December 2001 and self-employed taxpayers were assessed to tax for the short year on 74% of the profits earned in a 12 month accounting period. Also, the amount of medical expenses excluded from relief was restricted to the first €94 in the tax year 2001. For these reasons the cost figures will not be directly comparable with those for 2002.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

72 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the number of capital projects which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35056/05]

Given its functions, the Department of Finance is not engaged in major capital projects. Its capital expenditure in 2004 was €13.283 million and its capital allocation in 2005 is €11.108 million, and in both years most of the moneys were allocated for use by other bodies. Although the Office of Public Works is not funded directly or indirectly by the Department, in view of the subject of the Deputy's question, the Department has asked that office to communicate to the Deputy any relevant information on it.

Budget Submissions.

Willie Penrose

Question:

73 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm having received a submission from the Teachers’ Union of Ireland inquiring that sufficient funding be put in place in the 2006 Estimates to commence the implementation of the recommendations in the McIver report (details supplied). [35075/05]

I have received a submission from the Teachers' Union of Ireland requesting that extra funding be provided for implementing the McIver report. I will consider this submission, as I will consider the many other submissions I receive, in the context of the forthcoming budget. I will present the 2006 budget to the Dáil on 7 December 2005. As is normal, I will not comment on the contents of the budget in advance of that date.

Tax Yield.

Richard Bruton

Question:

74 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the value of all taxes raised from motoring in each year since 1997, distinguishing the contribution from the different taxes on new vehicles and from the maintenance and use of vehicles. [35098/05]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available is the amount of tax revenues collected as VAT, mineral oil tax, excise and VRT in respect of motor vehicles. As regards VAT, all figures are estimates, as the information to be furnished on VAT returns does not require the yield from particular sectors of trade to be identified. I attach schedules giving the requested information for the years 1997 to 2004.

The figures for motor taxes, as supplied by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, are also given.

Estimated VAT receipts 1997-2004.

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Cars

290

375

427

562

422

430

431

480

Motor- cycles

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

6

7

6

5

Petrol

196

207

224

289

265

286

290

328

Diesel

16

19

22

30

27

30

32

38

Motor Oil Auto LPG

2

3

3

3

2

2

2

2

Car Repairs

24

25

28

30

38

41

47

50

Car Accessories

n/a

n/a

27

36

23

24

26

28

Car Hire

9

12

11

13

11

11

13

14

Driving Instruction

3

3

3

3

3

4

4

4

Total

540

644

745

967

797

835

852

949

Mineral Oil Tax

Petrol

601.7

676.8

720.4

754.8

725.3

854.2

853.8

970.7

Auto Diesel

428.7

509.2

583.3

624.0

519.5

660.2

731.5

870.7

Auto LPG

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.3

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

Total

1,030.9

1,186.4

1,304.0

1,379.1

1,244.9

1,514.6

1,585.3

1,841.5

Vehicle Registration Tax

New Vehicles

Cars

428.8

535.6

692.3

945.1

750.7

756.3

778.5

876.7

Car Derived Vans

7.8

8.8

8.9

8.1

7.2

8.0

5.8

8.5

Commercial Vehicles

1.2

1.6

2.0

2.5

2.3

2.0

1.9

1.9

Motor Cycles

1.2

1.5

2.6

3.7

3.7

2.7

2.3

2.2

Used Vehicles (Imports}

Cars

61.8

65.2

62.2

39.0

21.3

20.8

28.2

53.4

Car Derived Vans

0.6

1.0

1.4

1.2

0.9

1.1

1.1

1.6

Commercial Vehicles

0.7

0.7

0.8

0.7

0.6

0.5

0.6

0.8

Motor Cycles

0.6

0.7

0.9

1.1

1.4

1.1

1.1

1.0

Total

502.6

615.1

771.1

1,001.3

788.0

792.6

819.4

946.0

Estimates are not available where noted n/a.

Total receipts from Motor Tax, including driver licence duties, are as follows:

Year

Total Receipts

€ million

1997

382.14

1998

413.41

1999

478.84

2000

496.09

2001

546.87

2002

581.31

2003

680.37

2004

747.25

Freedom of Information.

Enda Kenny

Question:

75 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the practice of some State agencies of not responding to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 1997, thereby forcing persons seeking information to pay an additional non-refundable fee of €70 to instigate an appeal in order to satisfy their requests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35101/05]

My attention has not been drawn to the practice referred to by the Deputy and I have no evidence that such a practice exists. Guidelines issued by my Department in relation to FOI fees make it clear that there should be no charge for appeals of the type described by the Deputy.

Section 41 of the Freedom of Information, FOI, Acts 1997 and 2003 provides that a decision to refuse a request for information is deemed to have been made if the public body fails to respond to the request within the required timescale. This entitles the requester to apply for an internal review. Guidelines on FOI fees which have been issued in the form of central policy unit notice number 11 advise public bodies to exempt an internal review application arising from a deemed decision. The text of CPU notice 11 is available on www.foi.gov.ie.

If the Deputy considers that a fee has been charged in a case where section 41 applies, I suggest he advise the person affected to bring these guidelines to the attention of the relevant public body. While it may arise from time to time that a public body has difficulty meeting the tight timescales for responding to a request for information, I am satisfied that there is a high level of compliance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Acts generally. This has been shown in investigations undertaken by the Information Commissioner in 2001 and in 2004.

Offshore Exploration.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

76 Mr Cowley asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the exploration licences which have been awarded to oil and gas companies in the recent past; the licences which are being awarded at present; the licences he intends to award in the future; the number and location of these licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34984/05]

Details of current licences, including those recently awarded, are contained in two reports published by my Department. The first of these is the six monthly report on licensing presented to the Dáil under section 57 of the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960. The second is the acreage report which is published on the Department's website approximately three times each year. Details of the licences and authorisations which have been awarded in the recent past are shown in the table.

Exploration Licences.

Option No.

Option Period

Block Nos.

Area (km2)

Participants (* = Operator)

% Interest

1/05 Frontier

20 January 2005-19 January 2020

13/7, 13/11 (p) & 13/12 (p)

408.29

*Lundin Exploration BV

35

Island Donegal Limited

26

Ramco Donegal Limited

19.25

Petroceltic Erris Limited

16.25

Sunningdale Donegal Basin Limited

3.5

2/05 Frontier

1 July 2005-30 June 2021

12/6, 11/10, 11/15 & 12/1

932.18

*Shell E&P Ireland Limited

50

Eni Ireland BV.

40

OMV (IRELAND) Exploration GmbH

10

3/05 Frontier

1 July 2005-30 June 2021

18/10, 19/1 & 19/6

715.58

*Island Oil and Gas plc

100

P — part block.

Other authorisations, other than exploration licences, issued during the period include:

Licensing Options.

Option No.

Option Period

Block Nos.

Area (km2)

Participants (* = Operator)

% Interest

05/1

1 January 2005-31 December 2006

49/13 (p)

115.67

*Milesian Oil & Gas Limited

100

05/2

1 January 2005-31 December 2006

48/21 (p) & 48/22 (p)

142.69

*Milesian Oil & Gas Limited

100

05/3

1 April 2005-30 September 2006

41/29 (p), 41/30 (p), 50/3 (p), 50/4, 50/5 & 51/1 (p)

841.56

*Providence Resources plc

100

P — part block.

Petroleum Prospecting Licences

Licence No.

No. of Years

Licence From

Licensee

1/05

3

1 January 2005

Milesian Oil & Gas Limited

2/05

3

14 June 2005

Trans-International Oil Exploration Limited

Petroleum Prospecting Licence 3/00 — Shell E&P Ireland Ltd — expired on 7 June 2005.

At present my Department has received two applications to convert licensing options to exploration licences, one onshore and one offshore, in the Celtic Sea. Details will be published if and when the licences have been issued and signed. As regards licensing in the future, a licensing round has been announced over the Slyne — Erris — Donegal area with a closing date of 15 March 2006. It is not possible at this stage to say how many applications will be received or licences issued.

Electricity Generation.

Michael Noonan

Question:

77 Mr Noonan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the views expressed by the representatives of persons who generate electricity through wind energy that a tariff of 5.6 cents per unit with 25% indexation per annum is insufficient to fund their requirements and 100% indexation is required to make the majority of their proposals bankable; if the indexation arrangement will be reviewed with a view to significantly increasing it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35006/05]

In September last I published the draft terms and conditions of a proposed new renewable energy feed in tariff, REFIT, programme to support the construction of new renewable energy powered electricity generating plants. Interested parties were given the opportunity to raise any queries or to furnish any observations on the proposals to be delivered to my Department by 12 October last.

Approximately 30 submissions were received on a variety of issues including the levels of indexation proposed. These submissions have been examined and evaluated and incorporated into the REFIT programme where appropriate. The draft document, as revised, is currently out to legal advice and a full statement including publication of the detailed terms and conditions will occur as soon as legal approval is received and after the practical arrangements to print and make the detailed notes available are completed.

