Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 6 to 62, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 63 to 69, inclusive, answered orally.

Youth Services.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

70 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the details of the new round of funding allocated for 43 youth and drugs projects here; the type of facilities and service this money will be used to fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18119/06]

I take it that the Deputy is referring to my recent announcements of allocations totalling over €4m for projects and initiatives under the Emerging Needs and Young People's Facilities and Services Funds.

The Emerging Needs Fund was devised to provide a flexible and timely response to evolving needs in regard to drug misuse in Local Drugs Task Force areas. My recent announcement involved approval of €2.27m to 39 projects, bringing the total approved to date from this Fund to just over €3.1m.

The Young People's Facilities and Services Fund was established in 1998 to assist the development of youth facilities (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists, or has the potential to develop. I recently announced the approval of almost €2m for the provision of four new youth facilities in Carlow and Waterford. These allocations, which bring the total commitment from the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund to almost €101m since its establishment, represent huge advances in relation to youth facilities in these two centres. Following are two Press Releases, giving details of all 43 projects, for the information of the Deputy.

Press Release3 April 2006

EMBARGO: Monday 03-04-06

Ahern announces additional funding of €2.27m for Drugs Projects

Mr Noel Ahern T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has today (3rd April 2006) announced a further allocation of €2.27 million from the Emerging Needs Fund to projects in Local Drugs Task Force Areas. These current allocations are in addition to the €850,000 already provided from the Fund.

The Emerging Needs Fund was devised to provide a flexible and timely response to evolving needs in regard to drug misuse in Local Drugs Task Force areas.

The Minister stated that he was delighted to allocate this funding to these very worthwhile projects. He added that this announcement showed the continuing emphasis and priority that the Government places on tackling the drugs issue.

Details of the funding allocation are as follows:

Issued by the Press & Information Office of the Dept. of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Tel: 01 647 3130 Fax: 01 667 0826 Layla de Cogan Chin 087 6842755

Email: eolas@pobail.ie Website:www.pobail.ie

EMBARGO: Monday 03-04-06

LDTF

Project

Amount

Summary of Project Proposal

Ballyfermot

Hepatitis C Awareness Week

50,000

Information sessions and packs, including design and distribution of DVDs, posters, etc.

The Base, Ballyfermot Youth Centre and Childcare Facility

65,000

To employ a dedicated Drug Youth outreach Worker to work with at risk/recreational drug using young people given the very high percentage of under 24s in the Ballyfermot area.

Familiscope URBAN

113,437

Psychological Support Service for children; training for 185 front-line adults per annum.

Ballymun

Treatment & Rehabilitation Fund

60,000

A fund for a rapid support response to meet local Treatment/Rehab needs

Local Drug Prevalence Study

47,100

Study to examine current nature, extent and context of drug use in Ballymun

Blanchardstown

Blanchardstown Harm Reduction/ Drug Education Worker

60,000

Implementation of a cohesive Harm Reduction Strategy

Rehabilitation Research Programme

10,000

Research cohesion of services/gaps in Treatment and Rehabilitation services in Dublin 15

The Tolka River Project

30,000

Funding to support the therapeutic needs of clients in this ring fenced programme in conjunction with FAS/HSE

Equal Initiative

10,000

Contribution to inter agency training to build good practice in Interagency Working

Blanchardstown LDTF Treatment and Rehabilitation Protocol

34,000

Implementation of inter-agency protocols between HSE Northern Area and the Community Drug Teams in Blanchardstown.

Canal Communities

Bluebell Addiction Advisory Group

80,000

To establish 3 priority programmes: a men’s group, a women’s group and an aftercare group, focusing on Harm Reduction, Peer Support and Aftercare. The proposal will employ a worker to undertake direct client work with a particular focus on poly-drug users\especially cocaine use and family support work.

Health Promotion/ Harm Reduction Programme

45,000

To facilitate the provision of a mid-week evening programme (after working hours) for cocaine/poly-drug users

Drug Worker to work with poly-drug users, Rialto CDT

60,000

To fund a worker to work with clients who are poly-drug users in the Canal Communities area.

Turas Minibuses

73,810

To support this rehabilitation project in reducing significant expenditure on contracting transport. To be available for use by other community based projects.

Cork

Traveller Visibility Group (TVG)

66,592

Identify and make contact with young Travellers who are abusing drugs/other substances. Research life patterns consistent with drug and substance abuse.

Dublin NE

Labour Market Inclusion Programme (LIP)

53,000

An intensive and comprehensive one-to-one rehabilitation programme to prepare and progress recovered drug addicts into the labour market.

Edenmore Youth and Family Support

79,500

Funding for a Project Worker to work with at risk 15-21 year olds and their parents (primarily problematic youth with serious behavioural issues).

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

The Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Outreach Project Ltd.

75,000

Development of a community based Cocaine evening programme three evenings a week 5-8pm to deal with people with problematic cocaine and/or polydrug use.

Finglas/Cabra

Cocaine Booklet

10,000

Publication of a booklet to highlight information to individuals not in contact with opiate or drug treatment services.

Cabra Resource Centre ‘Football Focus’

10,250

This proposal is an activity based motivational skills programme to attract drug misusers who are stable and wish to move on into more healthy pursuits.

Dublin North Inner City

Belong To Youth Project

51,738

To address the needs/deliver preventative programmes concerning problematic drug misuse among lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.

The Deora Project

56,608

To provide an increase of 124 counselling hrs per month. The project aims to develop an outreach service.

ACET Ireland (HIV positive and HepC)

83,537

To support new/dynamic youth initiatives, including an innovative filmmaking project; intensive one-to-one and group/family support — increasing the service to 12 more youths per annum.

Dublin South Inner City

RUHAMA

61,442

To enable an increase of 17 females per month to the Ruhama service

Recovery Through Art and Drama (RADE)

60,000

The employment of a dedicated worker to support the individual needs of clients on this ring fenced CE programme, targeted at poly-drug/cocaine users between 21 and 60 years old. This project supports a very difficult target group.

Female Traveller Education/Out-reach Worker Exchange House

44,063

An extension to the existing project to provide an Outreach Worker to work specifically with Traveller women.

Poolbeg Training Ltd. Rinn Voyager

100,000

This project was launched in 2002 and is aimed at recovering drug users and those at risk to experience a unique team building challenge. This proposal is to fund a f/t skipper, mate and p/t administrator to be operated as a shared service for all LDTFs.

South Inner City Outreach Team (MQI)

65,000

To support the development of an Outreach Mobile Service — to employ a Community Outreach worker as an initial step to initiate this service.

Community Awareness of Drugs (CAD): Parental Programmes

100,000

To support the appointment of 2 p/t tutors and a subsidy towards a Dev. Officers Post due to the significant increase in demand for this service which provides courses for parents on drug education. Expansion of this programme will support the delivery of actions 34b, 35, 37, 42, and 95 of NDS.

Fountain Resource Group: Positive Parenting

10,000

Positive Parenting Courses to enhance a new counselling service as a pilot Education Prevention Initiative.

Teen Challenge

20,700

This proposal will allow the employment of an additional p/t Project Worker to meet the increased demand to enter the Residential Centre in Kildare. This service supports the rehabilitation of young women.

Tallaght

CARP Slanu Young Person’s Rehab Programme

61,611

This rehabilitation programme has been designed for 18-25 year olds on methadone treatment in Tallaght. Treating 12-15 people per month, it will also act as a direct feeder to St Dominic’s Rehabilitation project for relevant cases.

Tallaght Rehabilitation Project

100,000

To support the therapeutic needs of clients in this ring fenced CE programme and allow for its expansion from 15 places to 30 places.

Cross Task Force (CTF)

Travellers Development Group (Clondalkin and Tallaght)

82,814

This initiative will include direct outreach work with Traveller peer workers, referral systems, prevention programmes and information seminars. Through the provision of a dedicated worker in the Clondalkin area.

CC/D12 Initiative on Health Promotion

65,000

This cross task force project will facilitate information dissemination, referral, advocacy and needle exchange. The funding recommended will facilitate the planning and negotiating of the services including locations for needle exchange

Irish Bishops Drug Initiative

101,100

Utilising the resources and structures of 10 dioceses (5 Rural & 5 Dublin), this proposal seeks funding to train clergy and lay persons in prevention measures in accordance with the National Drugs Strategy. It has the support of the SE, NE, NW & NA RDTFs and a number of LDTFs.

Professional Development Training Programme

12,000

Development of an National College of Ireland (NCI) accredited programme in Managing Community and Voluntary Organisations for 12 managers, which will be adapted to include modules of support specific to the needs of local drug project managers.

Coolmine Lodge Residential Rehab. (Men)

130,000

Coolmine Lodge is a residential rehabilitation facility for men. This proposal seeks to expand programmes and security services to cover evening and night shifts and to provide children the opportunity to stay overnight with fathers.

Ashleigh House Residential Rehab. (Women)

30,000

Ashleigh House is a residential rehabilitation facility for women, accepting nationwide referrals, age ranging from 18-60. This additional allocation will ensure full evening/night shift cover in this residential service, and provide childcare on a needs basis for women to retain them on the programme.

Issued by the Press & Information Office of the Dept. of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Tel: 01 647 3130 Fax: 01 667 0826 Layla de Cogan Chin 087 6842755

Email: eolas@pobail.ie Website:www.pobail.ie

Press Release3 April 2006

EMBARGO: Monday 03-04-06

Additional funding of almost €2million for drug prevention projects in Carlow and Waterford

Noel Ahern T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy today announced additional funding of almost €2 million from the Young Peoples Facilities & Services Fund for the provision of four major new youth facilities in Carlow and Waterford.

The Young Persons' Facilities and Services Fund was established in 1998 as part of the Government's overall policy to tackle drug misuse, particularly amongst young people. The aim of the Fund is to attract "at risk" young people in disadvantaged areas into facilities, programmes and activities that will divert them away from the dangers of drug misuse.

Speaking today, Minister Ahern said that he was delighted to be in a position to allocate another significant tranche of funding towards the development of high-quality youth facilities, particularly in Carlow and Waterford.

"This allocation will bring the total commitment from the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund to almost €101m since it was established in 1997 and will allow for the development of outstanding youth facilities for the target group of the fund in Carlow and Waterford," he said. Minister Ahern added that this announcement showed a continuing commitment on behalf of the Government to tackle the drugs issue on an ongoing basis.

Details of the projects are as follows:

Issued by the Press & Information Office of the Dept. of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Tel: 01 647 3130 Fax: 01 667 0826 Layla de Cogan Chin 087 6842755

Email: eolas@pobail.ie Website:www.pobail.ie

Young Persons' Facilities and Services Fund

Carlow

€1.3m for the purchase and fit out of a premises on Burrin Street for use as a Youth Facility

Waterford

€553,000 for the construction and fit-out of a Youth and Community Resource Centre in the Outer Ring Road area of Waterford City in order to service the needs of the YPFSF target group in the area

€100,000 for the development of floodlighting of 2 football pitches at Ferrybank Football Club.

€27,000 to carry out remedial works and improvements to their sports facility and play court for Children's Group Link which is a long established group in Waterford, whose aims are to provide recreational, educational, counselling and sporting facilities and services for the young people of Waterford.

Issued by the Press & Information Office of the Dept. of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Tel: 01 647 3130 Fax: 01 667 0826 Layla de Cogan Chin 087 6842755

Email: eolas@pobail.ie Website:www.pobail.ie

Offshore Islands.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

71 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he or his Department officials have had contact with the Department of Finance relating to the proposal by the chairman of the Mayo Islands Committee (details supplied), that tax free status be given to the 11 non-Gaeltacht islands to encourage industrial development and stem population decline. [18166/06]

The Deputy will be aware that responsibility in regard to tax free status designation rests with my colleague, the Minister for Finance, and is subject to European Commission regulations governing the granting of State Aid in EU Member States.

While I am aware of the proposal referred to by the Deputy, no request has been received by my Department to date from either the Mayo Islands Committee or Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann — the umbrella body for the islands — for tax free status to be granted to our offshore islands. Accordingly, neither my officials nor I have had discussions on the issue with either the Minister for Finance or his Department.

I would, however, like to draw the Deputy's attention to the new Enterprise Scheme for non-Gaeltacht islands, which I introduced recently. The purpose of this scheme, which is being operated in co-operation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and relevant County Enterprise Boards, is to stimulate the establishment and development of a varied range of enterprise activities, thereby promoting the long-term sustainable development of the non-Gaeltacht islands.

Rural Development.

Phil Hogan

Question:

72 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the position in relation to future EU regional funding will be announced; the way in which he envisages that such funding should be allocated on the ground; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18152/06]

Willie Penrose

Question:

109 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the formulation of a joint national strategy for rural development; if representatives from his Department are engaging with the European Commission on this issue in advance of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18128/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72 and 109 together.

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, together with the Department of Agriculture and Food are currently engaged in preparing a national strategy for rural development as required by the EU framework on rural development. This strategy will form the basis for a national programme containing detailed support measures for the period 2007 — 2013. The programme, which will require EU Commission approval, will provide support to promote three broad rural objectives:

Improve the competitiveness of the agriculture and food sector; Improve and protect the environment and countryside; and Enhance the quality of life in rural areas and diversify the rural economy.

Measures under this third objective, directed towards improving the economic and social well being of rural communities will focus on actions such as: Promoting economic activity locally, including, for example, the development of indigenous rural resources in artisan food, forestry, marine, rural/agritourism and cultural heritage; Developing local initiatives essential to community well-being, with particular focus on the availability of local culture and leisure facilities; Village and countryside enhancement; and environmentally friendly initiatives and conservation of areas of high natural and cultural value.

An indicative amount of EU funding for rural development programming was agreed at the December 2005 European Council. While the distribution of EU funds between Member States will have to be formally agreed at an upcoming meeting of the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers, Ireland's allocation will include a specific amount of €500 million already agreed at the European Council.

The allocation of the funding for the next rural programme, to individual measures, will reflect the essential balance between the priorities of continuing to support current successful measures such as those targeting a sustainable agri-environment while, at the same time, acknowledging and supporting the key contribution being made to rural areas by the wider rural economy.

National Drugs Strategy.

Liz McManus

Question:

73 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the latest expected date for publication of the report of the rehabilitation working group established as the fifth pillar of the National Drugs Strategy; if he has met with members of the group to discuss the main findings of their work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18124/06]

The Working Group on Rehabilitation was established in September 2005 and includes representatives from a range of Government Departments and Agencies involved in delivering rehabilitation services, as well as representatives from the National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST), the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and the Community and Voluntary sectors. The terms of reference of the Group include examining the current provision of rehabilitation services in Ireland and recommending actions to develop an integrated rehabilitation service for the future.

The Working Group has held a number of meetings, as well as consultations with interested parties. It is envisaged that their recommendations will be finalised by mid-year and that they will report to the Inter-departmental Group on Drugs and to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion at that stage. Pending completion of their work I have not met with the Working Group.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

74 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the breakdown of the amount of funding which has been allocated by his Department regarding the provision of residential places for female only addicts or for female addicts with children; and if he has had discussions with the Department of Health and Children or the Health Service Executive in relation to the provision of such places. [18048/06]

Under the Health Act, 2004, the management and delivery of health and personal social services is the responsibility of the Health Services Executive.

My Department has overall responsibility for the co-ordination of the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008. The National Drugs Strategy Team is a cross-departmental Team involving Departments (including the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive), Agencies and representation from the community and voluntary sectors. All aspects of drug policy and implementation are discussed by these parties on an on-going basis. This structure oversees the work of the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces and through this mechanism the following funding has been provided to Ashleigh House, which provides residential rehabilitation facilities for female drug users: €210,000 in 2004 from the Premises Initiative Fund to upgrade the accommodation; €256,457 in the current year through the Local Drugs Task Force structure for the ongoing employment of a full time service manager, two full time workers and a half-time van driver; and €130,000 in the current year from the Emerging Needs Fund to facilitate the expansion of programmes and security services and the provision of full evening/night shift cover as well as childcare on a needs basis.

The funding provided by my Department represents targeted interventions to address particular needs. The Probation and Welfare Service and the Health Services Executive provide the main current funding for the project.

Energy Resources.

John Gormley

Question:

75 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the advice he had received from the Western Development Commission, that development of gas processing at Rossport, County Mayo would mean many towns in the west, particularly in Mayo, would be connected to the gas network. [18170/06]

I have not received any specific advice regarding development of gas processing at Rossport, County Mayo from the Western Development Commission (WDC). Furthermore, the Deputy will appreciate that this policy area is a matter for my colleague, Noel Dempsey T.D., Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

As part of their overall brief, the WDC have, however, carried out research in this general area. They have looked at the issue of access by towns to the gas network generally which is run by Bord Gáis (BG), as the then Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) policy applied to towns all over Ireland and not just in the western counties.

The WDC's concerns about the then CER policy, the potential significance of the Corrib Gas find for towns in the West and fact that the BG Galway-Mayo pipeline is already under construction prompted them to co-fund a study undertaken by Enercomm International Energy Consultants for Ballina Chamber of Commerce. This study established the current energy demands in and around Ballina and estimated the potential demand for natural gas under different scenarios.

The study looked at the feasibility of Ballina acquiring a gas distribution supply using the current CER policy for the connection of new towns and also recommended changes to that policy which would give a fairer appraisal of feasibility and could lead to the connection of many towns in Mayo. I am arranging to have a copy of the study forwarded to the Deputy for his information.

In addition, the Deputy may wish to note that the CER recently approved Bord Gáis' (BG) new Connection Policy applicable to both the transmission and distribution networks. It is BG's intention to undertake a study to examine potential connections on foot of this new policy. It is planned to carry out this study in three phases over the next nine to twelve months, and a timetable and terms of reference are currently being drawn up. The bringing of gas to Mayo and the West of Ireland will be dependent on the outcome of this study.

Furthermore, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has commissioned a consultancy to determine the technical and economic feasibility of bringing gas from the Mayo-Galway pipeline to Donegal Town through Sligo, which shall include consideration of the following three alternative corridors: Via Ballina, Via Castlebar, Claremorris and Knock (Industrial Estate), or via Claremorris, Ballyhaunis and Ballaghadarreen.

Drug Seizures.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

76 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the spate of recent cannabis and cocaine seizures by the Gardaí in Cork and Dublin; his further views on the prevalence and frequency of these large seizures, especially as a much larger quantity of these drugs actually avoids detection by authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18117/06]

The Gardaí confirm that there has been a growth in the amount of cocaine and cannabis seized so far this year. I congratulate the Gárdaí on their success in that regard, including recent seizures in Cork and Dublin, and on their significant on-going contribution to disrupting the sale of illegal drugs in this State.

Supply reduction is one of the cornerstones of the National Drugs Strategy and An Garda Síochána play a huge role in this respect. In 2005 a total of 3,545 people in the Dublin metropolitan region, and 1,166 in Co. Cork, were prosecuted for drug offences. This is a significant increase on the numbers (2,296 and 867 respectively) prosecuted in 2004.

While recent cannabis and cocaine seizures, and drugs seizures generally, are often interpreted as indicating a growth in the presence of those drugs, there is no definite evidence to illustrate the degree to which this may be true. Furthermore, I would caution against using drug seizures in a particular area as a direct indication of the level of supply and use of drugs in that area. The particular geographical area where drugs are seized may not indicate their final planned destination. In that regard, Dublin and Cork have international airports and sea ports and are therefore more likely to be entry points for illegal drugs into this State. Indeed, some drugs may ultimately be destined for markets beyond these shores.

However, I accept that sizable increases in seizures, though welcome in themselves, raise fears regarding the amount of illegal drugs getting into the country. Through the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy, and the co-operation of the various Government Departments and agencies, as well as the community and voluntary sectors, I am confident that we will continue to tackle the misuse of drugs in the most effective way possible.

Community Development.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

77 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the reasoning for the extension of the CLÁR programme, which is an average drop in population of 35 per cent per each county between 1926 and 2002, is not a worrying trend in relation to depopulation of rural areas here. [18167/06]

Paul Connaughton

Question:

85 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on whether the CLÁR programme will require additional funding for 2006 and subsequent years in view of the recent decision to expand the geographical area which can claim CLÁR funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18154/06]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

89 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the recent changes he has made to the CLÁR programme; the basis on which he has decided to expand the programme in most CLÁR areas and to introduce the scheme in a further five counties; the budget for CLÁR for 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18121/06]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

93 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the process of evaluating and considering the findings of the review of the CLÁR areas is complete; if changes to the CLÁR areas are being made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18129/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

344 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans to extend or expand the CLÁR programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18393/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77, 85, 89, 93 and 344 together.

I agree with the Deputy that the population decline in CLÁR areas is a worrying trend and that was one of the main reasons I introduced the CLÁR Programme (Ceantair Laga Árd-Riachtanais) back in late 2001. The Programme provides funding to Government Departments, State Agencies and Local Authorities to accelerate investment in selected priority developments. These investments support physical, community and social infrastructure across a variety of measures. The measures introduced under the Programme reflect the priorities identified by the communities in the selected areas.

In late 2005, I commissioned the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) in NUI Maynooth to carry out a further review of population data on which the Programme is based. NIRSA analysed the 2002 population census data to identify new areas for inclusion on the basis of average population loss in each county of not less than 35% between 1926 and 2002.

In early April, following the completion of their work, I announced an expansion of the Programme in the existing CLÁR areas and an extension into parts of five new counties (Wicklow, Carlow, Laois, Kilkenny and Offaly). This brings the total number of counties covered by the Programme to 23.

The Programme was expanded on the following basis: Areas now included are those areas in counties with an average drop of population of 35% per county between 1926 and 2002; In all counties, towns of 3,000 and over and their peri-urban areas have been excluded, irrespective of county decline in population; Contiguous CLÁR Electoral Districts (EDs), including those across county boundaries, have a minimum population of 1,000; and As a result the number of EDs included in the Programme has increased by 729 to 1,614 and that total population covered is now 726,724 — roughly a doubling of the existing level.

As the Deputies will appreciate, an expansion of the Programme of this magnitude requires a significant increase in funding. Accordingly, I am very pleased to tell the Deputies that I secured an increase in CLÁR funding of approximately €9m for 2006, bringing the overall level of funding available this year to €22.95m.

I feel that this consistent process of funding small community and rural projects — many of which might otherwise not be funded — is having a major impact on the lives of people living in these CLÁR areas. Furthermore, I have no doubt that the people living in the new CLÁR areas will soon feel the very real benefits of inclusion in the Programme.

Rural Social Scheme.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

78 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, in view of the decision to expand the eligibility criteria for those who can participate in the rural social scheme, the number of places and the amount of funding available will be extended as a consequence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18149/06]

Joe Sherlock

Question:

81 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals to use the rural social scheme to develop and maintain walkways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18135/06]

Brendan Howlin

Question:

96 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the recent changes announced to the rural social scheme; the reason for the changes in the categories of people eligible to participate in the scheme; the type of work carried out by those participating in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18120/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78, 81 and 96 together.

The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) was established to provide income support for low income farmers and fisher persons who are in receipt of long-term social welfare payments and to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. The Scheme is delivered at a local level by the LEADER groups and, in the Gaeltacht, by the LEADER groups in conjunction with Údarás na Gaeltachta. Participants on the Scheme work 19.5 hours per week.

Following a review of the Scheme in 2005, I recently announced major changes to its operation which will come into effect from 22 May 2006. As part of the changes, the categories of people eligible to participate in the Scheme have been extended and now include: children/siblings of qualifying herd owners; recipients of One-Parent and Widow(ers) payments with a herd number; and adult dependants of non-contributory old age pensioners, who themselves are under 66, and have a herd number.

The tapering of adult dependant payments in respect of qualified adults has also been removed and a full adult dependant payment will now be made where the earnings are below the upper threshold of €250 p.w. In addition, participants on the Scheme are no longer prohibited from undertaking any other form of paid work.

The work to be undertaken by participants on the Scheme falls into the following broad categories: Projects relating to maintenance and enhancement of waymarked ways, agreed walks, bog roads etc.; Village and countryside enhancement projects; Environmental maintenance work — maintenance and caretaking of community and sporting facilities; Projects relating to not for profit cultural and heritage centres: Energy conservation work for elderly and less well off; and Social care and care of the elderly, community after-school groups and community pre-schooling groups.

The Scheme provides the personnel and capital for projects relating to the maintenance and enhancement of waymarked ways, agreed walks, bog roads etc. In general, this work involves (i) erecting and maintaining walkway furniture such as fencing, footpaths, stiles, footbridges, drainage channels, signs, benches and facilities for disposal of litter etc; and (ii) carrying out path repair and upgrading. Participants on the RSS are provided with the materials and equipment necessary to carry out this work.

There are currently 2,233 participants on the Scheme out of a total number of 2,500. Funding of €43.322m has been provided in my Department's Estimates for the Programme in the current year which represents an increase of 70% over 2005 expenditure. Going forward, I can assure the Deputies that I will continue to closely monitor the number of participants on the Scheme and its funding requirements.

Community Grants.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

79 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals to implement the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee that a proper control and accountability framework should be developed for the administration of community grants above a specific level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18140/06]

The Programme of Grants for Locally-Based Community and Voluntary Organisations consists of three schemes, the first of which makes funds available for small scale refurbishments of the premises of locally-based Community and Voluntary Organisations. This is complemented by a second scheme to provide for the purchase of essential equipment including I.T. equipment. The third scheme provides for education, training and research grants. The maximum grant under the refurbishment scheme is €40,000 and the maximum grant under the other schemes is €10,000.

Up to and including 2004, payments under this Programme were made in full and in advance on the basis of subsequent provision of vouched expenditure. My Department has since taken account of the issues raised by the Public Accounts Committee. As a result my Department pays only grants in advance where the amount is €5,000 or less. Groups must fully account for expenditure of these grants subsequently.

For larger grants, an initial "up front" payment of €5,000 is made. Grantees must fully account for expenditure of these grants subsequently in order to draw down a second payment of up to €5,000. Any further payments arising are made retrospectively on the basis of vouched expenditure.

National Drugs Strategy.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

80 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the necessary funding will be released to ensure that the successful cocaine pilot project in Tallaght, Dublin 24 remains open. [18052/06]

Gay Mitchell

Question:

87 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when he intends to introduce a mainstream programme to deal specifically with cocaine abuse; the reason pilot cocaine treatment programmes are currently only in place; if he has satisfied himself regarding this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18156/06]

Seán Crowe

Question:

104 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the evaluation report will be published and made available regarding the successful cocaine pilot project run by CARP in conjunction with St. Dominic's in Tallaght, Dublin 24. [18051/06]

Willie Penrose

Question:

112 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the work of the four pilot cocaine treatment projects to examine different methods of treatment for cocaine use that he launched in 2005; when the evaluation of these pilot projects will be complete; when a report will be published; his views on extending these projects, including on a national basis, in view of the widespread use of cocaine here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18127/06]

Martin Ferris

Question:

122 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has satisfied himself regarding the amount of time it takes to produce an evaluation report in relation to pilot cocaine projects. [18049/06]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

125 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the action he intends to take to ensure that the closure of Tallaght’s successful cocaine pilot project will be avoided. [18050/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80, 87, 104, 112, 122 and 125 together.

A sub group of the National Drugs Strategy Team was established in 2004 to make proposals in relation to combating cocaine abuse. As part of its recommendations the subgroup proposed funding to support four pilot treatment projects. The four projects deal with the following cohorts of cocaine users: intravenous cocaine users; poly-drug users using cocaine; problematic intranasal cocaine users; and problematic female cocaine users.

One of the pilot projects is a community-based pilot involving a partnership approach by two existing projects, St. Dominic's and Community Addiction Response Programme (CARP) Killinarden. The sub group envisaged that this shared pilot would develop best practice models of co-operation, which should result in improved levels of service for client groups.

The target group of this pilot is cocaine only users who have developed problematic levels of usage from an initial level of mild usage described as "snorting usually at weekends".

The objectives of the pilot are to record the social, health and personal changes of cocaine only users through the duration of the project. This is achieved by outreaching to users in their places of entertainment, recreation and work in order to devise a response to their drug use. The pilot aims to identify and utilise the knowledge and skills that already exist in the area with the objective of engaging with cocaine only users who are already in contact with the statutory and voluntary services in the area, while encouraging others into the service.

At the outset it was envisaged that the project would be run for a period of six months under the joint management of CARP and St. Dominic's. The total cost of the six month run was to have been €87,160. As it transpired, the project began operating in February 2005 and has been in operation since then.