Energy Resources.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

78 Mr Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the details of the emergency oil reserves held by the State; the locations where they are maintained; if he has satisfied himself that they are adequate to cope with global scarcity arising from war or otherwise; and if not, his proposals in this regard. [35032/05]

As a member of the International Energy Agency, IEA, Ireland is required to maintain emergency oil stocks equivalent to at least 90 days of net imports in the previous year. The EU imposes a similar requirement based on consumption.

On 1 September 2005, the latest date for which comprehensive figures are available, Ireland's emergency oil reserves, whether held at home or in other EU member states, amounted to the equivalent of 116 days of net imports using the IEA methodology. These stocks are made up of: wholly-owned stocks held in Ireland by the National Oil Reserves Agency, NORA, and industry or oil consumers equivalent to 79 days of stocks; wholly-owned stocks held by NORA in other EU member states under cover of bilateral agreements equivalent to seven days of stocks; and stock held by NORA in the form of "stock tickets" in other EU member states, under cover of bilateral agreements, equivalent to 30 days of stocks. "Stock tickets" represent oil stocks which are available to NORA, under commercial contracts, in the event of an oil emergency.

In the event of a significant global oil supply disruption, these reserves would be eked out over an extended period to supplement commercial supplies which would still be available in the normal course — albeit at a reduced level — so as to provide cover far in excess of their nominal duration. If, for example, there were a 10% reduction in world oil supplies, a level of disruption unprecedented over the past four decades, then it is estimated that our current reserves would last for approximately three years — longer when combined with the reduction in consumption which would be achieved by the demand restraint measures which would be triggered by a crisis of this magnitude. The IEA also has formal mechanisms for the fair sharing of available oil in the event of a crisis. The locations where Ireland's oil stocks are held are shown in the table, expressed in days.

Ireland

Denmark

NL

Sweden

UK

Overall Total

NORA Stocks — Wholly owned

34

4

3

41

Ticketed (Stock tickets)

3

2

15

13

33

Industry/Consumer Stocks

42

42

Total

79

2

15

4

16

116

Postal Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

79 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his proposals to ensure the future of the day after postal delivery service in rural areas in the face of the imminent deregulation of letters of every weight and the consequent competition for An Post in the major urban areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35037/05]

The liberalisation of the postal sector is provided for in the European Directives 97/67/EC and 2002/39/EC, which set out the requirements for member states on the provision of high quality postal services and liberalisation within their postal networks. Under the directives, each member state is obliged to provide a universal service whereby a minimum level of service must be provided including a delivery no less than five days a week. Both of these directives have been transposed into Irish law in S.I. 616 of 2002, European Communities (Postal Services) Regulations.

Liberalisation in Ireland has already commenced and since the transposition of the directives, the weight limit applying to postal items falling within the reserved area and therefore not open to competition has been reduced to 100g from 2003 with a price limit of three times the basic tariff for domestic and inbound international. The reserved area will be further reduced to mail weighing 50g or less and two and a half times the basic tariff from 2006 for domestic and inbound international. Outbound international mail was fully liberalised on 1 January 2004. The second directive also stipulates that the postal sector is to liberalise across the EU in full on 1 January 2009 subject to political agreement. There are no proposals to change the nature of the universal service.

Marine Safety.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

80 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the progress to date in 2005 on his investigation into the recent incident where 13 Latvian workers living in the Drogheda area were stranded on an island by their employer. [35102/05]

I refer the Deputy to the detailed reply I gave to the House yesterday regarding this incident. There are currently two investigations underway in the Department on this matter. One is being undertaken by the maritime safety directorate to determine if the vessel used to transport the people to the island was certified or licensed in compliance with the relevant maritime safety legislation. The second is being undertaken by seafood control division into whether the person gathering or organising the gathering of periwinkles was in full compliance with their responsibilities under relevant food safety legislation. Both investigations are ongoing and, as can be appreciated, I cannot comment further until the reports of the investigations are completed.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

81 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of capital projects within his Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35257/05]

It has not been possible, in the time available, to identify and assemble all the relevant material as required by the Deputy. I have asked my Department to compile the information and I will issue a comprehensive reply directly to the Deputy as early as possible.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

82 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of capital projects within his Department that, in 2004 and 2005, had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and that would have been subject to cost benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35258/05]

There were no capital projects undertaken by my Department that fall within the terms of the question.

Sport and Recreational Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

83 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he is satisfied regarding the degree to which indoor and outdoor sporting and recreational facilitates have received funding from his Department; if he proposes any changes in the future with particular reference to the need to meet requirements of developing communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35063/05]

The national lottery funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, provides funding to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country towards the provision of sport and recreational facilities.

Since 1998, over €385 million has been allocated under the sports capital programme to some 4,900 projects in villages, towns and parishes throughout the country. In that period, the annual allocation increased by nearly 720% from just over €7.5 million in 1998 to almost €54.4 million in 2005. Of that allocation in 2005, a total of over €11.4 million was for projects classified as community-mixed, which would include recreational facilities provided in community centres and community based facilities and projects where more than one sport or recreational activity was available.

The local authority swimming pool programme, which is also administered by my Department, provides grant aid towards the capital costs of a new pool swimming pool, a replacement pool or the refurbishment of an existing pool. The programme provides for a maximum grant level of 80% of eligible costs — 90% in the case of disadvantaged areas — subject to a maximum of €3.8 million. The current round of the pool programme was closed to applications on 31 July 2000 and the priority in respect of the programme is to support the 55 projects that applied for funding prior to the closing date. Since 2000, just over €70 million has been allocated towards the cost of pool projects.

My Department is carrying out an expenditure review of the programme, which is examining, among other things, how it has worked to date, the benefits that have accrued to the areas where pools have been built under the programme and what amendments, if any, are required to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of the programme. On completion of this review, the question of reopening the programme will be considered. Given the significant increase in investment I have outlined above, it is clear that there has been a considerable improvement in the level of sport and recreational facilities being provided all over the country.

However, my Department continually assesses the economic and social potential of sport and has recently established an inter-agency steering group to oversee the development of a sports facilities strategy. The group comprises representatives from my Department along with officials from the Departments of Education and Science, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Finance in addition to representatives of the Irish Sports Council, Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Limited and the County and City Managers' Association.

One of the first challenges facing the group is to oversee the commencement of a national audit of sports facilities that will help define the level of need that still exists in the sports sector and in helping to determine future priorities. While work has only just commenced on the development of the strategy, the final report is likely to include recommendations on a whole range of issues, including improved co-ordination and integration of funding among the various Departments and bodies to ensure effective planning for sports facilities in the future.

Film Industry Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

84 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the extent of the expansion of the film industry here in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35064/05]

Statistics relating to the section 481 scheme, appended herewith, indicate that, with the exception of 2003, there has been a decline in film production in Ireland in recent years. The Government has taken a positive and proactive approach to support for the Irish film industry. The section 481 scheme for investment in film production has been extended to at least 2008 with the amount that can be raised increased from €10.48 million to €15 million from 1 January 2005.

The promotion of film making in Ireland and Ireland as a location for international film production is the responsibility of the Irish Film Board. My Department's funding of the board increased relative to the previous year by over 9% in 2004 and a further 22% in 2005. However, there are many factors that impact on film production that we cannot control. Unfavourable exchange rates, aggressive competition from new jurisdictions, the entry into the market of new and lower cost locations have all had an effect. Changes to incentive schemes elsewhere have also caused difficulty for the attraction of film production here.

In close consultation with the Irish Film Board, I am constantly monitoring and reviewing the situation and considering how I can best contribute. Of course, it also falls to the industry itself to optimise efficiency, control costs and offer the very best professionalism and supports to those considering making films here.

Certification of Projects under section 481 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

Summary of Key Statistics 2001 to 15 November 2005.

Total of projects certified

Total certified spend

Of which Irish spend

Section 48 amount

€ million

€ million

€ million

2001

23

239.3

110.5

75.4

2002

22

142.9

87.9

62.2

2003

25

282.7

135.6

84.8

2004

22

119.6

66.5

58.1

2005

19

101.5

47.8

42.2

Total

111

886

448.3

332.7

Arts Funding.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

85 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his plans to promote the arts in various forms at community level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35065/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

86 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his plans to promote the arts at various levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35066/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 86 together.

Responsibility for the promotion of the arts at all levels throughout the country is primarily devolved to the Arts Council, a body funded by my Department but independent on a day-to-day basis. During my own term as the Minister responsible for the arts, funding for the Arts Council has increased by 28% from €47.67 million in 2002 to €61 million in 2005, which, as the chair of the council informed the joint committee, has allowed the council to support a record number of artists and arts organisations. This built on earlier increases of approximately 80% between 1997 and 2002.

This does not include the very substantial funding also provided by my Department for the capital development of arts and culture facilities around the country in recent years. My Department's ACCESS scheme, for example, provided €45.7 million for the development of 44 facilities including museums, arts centres, theatres and multi-purpose arts spaces throughout the country. These are significant amounts of money in any context and the amounts of both current and capital funding that have been provided in recent years have transformed and increased access to the arts and provide an excellent platform for even further developments in the years ahead.

Question No. 87 answered with QuestionNo. 26.

Tourism Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

88 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the degree to which his Department have evaluated potential tourism growth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35068/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

89 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his plans for the development of the tourism industry in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35069/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 89 together.

I refer the Deputy to the Official Report of 13 October 2005 where I outlined the position in respect of the fundamental review of Irish tourism performance and prospects by the tourism policy review group and the implementation of the first two year tourism action plan as recommended in the report titled New Horizons for Irish Tourism: An Agenda for Action. I expect to receive the tourism action plan implementation group's third and final report early in 2006, at which stage I will announce further arrangements for the continued roll out of the ten year development strategy for Irish tourism.

Sport and Recreational Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

90 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his proposals for the use of the site in Abbotstown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35070/05]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

91 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the cost to date in 2005 associated with Campus Stadium Ireland; his plans for its future development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35071/05]

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

The House will recall that the Government decided in 2004 to proceed, as financial resources permit, with the development of a campus of sports facilities at Abbotstown. Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Limited, CSID, undertook an in-depth preparatory process, which included engaging with the major governing bodies of sport and stakeholders, and drew up proposals for the development of the sports campus in a series of phases. Phase one of the development control plan proposes the development of pitches and ancillary accommodation catering mainly for rugby, soccer and Gaelic games, the sports which engage the greatest number of people in Ireland. In addition, an indoor sports centre is planned to cater for a range of indoor sports, with spectator accommodation and publicly accessible all weather floodlit synthetic pitches also included.

The Government had an initial discussion on the proposal last September and requested that further analysis be carried out by the Office of Public Works in connection with the delivery of the project. I have now reported to my Cabinet colleagues on the outcome of this additional analysis which will be factored into consideration of my Department's capital envelope for 2006-2010 to be published on budget day. I am hopeful that there will be a positive outcome and, in that eventuality, it would be my intention to establish a statutory agency to oversee the Abbotstown project.

I am very conscious of the need to have top class sport facilities in place in good time to create opportunities which would promote Ireland as a location for foreign teams wishing to avail of training for the London Olympic Games in 2012. There have been no capital costs incurred on the project to date in 2005.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

92 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has placed adequate emphasis on the development and promotion of the various sporting disciplines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35072/05]

The Government's budget for sport this year is over €149 million, as compared with an amount of just €17.4 million in 1997. The Government has spent over €700 million on sport since 1997. This hugely increased investment in sport has resulted in a considerably enhanced range and quality of programmes and top class facilities from national level to local community clubs and centres throughout the country. We are already beginning to see the benefits of this phenomenal increase in new investment in sport and we will continue to reap the benefits as time goes on.

The Government's support for sport has not just been a matter of simply making more money available. Improvements have had to be made in a strategic way. The establishment in 1999 of the National Sports Council as the statutory body with responsibility for the organisation and development of sport was a vital leap forward in this regard. This Government is committed to providing the necessary infrastructure on which the Sports Council's strategy based on the three pillars of participation, performance and excellence can be delivered.

The budget for the Irish Sports Council has increased from €13.2 million in 2000, its first full year of operation, to €34.4 million in 2005 and in all the council has received since its inception almost €158 million. This level of funding is enabling the council to support a wide range of programmes and initiatives aimed at increasing the involvement of people of all ages in the complete spectrum of sports and promoting social cohesion and enhanced community involvement in all aspects of sport. Additional funding for the council in 2005 included €1.5 million for an initiative being taken to preserve and develop the games of hurling and camogie on a nationwide basis, €1 million to support initiatives aimed at the development of Gaelic games in Dublin and €750,000 to commence programmes which attract women into sport.

The sports capital grant scheme operated by my Department has a major impact on the delivery of all sporting disciplines in every corner of the country, providing the facilities that allow programmes and activities take place that will bring and keep young people in sport. This programme has, since 1998, allocated funding of over €385 million to some 4,900 projects to provide badly need facilities and equipment in virtually every parish, village, town and city, ranging from community centres and facilities for small local clubs in every sport to national sports centres.

The local authority swimming pool programme, which is also administered by my Department, provides grant aid towards the capital costs of a new pool swimming pool, a replacement pool or the refurbishment of an existing pool. The programme provides for a maximum grant level of 80% of eligible costs, 90% in the case of disadvantaged areas, subject to a maximum of €3.8 million. The current round of the pool programme was closed to applications on 31 July 2000 and the priority in the programme is to support the 55 projects that applied for funding prior to the closing date. Since 2000, just over €70 million has been allocated towards the cost of pool projects.

My Department is continually assessing the economic and social potential of sport and has recently established an inter-agency steering group to oversee the development of a sports facilities strategy. One of the first challenges facing the group is to oversee the commencement of a national audit of sports facilities which will help define the level of need that still exists in the sports sector and in helping to determine future priorities. While work has only just commenced on the development of the strategy, the final report is likely to include recommendations on a whole range of issues including improved co-ordination and integration of funding among the various Departments and bodies to ensure effective planning for sports facilities in the future.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

93 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of capital projects within his Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35259/05]

My Department had no capital projects within the cost range referred to by the Deputy during the period in question.

Community Employment Schemes.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

94 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if core funding for community employment projects will be made available for the Irish Wheelchair Association at its many outreach centres here; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that most wheelchair association groups are reliant on community employment participants; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that this particular avenue of opportunity is steadily closing down all over the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35001/05]

The main purpose of the community employment programme operated by FÁS is to provide work experience and training for the long-term unemployed and disadvantaged groups and thereby enable participants to advance successfully to employment in the open labour market.

On 10 November 2004, following a review of FÁS employment schemes, community employment, job initiative and social economy programmes, I announced that community employment places supporting the delivery of health services will continue to be ring-fenced. These arrangements will be of benefit to the Irish Wheelchair Association as regards the provision of carers.

Decisions regarding the provision of core funding for the Irish Wheelchair Association and the health services generally, is a matter for the Department of Health and Children.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

95 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of capital projects within his Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35260/05]

My Department was not directly involved in carrying out capital projects of between €30 million and €50 million in 2004 or 2005. However, within my Department's agencies, two projects were approved for funding within this cost range.

One capital project was approved for grant aid of €48.25 million by IDA Ireland in 2004. This request was underpinned by a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed assistance. No claim has yet been made by the grantee against this approval, and consequently no cost has been incurred by the State in respect of this project to date. It is the practice of IDA Ireland to undertake a cost-benefit analysis in all cases considered for grant aid.

The FÁS board approved the replacement of the FÁS Tallaght training centre in 2004. This project has an expected gross cost to the State in the region of €30 million. However, the net cost is likely to be closer €22 million, as FÁS plans to sell land on the site of the existing training centre. Before the project was sanctioned by my Department, there was an extensive analysis of the long-term need for this project and a number of detailed options were considered. The costs of this project in 2004 and 2005 are €1million and €1.3 million respectively.

Departmental Offices.

Willie Penrose

Question:

96 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will consider setting up an appointments system for people who wish to discuss various matters with his officials at local level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35021/05]

Staff in my Department offer a comprehensive and multifaceted service through our network of local and branch offices. Appointment systems are in place for many of the services that we offer: for example, appointments are arranged for customers who wish to see a facilitator to discuss educational and work opportunities or who are required to be interviewed by a social welfare inspector in connection with their claim. Customers attending to sign the unemployment register are given specific dates on which they are required to sign.

Large numbers of customers attend our offices on a daily basis in order to make applications for various schemes, to sign the unemployment register or to discuss elements of their claim and seek information on the Department's services. While delays can occur from time to time, every effort is made to deal with customers promptly. The majority of our local offices now offer a lunchtime service, which provides customers greater flexibility in attending the office.

It is not feasible to give every customer an appointment in view of the number of customers attending our local offices and the wide variety of services provided. Any customer who has a particular difficulty in attending at the local office or who has special needs should contact the manager so that an appropriate arrangement can be made to facilitate their particular circumstances.

Decentralisation Programme.

Pat Carey

Question:

97 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his proposals to relocate the highly successful and efficient Finglas unit of his Department to new offices in Carrick-on-Shannon in view of the strongly stated opinion that the unit’s efficiency is due in great part to its proximity to the courts and to the State’s legal services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35028/05]

As part of the Government's decentralisation programme all headquarters staff of my Department are due to relocate to six locations throughout the country — Sligo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Drogheda, Buncrana, Donegal and Carrickmacross. My Department has submitted implementation plans to the decentralisation implementation group which, amongst other things, identifies the potential risks which face the Department in completing the decentralisation programme.

My Department has extensive experience in decentralisation having already established decentralised offices in Letterkenny, Sligo, Longford, Waterford and Dundalk. These moves were completed with minimum disruption to the service of the Department and the experience gained will assist us in the current programme.