In March of this year my Department, through the NDST, received an application for additional funding to enable the project to continue in operation for a further period. Notwithstanding the fact that it was established on a pilot basis, and that the evaluation of the project is not yet complete, I am glad to be able to inform Deputies that additional funding has been allocated to facilitate its continuation in operation until the report on the evaluation of the project is received and considered in my Department. The additional funds are being channelled through the Health Services Executive and I understand that a payment in that regard will issue to the project in the near future.

While the evaluation process of the cocaine pilot initiatives commenced in August 2005, it cannot be completed until the projects are sufficiently advanced to facilitate analysis of their effectiveness. Specifically in relation to the CARP/St. Dominic's project, I am advised that the evaluators are awaiting further information in relation to numbers attending before the report can be finalised. However, I trust that these details will be provided and that the evaluation report can be completed and submitted to me soon.

With regard to the production of the evaluation reports generally, it stands to reason that the evaluators would not be in a position to finalise their reports until the pilot projects had run for a sufficient period and provided all the necessary information. Such information is still being collected while in the case of one of the pilot projects, it will not be available until later in the year when more progress has been made. Overall I am satisfied with the methodology being used to produce the evaluation reports and I have to accept that it will take time to complete them.

The main thrust of the evaluations will be to analyse, in a systematic manner, what is being achieved by the projects and to report on the lessons to be learned as a result. It is hoped that the results of the evaluation process will aid the formulation of effective actions aimed at tackling cocaine misuse. If any or all of the projects prove to have been effective, consideration will be given to rolling out similar projects on a wider basis.

Question No. 81 answered with QuestionNo. 78.

Drug Use Prevalence.

Seán Ryan

Question:

82 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the arrangements that have been made in regard to the commencement of the fieldwork for the second drug prevalence study; if expressions of interest from potential tenderers have been received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18133/06]

Eamon Ryan

Question:

84 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the significance of the findings of the Drug Use in Ireland and Northern Ireland: 2002/2003 Drug Prevalence Survey; Health Board (Ireland) and Health & Social Services Board (Northern Ireland) Results (Revised) published by the National Advisory committee on Drugs. [18168/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 84 together.

The National Advisory Committee on Drugs and the Drug and Alcohol Information and Research Unit (Northern Ireland) commissioned the first Drug Prevalence Survey, the purpose of which was to establish the population prevalence of drug use on the island of Ireland, in 2002/2003. This study surveyed over 8,000 people aged 15-64 in Ireland and Northern Ireland between October 2002 and April 2003 and examined the prevalence of a number of drugs. That work provided us for the first time with robust statistical information on the prevalence of drug use in the general population. It covered any lifetime use of drugs by respondents, as well as more recent use in the previous year and month.

Expressions of interest from potential tenderers were sought for the second Drug Prevalence Survey and tender documentation was subsequently issued to the interested parties. Tenders for the survey are due towards the end of June.

Especially with the baseline information in place from the first survey, the findings of the forthcoming project will prove very informative, giving valuable information on trends which can feed into drugs policy formulation. It is intended that the Drug Prevalence Study fieldwork will be carried out from late 2006 to mid 2007. Preliminary analysis will be done in the months following, with a first report of national prevalence figures and trends expected in late 2007.

Interpretative Centres.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

83 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the recent contact he has had with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding progressing the promised Pádraic Pearse Commemorative Centre at Rosmuc, County Galway. [18172/06]

Discussions between the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and my own Department concerning the proposed Interpretative Centre to be located at Teach an Phiarsaigh, Rosmuc, Co Galway, are ongoing.

Question No. 84 answered with QuestionNo. 82.
Question No. 85 answered with QuestionNo. 77.

Countryside Recreation Strategy.

Dan Boyle

Question:

86 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the national countryside recreation strategy will be published by Comhairle na Tuaithe. [18161/06]

Denis Naughten

Question:

102 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made to date in developing a national countryside recreation strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18157/06]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

130 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when he expects to receive the national countryside recreation strategy from Comhairle na Tuaithe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18136/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 86, 102 and 130 together.

Comhairle na Tuaithe is currently working on the development of a National Countryside Recreation Strategy. The first phase in the development of the strategy involved consultation with interested parties. 190 submissions were received in answer to a call in national and provincial papers and by letter to stakeholder organisations.

The work of drafting the countryside recreation strategy is proceeding following Comhairle na Tuaithe's examination of the submissions received.

I look forward to receiving the draft strategy from Comhairle na Tuaithe when it has completed its consideration of the issues arising. It is expected that this work will be completed shortly. The question of publication will be considered when I receive the draft strategy.

Question No. 87 answered with QuestionNo. 80.

Post Office Network.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

88 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the president of the Irish Postmasters’ Union’s recent claim that the commercial viability for post offices in some remote communities is practically impossible and that this needs to be recognised by the Government and practically addressed by way of the introduction of public service obligation. [18165/06]

The Government is committed to a viable and sustainable rural post office network providing a range of services to meet customer needs as set out in the Programme for Government. The network is geared towards customer demand in both urban and rural locations and must be adaptable to changing circumstances and trends but the core objective of the Government continues to be the retention of access to post office services in as many locations as possible.

The Deputy will appreciate, however, that I have no statutory responsibility for postal services and that the question of the commercial viability of post offices is a matter for my colleague, Noel Dempsey, T.D., Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Question No. 89 answered with QuestionNo. 77.

Decentralisation Programme.

Phil Hogan

Question:

90 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position in relation to decentralisation and Foras na Gaeilge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18158/06]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

120 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress which has been made since 6 March 2006 in regard to the 30 Foras na Gaeilge staff members to be located in Gaoth Dobhair; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18132/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 120 together.

I would draw the Deputies' attention to my reply to Questions Nos. 107 and 121 of 21 March 2006. As indicated in that reply, Mr. David Hanson, MP, the then Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, and I agreed in principle at our meeting in Belfast on 6 March 2006 that 30 Foras na Gaeilge staff posts should be located in Gaoth Dobhair. The agreement was subject to completion of the formal North/South Ministerial Council approval process and that process is now complete.

The Board of Foras na Gaeilge has been asked to bring forward firm proposals in relation to the phases of locating such a staff complement in Gaoth Dobhair, as well as the precise sections and functions to be located there. I understand that this is in hands and will be available shortly.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

91 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will reconsider his decision not to accept funding applications for the Dormant Accounts Funds from representatives of emigrant groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18150/06]

I refer the Deputy to my replies to Question Numbers 60 and 68 of 21st March 2006 and to Question Number 913 of 25th January 2006. I have no plans to change the position as outlined in those replies.

Departmental Schemes.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

92 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of Irish language schemes approved by him since 21 March 2006 under the Official Languages Act 2003; the number of schemes commenced under the Act since that date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18115/06]

Since 21 March 2006, one additional Irish language scheme has been approved by me under the Official Languages Act 2003 and published. A total of 23 schemes prepared by public bodies have now been confirmed by me and published.

My Department is in discussion with in excess of 70 additional public bodies in relation to completion or commencement of the process of drafting a scheme. I expect to be in a position to approve a number of additional draft schemes in the near future.

Question No. 93 answered with QuestionNo. 77.

Languages Programme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

94 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the nature and content of the discussions he had with the Maori Language Commission during his recent visit to New Zealand; the parallels which can be drawn from the New Zealand experience in encouraging the use of native languages and the development of the Irish language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18130/06]

The discussions I had with the Maori Language Commission covered a number of issues relevant to the development of the Irish language. Much of the meeting centred on the parallel issues of encouraging the Maori and Gaeltacht youth to fully engage with the language. The legislative framework underpinning the languages in the respective jurisdictions was also discussed. The Maori Language Commission also made me aware of their method of ‘proficiency exams' and of the work they are doing on ‘banking the language' through a monolingual dictionary which lists all the attributes of a word, divided by fields so that all sports terms, all medical terms etc. are listed in blocks.

Community Development.

Mary Upton

Question:

95 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals to implement the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee that consideration should be given on a local authority basis to having a single group managing both Leader and partnership programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18141/06]

I refer the Deputy to earlier questions on this topic, in particular, my reply to Question No. 98 and 100 of 21st March 2006, and my reply to Questions No. 393 and allied questions on 7th March 2006.

The Public Accounts Committee recommendation referred to by the Deputy is being implemented in the context of the ongoing cohesion process. To date, I have been able to support a number of proposals for integration of Leader and Partnership companies. Further proposals are being developed by the relevant agencies. I will be considering these proposals in due course.

Question No. 96 answered with QuestionNo. 78.

An Ghaeilge.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

97 D'fhiafraigh Mr. Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén t-agallamh a bhí aige leis an gComisinéir Teanga i leith na 415 chás nua a cuireadh i láthair Oifig an Choimisinéara in 2005; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [18148/06]

Foilsíodh Tuarascáil Bhliantúil an Choimisinéir Teanga do 2005 i mí Márta na bliana seo. Fáiltím go mór roimh an dtuarascáil agus, mar atá ráite agam cheana, táim ag tnúth go mór leis an dtoradh a thiocfaidh ó shaothar Oifig an Choimisinéara maidir le monatóireacht a dhéanamh agus comhairle a chur ar fáil faoi fheidhmiú Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003.

An méid sin ráite, mar is eol don Teachta, tá An Coimisinéir Teanga neamhspleách i gcomhlíonadh a chuid feidhmeanna faoi Chuid 4 den Acht sin agus bheadh sé mícheart domsa ceisteanna maidir le cásanna nó gearáin ar leith a phlé leis.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

98 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the discussions he has had with the Department of Finance to seek to establish the number of dormant accounts belonging to Irish exiles which are included in those made over to the Dormant Accounts Fund; the value of these accounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18134/06]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question Number 148 of 9th March 2006 relating to ownership of dormant accounts and to my earlier reply to Question Number 913 of 25th January 2006 concerning funding for vulnerable Irish communities abroad.

Under the Dormant Accounts Acts 2001-2005 information regarding those who opened accounts that have been deemed dormant accounts is maintained by the relevant financial institutions so that funds can be repatriated to these persons or their successors where possible.

The legislation does not require financial institutions to make available the address or status of the original account holders. Accordingly no estimate of the number and value of accounts referred to by the Deputy has been made and there are no plans at present to do so. In this regard, I can confirm that I have not had discussions on the matter with the Minister for Finance.

Drugs Awareness Programme.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

99 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has had discussions with the Department of Education and Science or teachers organisations regarding the distribution of a book to five to 12 year olds which gives detailed information on heroin, cocaine and ecstasy; if his attention has been drawn to the concerns that have been raised by teachers and parents regarding the distribution of this book; if his Department distributes such information to primary school children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18118/06]

My Department was not consulted or involved in any way in relation to the booklet to which the Deputy refers. Furthermore, no funding was allocated by my Department for its production or distribution.

I understand that the booklet in question was produced on a private basis, with local businesses being invited to sponsor its distribution in local schools in return for an acknowledgement in the publication.

Under the Substance Misuse Prevention Programme, the Department of Education and Science administers the ‘Walk Tall' programme of substance abuse awareness classes tailored for primary school children as part of the Social, Personal and Health Education curriculum.

Foclóir Béarla-Gaeilge.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

100 D'fhiafraigh Mr. M. Higgins den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cathain a thosóidh Céim a Dó de thionscadal an fhoclóra Béarla-Gaeilge; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [18145/06]

Mar a thug mé le fios sa fhreagra ar Cheist Uimh. 133 den 8 Feabhra 2006, tá céim a haon den tionscadal seo curtha i gcrích.

Tá sé i gceist ag Foras na Gaeilge bainisteoir tionscadail agus eagarthóir foclóireachta a fhostú le céim a dó den tionscadal a bhogadh ar aghaidh. Is céim chasta í an chéad chéim eile, is é sin, tiomsú agus scríobh an fhoclóra, idir leagan leictreonach agus an leagan clóite de. Meastar gur obair thrí nó ceithre bliana a bheidh i gceist chun céim a dó a chríochnú. Ina dhiaidh sin, beidh an dá leagan den fhoclóir críochnaithe le táirgeadh agus meastar go dtógfaidh an próiseas sin suas le bliain.

Ní mór dul trí nósanna imeachta ar leith sa chomhthéacs Thuaidh/Theas chun Bainisteoir Tionscadail agus Eagarthóir Foclóireachta a fhostú do chéim a dó agus tá an próiseas sin idir lámha faoi láthair.

Drugs Awareness Programme.

Damien English

Question:

101 Mr. English asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his Department co-operates with the Department of Education and Science in relation to drugs education in the education system here as recommended by the National Drugs Strategy; if so, the programmes which are in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18160/06]

The actions outlined in the National Drugs Strategy pertaining to the education system have been progressed with the significant input of the Department of Education and Science. Officials of the Minister for Education and Science sit on the Regional and Local Drug Task Forces, the National Drugs Strategy Team and the Inter-Departmental Group on Drugs, illustrating the degree of co-operation and co-ordination between our Departments under the National Drugs Strategy.

The main focus of the Strategy in respect of the Education Sector is on preventative strategies targeting the primary and secondary levels, as well as the informal education sector including youth services. Arising from this, all schools now have substance misuse prevention programmes included on their curricula. A consequence of this policy is that we have equipped all students with knowledge about the dangers of drug misuse.

The Strategy also includes a National Awareness Campaign, managed by the Department of Health and Children, and aimed at promoting greater awareness and understanding of the causes and consequences of drug misuse throughout society. Aspects of this campaign were specifically targeted at the young adult population.

Question No. 102 answered with QuestionNo. 86.

An Ghaeilge.

Joe Costello

Question:

103 D'fhiafraigh Mr. Costello den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cathain a fhoilseoidh an Rialtas an ráiteas atá geallta aige ar an nGaeilge; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [18144/06]

Mar a mhínigh mé don Teach mar fhreagra ar roinnt ceisteanna faoin ábhar seo cheana, iarradh tuairimí ó chomhaltaí Fhóram na Gaeilge sa bhliain 2005, i gcomhthéacs an róil chomhairleoireachta a tugadh don ghrúpa, maidir le plean straitéiseach 20 bliain a fhorbairt don Ghaeilge mar aon le tosaíochtaí gaolmhara gearr-théarmacha, agus tá obair ar na ceisteanna sin idir lámha.

Tá an cheist maidir le ráiteas soiléir ón Rialtas i ndáil le ról agus tábhacht na Gaeilge tagtha chun cinn mar ábhar tosaíochta sa chomhthéacs sin. Tá dul chun cinn suntasach bainte amach faoin ábhar seo agus tá súil agam a bheith in ann tuilleadh a rá faoi seo go luath.

Question No. 104 answered with QuestionNo. 80.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

105 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount awarded by him or his Department to urban or rural community groups from the dormant accounts fund in the year 2005 and to date in 2006; the extent to which he has outstanding applications on hand; the extent to which he expects to respond to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18173/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

342 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount spent to date from the dormant accounts fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18391/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

343 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount expected eventually to accrue to the State from the dormant accounts fund, including insurance accounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18392/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105, 342 and 343 together.

Decisions on the disbursements of funds from dormant accounts under the initial round of funding were a matter for the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board, an independent body established under the Dormant Accounts Acts. Under this round, the Board approved 521 projects for funding totalling over €60 million; 101 of these projects involving a total in excess of €21 million were approved during 2005. The Board completed all decisions on applications under the initial round of funding by July 2005. To date approximately €19 million of the €60 million approved has been paid over to groups, of which €7 million was paid during 2006 to date. It is anticipated that during the remainder of 2006, further significant amounts will be drawn down by those groups approved for funding.

The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) was launched in 2004 to provide an income supplement to small farmers and part-time fishermen while at the same time harnessing their skills for the benefit of rural communities. With the approval of Government and following consultation with the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board, a total of €16.4 million was allocated from the Dormant Accounts Fund up to the end of 2005 to part finance the RSS.

Following the enactment of the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Act 2005 the Government approved the allocation of €60 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund in 2006. In this regard, €24 million will be allocated towards projects tackling economic and social disadvantage; €18 million towards projects tackling educational disadvantage and €18 million towards projects assisting persons with a disability.

On 4th January 2006, following Government approval, I announced details of the allocation of €24 million for the purpose of supporting programmes and projects tacking economic and social disadvantage. The rollout of these programmes is well underway and invitations have issued seeking applications for a number of funding measures. Almost 200 applications were received from RAPID Area Implementation Teams, seeking funding for priority projects in each RAPID area. The closing date for receipt of applications under this measure was 31st March 2006.

The measure providing supports for projects tackling suicide prevention was publicly advertised on 10th March 2006 and 120 applications were received before the closing date of 5th May 2006.

Applications have also recently been invited for measures providing supports for (a) older people; (b) vulnerable immigrants; and (c) prisoners/ex-prisoners. The number of applications under these measures will become known when the closing dates are reached later in May and during June.

Applications received under the measures detailed above are being assessed against the published criteria and the results of the assessments will be reported to the Minister for Community Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs. In accordance with the legislation requirements, the Minister will in turn submit to Government for approval a list of the applications recommended for funding.

Regarding the amount expected eventually to accrue to the State from the Dormant Accounts Fund, the Deputy will be aware that the legislation provides for an annual transfer by financial institutions and insurance undertakings of monies in dormant accounts into the Dormant Accounts Fund. Since the establishment of the Fund in May 2003 to the end of March 2006, a total of €293 million has been transferred, of which €71 million has been reclaimed. The National Treasury Management Agency is currently compiling details in relation to 2006 transfers to the Fund and this information should be available very shortly.

An Ghaeilge.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

106 D'fhiafraigh Mr. Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad iad na deacrachtaí is mó dar leis i leith chur i bhfeidhm Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [18147/06]

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an dtuarascáil tionscnaimh maidir le cur i bhfeidhm Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla don tréimhse Iúil 2003-31 Nollaig 2004 atá leagtha ós comhair Thithe an Oireachtais agam i gcomhréir le halt 5 den Acht céanna. Mar atá leagtha amach sa tuarascáil sin, agus go deimhin mar atá ráite agam go minic sa Teach seo, tá dul chun cinn suntasach déanta maidir le cur i bhfeidhm fhorálacha an Achta ar bhonn céimiúil.

É sin ráite, ní miste dom pointe a dhéanamh, ar eagla aon mhíthuisceana, maidir le hábhar na scéimeanna teanga atá curtha faoi mo bhráid le daingniú ag comhlachtaí poiblí. Tuigtear go forleathan go bhfuil cumas agus acmhainn teoranta ag roinnt eagraíochtaí san earnáil phoiblí faoi láthair ó thaobh sholáthar seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge de. Sa chomhthéacs sin, thuigfí go mbeadh a gcuid scéimeanna bunaithe dá réir ar leibhéal seirbhísí a bheidh íseal go leor. Ní mór an cumas agus acmhainn teoranta sin a chur san áireamh nuair a bheidh measúnú á dhéanamh ar scéimeanna a aontófar amach anseo. Mar atá ráite agam go minic, is togra fadtéarmach é cur i bhfeidhm an Achta agus, cé go bhfuilim muiníneach go mbeidh torthaí fiúntacha ar an gcéad bhabhta scéimeanna, beidh gá tógáil orthu sa mheán-tréimhse tríd an bpróiseas athnuachana a tharlóidh gach trí bliana.

Departmental Expenditure.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

107 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the way in which the €4,836,927 awarded to his Department in respect of cohesion initiatives during 2005, including €1,463,400 for the promotion of volunteering, was allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18131/06]

The allocation of €4,836,927 in 2005 for cohesion and volunteering measures is shown in the following tabular statement. Included in this sum is €566,100 in respect of cohesion projects relating to the 2004 round of funding and €1,463,400 in respect of volunteering measures.

In furtherance of the cohesion process commenced in 2004, in line with the Government decision on the review of local and community development structures, city and county development boards and Ùdaras na Gaeltachta were invited to submit proposals during 2005 aimed at achieving full county/city coverage by local development agencies and involving, in rural areas, the integration of Leader and Partnership groups. Proposals developed by local development agencies and approved by city/county development boards were received in November 2005 and assessed by an independent external consultant engaged by the Department. To date, I have been able to support a number of proposals for integration of Leader and Partnership companies.

The cohesion process is ongoing during 2006. In this regard, further proposals were submitted to my Department at the end of April which are being examined with a view to funding where possible. Discussions are continuing with the relevant CDBs in circumstances where the local development agencies have not yet achieved agreed proposals. To date in 2006, I have approved a further €1,590,600 for cohesion measures and €76,600 for volunteering.

Organisation

Cohesion 2005

Volunteering 2005

Cavan County Council

99, 950

50,000

Clare County Council

412,500

80,000

Cork City Council

377,600

92,000

Cork County Council

280,000

100,000

Donegal County Council

21,600

96,000

Dublin City Council

381,000

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

77,500

36,900

Fingal County Council

217,500

41,000

Galway City Council

20,000

50,000

Galway County Council

100,000

Kildare County Council

50,000

Kilkenny County Council

51,000

Limerick City Council

75,000

Limerick County Development Board

125,500

50,000

Longford County Council

74,000

Louth County Council

36,500

Mayo County Council

60,000

Meath County Council

500,000

Monaghan County Council

22,000

Offaly County Council

29,000

Roscommon County Council

124550

Sligo County Council

50,000

South Dublin County Council

50,000

Waterford City Council

242,000

75,000

Waterford County Council

193,827

50,000

Wexford County Council

50,000

Wicklow County Council

50,000

Westmeath County Council

55,000

50,000

Údarás na Gaeltachta

171,000

69,000

Totals

3,373,527

1,463,400

Departmental Programmes.

Mary Upton

Question:

108 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the specific finding of the Public Accounts Committee that a recurring difficulty regarding the RAPID programme since its launch in 2001 is the different levels of expectation as to what the programme should produce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18142/06]

I have already dealt with this in priority question 67.

Question No. 109 answered with QuestionNo. 72.

National Drugs Strategy.

Jack Wall

Question:

110 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the discussions he has had with the National Drugs Strategy team regarding drug use among undergraduate students in full-time third level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18139/06]

While I am in regular contact with the National Drugs Strategy Team, I have not had specific discussions with them on drug use among undergraduate students in full-time third level education. However, I can assure the Deputy that I am in on-going contact with all those involved in efforts to disrupt the distribution and consumption of illegal drugs throughout society.

The primary focus of the 108 actions of the National Drugs Strategy is on the illegal drugs that do the most harm and on the most vulnerable drug misusers, as well as their families and communities. The main focus of the Strategy with respect to the Education Sector is on preventative strategies targeting the primary and secondary levels, and the informal education sector including youth services. Arising from this, all such schools now having substance misuse prevention programmes included on their curricula. A consequence of this strategy should be to arm undergraduate students with knowledge about the dangers of drug misuse before they enter college.

The Strategy also includes a National Awareness Campaign, managed by the Department of Health and Children and aimed at promoting greater awareness and understanding of the causes and consequences of drug misuse throughout society. Aspects of this campaign were specifically targeted at the young adult population.

It is very difficult to quantify drug use by socio-economic group. The Drug Prevalence Survey carried out for the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and the Drug & Alcohol Information and Research Unit (Northern Ireland), which is recognised as the most comprehensive baseline data we have for prevalence rates in this country, identified usage in the past 12 months by young adults (15-34 years) as 8.6% for cannabis and 2.3% for ecstasy. Overall that survey covered 8,442 people, aged between 15 and 64, on the island of Ireland.

The College Lifestyle and Attitudinal National (CLAN) Survey, which was jointly carried out by the Health Promotion Unit of the Department of Health & Children and NUI Galway in the academic year 2002/2003, dealt with a sample of 3,259 students from Universities and other third level institutions across Ireland. Drug use was one of many areas under review. The focus and methodology and of the survey differed from the 2002/2003 Drug Prevalence Survey, as did the age profile of those surveyed. Therefore, the results of the two surveys are not directly comparable and they do not throw up the same figures. However, the findings are nonetheless valuable in improving our understanding of drug misuse by university students in Ireland.

Established research suggests that this cohort is more likely to experiment with drug use than are other sections of society and the CLAN survey reflected this. In the CLAN Survey 37% reported having used cannabis, and 8% indicated that they had used ecstasy, in the previous 12 months. It would be expected that these figures would include many who experimented once, or very few times, rather than reflecting more problematic long-term or regular use which is the main focus of the National Drugs Strategy.

Joan Burton

Question:

111 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the recent launch of the first ever non-Garda telephone line aimed at tackling drug dealing by the Blanchardstown local drugs taskforce; his views on the development of such telephone services elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18116/06]

I am aware that Blanchardstown Local Drugs Task Force, with funding provided by my Department through the National Drugs Strategy, has recently launched a confidential anti-drug dealing telephone help-line.

I understand that the local response to this initiative has been positive and I will await with interest the outcome of the evaluation of the service.

Question No. 112 answered with QuestionNo. 80.

Road Network.

Liz McManus

Question:

113 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will expand on his recent comments that there has been a sustained increase in national roads investment in the Border Midland Western region over the second half of the National Development Plan; the major roads projects that are currently outstanding in the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18123/06]

I have arranged for a copy of the press release I issued to be sent to the Deputy. I feel that it is self-explanatory.

National Drugs Strategy.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

114 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has had further discussions with Garda representatives regarding the prevalence of crack cocaine here; if the latest information available to him confirms that crack cocaine remains generally specific to one geographic area in inner city Dublin; if there are signs that the drug is spreading out from this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18125/06]

I can assure the Deputy that my officials have on-going contact with representatives of An Garda Síochána, through the implementation structures of the National Drugs Strategy, and the prevalence of crack cocaine in the country is discussed periodically. Furthermore, I met with representatives of the Gardaí at the last meeting of the Interdepartmental Group on Drugs in April.

The Gardaí are satisfied that the use of crack cocaine is largely confined to a small geographical area in inner city Dublin. Furthermore, they have had considerable recent success in targeting the supply and use of this drug in that area. A number of people face charges of possession of crack cocaine for sale or supply in the inner city area in March and April last. The charges arose from investigations into the sale of the drug under "Operation Plaza".

I am confident that, through the implementation of the actions in the National Drugs Strategy, the projects and initiatives operated through the Local & Regional Drugs Task Forces and the operations of an Garda Síochána, the problem of crack cocaine use can be addressed. Each of the Drugs Task Forces has an action plan in place to tackle drug use in their area, based on their own identified priorities and they continue to have ongoing contact with their local communities.

However, I fully accept that a potential danger exists that the use of crack cocaine could spread rapidly and I assure the Deputy that I will continue to monitor the situation and that I will ensure that any necessary steps are taken to address increased threats, should they arise.

Irish Language.

Enda Kenny

Question:

115 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the need for a strategy for the Irish language to guide its long-term development; if so, when such a strategy will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18153/06]

As I have already indicated in response to similar Questions in this House, the matter of the advisability of a 20-year strategic plan for the Irish language has been amongst the issues considered in general terms by Fóram na Gaeilge in its deliberations thus far.

In that context, the need for the development of a clear statement on the part of the Government in relation to the Irish language and its importance as a whole has emerged as a key issue and considerable work is in hand in relation to this matter. I hope to be able to advance the matter further in the near future.

Notwithstanding the issue of the development of such a strategy, it should be noted that very significant and meaningful progress continues to be made in fostering and further underpinning the language since the publication of the Gaeltacht Commission's Report in 2002. The Official Languages Act, as the Deputy will be aware, continues to generate real and significant benefits for the language and the Irish language community. Substantial advances have also been achieved regarding the status of Irish in the European Union. A number of new initiatives have been introduced in Gaeltacht areas, including the development of public awareness measures aimed at the Gaeltacht community in particular, the language planning initiative, the scheme for language assistants, and the expansion and development of the summer camps scheme. All of these practical measures will assist in consolidating the viability of the language. The Deputy will also appreciate that significant resources continue to be made available to support the work of Foras na Gaeilge in promoting Irish on an all-island basis.

Community Development.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

116 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will expand on remarks he recently made at the presentation in Carrick-on-Shannon of the Western Development Commission John Healy Awards for Journalism. [18171/06]

I have arranged for a copy of the presentation I made to be sent to the Deputy. I have nothing further to add.

National Drugs Strategy.

Richard Bruton

Question:

117 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress which has been made in each regional drug task force area over the past year; the concrete measures which have been enacted on the ground; the impact such measures have had; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18155/06]

Ten Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTFs) have been established in areas not covered by Local Drugs Task Forces. Thus all parts of the country are now serviced by a Drugs Task Force.

The overall role of the RDTFs is to prepare and implement regional Actions Plans which identify existing and emerging gaps in services in relation to education/prevention, curbing supply, treatment and rehabilitation. RDTFs provide a mechanism for the co-ordination of mainstream services in the regions, while at the same time allowing communities and voluntary organisations to participate in the planning, design and delivery of those services.