The implementation process provides the basis for ensuring as smooth and efficient a transition as possible to the new locations. I am satisfied that appropriate arrangements are being put in place in the decentralisation programme for all sections of my Department, including the one referred to by the Deputy.

Pension Provisions.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

98 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his proposals to bring the qualified adult dependant rate of retirement and old age contributory pension in line with the maximum rate of non-contributory old age pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35039/05]

The Government is committed to introducing a personal entitlement for pensioner spouses currently in receipt of the qualified adult allowance, QAA, set at a level of a full non-contributory pension. In budget 2004, the rate of QAA, for persons aged 66 and over, payable to invalidity pensioners was brought up to the level applicable to equivalent QAAs on old age contributory and retirement pensions. This required a total special increase of €16.10 per week for the relevant invalidity pension QAAs and was the first step towards the fulfilment of the Government's commitment.

The cost, based on current rates of payment, of bringing all of the relevant QAA rates up to the level of the contributory pension personal rate is €47 million in a full year. In that context, further progress on aligning the relevant rates would fall to be considered in a budgetary context.

Social Welfare Code.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

99 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his proposals to remove the means test for eligibility under the national fuel scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35040/05]

The aim of the national fuel scheme is to assist householders on long-term social welfare or health board payments with meeting the cost of their additional heating needs during the winter season. Fuel allowances are paid for 29 weeks, from end-September to mid-April, and are not intended to meet the full cost of heating. Some 274,000 — 151,000 with basic fuel allowance and 123,000 with smokeless fuel supplement — benefit under the scheme at a cost of €85.4 million in 2005.

Eligibility is subject to means. People who already qualify for means tested pensions or allowances such as old age non-contributory pension, long-term unemployment assistance or one-parent family payment need not undergo a further means test to qualify for fuel allowance. The majority of people who receive fuel allowances qualify because they satisfy the relevant means test for their primary weekly payment.

In addition, special arrangements have been in place for a number of years which allow people who are participating on approved employment schemes such as back to work allowance and community employment to retain entitlement to secondary benefits, including the fuel allowance, subject to a weekly household income limit of €317.43.

In the case of contributory pensions such as old age contributory, retirement and invalidity pensions, which are not means tested, a person may have a combined household income of up to €51 per week, or savings/investments of up to €46,000, over and above the maximum contributory pension rate used for reference purposes, and still qualify for fuel allowance. The fuel allowance income limits increase each season in line with the increases in this reference pension rate.

Any changes in the means rules or other conditions of the scheme would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in the context of the budget and in light of the resources available to me for improvements in social welfare generally.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

100 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if the rent supplement will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35062/05]

With the exception of those participating in approved employment schemes, rent supplement is not payable to a household in circumstances where either spouse is in full-time remunerative employment.

The Dublin-mid-Leinster area of the Health Service Executive, which administers the supplementary welfare allowance scheme on my behalf, has advised that it has not received a formal application for rent supplement from the persons concerned. Following an inquiry from them, the individuals in question were verbally informed by the executive that rent supplement would not be payable in the situation where one of the couple was in full-time employment.

Child Care Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

101 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if assistance will be given to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16 with their child care costs; and if the maximum support and advice with other schemes that are available will be given to them. [35077/05]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme is administered on behalf of my Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive. Neither I nor my Department has any function in decisions on individual claims.

There is no scope within the supplementary welfare allowance scheme for assistance in respect of routine child care costs, except in exceptional circumstances where it is considered necessary by a social worker or other health professional dealing with particular problems within a family.

The main form of state child care assistance is through the equal opportunities support programme operated by the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform. This programme, organised on a county basis, is specifically designed to assist low income or otherwise disadvantaged parents moving into the workforce. The person concerned should contact that Department for further information on services under this programme.

Working lone parents can earn up to €146.50 without it effecting their one-parent family payment. Half of earnings between €146.50 and €293 are assessed as means and a person can keep a portion of their payment up to that level. They may be eligible under the family income supplement scheme administered by my Department, which is payable at varying rates according to earnings and family size.

Social Welfare Code.

Dan Boyle

Question:

102 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his plans to extend the type of work activity and time period allowed for recipients of the invalidity allowance or benefit to be engaged in some paid employment. [35081/05]

My Department operates a number of schemes which provide income support to those persons who are unfit to work due to illness or disability. These payments include disability benefit and invalidity pension which are social insurance based schemes.

Facilitating return to work or participation in the active labour force is one of the main objectives of the social welfare system. There are a number of specific employment and training incentives available within the system to encourage and facilitate people with illness or disability to take up available work or training options. These include exemptions from the general "no work" conditions of the disability benefit and invalidity pension schemes to facilitate a person to undertake employment of a rehabilitative nature. These exemptions are usually granted for a period of 12 months but may be renewed for a further period, subject to review, if a person seeks an extension.

As part of the Government's expenditure review initiative, a review of illness and disability schemes identified a number of areas where employment supports could be strengthened within the system and across Departments. The review recommended, inter alia, a recognition of the fact that some people’s medical and other circumstances may mean that they have some capacity for work but may never achieve full-time work, that employment support measures should not act as a disincentive for people with disabilities and long-term illnesses in maximising their employment and earnings, that a range of employment supports be put in place for different groups, ensuring that clients are referred to the most suitable option, having regard to the nature of their illness or disability and age, social circumstances and so forth, and the introduction of early intervention measures aimed at re-integrating people who sustain serious illnesses, injuries and disabilities into the workforce before they become long-term dependant on social welfare payments.

The review sets a strategic direction for policy in the development of the illness and disability schemes. There are no immediate plans to extend the period of exemption but my Department is considering issues on the type of employment allowed and also on the income support arrangements for persons in these circumstances.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

103 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of capital projects within his Department which in 2004 and 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost-benefit analysis if the newly announced criteria for such evaluations had then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35261/05]

My Department did not undertake any capital projects in 2004 and 2005 with an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million. The Deputy may wish to note that my Department has a capital allocation in respect of information technology which for 2004 amounted to €7.7 million and, for 2005, €11 million.

Taxi Hardship Panel.

Seán Crowe

Question:

104 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Transport the provision which has been made for taxi drivers who brought their case before the Equality Tribunal in view of the fact that the taxi hardship payment scheme did not go before Dáil Éireann. [34984/05]

No specific provision has been made for costs which may arise as a result of cases before the Equality Tribunal as the complaints in question have not yet been decided on by the tribunal. It has not been determined whether costs will arise.

Public Transport.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

105 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Transport if senior officials of his Department will be assigned to carry out in consultation with Dublin Bus management, a full evaluation of the public transport needs of the general Ballycullen area in Dublin 24 (details supplied); his views on the need for action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35003/05]

This is a day-to-day operational matter for Dublin Bus. However, Dublin Bus is currently carrying out a review of the bus network in Dublin. This is in recognition of the significant changes that have taken place in Dublin since the start of the national development plan, including ongoing demographic and development changes. The company has advised me that the review will be completed early next year. I will bring the Deputy's representations to the attention of Dublin Bus.

Smoking Ban.

Dan Boyle

Question:

106 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Transport if separate smoking facilities are provided for US army personnel who travel through Shannon Airport; and if additional cost to the State has arisen in providing such facilities. [35080/05]

The management and operation of Shannon Airport, including compliance with the Public Health (Tobacco)(Amendment) Act 2004, is a day-to-day matter for Dublin Airport Authority, DAA, and I have no function in relation to the matter. However, the DAA informed me that it has provided an external smoking area for use by any passengers using Shannon Airport who wish to smoke. The DAA further informs me that separate smoking facilities are not provided specifically for US military personnel.

Public Transport.

Richard Bruton

Question:

107 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the passengers carried in the morning peak hours by Dublin Bus, suburban rail, Luas and Bus Éireann routes entering Dublin for each year since 2000, including the latest projections for 2005. [35099/05]

The information requested by the Deputy, which has been obtained from Dublin Bus, Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann and the Railway Procurement Agency, is as follows:

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005 (Est.)

Dublin Bus

115,000

118,000

119,000

122,000

115,000

115,000

Suburban Rail/DART

33,000

35,000

34,000

34,00

35,000

37,000

Bus Éireann

3,500

5,500

6,500

6,750

7,000

7,500

Luas

0

0

0

0

12,000

13,000

The figure for suburban rail-DART excludes commuters from areas such as Kildare and Portlaoise who are classified with the mainline data. Given the nature of services provided by Bus Éireann, the figures provided are the best estimates from the company. For the purpose of this reply, morning peak hours are defined as 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

108 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Transport the number of capital projects within his Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost-benefit analysis if the newly announced criteria for such evaluations had then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35262/05]

The planning, design and implementation of transport infrastructure improvement projects, including the carrying out of cost-benefit analysis, CBA, is a matter for the implementing agencies and, in the case of national roads, the local authorities concerned as part of the appraisal process applicable to capital projects.

As all major transport projects, including those costing less than €30 million, are subject to CBA the issue raised by the Deputy concerning projects costing between €30 million and €50 million not being subject to CBA in 2004 and 2005 does not arise.

National Drugs Strategy.

Seán Crowe

Question:

109 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the level and extent of evaluations carried out relating to the local drug task force process. [34992/05]

Evaluation is an integral part of any programme or initiative and, on the local drugs task force, LDTF, process, it was agreed by all the parties involved in developing the programme that, in addition to evaluating the overall process to measure its success or otherwise, individual projects being funded through the initiative would also be evaluated. In 2000, an evaluation, at an approximate cost of €276,000, was carried out on 142 projects funded under the first round of LDTF plans and, as a result, 122 of those projects were mainstreamed with effect from 1 January 2001.

It is likely that further evaluations in respect of projects funded under the second round of LDTF plans, and those first-round projects which were not already mainstreamed, will get under way in 2006. A review of the structures of the LDTF process was carried out by consultants Burkenshaw Kenny in 2002 at a cost of €67,000.

Under the expenditure review initiative, which operates in all Departments, a review of the LDTF process has been carried out and the findings of that review are being finalised by my Department at present. The cost of the review was approximately €81,000 and it is my intention to publish its findings in the near future.

On the broader level, my Department organised the carrying out of a mid-term evaluation of the national drugs strategy and the findings of that review were published in June of this year. The review was overseen by a steering group, chaired by my Department, and made up of representatives of the relevant Departments and agencies as well as the community and voluntary sectors.

The steering group found that the aims and objectives of the national drugs strategy are fundamentally sound. The report shows that there are encouraging signs of progress since 2001 when the strategy was first launched, indicating that our current approach to tackling the drug problem is proving to be effective. At the same time, however, the report highlights the need to refocus priorities and accelerate the roll out of some of the strategy's actions and, in this context, a number of new actions and amendments have been identified. These changes will strengthen the strategy and enable it to better deliver its aims. The cost to my Department of engaging consultants for this review was approximately €76,600.

Community Development.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

110 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reason a claim lodged in March 2005 for payment of grants previously approved (details attached) has not been processed to date; when the payment will issue; and his plans to modify procedures within his Department to ensure that his customers such as this group are treated in more user friendly fashion. [34994/05]

In September 2005, an application was received from Galway Rural Development Company Limited under the CLÁR Leader village and countryside enhancement scheme, for approval of CLÁR funds for the Clooncun East-West Residents Association, Glenamaddy, County Galway. Clarification on several aspects of the application was required and it is anticipated that they will be resolved very shortly and the application for CLÁR funding approved.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

111 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of capital projects within his Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30million and €50million, and which would have been subject to cost-benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35263/05]

Environmental Policy.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

112 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the use of the wood preservative known as chromated copper arsenate is permitted under Irish environmental law; if she has satisfied herself that this substance is no longer in use; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35088/05]

Copper chrome arsenate is a wood preservative and is regulated under the biocides Directive 98/8 which was transposed into Irish legislation by S.I. 625/2001. All wood preservatives are currently being reviewed and evaluated at European Community level as part of the implementation of this directive and copper chrome arsenate is not being defended under this process. As a result, all Irish and European uses of copper chrome arsenate as a wood preservative will cease from 1 September 2006.

In the meantime a limited number of uses for this wood preservative will continue which still allows this material to be used for the industrial pressure vacuum treatment of timber used for industrial purposes, for example, noise barriers, pilings and stakes.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

113 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the wood preservative known as Tanalith E has been cleared for use here; the steps which have been taken to ensure that its use does not pose a threat to the environment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35089/05]

Tanalith E has been notified for use as a wood preservative in Ireland in accordance with the provisions of the biocides legislation. Tanalith E contains the biocide active agents copper carbonate, propiconazole, tebuconazole and boric acid, all of which are at present being reviewed at European level as required by Directive 98/8. This review is expected to be finalised for each of these active agents by June 2007 and these active substances will remain on the market only if they are demonstrated to be safe for man, animals and the environment.

It should be noted that propiconazole is already fully approved at European level for use as a plant protection product and tebuconazole is also at an advanced stage in this process.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

114 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of capital projects within her Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30million and €50million, and which would have been subject to cost-benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35264/05]

The vast majority of capital expenditure in my Department relates to demand led capital grant schemes involving relatively small scale investments by farmers and others in the agri-food sectors. There are no capital projects in my Department for which estimated cost was between €30 million and €50 million in the years specified.

State Properties.

Willie Penrose

Question:

115 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath was precluded from attending at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park to carry out the task assigned to them by their employer; the factors and reasons which were taken into account which classify them as not being permitted to enter into Garda headquarters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35020/05]

It is standard practice for the Office of Public Works to seek the views of the Garda Síochána as to suitability in respect of employees of contractors working on certain sensitive State properties. It would be contrary to the public interest to disclose the grounds either generally or in any particular case upon which opposition to prospective employment is expressed.

Residency Permits.

Willie Penrose

Question:

116 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be granted residency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35022/05]

The person concerned was granted permission to remain in the State for a two year period from 3 November 2005, under the revised arrangements announced by me on 15 January 2005 for the non-national parents of Irish born children born before 1 January 2005. Some 18,000 applications to remain in Ireland under the revised arrangements were received by the closing date of 31 March 2005. Almost 16,000 have been processed to decision stage, of which 500 approximately have been refused permission to remain.

Garda Investigations.

Pat Carey

Question:

117 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will establish from the Garda authorities, if their attention has been drawn to the concerns that some contractors involved in the demolition of the most recent tower block in Ballymun were required to make extortionate overpayments to certain employees working on the site; if so, the action which was taken by the authorities to investigate the veracity of the claims; if no inquiries have been initiated, the steps which will be taken to have allegations received investigated so that all concerns can be allayed (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35026/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that no complaint has been received by them about allegations of overpayments to certain employees working at a building site in Ballymun. I am assured that should a complaint be received by the Garda authorities it will be thoroughly investigated.

Business Permission Scheme.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

118 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if business permission will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Cork whose application is under consideration since November 2004 and who has responded promptly to all requests for additional information and documentation. [35029/05]

The person in question made an application for permission to operate a business in the State under the business permission scheme in November 2004. An initial request for documentation issued in November 2004 and a reply was received in January 2005. Due to the large volume of such applications currently on hands the case was not further processed until October 2005 when a further request for documentation was issued. It is expected that the application will be finalised within the next two weeks.

Residency Permits.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

119 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if long-term residence visas can be granted to those who are applying for naturalisation and if so, the maximum period allowed. [35030/05]

In the discussion document, Immigration and Residence in Ireland, which I published in April of this year and circulated to all Members of this House, it is proposed that a new status of "long-term resident" should be introduced in the forthcoming Immigration and Residence Bill. There is currently no separate status of "long-term resident" in the Irish immigration system. While a person could after a period of time obtain permission to remain without condition as to time, this still left some uncertainty as to the entitlements associated with it. There has been criticism that the only effective long-term residence status which a non-national could obtain in Ireland is by way of naturalisation.

In the development of the Immigration and Residence Bill, my Department is currently working on a scheme for granting long-term residence status. The model which would be followed is broadly in line with the European Council directive on the status of long-term residents.

As regards the possibility of granting long-term resident status to applicants for naturalisation, I should point out that when a future scheme is introduced, the granting of long-term resident status will not be an automatic process. The process must be initiated by an application from an eligible migrant. While the criteria for long-term resident status are likely to be less onerous than the requirements for naturalisation, all applications for long-term resident status will nonetheless have to be assessed on their individual merits.

Crime Levels.

Richard Bruton

Question:

120 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of serious assaults in the year to date in 2005 in each Garda district compared to the same period for 2004. [35100/05]

I have made inquiries with the Garda authorities about the number of serious assaults in the year to date in 2005 compared to the same period last year. The attached table gives details of the number of assault causing harm offences recorded from 1 January 2004 to 31 October 2004 and 1 January 2005 to 31 October 2005. Figures provided for 2004 and 2005 are provisional operational statistics and liable to change.

Assault causing harm offences recorded by Garda division from 1 January 2004 to 31 October 2004 and 1 January 2005 to 31 October 2005.

Garda Division

2005 Recorded

2004 Recorded

Carlow/Kildare

159

154

Cavan/Monaghan

145

116

Clare

61

65

Cork City

177

185

Cork North

90

66

Cork West

87

100

D.M.R. East

141

105

D.M.R. North Central

166

217

D.M.R. Northern

167

192

D.M.R. South Central

192

218

D.M.R. Southern

165

220

D.M.R. West

184

249

Donegal

148

139

Galway West

108

94

Kerry

74

104

Laois/Offaly

87

98

Limerick

141

156

Longford/Westmeath

85

79

Louth/Meath

180

160

Mayo

99

83

Roscommon/Galway East

54

67

Sligo/Leitrim

45

52

Tipperary

89

96

Waterford/Kilkenny

139

179

Wexford/Wicklow

94

109

Total

3,077

3,303

International Policing Agreements.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

121 Mr. J O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform , further to his response to Question No. 180 of 10 November 2005, his views on whether it is time for an agreement for co-operation to be made with the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland; his further views on when such an agreement could be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35103/05]

The Deputy will appreciate that I will shortly be establishing the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, and I expect that the commission will address the issue of how best to progress co-operation with the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland and, indeed, their counterparts in other jurisdictions.