Membership of the RDTFs includes representatives of all the relevant agencies, such as the Health Service Executive, the Gardaí, the Probation and Welfare Service, the Department of Education and Science, the Local Authorities, the Youth Service and FÁS. The Task Forces also include representation from voluntary agencies, community representatives and elected public representatives.

Each Task Force has a voluntary chairperson and was assigned an interim co-ordinator. The recruitment of full-time co-ordinators is on-going and it is expected that all 10 will be in place by the middle of June. Each RDTF has an operational budget that facilitates the employment of a project development worker and an administrative assistant.

Progress is now being made by the RDTFs, all of which have prepared Action Plans for their Regions. A sum of €5m has been allocated to the 10 RDTFs towards the implementation of those plans for 2006 and €322,000 of this has been drawn down to date. Funding will be increased on an incremental basis over the coming years to achieve the full roll out of the Action Plans, which are estimated to have a full cost in the region of €12.2m per annum. It is expected that the rate of progress being made by RDTFs will accelerate in the latter part of the year, especially in view of the employment of the full-time co-ordinators.

I am satisfied that the implementation of the range of activities and initiatives identified in the RDTF Action Plans over the coming years will represent a comprehensive response to the problems of drugs misuse in the various regions.

Translation Services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

118 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the panel accredited to provide translation services for both the public and private sectors is in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18137/06]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have requested Foras na Gaeilge to develop an accreditation system for Irish language translators. This will be the first such accreditation system to be made available for Irish language translators.

It is intended that an accreditation certificate will be awarded to translators who reach a level of excellence. I understand that as a first step in testing this standard, an examination was held on 8 April 2006 and that it is intended to hold further examinations at regular intervals. A panel of accredited translators will be thus established, and I understand the panel will be available to the public and private sectors shortly.

The development of this accreditation system for translators by Foras na Gaeilge will be an ongoing process. Its aim is to ensure the availability of high-quality, professional Irish-language translation services.

Foghlaim na Gaeilge sna Scoileanna.

Joe Costello

Question:

119 D'fhiafraigh Mr. Costello den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an raibh aon agallamh aige leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta faoin moladh atá aige go ndéanfaí dhá ábhar den Ghaeilge san Ardteist; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [18143/06]

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an bhfreagra a thug mé ar Cheist Uimh. 134 den 8 Feabhra 2006.

Faoi mar atá curtha in iúl agam, is ceist í seo go príomha don Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta. Tuigfidh an Teachta, ar ndóigh, go mbíonn plé rialta agam leis an Aire sin, agus le mo chomhghleacaithe eile sa Rialtas, maidir le saincheisteanna comónta de réir mar is gá.

Question No. 120 answered with QuestionNo. 90.

An Ghaeilge.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

121 D'fhiafraigh Mr. Sargent den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfógróidh sé níos forleithne na deiseanna fostaíochta cóir a bheith ann do chainteoirí Gaeilge sa Bhruiséil agus in Éirinn má tá Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúila le cur i bhfeidhm i gceart. [18164/06]

Tuigfidh an Teachta nach bhfuil freagracht ormsa, mar Aire, deiseanna fostaíochta do chainteoirí Gaeilge sa Bhruiséil, ná in Éirinn fiú, seachas i mo Roinn féin, b'fhéidir, a fhógairt.

Mar chabhair don Teachta, áfach, tá socraithe agam go gcuirfí chuige téacs an ráitis a d'eisigh EPSO, oifig earcaíochta an Aontais Eorpaigh, ar 5 Bealtaine seo caite maidir le 30 post atá fógraithe acu siúd d'aistritheoirí Gaeilge.

Question No. 122 answered with QuestionNo. 80.

Proposed Legislation.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

123 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the timetable for the Charities Regulation Bill 2006; if he still expects the Bill itself to be published during 2006; if he has received further feedback on the general scheme of the Bill from the charities sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18126/06]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos. 66, 75 and 99 of 21 March 2006.

The position is that Government approval of the General Scheme for the Charities Regulation Bill 2006 has been secured and the Scheme has been published on my Department's websitewww.pobail.ie; priority drafting of the Bill is under way in the Office of the Attorney General; I would hope that this should facilitate publication of the Bill during 2006; and the feedback from the charities sector has continued to be favourable.

National Drugs Strategy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

124 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding he has provided in 2005 and to date in 2006 to groups involved in combating drug abuse; the extent to which this is in accord with the National Drugs Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18174/06]

My Department has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008. This incorporates the work of the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces and the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund. Through these initiatives a broad range of community and voluntary groups are funded to tackle drug misuse.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that €43m has been allocated to my Department for the Drugs Initiative/Young People's Facilities and Services Fund in 2006. This represents an increase of 27% on the €33.97m expended in 2005. The draw down figure on the 2006 allocation to date is €16.1m.

The significant increase in funding for 2006 will allow us to consolidate and build on previous investment and continue to tackle the drug problem in a comprehensive way.

Question No. 125 answered with QuestionNo. 80.

Energy Regulation.

John Gormley

Question:

126 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Irish Rural Link has called for the establishment of an Energy Commission that will examine the use of farm land as a means of meeting Ireland’s renewable energy commitments; and if he intends to raise this issue with the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. [18169/06]

I am aware that Irish Rural Link has called for the establishment of an Energy Commission. However, I understand that an Energy Commission already exists. It is known as the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), and is an independent body under paragraph 9 in the Schedule to the Electricity Regulation Act 1999.

In this context, the Deputy will appreciate that matters relating to the production of renewable energy fall within the remit of my colleague, Noel Dempsey T.D., Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, while the use of farm land is within the remit of my colleague, Mary Coughlan T.D., Minister for Agriculture and Food.

Decentralisation Programme.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

127 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made regarding plans to decentralise his Department to County Sligo; the suitability of the temporary accommodation that will be used later in 2006 in Tubbercurry; when the full decentralisation of his Department to Knock will be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18122/06]

A site has been acquired at Knock Airport and the OPW are currently evaluating tenders for the construction there of the new headquarters of the Department. The Department is working to the original schedule of completion by the end of 2007.

Of the 140 posts due to transfer to Knock Airport, some 65 will transfer to temporary accommodation in Tubbercurry from mid-2006. When the new headquarters is ready for occupation, the Tubbercurry posts and those posts still remaining in Dublin at that stage will transfer to Knock Airport.

I understand that the temporary accommodation, the completion of which is being overseen by the Office of Public Works, is suitable, and will meet all of the required legislative standards in terms of health and safety, building regulations and planning.

National Drugs Strategy.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

128 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he intends to advocate for an increase in the range and type of drug treatment programmes and places available to drug misusers under the National Drugs Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18151/06]

Under the Health Act, 2004, the management and delivery of health and personal social services is the responsibility of the Health Services Executive. My Department has overall responsibility for the co-ordination of the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008.

The Mid-Term Review of the National Drugs Strategy calls on the HSE to continue to prioritise increasing the availability and range of treatment options in the context of increased poly-drug use. The Strategy also set a target of a minimum number of opiate-related treatment places of 6,500 by the end of 2002. This target has been surpassed with end February 2006 figures standing at 7,992 treatment places.

Currently my Department is chairing a Working Group on Rehabilitation, on which the HSE and the Department of Health & Children are represented, and the adequacy of treatment options is likely to be a consideration at that forum. Furthermore, I am informed that a HSE-led Expert Advisory Group on Residential Treatment is in the process of being established.

I am aware that the nature of drug use is constantly evolving and that new trends will continue to emerge and I appreciate the importance of developing services to meet the diverse range of problem drugs use.

An Ghaeilge.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

129 D'fhiafraigh Mr. M. Higgins den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad iad na cainteanna a bhí aige leis an Roinn Airgeadais faoi mharcanna breise a bhronnadh ar státseirbhísigh i gcomórtais ansin; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina leith. [18146/06]

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an ráiteas a d'eisigh mo chomhghleacaí, an tAire Airgeadais, tar éis don Choimisinéir Teanga tagairt a dhéanamh don tsaincheist seo ina thuarascáil bhliantúil do 2005. Níl aon fhreagracht ormsa mar Aire maidir leis an gceist seo chomh fada agus a bhaineann sí le Ranna Stáit eile.

Question No. 130 answered with QuestionNo. 86.

Industrial Disputes.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

131 Mr. Morgan asked the Taoiseach the number of work days that were lost in both 2004 and 2005 due to industrial action. [18406/06]

Statistics on Industrial Disputes are compiled from details supplied by the Monitoring Unit of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and from information collected directly from other sources by the Central Statistics Office. In 2004 20,784 days were lost to industrial disputes and in 2005 there were 26,670 days lost to industrial disputes.

Northern Ireland Issues.

Finian McGrath

Question:

132 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to recent information that approximately 15 per cent of the Ulster Defence Regiment were members of the loyalist paramilitaries particularly during the Thatcher era; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18177/06]

I am aware of recent media reports claiming that members of the Ulster Defence Regiment were members of loyalist paramilitary groups.

The Government's concerns regarding collusion are long-standing. The Government are also mindful of the reports of Judge Barron in which this issue is addressed in respect of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and other cases.

The cooperation of the British authorities is essential if concerns regarding collusion are to be successfully addressed. I have already raised this with Prime Minister Blair on a number of occasions. I will continue to seek the cooperation of the British Government on this matter.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

133 Mr. Timmins asked the Taoiseach the European Directives that have to be implemented by his Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18448/06]

There are no European Directives awaiting implementation by my Department.

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

134 Mr. Timmins asked the Taoiseach the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by him since January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18511/06]

I have not employed any Advisers, Assistants or other staff since January 2005.

Drugs Awareness Programme.

Seán Crowe

Question:

135 Mr. Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the efforts which have been made to ensure that information on drug abuse is made available in a range of languages to cater for Ireland’s multi-cultural society. [18060/06]

To the end of 2005 information produced by the Health Promotion Unit on drug awareness has been in the English and Irish languages only.

Under the restructuring of the health services, from January 2006 the Health Services Executive has responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services, including awareness raising media campaigns and health information dissemination. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this issue considered by the relevant section within the Population Health Directorate of the HSE and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Mental Health Services.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

136 Mr. Cuffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the Ombudsman for Children has raised a number of concerns regarding child and adolescent mental health services, including the placing of Irish children in adult psychiatric units in a submission sent to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child; and the action he intends to take to address the issue. [18258/06]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

201 Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that children and adolescents are being placed in adult psychiatric wards; her views on whether this is the correct location for the treatment of children; the steps she intends to take to end the placement of children in adult wards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18490/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 201 together.

I am aware of concerns expressed by the Ombudsman for Children regarding the placement of children and adolescents in adult psychiatric units. While there has been a significant decline in the numbers of children and adolescents being placed in adult facilities since 2000, I accept that the placement of any child or adolescent with mental health problems in an adult psychiatric facility is inappropriate.

The report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, entitled "A Vision for Change", was launched in January this year. It has been accepted by the Government as the basis for the future development of the Mental Health Services. The report identified the lack of in-patient facilities for children and adolescents as a deficiency in service provision which requires attention as a matter of urgency. To address this problem it is intended to develop additional dedicated child and adolescent in-patient units as a matter of urgency. Multidisciplinary teams will also be provided for these units to ensure the highest standards of care are provided to children and adolescents requiring in-patient mental health services.

€3.25m has been allocated this year by the HSE for acute beds for children and adolescent psychiatry and the further enhancement of child and adolescent psychiatric services. The HSE has also established a working group on child and adolescent mental health which will map existing child and adolescent services; examine the needs of 16 and 17 year olds with mental illness; and examine the interface between children and adolescent and adult mental health services. This working group will report in June this year.

In addition to the steps being taken to increase the number of in-patient beds for children and adolescents with mental health difficulties, additional funding has been provided for the appointment of additional consultants in child and adolescent psychiatry, for the enhancement of existing consultant-led multidisciplinary teams and the establishment of new teams. This has resulted in the funding of an extra 23 child and adolescent consultant psychiatrists, bringing the total number of such psychiatrists to 56.

Alzheimer’s Disease Incidence.

Denis Naughten

Question:

137 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of persons here who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease respectively; the breakdown by county on such figures; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18414/06]

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.

Ambulance Service.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

138 Mr. Cuffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she has discussed with local authorities the possibility of providing an air ambulance that would be of particular assistance in dealing with serious road traffic accidents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18439/06]

Jerry Cowley

Question:

139 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will examine the feasibility of a helicopter emergency medical service in view of the fact that the two parts of this island are the only areas in Europe which do not have a service; if such a service could be shared between North and South it could instil confidence into our ability to work together; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18445/06]

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

194 Mr. Cuffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she plans to provide a helicopter air ambulance that would be of particular assistance in dealing with serious road traffic accidents. [18376/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138, 139 and 194 together.

A consultancy study jointly commissioned by my Department and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Belfast (DHSSPS) on the costs and benefits associated with the introduction of a dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) for the island of Ireland was published in 2004 and is available on my Department's website. The study concluded that the introduction of a dedicated inter-hospital air ambulance service would be appropriate in an all-island context.

In considering the report, the DHSSPS advised that its priority at present is the need for further investment to improve the ground ambulance service.

On foot of the report my Department had detailed discussions with the Department of Defence regarding the future provision of air ambulance services by the Air Corps. Arising from these discussions, a detailed Service Level Agreement has been prepared and signed. The signatories to the agreement are the Department of Defence, the Department of Health and Children, the Health Service Executive, the Defence Forces and the Air Corps.

The agreement sets out the range services to be provided by the Air Corps, specifically: Inter-hospital Transfer for spinal and serious injury and illness; Air Transport of Neonates requiring immediate medical intervention in Ireland; Air Transport of patients requiring emergency organ transplant in the UK; Air Transport of Organ Harvest Teams within Ireland; and Air Transport of patients from offshore islands to mainland hospitals where the Coast Guard service is not available.

A Steering Group comprising representation from each of the signatories to the Service Level Agreement has been established. The Group is monitoring the operation of the agreement and will amend, if necessary, the provisions of the agreement to take account of service developments, including the new fleet replacement programme currently being put in place by the Air Corps.

Drugs Payment Scheme.

Seán Ardagh

Question:

140 Mr. Ardagh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10 to ascertain if the substance Elemental 028 will be supplied on the GMS as required. [17843/06]

There is a common list of reimbursable medicines for the General Medical Services and Drug Payment Schemes which is reviewed and amended monthly, as new products become available and deletions are notified. For an item to be included on the list, it must comply with published criteria, including authorisation status as appropriate, price and, in certain cases, the intended use of the product. In addition, the product should ordinarily be supplied to the public only by medical prescription and should not be advertised or promoted to the public. The Deputy will be pleased to know that Elemental 028 is included on the common list.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Joan Burton

Question:

141 Ms Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the board of the Health Service Executive has invited expressions of interest from private health companies to develop a private hospital on the site of Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown; the size of the proposed private site; the location of the proposed private hospital within the current hospital grounds; the expected cost of this development; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17848/06]

On foot of a policy direction which I issued to the Health Service Executive (HSE) last summer, the Board will shortly be inviting expressions of interest for the development of private hospital facilities on public hospital sites. As of yet, the HSE has not invited expressions of interest in respect of any of the hospital sites under its control, although it has received a number of unsolicited proposals.

Proposed Legislation.

Seán Ryan

Question:

142 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason she has not implemented her promise given to the Irish Haemophilia Society to introduce the necessary legislation to provide an insurance scheme for persons infected with HIV or Hepatitis C, through provision of contaminated blood or blood products by the State; if the heads of the Bill have come before the Government; and when the Bill will be published and brought to Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann for Second Stage debate. [17854/06]

Joe Costello

Question:

152 Mr. Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a statutory insurance scheme for persons infected by contaminated blood products due to State negligence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17929/06]

Finian McGrath

Question:

154 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason there is a nine year delay on implementation of an insurance scheme for persons infected with HIV or Hepatitis C through provision of contaminated blood or blood products by the State. [17942/06]

Michael Noonan

Question:

161 Mr. Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a scheme will be put in place to enable persons infected with HIV or Hepatitis C through the provision of contaminated blood or blood products to take out insurance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18025/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 142, 152, 154 and 161 together.

I wish to assure the Deputies that I am committed to ensuring that an insurance scheme for persons infected with Hepatitis C and HIV through the administration of blood and blood products within the State is established on a statutory basis as soon as possible. The legislation is included as a priority in the Government's Legislative Programme for the current session and it is my firm intention that the enabling legislation will be enacted before the Summer recess.

The process of drafting the legislation, which is both complex and innovative, is almost complete. As soon as I receive the final agreed text from my legal advisors I will submit it to the Government for approval and will publish it as soon as Government approval is received.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

143 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the supports and services they are receiving; if the maximum support and advice will be given in finding a long-term care package; and if she will work with their family on this matter. [17860/06]

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.

Willie Penrose

Question:

144 Mr. Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to have a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath admitted to the Meath Hospital for an urgent procedure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17862/06]

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

Health Services.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

145 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on whether it is demoralising for carers to have to fight for minimal respite opportunities for their loved ones in view of the fact that people suffering from chronic conditions are looked after at home by carers; the way in which greater certainty can be given to carers in order that they can obtain respite care; the assurances which can be given that respite care is available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17867/06]

Additional funding for day and respite care centres has been provided to the Health Service Executive. A total of €9 million over 2006 and 2007 has been provided to allow for an additional 1,325 places per week in these centres. The investment of €9 million will allow for additional programmes for specific needs such as activity therapy. It will also mean that many day care centres can open for five or seven days a week, rather than two or three days as is often the case at present.

Responsibility for Carers Allowance, Carers Benefit and the annual Respite Care Grant rests with the Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive (HSE), which was established on 1st January 2005. Under the Act, the Executive has the responsibility to manager and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services including respite care. Accordingly, the Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Mary Upton

Question:

146 Dr. Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a decision has been made in relation to the location of a new children’s hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17896/06]

On 3rd February last, the Health Service Executive published a report which was prepared by McKinsey & Co., on the delivery of tertiary paediatric services in this country. This report was commissioned by the HSE following my request to it to arrange a review of those services.

The report recommends that best outcomes for children would be obtained by developing one national tertiary paediatric centre, which would also provide all secondary paediatric services for the greater Dublin area. The report also recommends that ideally the new facility should be located on the site of, or adjacent to, a major adult teaching hospital in order to achieve the maximum service benefit for children.

Arising from the report's recommendations, a joint HSE/Department of Health and Children Task Group was established to progress matters and to advise on the optimal location for the new facility. In the course of the Group's deliberations a number of important issues arose that were not included in its original remit. In particular, the importance of co-location with a Maternity Unit has been identified as an issue of significance. In addition, a number of proposals have been received from the private sector in relation to the building of the new facility.

The Task Group's remit has, accordingly, been extended to allow the Group to examine the issues which have arisen, as a consequence of which the Group is now expected to report in or around the end of May.

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

147 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if in view of the circumstances this decision will be re-examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17902/06]

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.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

148 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the funding required has been given to St. James's Hospital to purchase the necessary equipment to carry out a procedure entailing bone anchoring of hearing aids; and when the patients awaiting this operation in the hospital for over a year will see these operations carried out. [17920/06]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

149 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the hospital plan 2006 submitted by St. James's Hospital included details of the funding required to purchase the necessary equipment to carry out a procedure entailing bone anchoring of hearing aids. [17921/06]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

150 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason beds in St. James's Hospital, Dublin were booked for patients requiring bone anchoring of hearing aids despite the fact that the hospital did not have the equipment required for the medical procedure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17922/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 148, 149 and 150 together.

The Deputy's questions relate to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

151 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated with home help; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17928/06]

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.

Question No. 152 answered with QuestionNo. 142.

Finian McGrath

Question:

153 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 can receive a full free eye test and a pair of reading glasses under their medical card; and if they will be given the maximum support on this matter. [17941/06]

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.

Question No. 154 answered with QuestionNo. 142.

Michael Ring

Question:

155 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the home care package that was announced has been suspended; if the funding has been used; if more funding will be made available to same; the position regarding the home care package; the number of people who have been successful in receiving the home care package; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17961/06]

As the Deputy is aware an investment package of an additional €150m is been put in place for Services for Older People and Palliative Care for 2006 and 2007, of which €55m was allocated to Home Care Packages. This is a full year cost, €30m of which is for 2006, during which an additional 2,000 packages will be provided by the Health Service Executive across the country. The provision of home care packages has not been suspended.

With regard to the Deputy's specific question regarding the delivery of this service, the Deputy will be aware that the Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which has responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for the provision of Home Care Packages. Accordingly, the Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Staff.

John Gormley

Question:

156 Mr. Gormley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason there are not sufficient vascular neurosurgeons here; the further reason no extra neurosurgeons have been provided in nearly thirty years, despite the increase in population here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17966/06]

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

Hospital Services.

John Gormley

Question:

157 Mr. Gormley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason citizens of this State, if they cannot receive appropriate medical treatment here, cannot be funded for this treatment to be carried out in another EU Member State if they have private health insurance, although this facility is available to public patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17967/06]

Where a person requires specific necessary treatment which is not available in Ireland, the Health Service Executive may make arrangements to send the patient to another EU member state for treatment in the public system of that State. In such cases a form E112 is issued by the Executive.

E112 arrangements operate under Regulation 1408/71, which deals with the coordination of social security schemes, including healthcare, among Member States. The guidelines for E112 referrals require that the application must be assessed before the patient goes abroad. A Consultant must certify that the treatment is not available in Ireland, that there is an urgent medical necessity for it, and that the treatment is regarded as a proven form of medical treatment. In addition, the hospital must be prepared to accept an E112 form, which involves treating the patient as a public patient.

In normal circumstances, it is a matter for the HSE to determine if such treatment is to be authorised. The issue of the E112 form involves a commitment by the Executive to pay the cost of treatment. Persons with full or limited eligibility may avail of E112 arrangements to seek treatment abroad in the public system. Persons with private health insurance are entitled to apply for treatment under the scheme, but any treatment they receive in another EU state upon approval of their application must be provided by the public health system of that State if it is to qualify under the E112 system.

Arrangements which are made privately for the treatment of a patient in any country abroad must be regarded as outside the terms of the EU Regulations. The HSE has no obligation to meet any part of the cost involved.

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind, I would be happy to arrange to have it investigated by the Health Service Executive.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Noel Grealish

Question:

158 Mr. Grealish asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of people who are on a waiting list for neurosurgery in Beaumont Hospital from the west of Ireland; the average waiting time; the number of people from the west who travelled to Dublin for neurosurgery in the past two years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17978/06]

Responsibility for the collection and reporting of waiting lists and waiting times for in-patient hospital treatment falls within the remit of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). My Department has, therefore, asked the Chief Executive of the National Treatment Purchase Fund to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to the information requested on the waiting list for neurosurgery at Beaumont Hospital.

In relation to the number of people from the west who travelled to Dublin for neurosurgery in the past two years, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Health Service Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

John Perry

Question:

159 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the advice which is given to the Health Service Executive in relation to assistance with charges in relation to provision of a CPAP device (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18009/06]

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

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

160 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason an Alzheimer’s unit (details supplied) in County Donegal has not been opened and staffed in view of the fact that the building is complete and there was an understanding it would receive its first patients in the early part of 2006; and if she will make a statement on whether moneys had been approved in 2005 and 2006 for staffing of this unit. [18013/06]

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.

Question No. 161 answered with QuestionNo. 142.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Michael Lowry

Question:

162 Mr. Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of subvention payments per month in each county since 2004; the levels at which payments were made; the number of patients in receipt of top-up subvention payments in this period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18088/06]

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.

Michael Lowry

Question:

163 Mr. Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will increase nursing home subvention payments to meet at least 80 per cent of the cost of nursing homes; the cost of such an increase; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18090/06]

The Nursing Home (Subvention) Regulations, 1993 are administered by the Health Service Executive. There are currently three rates of subvention payable, i.e. €114.30, €152.40 and €190.50 for the three levels of dependency which are medium, high and maximum. There are no plans to increase the subvention rates at present.

The HSE has discretion to pay more than the maximum rate of subvention relative to an individual's level of dependency in a case, for example, where personal funds are exhausted. The application of these provisions in an individual case is a matter for the HSE in the context of meeting increasing demands for subvention, subject to the provisions of the Health Act, 2004. The average rate of subvention paid by the HSE generally exceeds the current approved basic rates. The supports paid by the HSE vary from person to person and region to region, depending on prices for example. Accordingly, the Department is not in a position to estimate the costs of increasing subventions to meet 80% of the cost of nursing home care.

I wish to advise the Deputy that additional funding of €20 million was provided for the administration of the Nursing Home Subvention Scheme in 2006, bringing the total available budget to €161 million. The €20 million is to support more basic nursing home subventions and reduce waiting lists for enhanced subventions: it is also to bring more consistency to subventions support throughout the country.

The Deputy will be aware that the Tánaiste and Minister Séamus Brennan established a Working Group to identify the policy options for a financially sustainable system of long-term care, including residential care. The report of that Working Group on the Future Financing of Long-Term Care has been presented to Government and is currently being considered by Cabinet.

Health Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

164 Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the public physiotherapy rehabilitation services available in a clinical setting in Newcastle West, County Limerick; and if she will request the Health Service Executive to respond to correspondence (details supplied) in relation to same. [18091/06]

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.

Richard Bruton

Question:

165 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her Department has a protocol for dealing with cases where the assets of a person who is a ward of court become exhausted but the person has continuing need for nursing home care. [18092/06]

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

Hospital Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

166 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 2 was forcibly removed against their will, from St. James's Hospital and misled into thinking they were going to another location within the hospital campus but instead was place in an ambulance and transported to a nursing home in Lucan, County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18113/06]

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.

Tobacco-Related Diseases.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

167 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the link between smoking and blindness is as robust as that between smoking and lung cancer; and her plans to raise awareness of same through anti-smoking advertising campaigns in the run up to world no tobacco day at the end of May 2006. [18175/06]

While I am aware of the link between smoking and blindness, anti-smoking campaigns have, to date, focused on the general health risks of cigarettes such as the negative impact of smoking on the cardiovascular system and the increased risks of developing some cancers.

Under the restructuring of the health services, the Health Services Executive (HSE) has responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services, including awareness raising media campaigns and health information dissemination. The issue raised by the Deputy will be considered as part of the national framework on tobacco currently being developed by the HSE.

EU Directives.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

168 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if craft butchers will be exempted from hygiene two; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18176/06]

Hygiene 1 — Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs — applies to all food business operators, including retail butchers, and requires that essential hygiene controls appropriate to retail enterprises, are implemented. Hygiene 2 — Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin — applies to all food business operators involved in the supply of food of animal origin to outlets other than the final consumer and requires that more rigorous food safety controls, appropriate to wholesale activity, are implemented. In practice, most ‘retail' butchers in Ireland have some element of wholesale activity and thus would be categorised as Hygiene 2 premises. However, the regulation gives Member States the discretion to extend or limit the application of the requirements of Hygiene 2 under national law, if they consider that the requirements of Hygiene 1 are sufficient to achieve food safety objectives and when the wholesale supply of food of animal origin is a marginal, localised and restricted activity.

I have had extensive discussions with the Minister for Agriculture and Food, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland in this regard and I am satisfied that the requirements of Hygiene 1 are sufficient to achieve food safety objectives in most butcher premises. I therefore intend to avail of the discretion provided for in Hygiene 2 and will shortly bring forward regulations to define the terms marginal, localised and restricted

Hospitals Building Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

169 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the planned capital funding of €4.4 million for a day hospital facility in Beaumont Hospital remains committed to this project; the facilities which will be provided and if she will ensure that this commitment to older people is not diluted to accommodate other projects as has been recently suggested (details supplied). [18236/06]

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 and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

John McGuinness

Question:

170 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children further to a previous a parliamentary question if she will expedite a response from the Health Service Executive regarding the provision of a long stay bed for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18237/06]

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. The Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive has informed my Department that they are at present compiling a draft response for the Deputy which they hope to issue within the next few days.

John McGuinness

Question:

171 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 305 of 25 January 2006 regarding the appropriate assessment and treatment needed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow, she will request an earlier date than 18 September 2006 for an appointment; if she will further request the hospital network manager to engage with the consultants in this case rather than refer the patient to their general practitioner; and if she will expedite a response. [18238/06]

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.