Garda Investigations.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

122 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in 2005 in his investigation into the recent incident where 13 Latvian workers living in the Drogheda area were stranded on an island by their employer. [35106/05]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that investigations into the incident in question are ongoing. I understand that three of the Latvian workers along with the owner of the boat in question have been interviewed by the Garda authorities so far. I am further informed that when the Garda investigations are complete a file will be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

123 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of capital projects within his Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35265/05]

None of the capital projects under my Department's aegis for the years referred to comes within the scope of the Deputy's question.

Schools Refurbishment.

Richard Bruton

Question:

124 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the moneys which will be made available for upgrading science facilities; the number of schools which have made applications; the criteria of selection which shall be applied; if extra priority will be given to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 3 which has a long standing application for this work. [34979/05]

The school to which the Deputy refers has submitted an application for an upgrade to its science laboratory under the summer works scheme for 2006. The closing date for the receipt of such applications was 14 October 2005. All applications are currently being assessed in strict accordance with the published criteria for the scheme and a list of successful applicants will be published when the assessment procedure has been completed.

Disadvantaged Status.

Seán Crowe

Question:

125 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science when she proposes to publish her plans regarding the designation and allocation of resources for schools deemed to be disadvantaged. [34980/05]

Delivering equality of opportunity in schools, or DEIS, is the new action plan for educational inclusion, which will be introduced on a phased basis starting during the current school year. It aims to ensure that the educational needs of children and young people 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 around €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. The identification and analysis processes are being managed by the educational research centre on behalf of my Department.

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

School Curriculum.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

126 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science when she intends to introduce sex, relationship, gender and gender based violence education programmes in schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34981/05]

All recognised primary and second level schools are required to offer relationships and sexuality education. It is an integral part of the social, personal and health education curriculum at primary level and at junior cycle second level, where it has been made mandatory for all schools with effect from September 2003. 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 provided to schools by the NCCA to support the relationships and sexuality education aspects of the curriculum. An integrated social, personal and health education programme at senior cycle incorporating relationships and sexuality education is being developed.

The overall aims of the social, personal and health education 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; to establish and maintain healthy patterns of behaviour.

At primary level, social, personal and health education is one of the seven curriculum areas in the revised primary school curriculum that was introduced in 1999. Social, personal and health education has been implemented in all schools since September 2003 and is taught to pupils from junior infants class upwards to sixth class. One of the three strands within social, personal and health education is Myself. The strand units within this include "taking care of my body", "growing and changing" and "safety and protection". This means that pupils from the beginning of their primary schooling learn, in an age appropriate way, how their bodies develop, the importance of caring for one's body and that of others with dignity and respect and how to identify people, places and situations that may threaten personal safety.

The social, personal and health education modules at junior cycle in second level schools deal specifically with belonging and integrating, handling conflict constructively, dealing with peer pressure, influences on decision making, relationships and sexuality in terms of values, reproductive system, tackling myths about sex and pregnancy, personal safety, substance use and the impact of teenage pregnancy. Two of the social, personal and health education modules relate specifically to relationships and sexuality and personal safety.

The aims of these modules include bringing students to an understanding of the physical changes that take place during adolescence and exploring with them procedures for protecting their personal safety along with appropriate responses when their safety is threatened. In third year, an awareness of help agencies is promoted and students' skills for obtaining access to them are developed. For senior cycle students, all schools are required to have an agreed school policy and a suitable relationships and sexuality education programme in place. The relationships and sexuality education programme at senior cycle deals further with these issues and addresses issues such as pregnancy, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and accepting sexual orientation.

The Department of Education and Science has developed two sets of resource materials that are particularly relevant to this area for use with transition year and senior cycle students as part of an social, personal and health education programme. These are "BALANCE — Who cares?" and "Exploring Masculinities". These resources use a variety of materials and strategies to explore and discuss issues of gender equality. Specific attention is paid to addressing both sexual harassment and domestic violence in both resources. Also included in the "Exploring Masculinities" resources are materials on bullying and child sexual abuse.

All second level schools provide a guidance and counselling service for their students and they receive ex quota hours from the Department for this provision. Guidance counsellors are qualified to provide counselling support to students who may have suffered abuse and to assist them in accessing appropriate help when needed.

Domestic Violence.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

127 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to introduce a policy for schools on the disclosure and appropriate referral where children have experienced violence in the family; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34982/05]

Child protection guidelines for primary and post-primary schools, which were distributed to primary and post-primary schools in 2001 and 2004 respectively, were produced in consultation with the partners in education to meet the needs for schools to have in place clear procedures which teachers and other school staff should follow where they suspect, or are alerted to, possible child abuse. The guidelines cover four different types of abuse; neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. The guidelines provide management authorities and staff with guidance in recognising the signs and symptoms of child abuse and with procedures for dealing immediately with such concerns.

A central facet of the guidelines is the requirement for each board of management to designate a senior member of staff as the designated liaison person for the school. The designated liaison person will act as a liaison for the school in all dealings with the Health Service Executive, the Garda Síochána and other parties, in connection with allegations of or concerns about child abuse and as a resource person to staff who may have child protection concerns.

Schools Building Projects.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

128 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Education and Science if, in view of the fact that a site has been assigned to a school (details supplied) in County Mayo, she will confirm that this school will be included on the 2005 schools building list; when the school can expect to open its new building; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34983/05]

Acquisition of a site is nearing finalisation. When complete, the building project required to provide a permanent building for the school will be progressed in the context of the school buildings and modernisation programme 2005-2009. It is not possible to predict with any degree of accuracy when the new school will open until the commencement of building works.

Schools Refurbishment.

Finian McGrath

Question:

129 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if a school (details supplied) in Dublin 3 will be supported in its efforts to upgrade its science laboratories and re-wiring of the complete school premises; and if the maximum funding and assistance will be granted for same. [35004/05]

The school to which the Deputy refers has submitted an application for an upgrade to its science laboratory under the summer works scheme for 2006. The closing date for the receipt of such applications was 14 October 2005. All applications are currently being assessed and a list of successful applicants will be published when the assessment procedure has been completed.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Richard Bruton

Question:

130 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children in primary education in class sizes under 20, 25 to 30 and over 30 in certain schools (details supplied); and if the same information will be provided for children in infant classes in these schools. [35005/05]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table. The data refers to the 2004-05 school year. Two of the schools do not exist at the supplied addresses. The average class size was 30.9 in those classes with 30 or more pupils.

Number of PupilsAll Classes

Number of PupilsInfant Classes Only

Roll No.

School Name

Address

0-19

25-29

30 & Over

0-19

25-29

30 & Over

19308J

St. Brigid’s Boys N S

Howth Road

0

212

126

0

76

0

19496N

Scoil Fhiachra Sóisir

Beaumont

0

532

90

0

229

90

19628E

St. Fiachra’s Sen

Beaumont

0

495

154

n/a

n/a

n/a

16792C

St. Brigid’s Convent N S

Killester

0

221

164

0

0

133

18361I

S N Caithríona C

Coolock

19

55

0

n/a

n/a

n/a

18362K

S N Caithríona Naíonáin

Coolock

0

162

0

0

79

0

18360G

Scoil Bhreandáin

Coolock

40

81

0

n/a

n/a

n/a

19981U

St. Mary’s N S

Windsor Ave

100

26

0

41

0

0

17148D

S N Eoin Baiste G Sen

Seafield Road

0

264

155

n/a

n/a

n/a

17936F

S N Eoin Baiste B Sins

Seafield Road

0

81

155

n/a

n/a

n/a

19006Q

Eoin Baiste B Sóis

Seafield Road

0

231

120

0

115

60

19007S

Eoin Baiste C Naoidh

Seafield Road

0

140

120

0

140

30

19919P

St. David’s N S

Kilmore Road

0

187

61

0

58

31

19920A

St. John of God N S

Kilmore Road

118

54

0

66

0

0

Adult Education.

Willie Penrose

Question:

131 Mr Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will confirm having received a submission from the Teachers Union of Ireland inquiring whether sufficient funding will be put in place in the 2006 budget Estimates to commence the implementation of the recommendations in the McIver report (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35074/05]

I can confirm to the Deputy that, in its pre-budget submission dated 3 November 2005, the TUI recommended that no less than €50 million be provided in 2006 to commence the implementation of the recommendations contained in the McIver report on the PLC sector.

The McIver report on the PLC sector contains 21 over-arching recommendations, incorporating over 90 sub-recommendations. The principal recommendations are: a reduction in the number of timetabled class teaching hours and appropriate increases in staff to compensate; enhancement of senior and middle management structures to allow more time for assessment, student support and interaction, team development and cross-curricular planning, industry liaison and quality assurance processes; an increase in technical and administrative support staff; and improvements in student library, IT and social facilities and capital infrastructure.