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

172 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will fund two places at the Irish Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, County Wicklow, for persons (details supplied) in County Carlow; if the Health Service Executive south east will proactively engage with the persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18239/06]

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.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

173 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the plan for the roll-out of BreastCheck to the south and west are proceeding according to the expected timeframe; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18240/06]

I have met with representatives of BreastCheck and they are fully aware of my wish to have the programme rolled out nationally as quickly as possible. For this to happen, essential elements of the roll out must be in place including adequate staffing, effective training and quality assurance programmes. I have made additional revenue funding of €2.3 million available to BreastCheck this year to provide among other things for the early recruitment and training of staff. BreastCheck is confident that the target date of next year for the commencement of roll out to the Southern and Western regions will be met.

Approval has been given for an additional 69 posts for the roll-out of the programme. BreastCheck recently interviewed for Clinical Directors for both regions and has commenced the recruitment process for other essential staff. The notice for the procurement of the construction company for the new clinical units at the South Infirmary/Victoria Hospital, Cork and University College Hospital Galway has been published in the EU Journal and the Design Team is now in the process of short listing applicants. Following the selection of the contractor, construction of the units can commence. On full roll out of the programme, all women in the target age group in every county will have access to breast screening and follow up treatment where appropriate.

Medical Cards.

Michael Noonan

Question:

174 Mr. Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if in accordance with an EU agreement persons in receipt of UK social welfare pensions are entitled to medical cards here if they are resident and that these cards are awarded without a means test; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18241/06]

Regulation (EC) 1408/71 deals with the coordination of social security schemes, including healthcare, for those moving within the European Union. Under its provisions, persons who are affiliated to the healthcare system of Member State A and who are residing in Member State B can receive healthcare in Member State B's public system on behalf of and at the cost of Member State A, as though they were affiliated to its healthcare system. Furthermore, persons who are affiliated to the healthcare system of Member State A and on a temporary stay in Member State B can receive healthcare in Member State B's public system that becomes necessary during their stay, taking into account the nature of the care and the expected length of stay.

Individuals covered by Regulation (EC) 1408/71 residing or staying in Ireland receive a medical card (or are treated as though they have one in the case of visitors), in accordance with Annex VI of the Regulation (text relating to Ireland). This states that such persons, when residing or staying in Ireland, "are entitled free of charge to all medical treatment provided for by Irish legislation where the cost of this treatment is payable by the institution of a Member State other than Ireland."

Persons covered by the Regulations include social security pensioners and their dependants residing in a country other than the country of affiliation (country paying the pension) who are not also social security pensioners of the country of residence or employed in the country of residence. A social security pensioner of another member state, therefore, residing in Ireland would in general be entitled to receive a medical card if s/he is not also employed in Ireland or an Irish social security pensioner. The dependants residing in Ireland of such a person would also be entitled to a medical card.

Others who receive medical cards under Regulation (EC) 1408/71 include those employed in another member state but residing in Ireland, and their dependants, as well as the dependants residing in Ireland of a person employed in and residing in another member state. Temporary visitors in possession of the appropriate documentation (European Health Insurance Card or equivalent) who become ill or injured while staying in Ireland may receive necessary healthcare, as described above, free of charge, i.e. as though they have a medical card.

Irish citizenship is not a factor in determining eligibility for health services or for a medical card under Regulation (EC) 1408/71.

Eligibility for health services in Ireland under national legislation is primarily based on residency and means. The determination of eligibility for a medical card is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. Other than for persons aged 70 years and over who are automatically entitled to a medical card, medical cards are issued to persons who, in the opinion of the HSE, are unable to provide general practitioner medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants without undue hardship.

Health Service Staff.

Liz McManus

Question:

175 Ms McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of EMTs who are currently employed in 2006; the number employed in the years 2004 and 2005; and when the cap on staffing of ambulances will be lifted. [18277/06]

There is no embargo on recruitment to the ambulance service or elsewhere in the public health service. It is a matter for the Health Service Executive, as part of its responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services, to determine the appropriate staffing mix required to deliver services including ambulance services.

With regard to the detailed information sought by the Deputy 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.

Richard Bruton

Question:

176 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children to justify her claim that 60 per cent of the health budget goes on wages and salaries within the health service; the breakdown of the difference in terms of salary and wages costs between administrative staff and clinical staff within the health service in that context; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18278/06]

The Revised Estimates for Public Services 2006 provides €6.85 billion (or 58% of the Vote total) for gross Exchequer Pay and Pensions for the Health Service Executive (HSE). In addition, when account is taken of pay costs of approximately €1.3 billion associated with grants paid to voluntary bodies from the HSE Vote, the total pay costs amount to €8.143 billion or 69% of the total current provision of €11.814 billion for the HSE.

In relation to the breakdown between administrative and clinical staff, the Deputy may wish to note that I have repeatedly stressed the need for safeguarding and indeed enhancing the delivery of front line services and achieving an appropriate balance between clinical and non-clinical employment levels in the health service. This has been underlined by my Department in direct discussions with the HSE's senior management team and in the context of the finalisation of the Executive's National Service Plan for 2006. I believe that there is a general consensus that the organisation of human resources is critical to good service delivery. The proper management of employment levels and skill mix together with the prioritisation of front line services is of course central to the organisation of human resources and is the most effective mechanism for ensuring the best use of resources overall within the health service. Indeed it has previously been estimated by the Directors of Human Resources of the former Health Boards that as far as the balance between frontline and administrative staff is concerned, almost two-thirds of health services personnel nominally classified as "management/ administrative" are involved in direct service provision to the public.

Health Services.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

177 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo who was approved for orthodontic treatment in the UK before their family relocated here was approved by the principal dentist in Mayo and was subsequently refused treatment three years ago; the options which are available to this person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18279/06]

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.

Liz McManus

Question:

178 Ms McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the amount which was spent for the hire of private ambulances in the mid west Health Service Executive region for 2004, 2005 and to date in 2006. [18280/06]

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.

Finian McGrath

Question:

179 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her role in dealing with complaints against private hospitals and that of the Health Service Executive. [18281/06]

Part 9 of the Health Act 2004 provides for the establishment of a statutory complaints framework which will apply to the Health Service Executive (HSE) or to service providers providing services on behalf of the HSE. The framework provides for initial resolution of complaints at local level. It also provides for access to independent review if the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint. Access to the Office of the Ombudsman or the Office of the Ombudsman for Children is also provided for in the event that the complainant remains dissatisfied following the outcome of a review. Under the legislation, neither I nor my Department will have any role in the processing of complaints.

The arrangements that I have outlined will apply to a private hospital which is providing services on behalf of the HSE but not otherwise.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

180 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a complaint by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 will be investigated. [18282/06]

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.

Insurance Industry.

Finian McGrath

Question:

181 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she or the Health Service Executive has a role in monitoring BUPA and their patients especially in relation to overcharging or making mistakes with payments. [18283/06]

My position is that, as Minister for Health and Children, I do not have either a statutory or administrative role in commercial arrangements between insurers and their subscribers where health insurance contracts comply with the provisions of the Health Insurance Acts and related regulations.

The Deputy may wish to note that BUPA Ireland take part in the Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme. The principal function of the Financial Services Ombudsman is to deal with eligible complaints by mediation and, where necessary, investigation and adjudication. This means that if an individual has a dispute about a health insurance issue with their insurer, he or she can ask the Financial Services Ombudsman Council to decide on the matter, and this decision is binding on the insurer.

The contact details are as follows: The Financial Services Ombudsman, 32 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

182 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 was charged an extra €10 for chiropodist service in July 2005; and if this person will be given the maximum advice and support. [18284/06]

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.

There is no statutory obligation on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide chiropody services to GMS patients; however in practice arrangements are made to provide these services. Before the establishment of the HSE the nature of the arrangements for chiropody and the level of service provided was a matter for individual health boards and so a degree of variation in practice developed over time. Priority is usually given to certain groups of people, including people who are medical card holders aged 65 years and over. In several regions the service is provided by private chiropodists by arrangement with the HSE.

I consider that it is inappropriate for private chiropodists who are providing services on behalf of the HSE to charge patients a top-up fee, and I have conveyed this view formally to the HSE. My Department requested the HSE to initiate a review of the fee arrangements in place for the provision of chiropody services, with a view to ensuring that such additional fees will no longer be levied on persons in receipt of this service; and this review is underway.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

183 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the way in which she reconciles her statements to Dáil Éireann that there are no cutbacks and no lack of resources for home support and respite with the Health Service Executive assertion that cut backs are necessary in both home support hours and respite care in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [18285/06]

Significant funding has been made available for the development and enhancement of services for people with physical and sensory disabilities in 2006. The Multi-Annual Investment Programme 2006 to 2009 includes 80 new residential places for persons with significant disabilities who are currently placed in inappropriate settings and 250,000 extra hours of home support and personal assistance for 2006.

Also in 2006 additional funding of €22.5m is being provided to enhance the multi-disciplinary support services for people with disabilities in line with the Government's commitment to build capacity within the health services to deliver on the various legislative provisions contained in the National Disability Strategy.

The Health Service Executive has, at my request, already examined the individual circumstances of the person referred to in the Deputy's question and the Executive has replied to the Deputy directly.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

184 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if an increase in nursing home subvention will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18286/06]

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

Hospital Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

185 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the average waiting time in the accident and emergency department of Naas General Hospital; the number of patients attending the accident and emergency department over the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18348/06]

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

Health Service Staff.

Jack Wall

Question:

186 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of dentists employed within the health service in the Kildare region; the number of dentists employed at each health centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18349/06]

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.

Richard Bruton

Question:

187 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the issue of the Tribal Secta Report on accident and emergency units in six hospitals to a national newspaper under a Freedom of Information request she will arrange to lay these reports in the Houses of the Oireachtas library in order that Members can learn from their important findings. [18351/06]

The National Hospitals Office of the Health Service Executive commissioned Tribal Secta to undertake a process mapping exercise across 10 acute hospitals. The project focussed on the maximum utilisation of existing acute capacity and in particular, the blockages, causes and potential solutions in the patient's journey from the decision to admit to discharge. The 10 hospitals examined included the major Dublin academic teaching hospitals.

The HSE has published the Overview Tribal Secta Report on its website atwww.hse.ie. The Executive has advised that copies of the reports on individual hospitals can be obtained from the HSE on request.

Health Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

188 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if alternative accommodation will be provided for a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18352/06]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Finian McGrath

Question:

189 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if assistance will be given to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 who is on a waiting list for surgery; if the maximum support will be given; and if he will make this a priority issue. [18353/06]

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

Health Services.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

190 Mr. Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway is not entitled to free dentures on their medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18372/06]

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.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

191 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a full time urology department will be established at Mayo General Hospital; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is an eight year waiting list in County Mayo for initial referrals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18373/06]

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.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

192 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a rheumatology department will be established at Mayo General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18374/06]

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

Ambulance Service.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

193 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when an ambulance base will be established in the Mulranny, Achill and Ballycroy areas of County Mayo in view of the proven need as prioritised by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18375/06]

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 and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 194 answered with QuestionNo. 138.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

195 Mr. Cuffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her plans to provide defibrillators in all ambulances; if she will ensure that staff are fully trained in their use; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18377/06]

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 ambulance services.

The Executive has advised that all of its ambulances are equipped with defibrillators and that the Emergency Medical Technicians who operate them are appropriately trained in their use.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

196 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the percentage increase in funding allocated to the Health Service Executive southern area for the provision of enhanced nursing home subvention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18378/06]

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.

I wish to advise the Deputy that as part of the €150m Budget Day package, additional funding of €20 million was provided for the administration of the Nursing Home Subvention Scheme in 2006, bringing the total available budget to €161 million.

This funding was provided to support more basic nursing home subventions and reduce waiting lists for enhanced subventions; it is also intended to bring more consistency to subventions support throughout the country.

Medical Education.

Denis Naughten

Question:

197 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when the decision was taken by her Department to locate the proposed school of podiatry in a large centre of population; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18412/06]

Responsibility for the establishment of a school of podiatry, including its location, will be a matter, in the final instance, for the Department of Education and Science. However, as the Deputy may be aware the delivery of clinical training, which is a significant core component of the course, has been the subject of discussions between officials of my Department and the Department of Education and Science in terms of how best it could be facilitated in an integrated fashion with Health Service Executive (HSE) services.

I understand that the HSE is of the view that the school of podiatry would be best located in a large centre of population, one that is associated with a multi-disciplinary health professional environment and which is linked to a major teaching hospital. I also understand that the HSE has prepared its draft report to be submitted to my Department shortly following an internal circulation to its National Hospital's Office and Primary, Community and Continuing Care Directorates. My Department is currently awaiting this report from the HSE.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Denis Naughten

Question:

198 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number and location of PCCC’s which do not have either a dementia or Alzheimer’s unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18413/06]

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.

Freedom of Information.

Tony Gregory

Question:

199 Mr. Gregory asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 339 of 21 March 2006, if assurance will be offered by her that the outstanding information will be provided by the hospital at this late stage; and if an explanation will be offered by the hospital as to the reason this information has not been forthcoming despite many requests in this regard. [18415/06]

The Deputy is referring to a previous Parliamentary Question tabled in March, 2006 and answered by my colleague the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen. The request for access to information in this case used the provisions set out in the Freedom of Information Act, 1997.

Where a request has been submitted under The Freedom of Information Act, 1997 and the requester is not satisfied with the response, the Act provides an appropriate appeals mechanism, ultimately to the Office of the Information Commissioner. A party to a review, or any other person affected by a decision of the Information Commissioner following a review, may appeal to the High Court on a point of law arising from the decision.

Ready access to relevant information is central to patient care and there is a duty of care on health agencies and health care professionals in the processing and management of sensitive personal information. As the hospital in question is a public body in its own right, the management and any appeals pertaining to the request is the responsibility of the hospital in the first instance. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any aspect of this specific case.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

200 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the European Directives that have to be implemented by her Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18449/06]

The Deputy will find the latest position on Directives awaiting transposition by the Department of Health and Children set out in the following table. I, and my colleagues in Government, are very conscious of the need to ensure Ireland's Treaty commitments are met by transposing EU legislation as required. In this context, the Department of Health and Children continues to make every effort, within its available resources, to ensure that relevant EU measures are transposed into Irish law in a timely manner.

Directive

Date Adopted

Date due for Transposition

Comments

Directive 2003/33/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products

26 May 2003

31 July 2005

The Tobacco Advertising Directive (2003/33/EC) was transposed into Irish law by means of the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act 2004. This Act, which was enacted in March 2004, is being challenged by the international tobacco industry in the Irish Courts and as a result of this legal challenge Ireland is not in a position to commence all sections of the Act. A comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship has been in place in Ireland since July 2000. This legislation includes the requirements of Directive 2003/33/EC and also prohibits tobacco advertising in cinemas, on billboards and tobacco sponsorship at national events which are not included in the Directive.

Directive 2004/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, amending, as regards traditional herbal medicinal products, Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community Code relating to medicinal products for human use.

31 March 2004

30 October 2005

The SI for this Directive is at an advanced stage of preparation, and will be signed as soon as possible after the commencement of the Irish Medicines Board (Amendment) Act, 2006.

Directive 2004/27/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 amending, as regards traditional herbal medicinal products, Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community Code relating to medicinal products for human use.

31 March 2004

30 October 2005

The SI for this Directive is at an advanced stage of preparation, and will be signed as soon as possible after the commencement of the Irish Medicines Board (Amendment) Act, 2006.

Commission Directive 2005/28/EC laying down principles and detailed guidelines for good clinical practice as regards investigational medicinal products for human use, as well as the requirements for authorisation of the manufacturing or importation of such products

8 April 2005

29 January 2006

This Directive has been partially transposed. My Department is striving to ensure that the Directive is fully transposed by the end of the year.

Question No. 201 answered with QuestionNo. 136.

Departmental Expenditure.

David Stanton

Question:

202 Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the funding available to enable her to carry out her various functions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18491/06]

The Revised Estimates Volume was published in February of this year and outlines the estimated funding of each Government Department/Office for the current year. The Health Group is covered by three Votes, one each for my Department, the Health Service Executive and the Office of the Minister for Children. The following table outlines the estimated current and capital figures under each of these Votes for 2006. The amounts contained in Vote 39 for the Department of Health and Children relate directly to my functions as Minister for Health & Children. The figures indicated for Vote 40 relate to the salaries and expenses of the Health Service Executive in its delivery of health and personal social services to the population. The figures for Vote 41 relate to the functions of the Office of the Minister for Children.

Vote

Gross Current

Capital

Gross Total

Appropriations in Aid

Net Total

€000

€000

€000

€000

€000

Dept. of Health & Children (39)

371,994

20,444

392,438

380

392,058

Health Service Executive (40)

11,814,101

574,556

12,388,657

2,371,804

10,016,853

Office of the Minister for Children

316,148

49,573

365,721

13,481

352,240

These figures represent a 9% headline increase and a 12% underlying increase in the total funding available, across the Health Group, for the delivery of health services, over the Revised Estimate 2005.

Hospital Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

203 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her plans to house the Desca scan unit at St. Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny; the timeframe involved to have the service fully operational; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18492/06]

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.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

John McGuinness

Question:

204 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an application under the housing aid for the elderly scheme in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if she will ensure that the occupational therapist report is completed; and if permission to commence the work will be granted while the grant is being processed. [18493/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. This includes responsibility for the provision of the Housing Aid Scheme for the Elderly, on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Accordingly, the Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

205 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a grant for a hearing aid will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18494/06]

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

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

206 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by her since January 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18512/06]

Set out in the following table are details of the Special Advisers, Personal Assistants, Personal Secretary and Press Officer employed in my Office in the Department of Health and Children since January 2005.

Name

Title

Date of Appointment

John O’Brien

Special Adviser

30/09/2004

Oliver O’Connor

Special Adviser

30/09/2004

Patricia Ryan

Special Adviser

30/09/2004

Tom Kelly

Special Adviser

11/04/2005

Catherine Dardis

Personal Assistant

30/09/2004

Alan McGaughey

Personal Assistant

30/09/2004

Nuala Talbot

Personal Secretary

30/09/2004

Derek Cunningham

Press Officer

24/01/2005

I refer the Deputy further to PQ 12356/05 of 20/04/05 in relation to Mr. Tom Kelly's previous status. Mr. Kelly is now a Special Adviser to my Department under Government Order.

Special Advisers perform duties as set out in Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act, 1997 which include providing advice to me and monitoring, facilitating and securing the achievement of Government objectives that relate to the Department of Health and Children. Personal Assistants and the Personal Secretary perform duties assigned to them by me. The Press Officer performs the normal range of duties appropriate to the post.

Disabled Drivers.

Billy Timmins

Question:

207 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to the qualification criteria for primary medical certificates; if, in view of the number of people with serious injuries who are being refused certs due to the difficulties in qualifying, she will change the qualifying rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17901/06]

I presume the Deputy is referring to the Primary Medical Certificate required to qualify for the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme, which scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to certain limit) on the purchase of a car adapted for the transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, as well as relief from excise on the fuel used in the car up to a certain limit.

The disability criteria for eligibility for the tax concessions under this scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. To get the Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be severely and permanently disabled and satisfy one of the following conditions: a) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs; b) be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs; c) be without both hands or without both arms; d) be without one or both legs; e) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg; and f) have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The scheme has been in operation in some form since 1968. As regards changes to the medical/disability criteria: only criterion (a) was in place up to 1989, when they were expanded by the addition of (b), (c), (d) and (f); and in 1994, the final criterion at (e) was added.

The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) for the relevant Health Service Executive area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the medical criteria. An unsuccessful applicant can appeal the decision of the SMO to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, which makes a new clinical determination in respect of the individual.

A special Interdepartmental Review Group reviewed the operation of the Disabled Drivers Scheme. The terms of reference of the Group were to examine the operation of the existing scheme, including the difficulties experienced by the various groups and individuals involved with it, and to consider the feasibility of alternative schemes, with a view to assisting the Minister for Finance in determining the future direction of the scheme.

The Group's Report, published on my Department's website in July 2004, sets out in detail the genesis and development of the scheme. It examines the current benefits, the qualifying medical criteria, the Exchequer costs, relationship with other schemes and similar schemes in other countries. The Report also makes a number of recommendations, both immediate and long-term, referring respectively to the operation of the appeals process and options for the future development of the scheme.

In respect of the long-term recommendations, which included the qualifying disability criteria, I should say that given the scale and scope of the scheme, further changes can only be made after very careful consideration. For this reason, the Government decided in June 2004 that the Minister for Finance would consider the recommendations contained in the Report of the Interdepartmental Review Group in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to the existing and prospective cost of the scheme.

The best way of addressing the transport needs of people with disabilities including the effectiveness, suitability or otherwise of the Disabled Drivers Scheme in that regard will be progressed in consultation with the other Departments who have responsibility in this area. In any event, a car tax concession scheme can obviously play only a partial role in dealing with the broader issue of transport needs or difficulties experienced by persons with various disabilities.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

208 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Finance if the main stairwell of the National Gallery of Ireland, Millennium Wing, is compliant with all relevant building and health and safety requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17932/06]

The National Gallery of Ireland, Millennium Wing was officially opened on the 21st January 2001.

The contracting authority for the project was the National Gallery of Ireland and upon completion the building became a State owned property.

Following completion, the Gallery's architects, Benson & Forsyth certified that the building was in compliance with Building Regulations and Planning Permission. In relation to the main stairwell, they have also certified it to be in compliance with the building regulations, i.e. Part K (T.G.D. Stairways, Ladders, Ramps and Guards) Part 1.2.4.

However, as concerns have been raised, I have asked the Commissioners of Public Works to assess the main stairwell of the National Gallery and if necessary, take any action to ensure not only compliance with all relevant regulations but "best practice".

Motor Vehicle Registration.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

209 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if cars brought in from other countries and driven on roads here must be registered in Ireland; if so the timeframe within which it must be registered; the number of such registrations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17955/06]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

214 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the penalties in place for failure by a non national to register an imported car by close of business on the day following importation; if there is a monitoring mechanism in place to confirm compliance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18332/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 209 and 214 together.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that as a general rule all vehicles imported permanently into the State must register for VRT purposes within one working day of arrival. This rule applies equally to vehicles imported by EU and non EU persons. In practice, Revenue allows latitude of a maximum of seven days for registration.

Where a vehicle is imported permanently into the State, Irish registration plates bearing the index mark (registration number) issued by the Revenue Commissioners on registration must be displayed on such vehicles at all times.

In 2005, 224,282 new vehicles and 68,660 used vehicles were registered in the State. Those registrations were sought by motor dealers, distributors and private individuals (Irish residents, citizens of other Member States and non-EU individuals — residing in the State).

During 2005, 6,149 vehicles were registered, but were exempt from VRT under section 134 of the 1992 Finance Act, as the personal property of private individuals transferring their residence into Ireland.

Section 135 (a) of the Finance Act 1992 permits a European or other foreign registered vehicle which is temporarily brought into the State by a person established outside the State to be exempted from the requirement to register for VRT purposes for a period normally not exceeding 12 months from the date upon which the vehicle concerned was brought into the State.

These provisions are in line with Article 39 of the EU Treaty which provides for the free movement of workers between Member States. The Deputies may wish to note that a reciprocal arrangement is in place for our own State residents in fellow Member States.

There is no requirement for vehicles imported under temporary exemption provisions to be presented to the Revenue Commissioners to avail of the relief. Documents relating to ownership, registration and the importation of the vehicle into the State must be kept with the vehicle when it is in use in the State. When such vehicles fail to meet the conditions for temporary exemption they must be permanently removed from the State or presented for registration. Details of such vehicles are therefore not normally captured or held in the Vehicle Registration System.

Revenue mobile units and the Garda Síochána monitor both Irish and foreign registered vehicles on the State's roads. In this regard Revenue mobile units challenged 11,876 vehicles in the State in 2005. Of these, 9,093 satisfied Revenue officials that the registration status was in order at that particular time and no further action was taken. However, 1,405 vehicles were registered for VRT purposes as a direct consequence of these investigations. Prosecutions, seizures, granting of temporary exemptions/transfers of residence, vehicle exportations and scrappages also took place on foot of Revenue enforcement activity.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

210 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the number of foreign cars registered here each year from 2002 to date in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17972/06]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information available in this regard refers to the number of cars (new and used) imported into Ireland and registered within the Vehicle Registration Tax System. The following schedule gives details of gross registrations for cars together with the total number of exemptions from VRT of new and used cars for the full calendar years 2002 to 2005 together with the data in respect of the first 4 months of 2006. Those registrations were sought by motor dealers, distributors and private individuals (Irish residents, citizens of other Member States and non-EU individuals — residing in the State).

As a general rule all vehicles imported permanently into the State must register for VRT purposes within 24 hours of arrival. This rule applies equally to vehicles imported by EU and non-EU persons. However, section 135(a) of the Finance Act 1992 permits a European or other foreign registered vehicle which is temporarily brought into the State by a person established outside the State to be exempted from the requirement to register for VRT purposes for a period normally not exceeding 12 months from the date upon which the vehicle concerned was brought into the State.

There is no requirement for vehicles imported under the temporary exemption provisions to be presented to the Revenue Commissioners in order to avail of the exemption. Documents relating to ownership, registration or bringing into the State of the vehicle must be kept with the vehicle when it is in use in the State. When such vehicles fail to meet the conditions for temporary exemption they must be permanently removed from the State or presented for registration. The details of such vehicles are therefore not normally captured or held in the Vehicle Registration System.

The temporary exemption rules are in accordance with Article 39 of the EC Treaty, which provides for the free movement of its workers within Member States. The Deputy may wish to note that a reciprocal arrangement is also in place for residents of Ireland who bring cars temporarily to other Member States.

Motor Vehicle Registration Tax — Gross Registrations

Year

Category A1

Category A2

Category A3

Total A1, A2 and A3

Exempt

Total Reg.

Total Reg.

Total Reg.

Total Reg.

Reg.

2002

New

78,138

70,890

7,285

156,313

132

Used

3,906

7,280

2,652

13,838

5,534

Total

82,044

78,170

9,937

170,151

5,666

2003

New

72,217

50,678

22,511

145,406

126

Used

3,877

4,978

5,773

14,628

4,819

Total

76,094

55,656

28,284

160,034

4,945

2004

New

70,707

58,828

24,962

154,497

256

Used

6,046

8,715

8,812

23,573

5,225

Total

76,753

67,543

33,774

178,070

5,481

2005 (Prov)

New

74,625

66,878

30,378

171,881

128

Used

11,306

17,173

13,322

41,801

5,816

Total

85,931

84,051

43,700

213,682

5,944

2006 (Jan.-April)

New

47,957

41,918

21,576

111,451

51

Used

4,999

8,191

5,995

19,185

1,877

Total

52,956

50,109

27,571

130,636

1,928

Departmental Properties.

Damien English

Question:

211 Mr. English asked the Minister for Finance his plans for the future use of the old AIB building in Blanchardstown Village. [17982/06]

This building has been allocated to the Department of Transport for use as a Driving Test Centre to service the Dublin 15 area. Preparations are under way for the submission of a planning application to the Local Authority.

Garda Stations.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

212 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to take action regarding the unsatisfactory conditions of Garda stations in Ballincollig, Ballinhassig, Ballymun, Buncrana, Doon, Dunmanway, Easkey, Finglas, Tralee and Wexford; the timetable for the repair or replacement of those stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18255/06]

The Commissioners of Public Works operate the Garda accommodation programme from a prioritised list provided by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Garda Authority. Not all of the stations referred to in the Question are allocated the highest priority on the programme. The stations having a priority are being advanced accordingly.

Ballincollig Garda Station, Co. Cork (No. 36 on the Major List): The Commissioners of Public Works are currently finalising the purchase of a site to allow for the construction of a new station. When legal formalities have been finalised work can commence.

Ballinhassig Garda Station, Co. Cork (No. 25 on the Basic List): A site was acquired in 1984 for development. The local Gardaí have been operating from a prefabricated structure for many years now. The Commissioners of Public Works have yet to receive a brief for a new station from the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform.

Ballymun Garda Station, Co. Dublin: Tenders for the construction of a new station in Ballymun are to be invited in June 2006.

Buncrana Garda Station, Co. Donegal: The Commissioners of Public Works are urgently examining a number of options regarding replacement of the present station.

Doon Garda Station, Co. Limerick (No. 23 on the Basic List): This station has been identified as one of the stations to be included in the equity swap program. The Commissioners of Public Works and the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform are now reviewing this programme in the light of the poor response to the public advertisement last year.

Dunmanway Garda Station, Co. Cork: The Commissioners of Public Works have agreed terms for the acquisition of additional land, which is vital to the proposed development at this station. Development will proceed when the terms of the legal agreement have been finalised.

Easkey Garda Station, Co. Sligo: A contract has been placed and works have commenced to provide temporary accommodation for the Garda Síochána in Easkey. A Revised brief was received from the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform on 2nd May for the permanent accommodation provision. The Commissioners of Public Works are now proceeding with a sketch scheme for a new station.

Finglas Garda Station, Co. Dublin: Tender documents will be completed following the Part 9 Planning Consultation, which has been submitted to the local council. It is expected that tenders for the construction of the new station will be invited in September 2006, with construction commencing on-site by the end of the year.

Tralee Garda Station, Co. Kerry: The Commissioners of Public Works are currently examining a proposal for a replacement station.

Wexford Garda Station, Co. Wexford: The Commissioners of Public Works are agreeing terms for the acquisition of a site for a new station. Development will proceed when the legal agreement has been finalised. The Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform has to issue a brief.

Tax Code.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

213 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance to apply the Business Expansion Scheme to wind farms; to increase the BES limit from €1 million to €5 million; to increase personal BES contributions to €100,000; to ensure the extension of the BES to 2010; and to ensure tax free rental income for the landowners in relation to wind farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18322/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

246 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he has received correspondence from a person (details supplied) in County Wexford setting out consideration with regard to improvement in REFIT price and the grant aid of 20 per cent of the capital cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18322/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 and 246 together.

The Business Expansion Scheme is currently being reviewed. Any decisions on the scheme's remit will be taken in the light of the objectives of assisting risk investments, the cost of the scheme, the benefits gained and the equity of the reliefs involved. Any proposals in this regard are a matter for the next Budget.

Question No. 214 answered with QuestionNo. 209.

Joan Burton

Question:

215 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to introduce a tax exemption for the 150,000 pensioners due to pay a total of €75 million in tax on their SSIA accounts due to the fact that they will not receive the normal tax exemption on savings by the elderly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17839/06]

The SSIAs were introduced in the 2001 Finance Act and give a credit to all SSIA investors of 25%. The aim of the SSIA scheme was to encourage savings. This aim has been successfully achieved with 1.1 million persons availing of the special scheme.

It is widely acknowledged that one of the reasons for the success of the SSIA scheme was its simplicity. It was clearly stated from the very outset that the SSIA investment returns would be subject to a 23% exit tax at maturity with no exemptions for anyone. I have no plans to change this.

Although all SSIA accounts are subject to an exit tax, it should be noted that the SSIA scheme represented a very good deal for all of those taking it up, whether aged 65 and over or not. For example, a person who will have saved €254 per month over 5 years, into their SSIA account, will receive a credit of €3,800 from the Exchequer even before any interest is taken into account.

It should be noted that DIRT on deposit interest was introduced in 1986 and only two reliefs apply, i.e. for those aged 65 or over and for the physically or mentally incapacitated, where the DIRT is deducted by the financial institution on the deposit interest and is refunded if the person claiming the refund is not otherwise liable to income tax on their total income. Thus, it is not a total tax exemption for all those aged 65 or over, or for the incapacitated.

Child Care Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

216 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied) on taxation and childcare; and if he will take these ideas on board. [17861/06]

The Government introduced a suite of measures relating to childcare in Budget 2006, along with increased Child Benefit payments, which include the Early Childcare Supplement of €1,000 in a full year for each child up to his or her sixth birthday, a new National Childcare Investment Programme which aims to fund an additional 50,000 childcare places over the next five years, as well as extended paid and unpaid maternity leave. In addition, the Government introduced a new childminding tax exemption, whereby if an individual minds up to three children, who are not their own, in the minder's own home, no tax is payable on the earnings received where the amount received is €10,000 or less.

As regards Child Benefit, from April of this year, Child Benefit payments increased to €150 per month for the first and second children and €185 for the third and subsequent children. These Child Benefit payments represent a 294% increase in the rate for first and second children over the rate prevailing in 1997 and a 274% increase in the rate for third and subsequent children. By comparison, during this period the increase in the consumer price index is estimated to be 34%.

In total, over €2.5 billion extra will be invested in the area of childcare over the next five years, which is evidence of the Government's continuing commitment to parents, particularly those with young children.

Tax Code.

Joan Burton

Question:

217 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the findings of a report (details supplied) which shows that households here in the lower decile spend almost 21 per cent of their income on indirect taxes while the households in the top decile spend under 10 per cent of their income on indirect taxes; the measures he intends to take to address this inequity caused by high VAT rates and stealth taxes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17900/06]

I reject entirely the Deputies allegations about the role and equity of the indirect tax system. A simple look at the facts will show that the conclusions in the report she refers to are misdirected.

Firstly, there is no VAT on the main low income items such as food, oral medicines, childrens' shoes and clothing.

Secondly, most excise revenue (60%) comes from excises on petrol, diesel and cars. These are not items that low income groups spend most on. As far as the remaining 40% of excise revenue, this comes from duties on tobacco and alcohol where there are solid health grounds for using the tax system to discourage consumption.

Thirdly, there are special reliefs in the VAT and Excise system for medical and other equipment for the disabled. There is no VAT on public transport and diesel used in buses and trains is subject to reduced rates of excise. Most public services are not liable to VAT.

Furthermore the report referred to is simply wrong when it claims that we are relying more on indirect taxation now than in the past as the following table will show.

1964/5

1975

1985

1995

2005

%

%

%

%

%

VAT1

7

19

25

26

31

Customs and Excise

53

36

25

21

14

Income Tax

26

36

38

36

29

Corporation Tax

5

3

4

10

14

Capital Taxes

4

3

3

4

13

Other2

5

3

5

4

1. Turnover Tax in 1965.

2. Includes Road tax (from 1964/5), Agricultural levies (from 1975), Income/Youth employment levy (1985), Employment and Training Levy (1995).

In fact, we are relying far less on indirect taxation than before, with the gap being made up by greater revenue yield from company tax and taxes on capital and property.

The Report, in my view misses many of the big issues in indirect taxation. In fact, every effort is made, as far as EU law will permit, to reduce the incidence of VAT and Excise on low incomes, but, by their nature, such taxes are not direct taxes on income (this is why they are called indirect taxes) and cannot be easily related to one's ability to pay, however good one's intent.

Public Transport.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

218 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if the results of his request to the Office of Public Works confirmed that Dublin Bus can use the route between the Phoenix Park and the Blanchardstown area and therefore facilitate public transport travellers to Huntstown, Hartstown, Inglewood, Clonsilla and Ongar and reduce journey time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17918/06]

The position remains unchanged from that outlined in my reply of 14 February 2006 to Parliamentary Question No. 339.

In summary, the issue of a bus route through the Phoenix Park to service the areas in question, is being considered in the context of a comprehensive traffic management study of the Phoenix Park commissioned by my Office.

Special Savings Incentive Scheme.

John Deasy

Question:

219 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Finance the details with regard to the payment of tax by pensioners on their SSIA account; if he intends to exempt pensioners in a similar way to their exemption from deposit interest retention tax; the cost to the State of allowing such an exemption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17953/06]

The SSIAs were introduced in the 2001 Finance Act and give a credit to all SSIA investors of 25%. The aim of the SSIA scheme was to encourage savings. This aim has been successfully achieved with 1.1 million persons availing of the special scheme.

It is widely acknowledged that one of the reasons for the success of the SSIA scheme was its simplicity. It was clearly stated from the very outset that the SSIA investment returns would be subject to a 23% exit tax at maturity with no exemptions for anyone. I have no plans to change this.

Although all SSIA accounts are subject to an exit tax, it should be noted that the SSIA scheme represented a very good deal for all of those taking it up, whether aged 65 and over or not. For example, a person who will have saved €254 per month over 5 years, into their SSIA account, will receive a credit of €3,800 from the Exchequer even before any interest is taken into account.

It should be noted that DIRT on deposit interest was introduced in 1986 and only two reliefs apply, i.e. for those aged 65 or over and for the physically or mentally incapacitated, where the DIRT is deducted by the financial institution on the deposit interest and is refunded if the person claiming the refund is not otherwise liable to income tax on their total income. Thus, it is not a total tax exemption for all those aged 65 or over, or for the incapacitated.

It is not possible to give an accurate cost to the State of an exemption similar to that applying on DIRT as this is dependent on the investment returns on each relevant SSIA account where the account holder is not otherwise liable to income tax on their total income.

John Deasy

Question:

220 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the distress caused to people who are widowed during the period of their SSIA account whereby the account holder passes away and the spouse is no longer allowed to continue contributing despite the fact that the payment was made from a joint account; if he will re-examine this matter; and if he will examine the case of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford. [17954/06]

The SSIA scheme commenced on 1 May 2001 and is administered by Qualifying Savings Managers in accordance with legislation and guidelines issued by the Revenue Commissioners. Individuals aged 18 and over who were resident in the State could open an SSIA account and in the case of a married couple, both spouses could open their own accounts.

There are specific provisions in general law in relation to the administration of an estate of a deceased person, and these must be followed before the assets of the estate can be distributed. The funds in the SSIA account constitute an asset of the estate of the deceased person. The net assets of the estate are distributed to the beneficiaries by the executors or administrators following grant of probate or of letters of administration.

On the death of an individual, his/her SSIA account is treated as maturing.

In the case of an SSIA that was a deposit account from which no withdrawals had been made up until date of death, the capital invested by the SSIA account holder, together with the Government contribution, remains the property of the deceased individual's estate and are not taxed. Tax is charged (at 23%) only on the interest portion.

The holding of an SSIA account by an individual, whose spouse has died, is not affected by the other spouse's death.

Road Network.

Damien English

Question:

221 Mr. English asked the Minister for Finance the plans of the Office of Public Works with regard to the road network in the Phoenix Park with particular reference to the provision of a car park for the zoo, traffic movements at Mountjoy Cross and proposals for new pinch points within the park; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17981/06]

A comprehensive traffic management study, by an independent firm of consultants, commissioned by my Office is well underway and as part of the brief, current initiatives will be assessed.

The principal traffic management initiatives currently are as follows — A comprehensive scheme for renewal of Chesterfield Avenue (the main road through the Park). As part of this scheme it is planned to construct a roundabout at Mountjoy Cross in order to ease traffic flow and improve safety. As an interim measure, a temporary roundabout was recently installed at this congested and hazardous junction. The scheme also provides for the provision of pinch points to control traffic speeds, especially in the vicinity of Dublin Zoo. In addition, it is proposed to eliminate commuter parking particularly at the Parkgate Street end.

A planning application has been lodged for the provision of a carpark off the Lord's Walk which will help to alleviate traffic congestion in the vicinity of Dublin Zoo.

The introduction of a one-way system at the Ashtown and Cabra Gates to resolve traffic hazards at these gates.

The provision of a one-way system at Laurel Lawn (adjacent to Dublin Zoo) to resolve traffic hazards in this area.

In addition progress is being made with an ongoing programme of repairs to the network of minor roads and footpaths in the Park together with the extension of the network of cycle lanes.

Departmental Properties.

Damien English

Question:

222 Mr. English asked the Minister for Finance if he will make a deed of waiver in favour of Fingal County Council with regard to a derelict site between Pinebrook Vale and the Hartstown Distributor Road, Dublin 15. [18000/06]

The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland have contacted Fingal County Council regarding the property in question. Correspondence submitted by that body on 24th April 2006 appears to have been lost in transit. On receipt of a copy of same, the matter will be processed in the normal manner.

Damien English

Question:

223 Mr. English asked the Minister for Finance if the derelict site between Peck’s Lane and the Pines, Castleknock, Dublin 15 is in his ownership. [18001/06]

There is no record of the property in question being in the ownership of the Minister for Finance, or the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland.

Tax Code.

Pat Carey

Question:

224 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 is entitled to a tax rebate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18084/06]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no information either from the person or his employer to suggest that he is entitled to a tax rebate. If he considers that he may be entitled to a tax rebate he should forward his Form P60 (Details of Pay and Tax) for 2005 and other relevant information to North City Revenue District, 14/15 Upper O'Connell Street, Dublin 1 and request a review of his liability.

Mobile Telephony.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

225 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the status of the mobile telephony transceivers at Ardee House, Dublin 6; the outcome of discussions with the operators of these devices since his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 176 of 15 December 2005; if the hold on granting of further installation licences implemented by Office of Public Works in sensitive areas is still in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18085/06]

The two mobile phone operators, who have equipment installed on Ardee House, have not complied with the Commissioners of Public Works request to deactivate their equipment.

The Commissioners requested the companies to deactivate their equipment on Ardee House pending the report on the Interdepartmental Committee on the Health Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation.

The companies refused to comply with this request and provided they continue to comply with the terms and conditions of the licence agreement, the Commissioners have no contractual basis for insisting the equipment be deactivated.

The companies have not been granted any further licences in respect of State owned buildings since December 2005.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

226 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the threshold at which the 9 per cent rate of stamp duty on non-residential property comes into effect; the value of this threshold as it applied in 1995, in the year 2000 and to date in 2006; and his views on whether, further to the significant moves in property values, there is a need to review the threshold at which stamp duty becomes applicable to business premises in view of the considerable obstacles it presents to new business establishment and expansion. [18086/06]

At present a 9 per cent rate of Stamp Duty applies on non-residential property exceeding €150,000. A 6 per cent rate applies on non-residential property exceeding €80,000 and not exceeding €100,000.

The maximum rate of duty in 1995 and 2000 was 6% and applied to properties exceeding €76,200 (£60,000).

The approximate current equivalent value of these thresholds adjusted for CPI at Budget Day 2006 is: 1995 — €93,020; and 2000 — €105,444.

Amendments to the existing stamp duty regime must be approached with caution as even minor amendments may alter the dynamics of the property market. The matter is kept under review and where changes are needed, they will be dealt with appropriately.

Revenue Offices.

Richard Bruton

Question:

227 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the continuing complaints of long delays in tax offices, no reply on freephone numbers and continuing high level of errors in the tax allowance forms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18234/06]

I am aware that some of Revenue's customer service areas have been under a lot of pressure in recent months, particularly those areas dealing with PAYE taxpayers.

The first quarter of each year is always exceptionally busy for Revenue's PAYE call centres, walk-in offices and staff dealing with correspondence. For example, in February, Revenue issued 2.2 million tax credit certificates for the 2006 tax year and this "bulk issue" naturally generated a very large volume of contacts. The first quarter is also the time most people request a balancing statement or lodge a rebate claim for the previous year. This year, the pressures were exacerbated by difficulties arising from a changeover to an entirely new computer system for PAYE taxpayers. This, unfortunately, gave rise to some errors in tax credit certificates.

In order to cope with this exceptionally busy period, Revenue assigned the greatest number of staff feasible to dealing with PAYE contacts. In addition they took on over 60 temporary staff. I am informed that, because of the large volumes of correspondence on hands, Revenue temporarily restricted their PAYE 1890 phone service hours to morning only — so as to clear correspondence backlogs in the afternoons. However, I understand that this temporary restriction did not, in fact, significantly reduce the overall number of PAYE phone queries being dealt with on a daily basis.

The work volume situation in Revenue offices is now returning to more manageable levels and full-day telephone service has been resumed. Queuing times in walk-in offices have also been reduced. For example, during the month of April, 80% of callers to the Dublin Central Revenue Inquiry Office were seen within 10 minutes.

I am informed that Revenue is planning a major expansion of PAYE self-service facilities this year. Later this month Revenue will start to roll out a range of both internet and telephony-based interactive self-service channels enabling PAYE taxpayers, for example, to make tax rebate claims online and make amendments to tax credits on a 24/7 basis. I am assured that these initiatives should significantly improve service to PAYE taxpayers.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

228 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the reason he excluded SSIA’s which have been put into interest bearing deposits from the opportunity to get a refund of deposit interest retention tax; and if investors were informed of this. [18235/06]

The SSIAs were introduced in the 2001 Finance Act and give a credit to all SSIA investors of 25%. The aim of the SSIA scheme was to encourage savings. This aim has been successfully achieved with 1.1 million persons availing of the special scheme.

It is widely acknowledged that one of the reasons for the success of the SSIA scheme was its simplicity. It was clearly stated from the very outset that the SSIA investment returns would be subject to a 23% exit tax at maturity with no exemptions for anyone. The information leaflets that were published at that time reflected this position.

Although all SSIA accounts are subject to an exit tax, it should be noted that the SSIA scheme represented a very good deal for all of those taking it up, whether aged 65 and over or not. For example, a person who will have saved €254 per month over 5 years, into their SSIA account, will receive a credit of €3,800 from the Exchequer even before any interest is taken into account.

It should be noted that DIRT on deposit interest was introduced in 1986 and only two reliefs apply, i.e. for those aged 65 or over and for the physically or mentally incapacitated, where the DIRT is deducted by the financial institution on the deposit interest and is refunded if the person claiming the refund is not otherwise liable to income tax on their total income. Thus, it is not a total tax exemption for all those aged 65 or over, or for the incapacitated.

Disabled Drivers.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

229 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties regarding the disabled drivers tax concession scheme in view of the exceptionally restrictive categories of disability included; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that many people with severe disabilities are excluded from this scheme in spite of their doctors supporting their applications; his plans to update and widen the list of categories covered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18304/06]

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to certain limit) on the purchase of a car adapted for the transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, as well as relief from excise on the fuel used in the car up to a certain limit.

The disability criteria for eligibility for the tax concessions under this scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. A person must be severely and permanently disabled and satisfy one of the following conditions: a) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs; b) be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs; c) be without both hands or without both arms; d) be without one or both legs; e) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg; and f) have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The scheme has been in operation in some form since 1968. As regards changes to the medical/disability criteria: only criterion (a) was in place up to 1989, when they were expanded by the addition of (b), (c), (d) and (f); and in 1994, the final criterion at (e) was added.

The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) for the relevant Health Service Executive area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the medical criteria. An unsuccessful applicant can appeal the decision of the SMO to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, which makes a new clinical determination in respect of the individual.

A special Interdepartmental Review Group reviewed the operation of the Disabled Drivers Scheme. The terms of reference of the Group were to examine the operation of the existing scheme, including the difficulties experienced by the various groups and individuals involved with it, and to consider the feasibility of alternative schemes, with a view to assisting the Minister for Finance in determining the future direction of the scheme.

The Group's Report, published on my Department's website in July 2004, sets out in detail the genesis and development of the scheme. It examines the current benefits, the qualifying medical criteria, the Exchequer costs, relationship with other schemes and similar schemes in other countries. The Report also makes a number of recommendations, both immediate and long-term, referring respectively to the operation of the appeals process and options for the future development of the scheme.

In respect of the long-term recommendations, which included the qualifying disability criteria, I should say that given the scale and scope of the scheme, further changes can only be made after very careful consideration. For this reason, the Government decided in June 2004 that the Minister for Finance would consider the recommendations contained in the Report of the Interdepartmental Review Group in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to the existing and prospective cost of the scheme.

The best way of addressing the transport needs of people with disabilities including the effectiveness, suitability or otherwise of the Disabled Drivers Scheme in that regard will be progressed in consultation with the other Departments who have responsibility in this area. In any event, a car tax concession scheme can obviously play only a partial role in dealing with the broader issue of transport needs or difficulties experienced by persons with various disabilities.

Tax Clearance Certificates.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

230 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the number of cases in 2005 and each of the previous five years in which a person seeking to obtain a C2 certificate of authorisation have been found by the Revenue Commissioners to have supplied false information in regard to any of the specified requirements which must be fulfilled in order to qualify for receipt of a certificate. [18324/06]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that when a person applies for a C2 certificate Revenue examines the Form RCT5 as part of the application process. Certificates may be refused until certain conditions are met, refused ultimately or withdrawn after issue if this is deemed appropriate in the circumstances.

I am further advised by Revenue that they do not record the number of cases where a C2 certificate is either refused or withdrawn including cases where false information has been supplied in the application process. Consequently the information required by the Deputy can not be supplied.

Tax Repayments.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

231 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if fuel rebate payments were made to Bus Éireann prior to 1997 under SI 307 of 1975; and if rebate payment made related to work which was subcontracted by Bus Éireann to private operators. [18446/06]

The issue of tax repayments made to a specific taxpayer is a matter for the taxpayer and the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is confidential to the taxpayer concerned and accordingly they are not in a position to disclose it.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

232 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the European Directives that have to be implemented by his Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18450/06]

There are seven EU Directives awaiting transposition into Irish law by my Department at the current time. Four of these (2004/17/EC, 2004/18/EC, 2005/51/EC and 2005/75/EC) updating and consolidating existing public procurement Directives, have passed their transposition deadline. Draft regulations are being finalised and these Directives will be transposed on completion of the current Social Partnership talks. The remaining three Directives all have transposition deadlines in 2007 and 2008 and are expected to be transposed on time. Further details are in the table below.

Every effort is made in my Department, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, to ensure that Directives are transposed on time.

Directive Title and Ref. Number

Date 1st Issued

Transposition Deadline

Timeframe for Implementation

Revised Utilities Sector Procurement Directive 2004/17/EC

30/04/04

30 January 2006

June 2006

Revised Public Sector Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC

30/04/04

30 January 2006

June 2006

Internal Market & Services Commission Directive amending Directive 2004/17/EC and Directive 2004/18/EC 2005/51/EC

01/10/05

31 January 2006

June 2006

Internal Market & Services Directive amending Directive 2004/18/EC 2005/75/EC

09/12/05

31 January 2006

June 2006

Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2004/39/EC

27/04/04 (original)14/06/05 (amended)

31 January 2007

Late 2006

Money Laundering Directive 2005/60/EC

11/05/05

December 2007

December 2007

Reinsurance Directive 2005/68/EC

09/12/05

December 2008

June 2006

Ministerial Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

233 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by him since January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18513/06]

There have been no new advisers, assistants or other staff employed by me since January 2005. I have, however, continued to retain the services of the following personal staff: Gerry Steadman, Special Adviser (seconded civil servant); Sinead Dooley, Personal Assistant; and Elaine Hogan, Personal Secretary.

Tax Code.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

234 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if all back tax will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [18530/06]

The review of a person's tax liability is in the first instance a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by Revenue that a repayment of tax is due to the person concerned and that a repayment cheque will issue very shortly.

Water Pollution.

Enda Kenny

Question:

235 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if he will make arrangements to have invasive weed cleared from Lough Larragh and Bilberry Lough, Castlebar, County Mayo in view of its seriously detrimental impact on local angling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18531/06]

The Commissioners of Public Works have no responsibility for the maintenance of these lakes.

Channels for which the Commissioners have maintenance responsibility flow into Lough Lannagh and the Commissioners have in the past cut reeds in the lake to maintain outfall channels and at the request of local anglers and the Regional Fisheries Board in return for co-operation with channel maintenance works. This practice has been discontinued in recent years because OPW equipment is not ideally suited to the task and because of concerns regarding possible environmental impacts. OPW has no plans at present to clear weed in the lakes.

Child Care Services.

David Stanton

Question:

236 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Finance the number of applications to date for the €10,000 income disregard recently announced as part of the Government’s child care package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18532/06]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that statistics are not available at this time which would enable the information requested by the Deputy to be provided. Section 13 of the Finance Act 2006 introduced the child-minding tax exemption. To avail of the scheme, the care provider must be self-employed (not an employee) and include the gross income in their annual return of income to the Revenue Commissioners. The claim for tax exemption is made in this return. An individual must ‘elect' to claim the exemption by notice in writing to the inspector on or before the specified return date for the chargeable period. The specified return date for the 2006 Return is 31 October 2007. However, even with the information contained in these Returns, it will be some time after that before comprehensive statistics are available.

Flood Relief.

Billy Timmins

Question:

237 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the stage at which the application for flood relief works at Arklow, County Wicklow, made by the Arklow Town Council is; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18544/06]

Consultants have been appointed by Arklow Town Council, with funding from OPW, to produce an Engineering Feasibility Report and OPW is in the process of appointing a consultant to produce an Environmental Impact Assessment. It is expected that these reports, which will establish whether an economically and environmentally acceptable scheme is possible, will be completed early in 2007.

Coastal Erosion.

John Perry

Question:

238 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the allocation which will be provided to Sligo County Council to carry out work on coastal erosion in the county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18309/06]

Responsibility for coast protection rests with the property owner whether it be local authority or a private individual. Sligo County Council submitted a number of proposals to the Department for consideration under the 2006 Coastal Protection Programme. The Council's first priority project was for works at Ardnaglass river outfall at Dunmoran Strand at a total cost of €450,000. The Exchequer allocation for this year's Coastal Protection Programme is €3 million for the entire country. The allocation of the funding available this year will be announced shortly.

Telecommunications Services.

Marian Harkin

Question:

239 Ms Harkin asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when the roll-out of broadband to Drumsna, County Leitrim is likely; and if he will make a statement on the roll-out of broadband to rural areas of County Leitrim. [17856/06]

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter in the first instance for the private sector companies operating in a fully liberalised market, regulated by the independent Commission for Communications Regulation.

Technological advances have brought broadband to the forefront of communications in just a few years but the service providers have not risen to the challenge to deliver the service in all areas. Market forces, and the availability of suitable infrastructure and backhaul, will determine whether a company offers broadband in any area.

My Department administers a group broadband scheme which delivers broadband to many under-served areas. Under this Scheme, broadband projects have been approved for Kiltyclogher, Ballinamore, Arigna, Drumshambo, Manorhamilton and Glenfarne in Co. Leitrim. The most recent call for proposals has now closed and I will be launching a further call shortly.

My Department's websitewww.broadband.gov.ie gives full details of broadband availability in all areas, including ADSL, cable, fibre, satellite and fixed wireless. The website also lists prices of the various service levels on offer and contact details for each service provider.

Broadcasting Legislation.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

240 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the reason churches had to stop broadcasting to parishioners pending a review of the radio mass service in communities here. [17904/06]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

241 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the issues that exist in relation to the broadcasting of mass or other religious services to existing parishioners in view of the fact that the broadcasts are clearly not by radio stations, pirate or otherwise; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that thousands of housebound people rely on this service; the steps which are being put in place to ensure that mass can once again be heard over the airwaves by parishioners; the timeframe for the reintroduction of the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17905/06]

Liam Aylward

Question:

243 Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will enter discussions with Comreg regarding the transmission of religious services and allow the transmission to continue until such time as the required dedicated radio frequencies are in place in view of the importance of these services to the people of the parishes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18035/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 240, 241 and 243 together.

The primary issue here is one of safety. The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is the statutory body responsible for the management of the radio spectrum in Ireland and are required to investigate any interference with services, particularly where critical safety issues are concerned.

To facilitate the Deputy, I requested information from ComReg. They indicated to me that they "had been contacted by the Irish Aviation Authority regarding frequency interference with Air Traffic Control systems and as a result of it's inquiries ComReg has contacted three Church services". ComReg also stated that based on the times and patterns of the interference, the Irish Aviation Authority said in its communication to ComReg of 23 April that "Air Traffic Control observed that this problem appears to be common in the morning and also raised the possibility that a local church service may be the source of the problem".

ComReg fully understands the importance of such local community services and intends to permit wireless public address systems to meet the needs of religious and other community organisations. Regulations permitting the transmission of such services are due to be in place later this year.

These Regulations will require my consent as Minister for Communications, under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1926 and both ComReg, who have expertise in the technical area of radio spectrum safety and I fully intend to fulfil our duties in relation to potential safety issues.

Decentralisation Programme.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

242 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the sections of his Department which are due to transfer to Cavan; the intended timetable for such a move; the sections of his Department which are expected to remain in Dublin or to transfer to other locations; and the number of officials within his Department who have indicated their willingness to move to Cavan to date. [18014/06]

The Government's decentralisation programme provides for the relocation of the Department in its entirety. This involves the relocation of the Department's Headquarters to Cavan involving the broad sectoral areas of Communications, Broadcasting, Energy and Natural Resources. The Seafood and Coastal Zone Management functions will relocate to Clonakilty.

The Department's move to Cavan is currently scheduled to take place in 2009 as outlined by the Decentralisation Implementation Group (DIG). Arrangements to have staff in place and operational in line with that schedule will continue to be progressed.

I am pleased to confirm to the House that, having engaged with my department in examining a range of options, the Office of Public Works (OPW) completed the purchase of a prime site in Cavan on Tuesday last, 9 May 2006. We will shortly begin drawing up of detailed specifications for the planned facilities. In the meantime, plans to relocate a number of functions and staff in Cavan this year are well advanced.

Thirty-eight staff members of my Department have, to date, indicated their willingness to relocate to Cavan. In addition, eleven staff members from other Departments/Offices have accepted formal transfer offers to decentralise to Cavan.

Question No. 243 answered with QuestionNo. 240.

Harbours and Piers.

Martin Ferris

Question:

244 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when work on the entry slip at the quay in Bundoran, for which €114,000 has been allocated, will commence. [18059/06]

In January this year the Department allocated grant aid of €78,375 to Donegal County Council towards the construction of a retaining wall at Bundoran Pier at a total cost of €104,500. It is a condition of the grant aid that the works be carried out this year. It is a matter for the County Council to progress the works concerned.