Having regard to the number and scope of the recommendations in the report, extensive consultations have been held with management and staff interests with regard to such issues as the prioritisation of recommendations, the structural changes envisaged in the report, their implications and associated costs in the context of the overall provision of resources for further and adult education. These consultations are continuing.

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

132 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of capital projects within her Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost benefit analysis had the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35266/05]

There was no project funded directly by my Department in the estimated cost bracket of €30 million to €50 million referred to by the Deputy in 2004 and 2005.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

133 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Defence the number of capital projects within his Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost benefit analysis if the newly announced criteria for such evaluations then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35267/05]

There were no capital projects in my Department in 2004 or 2005 with an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

134 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the performance of local authorities subject to instructions issued by his Department in carrying out landscape character studies in order to create zones amenable to wind energy; the progress which has been made to date in 2005 locating suitable sites; and the additional steps taken in order to make the said sites operational. [34993/05]

Draft guidelines to planning authorities on wind energy development, to replace the existing 1996 guidelines, have been the subject of lengthy consultations which commenced in August 2004. My Department has been engaged in giving detailed consideration to the submissions received and I intend to publish the final guidelines in the coming weeks.

The new guidelines will recommend that the key areas within the planning authority's functional area where there is significant wind energy potential should be identified on development plan maps. Under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála must have regard to the guidelines in the performance of their functions. I intend to keep the implementation of the guidelines by planning authorities under review following publication.

Turbary Rights.

Pat Breen

Question:

135 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of a cessation of turf cutting scheme application form for a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34998/05]

My Department is arranging for a final inspection of the lands in question, in preparation for completion of a contract.

Local Authority Housing.

Michael Ring

Question:

136 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of local authority houses which were built in 2004; the number of local authority houses which were re-let in 2004 in each local authority area on a county basis; and if a breakdown on the allocated money to each local authority for local authority housing here will be provided. [35012/05]

Local authorities completed or acquired 4,510 local authority housing units in 2004. Detailed information on a local authority basis on the number of such houses completed or acquired in 2004 is available in the annual housing statistics bulletins published by my Department, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library and on the Department's website at www.environ.ie. Information is not available to my Department on the number of houses which were re-let by local authorities in 2004.

The total provision for the local authority housing construction and acquisition programme in 2004 was €703 million. Expenditure incurred by each local authority on the programme in 2004, which is funded by a combination of Exchequer capital grants and local authority internal capital receipts, is set out in the following table.

Local Authority Housing Construction/Acquisition Programme, Expenditure 2004.

Housing Authority

Expenditure (Provisional) 2004

€m

Carlow County Council

8,938,666

Carlow Town Council

2,844,740

Cavan County Council

12,562,344

Cavan Town Council

1,661,920

Clare County Council

11,901,198

Ennis Town Council

4,314,437

Kilrush Town Council

17,720

Cork City Council

43,097,957

Cork (North) County Council

8,675,444

Fermoy Town Council

331,376

Mallow Town Council

914,000

Cork (South) County Council

13,640,039

Cobh Town Council

699,849

Kinsale Town Council

1,137,287

Macroom Town Council

902,892

Midleton Town Council

150,000

Youghal Town Council

664,470

Cork (West) County Council

5,201,364

Clonakilty Town Council

2,602

Skibbereen Town Council

279,223

Donegal County Council

27,408,134

Buncrana Town Council

660,040

Bundoran Town Council

295,068

Letterkenny Town Council

1,880,000

Dublin City Council

113,698,698

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

17,277,689

Fingal County Council

29,952,793

Galway City Council

6,305,648

Galway County Council

10,239,636

Ballinasloe Town Council

902,142

Kerry County Council

17,491,455

Killarney Town Council

1,653,898

Listowel Town Council

297,913

Tralee Town Council

8,761,626

Kildare County Council

14,003,786

Athy Town Council

887,900

Naas Town Council

1,415,789

Kilkenny County Council

8,617,571

Kilkenny Borough Council

4,712,988

Laois County Council

19,655,176

Leitrim County Council

5,204,530

Limerick City Council

7,401,674

Limerick County Council

15,779,012

Longford County Council

14,012,262

Longford Town Council

1,433,433

Louth County Council

5,979,600

Drogheda Borough Council

8,700,980

Dundalk Town Council

15,501,833

Mayo County Council

9,395,402

Ballina Town Council

1,114,680

Castlebar Town Council

712,772

Westport Town Council

200,000

Meath County Council

17,467,201

Kells Town Council

0

Navan Town Council

381,877

Trim Town Council

0

Monaghan County Council

4,626,738

Carrickmacross Town Council

621,565

Castleblayney Town Council

100,000

Clones Town Council

100,000

Monaghan Town Council

0

Offaly County Council

4,854,293

Birr Town Council

288,011

Tullamore Town Council

1,375,585

Roscommon County Council

4,603,921

Sligo County Council

6,269,243

Sligo Borough Council

6,353,431

South Dublin County Council

59,974,728

North Tipperary County Council

6,255,525

Nenagh Town Council

1,125,566

Templemore Town Council

115,000

Thurles Town Council

3,723,793

South Tipperary County Council

4,984,595

Carrick-on Suir Town Council

400,000

Cashel Town Council

900,000

Clonmel Borough Council

4,550,000

Tipperary Town Council

656,000

Waterford City Council

9,398,107

Waterford County Council

8,562,294

Dungarvan Town Council

631,830

Westmeath County Council

6,687,424

Athlone Town Council

1,357,500

Wexford County Council

20,521,000

Enniscorthy Town Council

1,701,126

New Ross Town Council

3,987,195

Wexford Borough Council

2,793,873

Wicklow County Council

18,928,374

Arklow Town Council

600,000

Bray Town Council

2,510,717

Wicklow Town Council

5,841,806

Total

702,739,974

Consultancy Contracts.

Michael Ring

Question:

137 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of money which was spent on public relations consultants in 2004; the amount of money which was spent in 2004; and the names and addresses of the persons who provided printing facilities for his Department. [35013/05]

The amount of money spent on public relations consultants or awareness campaigns in 2004 is €4,010,168. This figure includes expenditure on media and materials. The net voted expenditure for the Department in 2004 was €2.2 billion. The names and addresses of the persons who provided printing facilities costing over €5,000 in 2004 for this Department are listed below.

Name

Address

Aluset Ltd.

87 Lagan Road, Dublin Industrial Estate, Glasnevin, Dublin 11.

Brunswick Press

Unit B2, Bluebell Industrial Estate, Dublin 12

Cahill Printers Ltd.

East Wall Road, Dublin 3.

Clear Sky Media

10 Geoffrey Keating Road, Dublin 8

New Oceans

Chapelizod Industrial Estate, Chapelizod, Dublin 20

D.C. Kavanagh Ltd.

43 Dolphin’s Barn Street, Dublin 8

De La Rue Smurfit Ltd.

Pinewood Close, Bray Industrial Estate, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Design image

Kingram mews, 6 Kingram Place, Dublin 2

First Impression Design Ltd.

2 Main Street, Donnybrook, Dublin 4

Frank McNamara & Co. Ltd.,

Smithstown Industrial Estate, Shannon Airport, County Clare.

Goodson Print

Unit 2, Lee Road, Dublin Industrial Estate, Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

Harcourt Printing

18 South Richmond Street, Dublin 8

IDFA (Quality Printers) Ltd.

16 Parkmore Industrial Estate, Longmile Road, Dublin 12.

Killarney Printing Co.

Killarney, Co Kerry

M&M Printing

Shannon Business Centre, Shannon Town Centre, Co. Clare.

Manor Press Ltd.

Unit C, Aughrim Industrial Estate, Aughrim Lane, Dublin 7

McBrinn Print

Unit 1H, Chapelizod Industrial Estate, Chapelizod Industrial Estate, Dublin 20

McIvor Industries Ltd.

Burnfoot, Lifford, Co. Donegal

Microprint

Airton Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24.

Paragon Group UK Limited

Pavillion Trading Estate, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear SR4 6ST, UK

Print Promotions

The Grange, Lucan, Co. Dublin

Print Stations

Unit 102, Malahide Industrial Park, Coolock, Dublin 17.

Prontaprint

3 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2

Wilkes Cerdac Ltd.

C/O Cahill Printers, East Wall Road, Dublin 3.

Local Authority Housing.

Michael Ring

Question:

138 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the funding which has been awarded to each local authority here for planned maintenance programmes for the past five years; and a breakdown of these figures. [35014/05]

Michael Ring

Question:

139 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of applications for funding for the planned maintenance programme which are awaiting approval by his Department. [35017/05]

Michael Ring

Question:

140 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the length of time it takes for an application under the planned maintenance programme to be approved once it has been submitted. [35018/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 to 140, inclusive, together.