Telecommunications Services.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

245 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will invite Galway County Council to apply for a project (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18251/06]

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No. 5 of 6 April 2006.

Question No. 246 answered with QuestionNo. 213.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

247 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the European Directives that have to be implemented by his Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18451/06]

The table sets out the position regarding EU Directives awaiting transposition by my Department.

Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources

EU Directives Awaiting Transposition

Title and date of origin

Deadline for transposition

Expected date of transposition

Directive 2002/91 of 16 December 2002 on the energy performance of buildings

04.01.06

Mid-2006

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

01.07.07

Late 2006

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

21.02.06 part 01.08.06 part

Mid-2006

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

19.05.06

May 2006

Directive 2005/89/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 January 2006 concerning measures to safeguard security of electricity supply and infrastructure investment

February 2008

February 2008

Inland Fisheries.

Enda Kenny

Question:

248 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when he proposes to introduce the Inland Fisheries Authority Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18480/06]

The Deputy will be aware that details of the Government's policy for the restructuring of the inland fisheries sector, which is based on the recommendations contained within the report by Farrell Grant Sparks following their review of the sector, were published last November. The Government has decided that a fundamental restructuring of the sector is required. It considered that this reform would result in a better model for the State's role in the sector, better resource management, more and better involvement of stakeholders, better corporate governance and value for money.

As the first step in the reform process, the Government has authorised the drafting of a Bill to establish a National Inland Fisheries Authority, which will subsume the executive functions of the Central and Regional Fisheries Boards. The current fisheries boards will be transformed into Regional Advisory Boards. These statutory bodies will focus on regional issues and will be widely consulted on the detailed implementation of the second phase in the restructuring process.

I hope to have the legislation necessary for the establishment of the National Inland Fisheries Authority and Regional Advisory Boards enacted by the end of this year. Naturally, this timeframe depends on the complexity of the legislation currently under development and competing priorities in the legislative calendar for 2006.

Fisheries Protection.

Enda Kenny

Question:

249 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the extent of roach population in Lough Corrib and Lough Mask; the consequence for trout population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18481/06]

I am advised by the Central Regional Fisheries Board and Western Regional Fisheries Board that currently there is no more than a moderate stock of Roach in Lough Corrib and a smaller stock in Lough Mask. In the opinion of the Boards they are unlikely to have detrimental effects on the trout population. The Boards point out that the larger Ferox Trout in Lough Corrib are now feeding extensively on Roach.

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

250 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by him since January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18514/06]

In April 2005 I appointed Ms Tanya Harrington as Policy Co-ordinator (Energy, Communications and Broadcasting) at my Department. Ms Harrington's role is to perform any duties which may be assigned to her from time to time as appropriate to this position. These include providing advice to me and the Department on the ongoing formulation of appropriate policy responses in the areas of Energy, Communications and Broadcasting and monitoring, facilitating and securing the achievement of Government objectives in the aforementioned areas, as requested by me.

Environmental Policy.

Enda Kenny

Question:

251 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the extent of saturation by nutrients of the unique marl soil bed of Lough Carra, County Mayo; the stage of implementation of the preservation and development plan for Lough Carra under the Committee of Western District Management Group; the resources open to the group in view of its unique and sensitive ecological balance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18538/06]

My colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has overall responsibility for Environmental Policy. I understand that Galway Co. Council is the lead local authority for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in the Western River Basin District (WRBD) where Lough Carra is located. A management group, steering group and advisory group have been put in place. The North Western Regional Fisheries Board is represented on the WRBD project steering group and the Western Regional Fisheries Board is represented on the management committee. The Fishery Boards as relevant public authorities, as defined in the European Communities (Water Policy) Regulations 23003, are active partners within the Western River Basin District group and are also involved in a number of projects.

The Western Regional Fisheries Board has advised me that the lake risk assessment summary places Lough Carra in category 1a, — that is, at significant risk. The characterisation report is available atwww.wrbd.ie. I am advised that a draft lakes monitoring programme is due for publication on the 22nd June 2006. I understand that this will be comprehensive programme and is due to start in January 2007.

State Property.

Enda Kenny

Question:

252 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the ownership of the waters of Lough Corrib, Lough Mask, Lough Conn and Lough Carra; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18540/06]

I am advised by the Office of Public Works that Lough Corrib, Lough Mask, Lough Conn and Lough Carra are owned by the Minister for Finance.

Centenarian Bounty.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

253 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Irish citizens who reach their 100th birthday and living abroad are entitled to the special presidential bounty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18426/06]

The Government has widened the eligibility criteria of the Centenarian Bounty scheme such that all Irish citizens born in the island of Ireland who have reached 100 years of age, wherever they may reside, are now eligible to apply for the Bounty. My Department will take the lead in processing applications from people resident outside the State and officials are already in contact with the families of a number of applicants resident in Northern Ireland, Britain and the USA.

State Airports.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

254 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his permission was sought for a stop-over of Israeli war planes in Shannon Airport recently; if so, his views on same; if not, his views on the presence of such planes in an Irish civilian airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18505/06]

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

260 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Israeli warplanes recently stopped over in Shannon Airport; his views on such an event in the context of Irish neutrality and of the Government’s position with regard to the occupation of Palestine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18411/06]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 254 and 260 together.

At the outset, I would point out to the House that the two aircraft in question — both Boeing 707s — are not warplanes. On 28 April 2006, the Department of Foreign Affairs having, in accordance with standard practice, consulted with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, gave permission for two Boeing 707 aircraft operated by the Israeli Air Force to land at Shannon Airport on 5 May. The landing permission for these two aircraft was granted subject to the normal conditions that apply to landings at Irish airports by foreign military aircraft; namely, that the aircraft would be unarmed, would carry no arms, ammunition or explosives, would not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question would not form any part of military exercises or operations. The practice of permitting landings by foreign military aircraft at Irish airports, subject to such conditions, has been in place for more than fifty years, and has no bearing whatsoever on Ireland's policy of military neutrality.

The search for a lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long been a central concern of Irish foreign policy, under successive Governments. The Government and its partners in the EU firmly believe that the only route to a just and lasting settlement is through the negotiation of a mutually acceptable two-state solution. This must lead to the coexistence of two viable, sovereign and independent states with agreed international borders. We will continue to work to promote an environment for negotiation, despite the obstacles which are so obvious at this point. We will also continue to raise directly with the Israeli Government our concerns on Israeli policies and activities in the Occupied Territories, which are contrary to international law and which threaten to undermine a viable two-State solution.

Northern Ireland Issues.

Finian McGrath

Question:

255 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that up to 15% of UDR members were members of loyalist paramilitaries; and the action he will take when he is dealing with justice matters and the British Government. [17845/06]

I have noted with concern the contents of a document dated 14 August 1973, emanating from British Military Intelligence, extracts of which were recently printed in theIrish News. This document stated that the assessment at that time was that between 5% and 15% of the membership of the UDR were also simultaneously members of a number of loyalist paramilitary organisations. Following the publication of this document, we raised the matter with the British authorities and requested further information through the framework of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. We will continue to pursue the matter through that framework.

I understand also that the document in question has been forwarded to the Historical Enquiries Team of the PSNI, whose task it is to investigate all unsolved murders in Northern Ireland arising from the conflict there. The HET is staffed by senior police officers from outside Northern Ireland. The Government will continue to monitor the ongoing work of the HET in this regard.

The UDR was subsequently amalgamated with the Royal Irish Rangers to form the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) in 1992. In August 2005, the British Government announced that the Northern-Ireland based Battalions of the RIR would be disbanded as part of the overall normalisation of security arrangements. The Government is closely monitoring the ongoing roll-out of this normalisation process which includes the closure of barracks and military installations, and a sizeable reduction in the overall number of British troops stationed in Northern Ireland.

Diplomatic Representation.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

256 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to his response to Parliamentary Question No. 208 of 26 April 2006, the number and type of representations made by the Irish Embassy to prison authorities in the case of a person (details supplied); the dates these representations were made; and the responses received from the prison authorities. [17851/06]

There have been five prison visits to the person concerned. There has also been direct personal contact with the Governor, the Deputy Governor and the Senior Charge Nurse, as well as written and telephone contact with the prison authorities, including on the medical concerns of the prisoner. The most recent contact with the prison authorities was on 10th April last.

During the contact on 10 April, which was by telephone to the Governor of Full Sutton, the Embassy was assured that the prisoner was receiving ongoing medical attention for his injuries, that the Governor would speak personally to him, and that he would be medically reassessed. An officer from the Embassy will again visit the person concerned on Wednesday, 17 May. The officer will raise with the prison authorities the current medical facilities being afforded to the prisoner, and any other appropriate issue that the prisoner may wish to have raised.

Foreign Conflicts.

Joe Costello

Question:

257 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing military deployment against the ethnic Kurdish population of Turkey; if the Government have protested against abuse of human rights by the Turkish authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17855/06]

I am aware of the disturbing reports of violence in Southeast Turkey, particularly in recent weeks. The security situation in the Southeast, which had gradually improved since 1999, has become increasingly difficult in recent months since the resumption of violence by the PKK, an organisation which appears on the EU list of terrorist organisations. This has led to frequent clashes between the security forces and armed groups and has resulted, tragically, in a substantial number of casualties, including mortalities. Very regrettably, there have also been a number of civilian deaths.

The Government's concerns about the human rights situation in Turkey, including the situation of some 15 million people of Kurdish ethnic origin, are raised on a regular basis in our contacts with the Turkish Government and its representatives, and in co-operation with our partners in the EU. In recent years, Turkey has made significant progress in the adoption of wide-ranging political and legal reforms. Important human rights reforms have been introduced and legislation has been enacted aimed at strengthening the enforcement of fundamental rights. These reforms include enhancing the cultural rights of all citizens, including those of Kurdish origin. In this context I welcome developments currently underway to provide broadcasting in the Kurdish language.

Together with our EU partners, and through our Embassy in Ankara, we will continue to monitor the situation and to stress the importance of adherence to the standards enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Official Hospitality.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

258 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide a full listing of the contents of his Department’s wine cellar, including the vintages, quantity, dates acquired, prices paid and supplier; and if he will make a statement on his Department’s policy in this regard. [18087/06]

The Department of Foreign Affairs maintains a stock of wine for use in relation to State and Official hospitality. There is significant saving to the tax payer in this direct purchase approach, as against sourcing wines for individual events through a caterer and being subject to a mark-up in the price. The range of wines in stock also facilitates choices being made that are suitable for events at various levels.

Appendix A lists the names, vintages, quantity, date of most recent purchase and unit price at date of most recent purchase of wines purchased since 1 January 2002. In the period since 1 January 2002 the Department has purchased wines from a number of suppliers, including G. Elliott & Sons Ltd, Henry J. Archer & Sons Ltd, Kevin Parsons Wines Ltd, Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants, O'Briens Wine Off-Licence, Searsons Wine Merchants and The Wine Vaults.

Appendix B lists the names, vintages, quantity and unit price at date of most recent purchase of wines purchased prior to 1 January 2002. It was not possible, in the time available, to supply the date of most recent purchase or supplier of wines purchased prior to 1 January 2002.

Appendix A: Wines purchased since 1 January 2002

Name

Vintage

Quantity in stock

Date of Most Recent Purchase

Unit Price at date of Most Recent Purchase

Angoves, Chardonnay

2000

7

25/03/2002

9.59

Angroves CR Classic Reserve Shiraz

1998

10

25/03/2002

12.08

Anselmi San Vincenzo

2000

2

09/07/2003

12.29

Barola Riserva della Casa

1997

52

14/12/2005

49.95

Ca da bosio, Gavi di Gavi

2005

16

15/03/2006

12.94

Chablis Premier Cru “Brocard”

2004

48

15/12/2005

15.99

Chablis Premier Cru, Montmains

2003

30

30/03/2006

16.49

Château Chasse Spleen

2001

24

30/03/2006

32.95

Château Clarke

2001

6

30/03/2006

22.73

Château de Blagny, “Louis Latour”

2002

14

14/12/2005

37.95

Château de la Ligne

2003

24

16/12/2005

18.95

Château Fourcas Dupré, Listrace Médoc

1999

72

10/05/2004

16.52

Château Gaudrelle Vouvray

2000

2

26/03/2002

12.80

Château Kirwan Margaux

2000

48

31/05/2005

65.00

Château Leoville Barton

1998

108

31/05/2005

68.00

Château Lynch Bages, Grand Cru Classé

1998

96

15/12/2005

58.65

Château Peyros “Magenta” Madrian

1999

23

14/12/2005

15.95

Château Phelan Segur

2002

60

15/12/2005

28.04

Château Vignelaure

1997

30

26/03/2002

15.62

Chatelain Pouilly Fumé

2002

16

05/02/2004

10.49

Collio, Pinot Grigio, Collavini

2004

5

07/10/2005

10.95

Collio, Pinot Grigio, Collavini

2002

23

10/10/2005

10.95

Constantia Uitsig

2001

20

30/03/2006

21.95

Domaine Ardhuy Bourgogne

1998

18

27/03/2002

23.00

Domaine Bitouzet Prieur, Meursault

2003

24

30/03/2006

27.23

Domaine Brusset Venise Rouge

2001

23

16/12/2005

34.50

Domaine de le Madene Fleurie

2003

36

16/12/2005

15.95

Domaine Grand Veneur Châteauneuf de Pape

2002

36

16/12/2005

24.95

Domaine Jacqueson Rully Premier Cru

1997

22

16/05/2002

19.50

Duos Quintas, Vino Tinto Riserva

2000

21

06/07/2004

22.76

Finca Sobreno Riserva

1999

15

14/04/2004

16.84

Grand Feudo, Riserva

1998

20

09/06/2004

12.95

Guigal Côtes du Rhône

1999

33

03/03/2005

10.65

Höpler Zweigelt Barrique

2000

14

24/01/2004

15.95

Höpler Zweigelt Barrique

2002

6

24/01/2004

15.95

la Porte Caillou, Sancerre

2004

33

31/05/2005

14.40

Lager de Cervera, Albarino

2004

21

30/03/2006

17.95

Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” Cabernet Sauvignon

1997

34

27/03/2002

23.48

Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” Riesling

2002

19

04/07/2005

31.50

Lytton Springs, Zinfandel

1999

36

26/03/2002

31.88

Mahoney Estate, Pinot Noir

1999

25

26/03/2002

21.74

Marchesi di Barolo, Gavi de Gavi

2004

11

16/12/2005

20.95

Menetour-Salon Morogues

2000

8

26/03/2002

12.80

Napa Vista, Chardonnay

1999

3

29/01/2003

21.50

Napa Vista, Merlot

1998

5

29/01/2003

21.50

Naughton Flight, Shiraz

2003

12

16/12/2005

19.95

Nijinski Cabernet Sauignon

1999

92

26/03/2002

8.72

Portal del Alto, Grand Reserva Carmenére

2001

12

08/11/2004

17.95

Pouilly Fuissé

2001

11

30/01/2004

12.74

Rocca delle Macíe, Chianti Classico

2000

9

26/03/2002

12.61

Rockford Moppa Springs

1998

47

26/03/2002

21.96

Rockford Shiraz

1998

12

26/03/2002

33.28

Rockford, Riesling

1999

10

26/03/2002

18.63

Roero Ameis

2004

19

30/03/2006

16.49

Ruedo, Solar de Iriarte Sauvignon Blanc

2003

6

14/12/2005

12.50

Salice Salentino Riserva Leone de Catris

2002

35

14/12/2005

18.95

Santa Rita Merlot

2004

24

29/11/2005

11.00

Sierra Cantabria, Rioja

1999

17

03/03/2005

14.81

Simcic, Teodor Belo Reserva

2001

3

April 2004

21.36

Solar de Samaniego Reserva

1999

36

30/03/2006

18.97

Veuve Cliquot NV

Non Vintage

9

05/02/2004

38.50

Vina Ardenza la Rioja Alta Reserva

1998

17

14/12/2005

27.00

Wieninger, Blauburgunder

2000

24

24/01/2004

16.49

Zenato, Valpulicella

2003

11

15/03/2006

12.00

Zisola

2004

12

15/03/2006

11.50

Appendix B: Wines purchased prior to 1 January 2002

Name

Vintage

Quantity in stock

Unit Price at date of Most Recent Purchase

Angroves CR Classic Reserve Shiraz

1999

5

12.08

Argiano Brunello di Montalcino

1988

4

23.05

Château Brance Cantenac Margaux

1985

9

37.77

Château Talbot

1995

120

38.41

Château Yon-Figeac Grand Cru Classé

1993

18

21.20

Château du Tertre Margaux

1995

9

15.68

Château Leoville Barton Cru Classé

1995

2

72.38

Reservé de Barton Saint Julian

1998

60

21.82

Château Rausan Ségla Margaux

1982

2

28.82

CVNE Imperial Reserva Rioja

1988

9

16.39

CVNE Vina Real Rioja

1988

5

16.65

Domaine de L’arlot Premier Cru

1989

32

28.58

Don Melchor Cabernet Sauginon

1991

36

13.45

Kanonkop, Pinotage

2000

7

22.69

Peter Lehmann, Stonewell, Shiraz

1992

24

33.80

Pio Cesare, Barola

1991

17

22.92

Volnay les Caillerets

1992

36

25.53

Delheim, Shiraz

2000

8

12.18

Chanson beaujolais Villages

2000

8

10.10

Castell de Remei, Gotim Bru

1999

10

10.10

Allendorf, Riesling

2000

16

14.59

Louis Latour Charlemagne Grand Cru

1998

2

19.95

Tasman Bay, Chardonnay

1996

8

16.01

Delheim, Chardonnay

2000

9

10.58

Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” Chardonnay

1999

21

31.48

Luis Felipe Edwards, Chardonnay

2000

6

18.63

Moet & Chandon

Non Vintage

17

27.06

Passport Statistics.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

259 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of valid Irish passports currently in circulation; the number of passports issued in each year from 2002 to date in 2006; the number of these for each year that were replacements for passports lost or stolen; the cost to the State for each year from 2002 to date in 2006 for running the Passport Office; the number of passports issued from Embassies or Consulates overseas; the number of Embassies or Consulates with the necessary facilities to produce machine-readable passports; the number of diplomatic or official passports in circulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18183/06]

It is not possible to be precise about the number of Irish passports in circulation at any one time. However, as passports normally have a ten year validity, a relevant statistic is that between 1996 and 2005 over 4,650,000 passports were issued. But as passports (a) for children under three have only a 3 year validity and (b) between the ages of three and seventeen have a 5 year validity, the above figure clearly over-estimates the situation. The number of passports issued in the years between 2002 and 2006 were are as follows.

Year

Number

2002

537,000

2003

555,000

2004

607,000

2005

672,000

2006 [Jan-March]

136,000

The number of passports issued from 2002, on the basis that the previous passports were reported as lost, stolen or misplaced, were as follows.

Year

Number

2002

18,933

2003

21,815

2004

22,318

2005

25,680

2006 January-March

7,917

The number of passports issued by Embassies and Consulates abroad between 2002 and 2005 were as follows.

Year

Number

2002

88,000

2003

95,000

2004

100,000

2005

105,000

Since late 2005, when the vast majority of overseas Missions were connected directly to the Automated Passport system, passports are normally issued by the Passport Office in Dublin and returned to Missions for forwarding to applicants, rather than being issued locally as was the case previously.

There are currently 65 Missions which provide passport facilities to citizens abroad. 61 of these are now linked to the Automated Passport system and have the capacity to issue machine readable passports in emergency situations (that is, where there is insufficient time to await the regular passport being issued and returned by the Passport Office in Dublin). It is planned to roll out this facility to 2 more Missions in the coming month, leaving the last 2 Missions to be completed shortly thereafter.

Diplomatic passports are normally issued for a 5 year period. From January 2002 to April 2006 a total of 2,087 Diplomatic Passports were issued. During the same period, a total of 6,897 Official passports were issued, many of which were provided to members of the Defence Forces travelling abroad for peace keeping duties.

The total cost of running the Passport Service, including the four Passport Offices in Cork, Balbriggan, Molesworth Street and London, has been assessed at €30.5 million for 2005. In the time involved, it was not possible to collate precise figures for the previous years but these will be forwarded to the Deputy as quickly as possible.

As I have already announced publicly, I intend to bring forward comprehensive passport legislation later in the year.

Question No. 260 answered with QuestionNo. 254.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

261 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the European Directives that have to be implemented by his Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18452/06]

My Department, which has an overall co-ordinating role in relation to EU matters, does not as a rule implement legislation designed to transpose EU measures into Irish law. The Department is not currently dealing with any such legislation. The Government is strongly committed to meeting the deadlines for transposition. The Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on European Union Affairs (ICCEUA), chaired by my colleague, Deputy Noel Treacy, Minister of State for European Affairs, provides a high-level forum for overseeing the transposition of EU legislation. In addition, last December the Department of the Taoiseach published Guidelines on Best Practice on Transposition of EU Directives. The Cabinet Committee on European Affairs keeps the issue of transposition under regular review.

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

262 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by him since January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18515/06]

The following table sets out the names and the roles of staff currently employed by me. These officers are employed on a full-time basis under terms and conditions of employment set by the Minister for Finance. The appointments will terminate no later than the date on which I cease to hold this office.

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

Name

Role/Title

Date of Appointment

Mr. Ciarán Ó Cuinn

Special Adviser (non-established)

30 September 2004

Mr. Richard Moore

Press Adviser (non-established)

30 September 2004

Ms Christine Maguire

Personal Assistant; former Dáil Secretary (non-established)

30 September 2004

Ms Myra Wall

Personal Secretary (non-established)

30 September 2004

Sports Capital Programme.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

263 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to the success that a club (details supplied) in County Galway has in the provision of sport and recreation facilities; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the provision of extra flood lighting on the grounds is vital to accommodate over 16 teams in the area; if his attention has further been drawn to the major plans the club has for future development; if his attention has further been drawn to the positive community spirit that is ingrained in this club; if he will take all those matters into account when deciding on a level of grant aid for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18363/06]

The national lottery-funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, allocates funding to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The programme is advertised on an annual basis.

Applications for funding under the 2006 programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on November 27th and 28th last. The closing date for receipt of applications was January 20th 2006. All applications received before the deadline, including one from the organisation in question, are currently being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

264 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will consider the approval of grant aid under the sports capital grant to a club (details supplied) in County Galway; if his attention has been drawn to the significance this club has on the lives of many young people in the general area; if his attention has further been drawn to the ambitious plans this club has to make more facilities available to the young people of the town; if his attention has further been drawn to the great community backing the club has locally; if approval will be given of grant aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18364/06]

The national lottery-funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, allocates funding to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The programme is advertised on an annual basis.

Applications for funding under the 2006 programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on November 27th and 28th last. The closing date for receipt of applications was January 20th 2006. All applications received before the deadline, including one from the organisation in question, are currently being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

Arts Funding.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

265 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the capital allocation for arts projects in 2004 and 2005 per county; the projected sum for 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18390/06]

The main vehicle for capital funding through my Department is the Arts & Culture Capital Enhancement Support Scheme (ACCESS), under which almost €43 million was provided for arts and cultural facilities around the country. This scheme commenced in 2001 but many projects are still in the course of completion. The increase in the availability of facilities and the enhancement of their quality, as a result of the scheme, has greatly improved access to and participation in the arts for a great many people all around the country.

Allocations under ACCESS on a county-by-county basis are set out in the following table.

Allocations under ACCESS

County

Total Allocation

Mayo

1,060,231

Louth

2,539,476

Limerick

1,046,265

Clare

4,059,353

Sligo

2,920,398

Monaghan

663,737

Cork

1,276,077

Leitrim

3,174,345

Kerry

1,000,731

Kilkenny

704,705

Waterford

825,330

Meath

3,021,977

Dublin

6,146,532

Tipperary

2,920,398

Wicklow

1,777,633

Galway

3,174,345

Wexford

421,553

Westmeath

215,855

Carlow

3,174,345

Donegal

2,634,706

Total Allocations

42,757,992

In addition my Department made the following allocations to other capital projects on a county-by-county basis in 2004 and 2005.

2004 Capital Allocations

County

Total Allocation

Cork

20,000

Dublin

64,388

Kerry

1,171,185

Roscommon

22,000

Total Allocations

1,277,573

2005 Capital Allocations

County

Total Allocation

Tipperary

1,847,657

Limerick

420,000

Waterford

140,000

Cork

30,000

Dublin

4,030,968

Kerry

2,070,000

Wexford

26,495,000

Total Allocations

35,033,625

To date in 2006 my Department has allocated €2 million in capital grants for arts and cultural projects. The details on a county-by-county basis are set out in the following table.

2006 Capital Allocations

County

Total Allocation

Dublin

24,000,000

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

266 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the European Directives that have to be implemented by his Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18453/06]

There are no European Directives for which my Department has responsibility that are awaiting implementation.

Sports Grounds.

Mary Upton

Question:

267 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has had discussions with the FAI in relation to the proposal to move St. Patrick’s Athletic from Richmond Park, Inchicore; if he has met with other soccer clubs, including St. Patrick’s Athletic on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18479/06]

The Genesis report on the eircom league highlighted the need for Dublin clubs to consider ground sharing as a means of securing the significant public investment required to provide modern city stadia necessary to attract higher attendances. St. Patrick's Athletic FC is one of the four main Dublin clubs with which FAI Ireland has sought to discuss this concept with a view to identifying the main issues for the clubs concerned. The FAI has kept me and my Department informed on this matter and advised me at our meeting earlier this year, that discussions are ongoing with the clubs involved. It is my understanding that St. Patrick's Athletic FC has agreed to explore a number of options including ground sharing at Tallaght. Any proposal involving St. Patrick's Athletic FC moving from Inchicore will be a matter for the club itself to decide.

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

268 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by him since January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18516/06]

In June 2002 following the establishment of my Department I appointed a Special Adviser, Mr. Tony Cotter, a Personal Assistant, Mr. Colin Miller and a Secretarial Assistant, Ms Mary O'Connell. I am in the process of appointing a new Special Adviser to replace Mr. Cotter, who has recently transferred to another Department. These appointments were made in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Public Service Management Act 1997 and Department of Finance guidelines on such matters.

Competition Law.

Billy Timmins

Question:

269 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position in relation to the Competition Authority who must take their proofs to the Courts, to the High Court in the case of a civil breach of the Act or to the Central Criminal Court via the Director of Public Prosecutions in the case of a criminal breach, as these instances must be proven to high standard and take up considerable resources in terms of staff allocation, time, legal fees, expert witnesses and so on as it takes approximately six officers two years to put together a file for the DPP on a significant cartel case; if in view of same he will consider allocating more resources in order that his staff can investigate all complaints from the public to the highest level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17866/06]

I appreciate that investigations of breaches of competition law by the Competition Authority are difficult, complex, resource intensive and time consuming, as is the case with investigations of all white-collar type offences. I secured an increase in funding for the Authority in 2006 and 7 new posts were approved for its Cartel Investigation Division. A recruitment campaign for these posts is currently underway and it will result in a doubling of the Division's resources. The Authority expects that when the new posts have been filled it will be in a position to build on its recent successes in the criminal courts where, in one cartel case alone, it has, through prosecutions brought by the DPP, secured 15 convictions to date with further trials pending. These are the first criminal convictions on indictment ever secured in Ireland or in the EU for competition law offences.

In relation to civil cases I understand that the Competition Authority is satisfied that its current resources are sufficient to properly investigate alleged breaches of the Competition Act and to initiate legal proceedings where appropriate. Frequently a solution acceptable to the Authority in such cases is reached following negotiations with the parties. The Authority may also settle cases without recourse to the courts where offending parties recognise and remedy their anti-competitive behaviour. Nonetheless I intend to keep the Authority's resources under review.

Employment Standards.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

270 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has had consultations with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to discuss the way in which both Departments, with the assistance of the Competition Authority, can investigate the practices of anti-competitive activity, tax evasion and black market avoidance of social and safety standards including obligations under the regulations of his Department with respect to minimum wages; if he has measured the scale of the black economy in the construction industry as a percentage of total output in consultation with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; the action he proposes to take to deal with this problem in order to ensure the survival of small and medium sized enterprises who are endeavouring to remain compliant in an industry that is subject to enormous pressures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17919/06]

The Minister has had no specific consultations with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in relation to the issues raised by the Deputy. As regards investigating anti-competitive activity, the Competition Authority is an independent statutory body responsible for the enforcement of competition law in the State. Accordingly, any allegations of anti-competitive activity should be referred to the Authority for investigation. The Authority also has a competition advocacy role and its Advocacy Division is available to advise Ministers and their Departments in relation to competition matters.

The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for enforcement of Safety, Health and Welfare at Work legislation. In order to make best use of its resources, the Authority has prioritised a number of sectors for attention in its Programme of Work for 2006 including the high-risk Construction Industry. With specific regard to the Construction Sector, the Authority plans to: conduct a major national road show which will visit a minimum of 5,000 construction workers; carry out a focused programme of 7,500 construction site inspections covering appointment of duty-holders and assignment of responsibilities, safety and health plans and safety statements, work at heights, reversing vehicle safety, welfare arrangements, and training arrangements; hold industry information briefings on the Construction Regulations targeting managers and designers and including vibration, noise, work at height, underground services, roof work, and the lifting equipment regulations; research the issues involved in the employment of non-English speaking workers; and prepare guidance on construction-specific aspects of work at a height and progress draft codes of practice on pre-cast construction, concrete anchors, and client best practice. Of particular note for small to medium enterprises in the sector, the Authority is preparing a Code of Practice on compliance with the legislation for those employing three or less.

The Minister has no information on the scale of the black economy in the construction industry. However, the Revenue Commissioners recently announced a targeted approach towards the Construction Industry/Property sector for 2006. This will involve up to 25% of Revenue's audit personnel concentrating specifically on this sector.

The wages and employment conditions of workers employed in the Construction Industry are governed and safeguarded by the Registered Employment Agreement (Construction Industry Wages and Conditions of Employment) Variation Order, which is enforced by the Labour Inspectorate of my Department. Labour Inspectors are empowered to seek compliance with payment of the statutory minimum rates of pay specified in the Agreement.

The enforcement of the provisions of a Registered Employment Agreement may also be effected under the Industrial Relations Acts. A trade union, an association of employers or an individual employer may complain to the Labour Court that a particular employer is not complying with a Registered Employment Agreement. If, after investigating a complaint, the Court is satisfied that the employer is in breach of a Registered Employment Agreement it may by order direct compliance with the agreement. Failure to comply with such an order is an offence punishable by a fine.

If the Deputy is aware of any breaches of the Registered Employment Agreement, he should please contact the Labour Inspectorate of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, which will investigate any allegations in this regard.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Ivor Callely

Question:

271 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of foreign workers who have suffered accidents during the course of their work on building sites. [18029/06]

Ivor Callely

Question:

272 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the health and safety measures which have been put in place on building sites to specifically target foreign workers who do not have English as a first language. [18030/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 271 and 272 together.

A lack of clear communication and of understanding in any workplace could potentially pose a risk to the health and safety of the workers therein. It is clear that in the construction sector there are many workers who do not have English as a first language and, accordingly, it is appropriate that employers and those who are in control of workplaces in this country put in place clear systems of communication to ensure that all safety critical information is conveyed clearly to all workers in the workplace.

Section 9 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 specifies that the information provided to workers must be in a form, manner and language that can be understood. It must include information on hazards, risks and measures taken as regards safety, health and welfare and the names of emergency staff and safety representatives. Furthermore, under section 20 of the 2005 Act, an employer is obliged to prepare a written safety statement, based on the identification of hazards and an assessment of risks. This statement, which sets out how the safety, health and welfare of the employees will be secured and managed, also must be in a form, manner and, as appropriate, language that can be understood.

In addition to the statutory obligations set out above, the Health and Safety Authority recognises the new challenges that the growth of non-English speaking people within the workforce brings. This is evidenced by the launch last year of a new Authority initiative, Safe System of Work Plan (SSWP), aimed at reducing injuries and deaths on construction sites. The initiative relies heavily on pictograms to explain and clarify hazards and controls, thereby creating a wordless document where safety can be communicated to all workers regardless of literacy or language skills. The Safe System of Work Plan aims to focus on those in the construction industry who are most at risk, allowing them to ensure that all necessary safety controls are in place prior to the commencement of planned work.

The number of foreign workers who have suffered accidents during the course of their work on building sites, as reported to the Health and Safety Authority, is contained in the following table.

Table 1

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006 (to 12 May)

Reported injuries to foreign workers

73

143

140

166

263

490

191

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

273 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has received new draft regulations from the health and safety authority to provide for improved safety conditions in the construction sector; if these new regulations have been approved by Government; when he expects same to come into operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18065/06]

The Health and Safety Authority began a consultation process with the Social Partners and key players in the construction industry on proposed new Construction Regulations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work legislation in 2003. The Authority undertook public consultation during a 6-week period towards the end of last year. A total of 46 submissions were received during this latter period.

The proposed new Regulations are designed to replace previous Regulations which are in force since 2001 and 2003, to fully implement European Directives relating to the construction sector and to give regulatory effect to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005. The regulations have also been examined as part of government commitments to introduce simplification in legislation. It is intended that the new regulations will be more easily readable to those working in the sector to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the intent and responsibilities laid out in the regulations.

The Regulations were passed to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel last month having been approved by the Board of the Health & Safety Authority. I expect that the Statutory Instrument will be ready for signing into law within a few months.

Social Partnership.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

274 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made to date with regard to his consultations regarding the possible establishment of a joint labour committee to protect the interests of domestic workers in the context of the social partnership talks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18066/06]

The Labour Relations Commission commissioned the University of Limerick to carry out a review of the Joint Labour Committee system in 2005. Arising from this review and following bilateral consultations with the social partners and stakeholders, the Department prepared a paper as the basis for implementation of the review in further consultation with the social partners and stakeholders, in the context of the current partnership talks. Discussions with the social partners are ongoing regarding the appropriate measures to support the employment rights of domestic workers.

Legislative Programme.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

275 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if it is his intention to introduce legislation to provide for the creation of a new offence of corporate manslaughter as suggested by the Law Reform Commission in October 2003 and recommended by the Commission in its recent report to which a draft Bill is appended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18067/06]

The Law Reform Commission published its report in October 2005. In it the Commission recommended that as the current law of corporate liability for manslaughter does not provide a clear basis for constructing liability, a new basis, in legislative form, is necessary. To this end the Commission included the draft of a short Bill in its report.

The Commission also recommended that there should be individual statutory liability for managers who were culpable in the causation of death. Section 80 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 provides for directors, managers or other similar officer of an undertaking to be held liable by the Courts for an offence that is attributable to connivance or neglect on their part.

While this is a considerable step forward in implementing the recommendations of the Commission, the Attorney General's Office was of the opinion at the time of the drafting of the Bill, which is now the 2005 Act, that there were much broader issues than safety, health and welfare at work relating to the overall criminal justice system which needed to be considered. Therefore it was decided that it was not appropriate to deal with the whole issue of corporate manslaughter in a Bill which was providing for the law and regulation of occupational safety, health and welfare. It should be noted for the record that the Commission accepted the Attorney General's Office view that the scope of the 2005 Act was narrower than the proposed offence recommended by it in its report.

Further consideration of the recommendations in the report of the Law Reform Commission will now take place primarily at Government level by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in the context of his main responsibilities for the criminal law system.

Consumer Strategy Report.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

276 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made to date with regard to the implementation of the report of the Consumer Strategy Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18068/06]

As I advised the House previously the Consumer Strategy Group Report "Make Consumers Count" was published in May 2005, and to date considerable progress has been made in progressing the Report's recommendations.

The Report's core recommendation that a new National Consumer Agency, incorporating the existing Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs, be established was fully accepted by the Government. In this regard, I hope to publish the legislation establishing the new Agency later this year and to have the NCA up and running early in 2007.

In the interim until the new Agency is formally established, I appointed a Board to the NCA in June 2005 to act in an interim capacity. The Interim Board has been very active in advocating the consumer's cause and raising the awareness of consumer rights. The Interim Board will continue and intensify its activities throughout the course of 2006. The Interim Board will also have a key role in preparing the way for the fully operational Agency itself.

The abolition of the Groceries Order, which was the other significant recommendation in the Consumer Strategy Group Report, was effectively implemented with the commencement of the Competition (Amendment) Act 2006 on 20 March 2006. The new Act in addition to abolishing the Groceries Order also strengthens the provisions of the 2002 Competition Act by specifically prohibiting the fixing of minimum retail prices by suppliers, unfair discrimination in the grocery trade and the payment of advertising allowances and "hello money".

As regards the other recommendations of the CSG, and in particular those recommendations relating to my own Department, a number of these have already been implemented. The Investment Funds Companies and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2005 significantly increased the fines for breaching consumer protection laws as recommended by the CSG. In addition the Bill establishing the National Consumer Agency will also update and amend a significant number of existing statues within the existing framework of consumer law so as to meet the needs of the modern consumer, which was also recommended by the CSG.

In total the CSG Report contains over 30 separate recommendations which were directed at various Government Departments and Agencies whose activities directly impact upon the interests of consumers. A High Level Inter-Departmental Committee was established, with the approval of the Government, to examine and prepare a detailed plan for the implementation of the recommendations. The Committee's Report, which was endorsed by the Government, was recently published on my Department's website.

I am satisfied that in the twelve months since the publication of the CSG Report considerable progress has been made in progressing the Group's recommendations. I am confident that this progress will continue and that the implementation of these recommendations will help to ensure that the deficits identified by the Consumer Strategy Group are addressed.

Job Losses.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

277 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons who were made redundant during each year from 2002 to date in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18069/06]

The total number of employees made redundant from the 1st January 2002 to 30th April 2006 was 106,121. The annual break-down is as follows:

Year

2002

24,432

2003

25,769

2004

25,041

2005

23,156

Sub Total

98,398

2006 January-April

7,723

Total

106,121

This figure shows the number of employees who actually qualified for statutory redundancy lump sum payments. It does not reflect those who lost their jobs with less than two years service in an employment.

Job Creation.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

278 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created during each fiscal quarter from quarter one of 2002 to date in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18070/06]

The tabular statement shows employment figures recorded by the Central Statistics Office from the beginning of 2002 to the end of 2005, which is the latest period for which figures are available. The figures show seasonal fluctuations but overall evince steady growth in employment during the period. Because of seasonal fluctuation, it is not appropriate to compare quarter to quarter.

While the strong performance of the economy, despite pressures affecting global markets during the period, is something that we can all be proud of, we must remain proactive in the context of maintaining and developing our competitive advantages. One of my Department's principal tasks is to ensure that Ireland continues to be attractive place to do business. In that regard, we have made significant efforts to maintain and enhance our framework competitive conditions, and to promote new areas of competitive advantage, such as by developing our R&D base. Our priority remains the creation of sustainable employment — driven by companies with higher profitability, that are more technologically advanced and prove a better fit with the competitive characteristics of our economy, and that are consequently less likely to move.

To assist the drive towards competitiveness and increased productivity the enterprise development agencies are working with companies: To provide mentoring and developmental supports, To enhance management capabilities and critical workforce skills, To support the creation and implementation of strategies for market entry, development and growth, To build productivity, and To provide support for innovation and for research and development.

We will also continue to pursue labour market policies to promote lifelong learning and up-skilling to enhance labour market flexibility and, where necessary, ensure that training supports are provided for workers in sectors that are no longer competitive, to help them find alternative employment. Moderation of the rate of growth in operating costs is also necessary to ensure that our costs remain in line with those of other developed economies and that cost increases do not negate or overshadow the competitiveness effect of productivity growth.

All Persons in Employment aged 15 years and over(Thousand)

Qtr1

Qtr2

Qtr3

Qtr4

2002

1,753.5

1,763.9

1,808.4

1,782.3

2003

1,783.6

1,793.4

1,836.4

1,828.9

2004

1,835.9

1,836.2

1,893.6

1,894.1

2005

1,908.3

1,929.2

1,989.8

1,980.6

Source: CSO Databank Direct.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

279 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of new jobs which have been created at the Information Age Park, Ennis since it was opened in 2005; the number of these jobs which were transferred from existing enterprises at other locations in Ennis; and the number of new jobs which were created by the new enterprises at the IAPE. [18073/06]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

280 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has satisfied himself regarding the level of job creation at the Information Age Park Ennis and the efforts by State agencies to attract new enterprise to the location. [18074/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 279 and 280 together.

Shannon Development's 30-acre Information Age Park in Ennis (IAPE), opened on 9th June 2005, is in the very early stages of a long-term development that will provide a High Potential Start Up base for Ennis and County Clare, and which can also accommodate appropriate Foreign Direct Investment companies brought to Ireland by IDA Ireland. When completed, the new Park has the potential to facilitate the creation of an estimated 3,500 high value jobs in over 700,000 square feet of high quality office accommodation.

Phase I of the project involves an investment of €11 million by Shannon Development, in land infrastructure and the provision of 45,000 square feet of technology incubation, large floor-plate and own door office accommodation in the new Innovation Works facility. An estimated €110 million will be invested between the public and private sectors in the new Park over the next fifteen years. The Park will offer a range of accommodation options that will ensure that the needs of all knowledge-age business (foreign direct investment, mobile Irish investment, and business incubation) are met, irrespective of size or development stage. The inclusion of an InnovationWorks incubation facility by Shannon Development is designed to fast track the development of Irish High Potential Start Up enterprise.

Prior to the opening of IAPE Shannon Development had 12 Irish Industry client companies in the Clare Business Centre. All 12 companies transferred to IAPE when it opened, as the Clare Business Centre was subsequently closed as part of Shannon Development's strategy of building a much more modern business friendly incubation centre. One of the 12 companies subsequently closed. In addition to the transferred companies, three new companies formed since the IAPE opened. The total employment in the client companies that originally transferred to IAPE was 17. The number of new jobs created by those 11 transferred companies and the 3 new companies (since IAPE opened) was 20 bringing the total to 37. Shannon Development is confident that the early growth shown will continue to develop in the future.

To drive this, Shannon Development will continue to attract and help establish High Potential Start Ups in IAPE, through its Venture Development Process. This Process encapsulates the various stages of business development from idea generation, feasibility study stage, project development and market launch, and business expansion and offers an integrated package of business development programmes to achieve this.

At present, the total space let to enterprises is 5,000 sq ft and there is over 8,500 sq ft available for letting in three units of large floor office space suitable for second stage incubation projects.

In addition, Shannon Development is accommodating the Clare County Council, which is renting 20,000 sq ft of office space at the park before it moves to its new Headquarters next year. This is a short-term arrangement, and Shannon Development has held back sufficient space to accommodate any FDI space requirements should the IDA require.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

281 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in order to broaden the knowledge and skills base of those working within the Health and Safety Inspectorate, he will introduce a fourth grade within the Health and Safety Inspectorate which would be open to those who have experience of acting as workers’ safety representatives. [18076/06]

It is already open to a safety representative who has the necessary qualifications and experience to apply for vacancies which are advertised by the Health & Safety Authority.

There is a staffing grade structure within the Authority which has been agreed by management with the staff unions.

I am not aware that the Authority or the staff unions have any proposals to specifically recruit safety representatives or to introduce a new staffing grade.

Employment Statistics.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

282 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of workdays that were lost in both 2004 and 2005 due to work place injuries and ill-health. [18077/06]

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is responsible for compiling the number of workdays lost due to injuries and illhealth. Statistics are not yet available for 2004 and 2005. The latest figures are for 2003 and show that 1,374,813 days were lost.

Arms Trade.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

283 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that secondary school pupils from a school (details supplied) in Co. Laois were able to set themselves up as arms dealers here and were able to broker an electro-stun gun and leg irons from their school as part of a school project; the steps he will take to bring in a system of regulation for the trade of arms and items of the nature described; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18185/06]

I am aware of the incident to which the Deputy refers.

Work is now underway in my Department to bring in a system of regulation for the trade of arms and items of the nature described. The Heads of the new Export Control Bill is now complete and consultations with other Government Departments are currently taking place. I expect this process to conclude shortly at which point I will be bringing it to Government for approval. Allowing for the formalities of drafting the legal texts, I hope to bring the new legislation before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the autumn.

The proposed legislation will update the existing Control of Exports Act, which dates from 1983 and will ensure that Ireland's export controls are in line with best international practise. In this regard, the new legislation will include, for the first time, provision for the regulation of arms brokering activities in Ireland and by Irish citizens abroad. This will enable Ireland to fulfil its obligation under the EU Common Position on Arms Brokering, which requires Member States to take all the necessary measures to control brokering activities on their territory.

Employment Support Services.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

284 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason Clare LES has not been reinstated in any shape or form as promised and as recommended by a FÁS report. [18318/06]

I am informed that FÁS has appointed an additional Employment Services Officer in Co. Clare to offer a dedicated service to the long-term unemployed and other target groups.

This service is currently in operation and offering a service throughout the county.

Child Care Services.

Seán Haughey

Question:

285 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the assistance given by the Dublin City Enterprise Board to existing and new private childcare enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18326/06]

The thirty-five County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) were established in 1993 to provide support to small businesses with 10 employees or fewer. Their function is to develop indigenous enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity at local level. The CEBs support individuals, firms, community groups, provided that the projects have the capacity to achieve commercial viability. Priority must be given to manufacturing and internationally traded services companies which could develop into strong export entities.

While Dublin City Enterprise Board does not operate a specific childcare scheme, it is nevertheless ready to support, against their normal range of evaluation criteria, any viable business proposal coming forward for the establishment of a commercial childcare enterprise.

From its inception in 1993 to 31 December, 2005 Dublin City Enterprise Board has paid a total of €218,797 to 22 childcare enterprises yielding a job potential of 50 full-time and 15 part-time jobs. Such financial assistance forms part of the CEBs broader remit to support the development of commercially viable micro-enterprises throughout Dublin city.

Departmental Correspondence.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

286 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there has been communication between his Department and the Office of Corporate Enforcement in the context of management companies or management agents of housing units; if so, if concerns have been raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18407/06]

I have neither received nor initiated any communication with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in the context of management companies or managements agents of housing units.

The Deputy will be aware that the Director of Corporate Enforcement is a statutory independent officer charged with the duty of encouraging compliance with and securing enforcement of the Companies Acts. In undertaking this function the Director and his staff have a legal obligation to observe a strict code of confidentiality. It is not therefore the practice of the Director to report to me on any individual case or issue, which is the subject of examination by his Office.

I am however aware from the Director's Annual Reports for 2003 and 2004 that his Office has had cause from time to time to intervene on behalf of members of management companies to remedy failures by the companies to call annual general meetings and to disclose their latest financial statements.

Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

287 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the waiting time for hearings before the Employment Appeals Tribunal in Wexford; his plans to improve this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18444/06]

The Employment Appeals Tribunal is an independent body bound to act judicially and was set up to provide a speedy, fair, inexpensive and informal means for individuals to seek remedies for alleged infringements of their statutory right. As an independent body, I have no function in relation to the day-to-day operation of the Tribunal.

I understand that three thousand, seven hundred and twenty seven (3,727) claims and appeals were referred to the Employment Appeals Tribunal in 2005, and to date in 2006, one thousand, two hundred and seventy five (1,275) claims and appeals have been received. There are thirty-one cases currently awaiting hearing in County Wexford, the earliest of which was referred to the Tribunal on 19 July 2005.

I am also aware that so far in 2006 the Tribunal set down hearings in County Wexford in weeks commencing 16 January and 6 March 2006 respectively, and that hearings are also due to take place in week commencing 29 May 2006. While the approximate current waiting period in County Wexford is forty-eight weeks from the date an individual claimant refers a claim, I understand that the Tribunal is making every effort to reduce this waiting period, including undertaking a concerted programme of targeting areas, such as County Wexford, where delays occur.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

288 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the European Directives that have to be implemented by his Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18454/06]

There are currently a total of twenty-nine Directives due to be transposed by this Department. Of these, as at end April 2006, 13 are overdue for transposition and are detailed in the table below.

From May 2006 to December 2006 another six Directives require to be transposed. A further ten Directives require to be transposed in 2007 and subsequent years.

It is expected that of the Directives currently overdue, four will be transposed by the end of May 2006. Another Directive, (2002/14/EC), that is also currently overdue has been implemented in law but is awaiting a Commencement Order to complete formal transposition.

My Department continues to accord a high priority to the transposition of Directives and makes every effort to transpose Directives in time to meet the deadline given for transposition.

Overdue Directives as at end April 2006.

Description of Directive

Deadline for Transposition

Current position

Directive 2001/45/EC amending Council Directive 89/655/EEC concerning the minimum safety and health requirements for the use of work equipment by workers at work

19/7/2004

Drafting of Regulations almost complete. Draft is with Parliamentary Counsel. Expected date of transposition: End-June 2006. Reasoned Opinion issued by the Commission.

Council Directive 2001/86/EC supplementing the Statute for a European company with regard to the involvement of employees

8/10/2004

Draft Regulations are being finalised and it is intended to send them to Office of the Parliamentary Counsel shortly. Expected date of transposition: 31 July 2006. Reasoned Opinion issued by the Commission.

Directive 2002/14/EC establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community

23/3/2005

The Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Bill 2005 was signed by President on 9 April 2006. Expected date of transposition: Awaiting commencement Order. Reasoned Opinion issued by the Commission.

Commission Directive 2004/111/EC of 9 December 2004 adapting for the fifth time to technical progress Council Directive 94/55/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by road

1/7/2005

Commission Directives 2004/111/EC and 2004/112/EC are linked. The Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Act 1998 was intended as a basis for implementing both of these Directives. Deficiencies in the 1998 Act have brought into question the legality of using this as a means of transposition of these two Directives. New draft Regulations were forwarded to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on 28 March 2006. The expected date of transposition: End May 2006.

Directive 2002/44/EC of 25 June 2002 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (vibrations)

6/7/2005

Drafting of Regulations almost complete. Expected date of transposition: End June 2006. Letter of Formal Notice issued by the Commission.

Commission Directive 2004/112/EC of 13 December 2004 adapting to technical progress Council Directive 95/50/EC on uniform procedures for checks on the transport of dangerous goods by road

14/12/2005

Commission Directives 2004/111/EC and 2004/112/EC are linked. The Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Act 1998 was intended as a basis for implementing both of these Directives. Deficiencies in the 1998 Act have brought into question the legality of using this as a means of transposition of these two Directives. New draft Regulations were forwarded to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on 28 March 2006. Expected date of transposition: End May 2006. Letter of Formal Notice issued by Commission.

Regulation 2006/2004/EC of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws

29/12/2005

Final draft of SI has been cleared by the OPC. Expected date of transposition: End May 2006.

Directive 2005/88/EC of 14 December 2005 amending Directive 2000/14/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the noise emission in the environment by equipment for use outdoors

31/12/2005

Office of Parliamentary Counsel received draft Regulations on 27 February 2006. Regulations signed on 3 May 2006.

Directive 2001/84/EC of 27 September 2001 on the resale right for the benefit of the author of an original work of art

1/1/2006

This Directive is linked to 2004/48/EC below (infringement of IP rights). 1/1/2006. Government approval to draft Bill was obtained in July 2005 and drafting by the Parliamentary Counsel is progressing steadily. It is hoped that the Bill will reach all stages in the Houses before the end of 2006. Letter of Formal Notice issued by the Commission.

Directive 2003/10/EC to lay down requirements on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (noise)

15/2/2006

Health & Safety Authority preparing Regulations. Expected date of transposition: End-June 2006.

Directive 2003/18/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work

15/4/2006

Following public consultation draft Regulations will be finalised for submission to the Department by the Health and Safety Authority by mid-June 2006. Expected date of transposition: End July 2006.

Directive 2004/48 EC on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Linked to Directive 2001/84/EC above

26/4/2006

Parliamentary Counsel commenced drafting of the Bill to give effect to the Directive. (See 2001/84/EC above.)

Directive 2004/22/EC of 31 March 2004 on measuring instruments

30/4/2006

Draft implementing Regulations have been prepared. It is anticipated that the Directive will be transposed by operational date of October 2006. Expected date of transposition: October 2006.

Consumer Strategy Report.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

289 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he has taken to formulate guidelines for local authorities on the need to encourage the sale of fresh fruit and vegetables, as recommended by the consumer strategy report 2005. [18476/06]

The report of the Consumer Strategy Group was published in May 2005. The most important recommendation was that a new National Consumer Agency be established. However there were other recommendations which affected consumers' interests.

One of these recommendations urged an increase in the number of casual trading licences issued to traders under the Casual Trading Act, 1995. Related to this was another recommendation that there be statutory based guidelines to ensure a consistent approach to casual trading by local authorities.

These recommendations have been accepted by Government. I hope to publish the new Consumer legislation later this year. I intend using this legislation to amend the Casual Trading Act, 1995 to enable me to issue statutory guidelines to local authorities so that a consistent approach towards trading is adopted. I intend using these guidelines to promote an increase in casual trading licences for the sale of fruit and vegetables.

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

290 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by him since January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18517/06]

I appointed six staff in my Department following my appointment as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in September 2004. These staff members remain in place with the exception of one Personal Assistant who was replaced in September 2005.

At present the staff members are as follows: 1 Special Advisor (Mr. Christopher Mannion); 1 Policy Advisor (Ms Deirdre Gillane); 1 Press Advisor (Ms Caitriona Meehan); 2 Personal Assistants (Ms Melanie Hewitt and Ms Margaret Kenneally); and, 1 Personal Secretary (Ms Elizabeth O'Donoghue).

Casual Trading.

Billy Timmins

Question:

291 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if it is necessary for a casual trader to have a casual trading licence to operate in a town that has a market right; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18547/06]

Selling goods at a place, including a public road, to which the public have access as of right is governed by the Casual Trading Act 1995. Casual trading is regulated by way of by-laws issued under section 6 of the Act by local authorities.

There are exemptions to casual trading under Section 2 (2) of the Act. The following activities are exempted from regulation under the Act, (i) selling by auction, (ii) selling door to door, (iii) selling for charitable purposes and (iv) the selling of certain fruit and vegetables for a certain period during the year. The Minister can add to these exemptions nationally whereas local authorities can exempt classes of selling in their own functional areas.

In the absence of an exemption for selling pursuant to a market right made by a local authority, traders must have a licence under the Act to trade in a public place, regardless of whether that place is the subject of a market right.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

292 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the community welfare section of the Health Service Executive is insisting in certain cases that tenants supply proof of the landlords ownership of property in order to receive rent supplement; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that this is causing hardship to tenants; her views on the alternative of requesting that the section check with the Private Residential Tenancies Board to ensure that such properties are registered. [18489/06]

The day to day administration of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which provides for the payment of rent supplements, is the responsibility of Health Service Executive. Neither I nor my Department has any function in relation to decisions on individual claims.

In order to make a rent supplement payment the Executive must satisfy itself that a bona fide tenancy exists in respect of a property for which a rent supplement is sought. In this regard the first step in verifying the tenancy is the completion of the appropriate application forms where the applicant supplies details of the household composition and means. On this application form the landlord must confirm details relating to the address, type of accommodation and the amount of rent being paid. In addition to the application forms, other documents such as rent books/receipts or a copy of the lease agreement may also be requested by the Executive. While the exact extent of the information required in any case is a matter for the Executive, I am satisfied that it would not be possible to award a rent supplement claim without first establishing the identity of the landlord.

My Department is committed to working with the PRTB to help ensure compliance with the new system of tenancy regulation and safeguards. However the suggestion proposed by the Deputy would only serve to delay payments of rent supplement. At the time when many rent supplement claims are being decided the tenancy will not have been registered with the PRTB, as the establishment of the tenancy will be dependent on rent supplement being awarded. I would also point out that there are instances where a tenancy qualifying for rent supplement need not be registered with the PRTB, for example renting a room in a house. In the circumstances, I do not consider that the existing arrangements place undue inconvenience on those wishing to claim rent supplement.

Comhairle Service.

Marian Harkin

Question:

293 Ms Harkin asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the projected cost for the rebranding of Comhairle; if there has been consultation with users of the service on the rebranding of Comhairle; if so, the details of same; and the number of requests for information from Comhairle for the two most recent years for which figures are available. [17925/06]

Comhairle was established under the Comhairle Act, 2000. Its functions include the provision of independent information, advice and advocacy in relation to social services. Comhairle also has a particular responsibility to assist people with disabilities to identify their needs and access their entitlements.

Comhairle carries out its functions in the provision of information primarily through a nationwide network of Citizen Information Centres (CICs). The CICs are voluntary bodies providing full-time and part-time information services to the public at some 235 locations throughout the country. Over the past three years, Comhairle has been developing a strategy to strengthen the public profile of the information services provided by the CICs, by the Citizen Information Phone Service and via the OASIS website, through the development of the ‘Citizens Information' brand as a common identifier for all three services.