Capital funding is not available from my Department for maintenance programmes which are funded by local authorities from their own resources. My Department does provide capital funding for major refurbishment of local authority dwellings under the remedial works scheme which may include certain works considered as part of a planned maintenance programme.

Michael Ring

Question:

141 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the local authorities which have adopted the guidelines published for local authorities on good practice in housing management. [35019/05]

All local authorities have prepared action plans which include an outline of basic principles on the authority's strategy for housing management. The Department has requested that these be made available on authority websites. In addition, the housing unit, in conjunction with my Department and the City and County Managers Association, publishes a series entitled Guidelines for Local Authorities on Good Practice in Housing Management. The incorporation of this general advice into the action plans and-or other statements adopted by housing authorities is a matter for the individual authorities concerned.

Regional Road Network.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

142 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when funding will be made available to replace a bridge (details supplied) in County Cork. [35025/05]

The provision and improvement of non-national roads in County Cork is a matter for Cork County Council to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State grants. In August this year, my Department sought applications from road authorities for funding under the 2006 EU co-financed specific improvements grant scheme. The initial selection of projects to be submitted for consideration for funding under this scheme is a matter for road authorities.

Cork County Council submitted a number of applications but these did not include an application for funding for Glanworth Bridge, Glanworth, County Cork.

Planning Issues.

Joe Higgins

Question:

143 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if funding will be sanctioned for the plan to construct a women’s refuge in Blanchardstown (details supplied). [35057/05]

Joe Higgins

Question:

144 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether density guidelines and other factors used in assessing housing projects cannot be utilised to assess the design for a women’s refuge in Blanchardstown (details supplied). [35058/05]

Joe Higgins

Question:

145 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the cost cutting measures agreed by a group (details supplied) to its plan for a women’s refuge in Blanchardstown in response to Fingal County Council in 2004 and more recently to his Department, it would not be feasible to seek further savings. [35059/05]

Joe Higgins

Question:

146 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the need for a women’s refuge in Dublin West, as expressed in the 1997 task force report on violence against women, he will contact the Departments of Health and Children and Justice, Equality and Law Reform with a view to getting agreement on an integrated, cross-departmental approach to co-ordinating the planning and funding mechanism to progress this project. [35060/05]

Joe Higgins

Question:

147 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will meet with representatives of groups (details supplied) to discuss their plans for progressing the construction of a women’s refuge in Blanchardstown. [35061/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 143 to 147, inclusive, together.

An application for funding under the voluntary housing capital loan and subsidy scheme has been received from Fingal County Council in respect of this project and clarification on a number of aspects sought from the council is awaited. When this is to hand the application will be further considered and officials from my Department will, if necessary, meet with the local authority and voluntary body to discuss ways in which the project may be progressed.

My Department's involvement relates primarily to the provision of funds for individual projects. The detailed administration of the scheme, including certification that particular projects comply with the terms of the scheme and the level of support available from other State bodies, is the responsibility of the local authority, in this instance Fingal County Council. Local authority development plans set out an overall strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area of the plan which should be informed by the housing strategy required under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Control of Dogs.

Seán Ryan

Question:

148 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the steps taken by his Department to ensure that local authorities deal humanely with the welfare of animals they impound; and if there is a programme in place for neutering, spaying and micro-chipping the animals and ensuring that as many animals as possible are re-homed.

The Control of Dogs Acts 1986 and 1992 place statutory responsibility for dog control on local authorities. The implementation of the Acts is vested in local authorities who have power to appoint dog wardens, to provide shelters for stray and other dogs, to impose on-the-spot fines for several offences and to initiate prosecutions. Local authorities may also make by-laws regarding the control of dogs within their functional areas.

The Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 require the owner or other person in charge of a dog to ensure that the dog at all times wears a collar bearing the name and address of the owner on an attached plate, badge or disc. The regulations contain penalties for non-compliance with this requirement or for defacing or rendering illegible the above particulars. Those arrangements followed consideration of all practicable options for ensuring identification of dogs, including that of micro-chipping, and are being kept under review.

While there is no specific programme for the neutering and spaying of dogs, my Department has provided funding in recent years to the Irish Blue Cross, a volunteer-operated charity, for its subsidised neutering programme for dogs of needy pet owners.

The number of dogs being destroyed decreased from 27,848 in 1997 to 16,598 in 2004. The number of stray dogs being re-homed each year increased from 4,681 in 1998 to 7,939 in 2004.

Establishment of Town Councils.

Dan Boyle

Question:

149 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if town councils will be established in Ballincollig and Carrigaline in advance of the next local elections in 2009. [35083/05]

Part 17 of the Local Government Act 2001 provides that qualified electors of a town having a population of at least 7,500 as ascertained at the last preceding census and not having a town council may make a proposal for the establishment of such a council. Under the relevant provisions of the Act, a proposal to establish a town council, and the timing of any such proposal, is a matter for the local community in the first instance, with a decision on such a proposal being a reserved function of the relevant county council, following a public consultation process. Part 17 also allows for the first elections to new town councils to proceed independently of the normal local election cycle.

I am considering the steps necessary to commence the relevant provisions of the 2001 Act, and I have initiated consultation with local government interests regarding the creation of new town councils and their prospective functional responsibilities under the Act. Local government services in the Ballincollig and Carrigaline areas are provided by Cork County Council and my Department has not been contacted regarding any current plans by the community to develop proposals for the establishment of town councils in those areas.

Local Authority Funding.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

150 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the criteria used to allocate funding for skateboard parks nationally, including the date each application was made to his Department; the amount allocated to each successful applicant; the proportion of the expected cost allocated in each case; the reason the application for Drogheda was not successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35097/05]

On 18 May 2005 my Department invited each city and county council to apply for grant assistance towards the provision of one skateboard park in its area. All applications received were evaluated on a competitive basis by my Department in conjunction with the National Children's Office having regard to the following criteria which had been notified to local authorities at the time applications were sought: design, layout and location of the proposed park; perceived demand for a facility in the area and potential usage; cost of the project; projected time scale within which the project is to be commenced and completed; ability of the local authority to complete the project in the time scale proposed; availability of a site; arrangements for ongoing management and maintenance; and general quality of the proposal.

The information requested in respect of each of the applications is set out in the following table.

In the case of County Louth, Louth County Council submitted two proposals and was, accordingly, asked to prioritise them. The council indicated on 4 October 2005 that it had decided to give priority to the Dundalk proposal, which was subsequently approved for a grant.

Local Authority

Location

Date Application was made

Grant Allocated

% of Estimated Overall Cost

%

Carlow County Council

Carlow Town

15/07/05

Clare County Council

Ennis

14/07/05

90,000

60

Cork County Council

Ballincollig

13/07/05

100,000

62

Mallow

15/07/05

Carrigaline

13/07/05

Donegal County Council

Letterkenny

14/07/05

60,000

80

Bundoran

14/07/05

Innishowen

14/07/05

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

Monkstown

15/05/07

100,000

22

Fingal County Council

Blanchardstown

14/07/05

100,000

29

Swords

14/07/05

Galway County Council

Tuam

14/07/05

100,000

49

Kerry County Council

Tralee

14/07/05

150,000

17

Kildare County Council

Newbridge

06/07/05

Laois County Council

Mobile Facility

15/07/05

35,000

78

Louth County Council

Dundalk

12/07/05

40,000

80

Drogheda

12/07/05

Meath County Council

Dunboyne

13/07/05

45,000

50

Monaghan County Council

Monaghan Town

15/07/05

42,000

68

Offaly County Council

Tullamore

15/07/05

72,000

80

Sligo County Council

Enniscrone

13/07/05

South Dublin County Council

Lucan

13/07/05

100,000

44

Waterford County Council

Tramore

14/07/05

140,000

50

Westmeath County Council

Athlone

07/07/05

150,000

50

Wexford County Council

Gorey

07/07/05

110,000

49

Wicklow County Council

Greystones

14/07/05

150,000

50

Bray

15/07/05

Wicklow Town

14/07/05

Arklow

14/07/05

Cork City Council

Ballyphehane

01/07/05

Dublin City Council

Cabra

13/07/05

100,000

50

Galway City Council

Westside

14/07/05

100,000

58

Limerick City Council

Clare Street

13/07/05

125,000

100

Waterford City Council

People’s Park

13/07/05

140,000

50

Capital Expenditure.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

151 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of capital projects within his Department which in 2004 and in 2005 had an estimated cost of between €30 million and €50 million, and which would have been subject to cost-benefit analysis if the newly announced criteria for such evaluations had then been in force; and the total cost of such projects in each year. [35268/05]

Under the revised capital appraisal guidelines published in February 2005, a cost-benefit analysis is to be carried out by the sponsor of each public capital project with a value of over €50 million.

Some 19 projects sponsored by local authorities within the annual public capital programmes for 2004 and 2005 regarding housing regeneration, water services and non-national roads exceed this threshold. In so far as their timing may bring them within the new guidelines, the carrying out of the required cost-benefit analysis will be for the local authority concerned. My Department's role would be that of sanctioning authority.