The costs of any rebranding of Comhairle would have to be addressed by Comhairle within the resources available to it. Any additional resources sought by Comhairle for the initiative would fall to be considered by my Department in the context of the normal estimates and budgetary process.

I understand that Comhairle has been in discussion with the CICs about the re-design of the Citizens Information brand and that a number of briefing sessions have been held with the national network of citizens information centres about a new logo.

Details of requests for information to the CICs, Citizens Information Phone Service and via the OASIS website are set out. Citizens Information Centres 2004, 676,755; 2005, 733,879. Citizens Information Phone Service 2004, 65,214; e-mail, 7,759; 2005 76,762; e-mail, 11,162. In 2004 and 2005 respectively there were 1.8m and 2.4m visits towww.oasis.gov.ie by users of the service.

Tax and Social Welfare Codes.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

294 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of PPS numbers issued to persons not holding Irish citizenship during each year from 2002 to date in 2006; the number of PPS numbers issued to persons not holding Irish citizenship that are currently idle, such that no activity in relation to tax or social welfare is associated with them for a period of time possibly indicating that the person has left the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18186/06]

The Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.) is an individual's unique reference number for dealings with Government Departments and public bodies. My Department is responsible for allocating PPS Numbers for use by people, of any nationality, to access certain public services.

A PPS Number does not issue automatically except in the case of children born in Ireland. In all other cases, application must be made at one of my Department's local offices. When applying for a PPS Number, applicants are asked to prove their identity. This is usually done by presenting a passport or National Identity Card.

Documents presented by an applicant are then examined and authenticated by Local Office staff. The nationality of the applicant is recorded based on the documentation provided. Citizenship, which may be different, is not recorded. The number of PPS Numbers allocated to people whose nationality was not recorded as Irish, since 2002, is as follows: 2002, 165,628; 2003, 104,620; 2004, 133,127; 2005, 190,884; 2006 (to 30/4/06), 68,275.

The number is used as an identifier when accessing services offered by multiple agencies. Each agency would associate further data related to its specific services with this identifier and it is not possible, or desirable from a privacy perspective, for my Department to have sight of activity across agencies. There are many reasons why a person would need a PPS Number but would not be economically active, for example, to avail of the Drugs Refund Scheme or to apply for a Driving License.

The figures quoted above refer to those people who successfully applied for, and were allocated, a PPS Number. The number of people who applied for a PPS Number and subsequently left this country is included in the total of allocations made. There is no formal mechanism for notifying my Department of individuals leaving the country.

Education Schemes.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

295 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the effect of a recent High Court decision with regard to the payment of back to education allowance during the summer holidays; if students who commenced on the scheme when payment during holidays was made are entitled to such payments for subsequent years; if he will re-instate payment during the summer holidays for all recipients of the allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18230/06]

The back to education allowance or BTEA is a second chance education opportunities scheme designed to encourage and facilitate people on certain social welfare payments to improve their skills and qualifications and, therefore, their prospects of returning to the active work force. In 2002 the Government, in view of the expenditure constraints facing it at that time, appointed an independent Estimates Review Committee to consider the Estimates proposals received in the Department of Finance from Departments and Offices. In its report to Government, that Committee recommended discontinuation of the practice of paying the back to education allowance over the summer period to people who were formerly on the live register. The Committee concluded that people on the scheme during the academic year should be able to take up paid employment during the summer break, leading to savings in the cost of social welfare payments. If they could not find employment, they would be entitled to unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit, subject to satisfying the usual conditions and therefore no hardship would occur.

Following the decision to discontinue payment of BTEA for the summer months one person, who was a participant at the time the change was introduced, sought a judicial review. The hearing took place on 7 February 2006 and judgement was delivered on 28 February 2006. The judgement found in favour of one individual but did not find in favour of any of the other people attached to the proceedings. The court decided that restitution was due only in respect of the summer vacation period in 2003 and not subsequent years and only in the case of the one individual whose action was successful.

There are wider matters for consideration arising from this case including the issue raised by the Deputy. Furthermore, in view of the possible ramifications in other areas, it is necessary to consider whether the judgement warrants appeal. I recently received advice from the Attorney General's office in the matter and this is being considered at present. With regard to re-instatement of summer payment to all BTEA participants, I am satisfied that the present arrangements ensure that the scheme continues to provide appropriate support to those people who qualify for the scheme and I have no plans to alter the current arrangements.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

296 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason rent assistance was refused in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18276/06]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes rent supplement, is administered on my behalf by the Community Welfare division of the Health Service Executive. Neither I nor my Department has any function in relation to decisions on individual claims. The Health Service Executive has advised that it has no record of any application for rent supplement from the person concerned since May 2005. If the person concerned wishes to apply for rent supplement she should make a formal application to her local community welfare officer.

Health Service Allowances.

Paul McGrath

Question:

297 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of hours a carer is allowed to work outside the home and not affect their carers allowance or carer’s benefit payment in May and June 2006. [18305/06]

Paul McGrath

Question:

298 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the income a carer is entitled to earn and still retain their carer’s allowance or carer’s benefit in May and June 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18306/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 297 and 298 together.

Support of carers has been a priority of Government since 1997. Payments to carers have been greatly improved over that period and qualifying conditions for carers allowance have been significantly eased, coverage of the scheme has been extended and new schemes such as carers benefit and the respite care payment have been introduced. The further development of support for carers continues to be a priority for me and for Government.

Under the Regulations governing Carer's Allowance and Carer's Benefit, a person may participate in employment for a maximum of 10 hours per week. Following improvements in Budget 2006 the hours will increase to 15 hours per week from June 2006. From April 2006 the income limit from employment for recipients of Carer's Benefit has increased by €40 to €290 per week. In line with other social assistance schemes, a means test is applied to the carer's allowance so as to ensure that limited resources are directed to those in greatest need. This means test has been eased significantly over the years, most notably with the introduction of disregards of spouses' earnings.

Provision has been made in successive Budgets for substantial increases in the income disregards. From April 2006 the weekly income disregards increased by €20 to €290 for a single carer and by €40 to €580 for a couple. This means that a couple with two children can earn up to €32,925 per annum and still receive the maximum rate of carer's allowance. The same couple will be able to earn up to €54, 400 and receive the minimum rate of carer's allowance as well as free travel, the household benefits package and the respite care grant.

Departmental Staff.

Seán Haughey

Question:

299 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he has satisfied himself that there are enough staff in his Department’s offices at the Northside Civic Centre, Bunratty Road, Dublin 17 to ensure the speedy processing of claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18328/06]

The staffing allocation to the Department's Local Office in Coolock, which is located at the Northside Civic Centre, Bunratty Road, Dublin 17, is 27.5 posts. 27 posts are currently filled in this Office. As with all other offices in the Department, the staffing allocation to Coolock is reviewed regularly and adjusted as required by any changes in claim loads or other relevant factors.

Health Service Allowances.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

300 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is entitled to a respite care grant, or part thereof, in respect of their late spouse. [18423/06]

The Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2005,inter alia, extended entitlement to the Respite Care Grant to all carers irrespective of means or contribution record, but subject to certain conditions relating to employment and to a medical report. The person to whom the Deputy refers made a successful application for the Grant in 2005 and payment was made to her in August 2005. Unfortunately, her husband, for whom she had been providing care, passed away on 2 May 2006. This means she will not be eligible for the Grant again in 2006 as she will not have been providing care on the first Thursday in June, the date, laid down by regulation as that on which she would have needed to have been providing it.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

301 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his plans to increase the fuel allowance payment; if he will propose other interim proposals to deal with the massive increase in fuel charges for those on low incomes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18425/06]

The aim of the national fuel scheme is to assist householders on long-term social welfare or health service executive 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. The allowance represents a contribution towards a person's normal heating expenses. The scheme has been improved in recent budgets. The means test has been eased and the duration of payment increased from 26 weeks to 29 weeks. Budget 2006 provided for an increase in the rate of fuel allowance of €5.00 from €9.00 to €14.00 (€17.90 in designated smokeless areas). Some 264,400 customers (145,800 with basic fuel allowance and 118,600 with smokeless fuel supplement) will benefit in 2006 at an estimated cost of €125.1 million.

Budget resources have been concentrated on providing significant real increases over and above inflation each year in all primary social welfare pension, benefit and assistance rates. This approach delivers a positive outcome for pensioners and others by substantially increasing their income in real terms over the whole year, to better assist them in meeting their normal basic living costs, including heating. In addition to the fuel allowance, over 320,000 pensioner and other households qualify for electricity or gas allowances through the household benefits package, payable towards their heating, light and cooking costs throughout the year, at an overall cost of €109 million in 2005. As currently structured, these allowances are linked to unit energy consumption, so that these people are protected against unit price increases in electricity or gas. If an individual has an exceptional heating cost by virtue of a particular infirmity or medical which they are unable to meet out of household income, it is open to them to apply to their local community welfare officer or a special heating supplement under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. Any changes to the Fuel Allowance Scheme or any other initiatives on fuel charges would have significant cost implications and would have to be considered in the context of future Budgets and in the light of the resources available to me for improvements in social welfare generally.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

302 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the European Directives that have to be implemented by his Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18455/06]

There are no outstanding EU directives within the competency of my Department that have not been transposed into law.

Question No. 303 withdrawn.

Health Service Allowances.

David Stanton

Question:

304 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 455 of 21 March 2006, the way in which he estimated that the cost of abolition of the means test for receipt of the carer’s allowance would be €140 million in a full year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18502/06]

The estimated cost of €140 million was based on data available last year and the rate of carer's allowance at that time. According to Census 2002 there are 48,500 carers caring for 29 or more hours per week of which 15,700 are working for over 10 hours per week and so would not be eligible for carer's allowance. Some 25,000 people were in receipt of a carer's allowance. Approximately, 6,000 of the remaining group received the respite care grant in 2005. It was assumed that these 6,000 people would constitute the additional recipients of carer's allowance if the means test were abolished. The cost of paying a full rate carer's allowance to this group plus the cost of the free schemes which they would also receive would be approximately €54 million in a full year.

It is estimated that approximately 14,000 recipients of carer's allowance in 2005 were in receipt of another social welfare benefit or pension immediately prior to their receipt of carer's allowance. Assuming that, if the carer's allowance means test were abolished, other social welfare payments would also be payable, this could lead to an additional full year cost of approximately €74 million, depending on the level of the other payment. In 2005, approximately 2,550 recipients of carer's allowance were in receipt of a reduced rate payment. Abolition of the means test would mean that group would be entitled to a full rate payment. This would have full year cost of approximately €10 million. The combination of the cost associated with these three groups is approximately €140 million in a full year. Given increases in rates of payment from January 2006 this cost would now be higher.

I continue to keep an open mind on this issue but I think it is debatable whether such a proposal could be considered to be the best use of resources. The view of some support organisations is that if this level of resources were available, it would be more beneficial to carers if it were invested in further increases to carers allowance and in the type of community care services which would support them in their caring role, such as additional respite care facilities, more home helps, public health nurses and other such services.

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

305 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by him since January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18518/06]

Since I took up office, I have appointed on a contract basis for my term of office four non-established civil servants, a Special Adviser, Mr. Frank Lahiffe, a Press Adviser, Mr. Tom Rowley, a Personal Secretary, Ms. Mary Browne and a Personal Assistant, Mr. Bobby Holland. All four appointees are employed full-time. The duties carried out by the Advisers (Special Adviser and Press Adviser) attached to my Department are as set out in Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act, 1997 i.e. to assist the Minister by providing advice, on a wide range of issues, by monitoring, facilitating and securing the achievement of Government objectives that relate to my Department and by performing such other functions as may be directed by me. The roles of my Personal Secretary and Personal Assistant are to provide administrative support and back-up in my capacity as a T.D. and in my constituency office. The terms of contract for the above positions are as determined by the Department of Finance and are subject to the Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 to 1996 and any other Act for the time being in force relating to the Civil Service.

Driving Tests.

Phil Hogan

Question:

306 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Transport when notifications of a driving test will be given for a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17914/06]

There is no record in my Department of an application for a driving test having been received from the person concerned.

Road Traffic Offences.

Marian Harkin

Question:

307 Ms Harkin asked the Minister for Transport his proposals on introducing mandatory testing for alcohol or drugs at the scene of a road traffic accident; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17926/06]

The Road Traffic Acts provide that a member of the Garda Síochána may require a person in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle to provide a preliminary breath specimen where the vehicle is involved in a road collision. Garda discretion in relation to the use of preliminary roadside tests in such circumstances is necessary, having regard to possible injuries sustained, and I do not propose to alter that position.

The Road Traffic Acts also place an obligation on a person to provide a blood or urine sample in a hospital. This applies where an event occurs involving a vehicle which results in a person being injured, or a person claiming or appearing to have been injured, where the person is admitted to or attends a hospital, and a member of the Garda is of the opinion that, at the time of the event, the person had consumed an intoxicant. An intoxicant includes alcohol and drugs or any combination of alcohol and drugs.

Air Safety Standards.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

308 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport the information he has received regarding the recent passage of Irish aircraft into the no fly exclusion zone surrounding the Sellafield plant and the consequent interception by Royal Air Force planes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18079/06]

It is not possible for me to answer the Deputy's question based on the information supplied. For the matter to be investigated further more details would be required, for example the date of the flight and particulars of the aircraft involved.

Road Traffic Offences.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

309 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Transport if the system introduced on 3 April 2006 by the Garda which resulted in all offences being dealt with under the fixed charge processing system includes provision for offences under by-laws introduced by local authorities and includes all non penalty points road traffic offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18422/06]

I made a number of regulations on 28 March 2006 to extend the fixed charge system which is provided in the Road Traffic Act 2002 from 3 April 2006 to a wide range of offences.

Firstly, this new fixed charge system applies to the enforcement by the Garda Síochána or traffic wardens authorised by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform of a range of specified offences under section 103 of the Road Traffic Act 1961. The offences concerned are all listed in the Road Traffic Acts 1961 to 2005 (Fixed Charge Offences) Regulations 2006 (SI No. 135 of 2006).

Secondly, the fixed charge system was extended for the enforcement by traffic wardens employed by local authorities of specified parking offences, non-display of motor tax disc or non-display of insurance disc offences under section 3 of the Local Authorities (Traffic Wardens) Act 1975. The range of offences that come within the ambit of section 3 enforcement are non-penalty point offences and include offences contained in bye-laws made by local authorities in relation to the use of public car parks provided by the local authority or bye-laws in relation to on-street pay parking schemes. The offences concerned are all listed in the Local Authorities (Traffic Wardens) Act 1975 (Fixed Charge Offences) Regulations 2006 (SI No. 136 of 2006). The extension of the fixed charge system that I have referred to relates to offences that involve the driving or use of a mechanically propelled vehicle.

A further extension of the fixed charge system will be pursued in due course to extend the application of the fixed charge system to the commission of non-penalty point offences that do not involve the use of a mechanically propelled vehicle.

Taxi Regulations.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

310 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the procedures which are in place to ensure that taxi drivers do not abuse the taxi licensing system; if his attention has been drawn to the number of taxi drivers convicted of abuses of the licensing system since 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17859/06]

The licensing of small public service vehicles, taxis, hackneys and limousines, and the drivers of such vehicles, is currently governed by the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations 1963 to 2002 made under the Road Traffic Acts, the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2003 and regulations made under that Act in 2005 and 2006 by the Commission for Taxi Regulation.

It is an offence to drive or use a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place for the carriage of persons of reward unless the person holds a licence to drive a small public service vehicle and there is a small public service vehicle licence in force in respect of the vehicle. The investigation of complaints concerning non-compliance with the public service vehicles regulations, and the enforcement of those regulations, are matters for the Garda Síochána. Information in relation to the number of taxi drivers convicted of abuses of the licensing system is not available in my Department.

Driver Education.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

311 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the driver education programme, driver for life programme, which is currently being piloted in County Carlow; his views on this programme; his further views on whether it should be expanded nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17868/06]

There are various voluntary driver education programmes in operation around the country and I welcome the introduction of such programmes. However, while these programmes may be commendable, the operation of such initiatives is not subject to regulation by my Department. The proposed Road Safety Authority will have a general duty to promote the development and improvement of driving standards and make recommendations in this regard.

Public Transport.

Mary Upton

Question:

312 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Transport his plans to meet the increasing demand for public transport on the route between Tallaght, Walkinstown and the city centre; if he proposes to increase the number of buses servicing this route at peak commuter times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17898/06]

The provision of services on a particular route is a matter for Dublin Bus itself having regard to the demand for such services and compliance with the requirements of the Transport Act 1958 and the administrative arrangements established to support those requirements.

In November 2005, I approved a proposal in relation to Luas services between Tallaght and the city centre, involving Exchequer funding, from the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) aimed at increasing passenger capacity on the Tallaght Luas line by 40%. At present between 30,000 and 40,000 passengers per day are being carried on the line. The increase in capacity will be achieved by increasing the length of the trams by 10 metres. This will mean that they will be the same length (40 metres) as trams on the Sandyford Luas line. The first of the extended trams will enter service in 2007 and the upgrade will be completed in 2008. The project will not involve interruption to services.

Rail Services.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

313 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if the Irish Rail facility at North Esk will be included in the re-signalling works to be completed by the company in preparation of its re-opening of the Midleton rail line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17934/06]

I am informed by Iarnród Éireann that the development of the Cork-Midleton Commuter Service does not require re-signalling at North Esk.

Road Safety.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

314 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport the number of those cars which were legally insured and entitled to be driven on roads here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17955/06]

My Department does not collate this information. However, information provided to my officials by the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) who are notified of accidents involving vehicles registered outside the State indicates that most vehicles involved in accidents here do have appropriate insurance in place. These figures include vehicles registered in the United Kingdom who make up a third of accidents and are generally right-hand drive vehicles. Victims of uninsured drivers are compensated by the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland.

State Airports.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

315 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of the Great Southern Hotel group employees regarding possible redundancies and diminution of employment conditions following the privatisation of the chain; if he has met or will meet with employees to discuss these concerns; if he will reconsider the sell-off; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17962/06]

Earlier this year the Government was informed that the board of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) had decided to sell the Great Southern Hotels Group (GSH), a wholly owned subsidiary of the DAA. Decisions in relation to the sale of the hotels are a matter for the Boards of both bodies and I have no function in the matter. The view of the DAA is that the disposal of the GSH group offers the best opportunity for the hotels to reach their full potential in the niche markets to which they are best suited. I share DAA's view that this decision is ultimately in the best interests of GSH, its employees and the communities and interests they serve.

The GSH has retained advisors to examine and advise on all aspects of the disposal process for the hotel group. To date, the focus has been on communicating with staff and trade unions and developing an appropriate strategy for the sale of the hotels. I understand that the Executive Chairman and senior management of GSH, along with the advisors, have now visited all of the hotels and met with the staff of each hotel to discuss the issues, which led to the decision to sell the group. Meetings also continue to take place between the unions and GSH and its advisors and further discussions are planned. Early on in the process I too met with the GSH trade union representatives to discuss their concerns relating to the future of the hotels. I understand that the GSH advisors are currently finalising a marketing plan for the sale of the hotels and that the sale process will commence shortly.

Driving Tests.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

316 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the number of driving tests that were cancelled by applicants for which no alternative applicant could be found in time for a test to be carried out in each of the years this century; the number of test hours lost in each of these years; the cost to his Department in each of these years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17975/06]

In 2005 approximately 14% of tests scheduled were lost due to very late cancellations or indeed where no notice at all was given and the candidate simply failed to show up for the appointment. The position in other years would be similar. This amounts to about 23,000 test slots of an hour each or the work of about 15 full time testers. The total associated cost would be over €1 million. It is my expectation that improvements in systems, and indeed the reduction of the backlog, may help to recover many of these slots and increase the capacity of our existing service.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

317 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the number of driving test applications received in each of the years 2004 and 2005 and to the end of April 2006. [17976/06]

The information requested is set out in the table supplied.

Year

Applications Received

2004

177,667

2005

177,216

2006

68,862 (to 28/4/06)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

318 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the number of extra driving tests being carried out as a result of the overtime package for driver testers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18024/06]

The bonus overtime scheme for driver testers commenced on 6 February 2006. Under this scheme almost 14,000 driving tests will be scheduled outside normal hours up to 10 June 2006. This will represent about 9,000 more than would have been done in overtime without the bonus.

Public Transport.

Liam Aylward

Question:

319 Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Transport the progress to date on the application for passenger licences under the Road Transport Act, 1932 by a company (details supplied) in County Waterford. [18034/06]

In accordance with long standing practice, details of applications received in my Department remain confidential until a decision is made. However, I can confirm that the applications referred to in the Deputies question have been received in my Department and they are now at an advanced stage of consideration. The operator will be contacted directly by Bus Licensing Section of my Department with the outcome of their considerations in due course.

EU Directives.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

320 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport when he transposed Directive 2003/20/EC into Irish law; the categories of vehicles for which Ireland was granted exemptions from the directive; the reason an exemption was sought in each case; when these derogations were applied for by Ireland; when he expects these categories to be included in law here; if a publicity or information campaign has been organised by his Department to inform passengers and transport providers of the new requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18312/06]

Directive 2003/20/EC (which amends Directive 91/671/EEC) was transposed into national law by means of the European Communities (Compulsory Use of Safety Belts and Child Restraint Systems in Motor Vehicles) Regulations 2006, which were made on 5 May 2006. A notice setting out the principal requirements in relation to the wearing of safety belts and child restraints in motor vehicles arising from the making of these Regulations was published by my Department in the national daily newspapers of 13 May 2006. Information on the Regulations is available on the Department's website atwww.transport.ie. I understand that the National Safety Council will shortly be publishing information notices in the national newspapers concerning the new safety belt and child restraint wearing requirements.

The Directive provides for certain exemptions from the requirements to wear safety belts and child restraints which Member States may wish to avail of in giving effect to the Directive in their national law. The Regulations avail of the following new exemptions: to allow a child of 3 years of age or over to travel in a small public service vehicle on a seat (other than a front seat) if no appropriate child restraint is available; to allow a child of 3 years of age or over to wear a safety belt in a rear seat of a passenger car or LGV where 2 child restraints are already fitted and it is not possible to fit a third restraint.

In the case of the former exemption, this option was availed of because it is considered that it would be unreasonable to expect that small public service vehicles would always have the appropriate child restraint available. In relation to the latter exemption, it is considered that the measure is practical and reasonable and not availing of it would cause difficulties for families with small children.

The Regulations restate the long-standing exemptions provided for in the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 1991, which implemented the original safety belt wearing directive (91/671/EEC). These exemptions relate to a person wearing a disabled person's belt; a person certified by a doctor that it is inadvisable on medical grounds for him/her to wear a safety belt; driver testers and driver instructors; and members of the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces. Another long-standing exemption, which provides that where 3 or more children under 15 years of age are travelling in the rear of a car fitted with safety belts the requirement to wear safety belts/child restraints shall apply only in so far as is reasonably practicable, is being retained until 30 April 2009.

Cycle Facilities.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

321 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport, his views on allowing cyclists to travel on that portion of the Luas track between Heuston Station and Connolly Station in view of the dangers faced by cyclists on the quays of Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18313/06]

I do not have any plans to amend the present road traffic regulations as regards cyclists and Luas tracks.

Road Network.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

322 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport the information he has received to date from the National Roads Authority or Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council regarding the potential for the location of an archaeological heritage park at the Carrickmines Castle site in south Dublin; and the potential suitability of the retention of the eighteenth century farmhouse at that site for use as an interpretative centre or as part of an archaeological heritage facility. [18314/06]

On 16 September 2002, my predecessor at the Department of Transport issued instructions to the NRA to carry out a number of alterations to its plans so as to preserve as much of the original site at Carrickmines as possible. Any preservation or display initiatives subsequent to the construction phase would fall to the relevant road authority, in this case Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council.

I understand from the National Roads Authority (NRA) that the directions in respect of the archaeological works at Carrickmines issued during 2004 by my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, set out a requirement for the preparation of a Conservation Plan relating to the preservation of certain features and structures at Carrickmines. The preparation of this conservation plan is a matter for Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council who are required to submit their proposed plan to the National Monuments Section of the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government.

Road Safety.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

323 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the advantages, in terms of road safety, of the registration requirement for imported cars other than the VAT receipts to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18331/06]

My Department has no function in relation to the registration of imported cars. This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. The advantage in terms of road safety of the registration of imported cars is that registration provides a unique identifier which facilitates the Gardai in the enforcement of traffic law.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

324 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the changes that will occur in terms of the investigation and research into the causes of road accidents under the proposed new Road Safety Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18382/06]

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) will not have any formal involvement in the investigation of road collisions. The direct and immediate investigation of road accidents and their causes will continue to be primarily a matter for the Gardai. Where road conditions are a contributory factor the National Roads Authority, or the local authority, will also continue to investigate and to develop its programme in terms of potential improvements to road safety.

It is not intended that the RSA will be an investigative body, however it will have responsibility to collect, collate and analyse statistical data that will be supplied by each of the agencies involved. I would expect to see the results of such analysis reflected in future Road Safety Strategies. The RSA will also have a central role in conducting, commissioning and coordinating a broad range of road safety research functions.

Driving Tests.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

325 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the maximum number of driving tests that is possible to conduct in a 12 month period under the current driving test procedures and with current resources. [18438/06]

The number of standard 50 minute tests that could be scheduled to be conducted in normal time within a 12 month period, based on 115 whole-time equivalent testers, is approximately 195,000 taking into account factors such as annual leave, time allowances for staff to travel to test centres, weather conditions, sick leave and normal training absences.

However tests actually conducted by individual testers are also affected by late cancellations or applicants failing to attend. The number of tests lost in 2005 for these reasons amounted to almost 23,000 or 14% of tests arranged. Non-compliance of applicants with conditions also resulted in a further 7,000 tests approximately not being conducted in 2005.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

326 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Transport the European directives that have to be implemented by his Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18456/06]

The information sought by the Deputy is summarised in the table. It should be noted that in addition to the directives listed, there are a number of technical directives relating to the type approval of motor vehicles where the provisions governing the sale or use of component parts have not been implemented. A list of the directives and the relevant outstanding provisions are being compiled in my Department and will be forwarded to the Deputy shortly.

Directive Number, Date of Issue and Summary Title

Implementation Date

Comments

Commission Directive 1999/17/EC of 18 March 1999 relating to motor vehicle headlamps.

01/10/1999

Already transposed in regard to entry into service for vehicles Regulations signed 6 December in regard to type approval. Sale/entry into service of components/separate units remain to be transposed.

Directive 2002/24/EC of 18 March 2002 relating to the type-approval of two or three-wheel motor vehicles.

09/05/2003

Type approval provisions were transposed by SI 421 of 2003 on 12 September 2003. S.I. 412 of 2005 signed on 27 July to transpose for entry for service. Sale/entry into service of components/separate units remain to be transposed.

Directive 2000/79/EC of 27 November 2000 the Organisation of Working Time of Mobile Workers in Civil Aviation.

01/12/2003

Intend to have the Directive transposed later in 2006.

Directive 2003/35/EC of 26 June 2003 providing for public participation in programmes relating to the environment.

25/06/2005

Clarification is being sought at present on a small number of outstanding issues. Drafting of Regulations will commence shortly.

Directive 2003/42/EC of 13 June 2003 on occurrence reporting in civil aviation.

04/07/2005

Intend to have the Directive transposed by late 2006.

Commission Directive 2004/104/EEC of 14 October 2004 relating to the radio interference of vehicles and relating to type-approval of motor vehicles and their trailers.

31/12/2005

Regulations signed on 6 December 2005. S.I. Nos. 782 and 783 of 2005 for the bulk of the requirements. Sale/entry into service of components/separate units remain to be transposed.

Directive 2004/49/EC of 29 April 2004 on safety on the Community’s railways.

30/04/2006

Most of the Directive has been transposed through the Railway Safety Act 2005. Regulations made on 1 May have transposed further provisions of the Directive. The remaining elements of the Directive will be implemented by the later in 2006.

Directive 2004/36/EC of 21 April 2004 on the safety of third-country aircraft using Community airports.

30/04/2006

Preliminary work has commenced with a view to implementing the Directive later in 2006.

2005/49/EC of 25 July 2005 relating to the radio interference of vehicles and the type-approval of motor vehicles and their trailers.

30/06/2006

S.I. Nos. 165 and 166 signed on 11 April 2006 for Type Approval and partial entry into service of passenger cars. Some textual amendments still outstanding.

Directive 2005/66/EC of 26 October 2005 relating to the use of frontal protection systems on motor vehicles.

25/08/2006

S.I. Nos. 165 and 166 signed on 11 April 2006 for Type Approval and Entry into Service of passenger cars, To be implemented as soon as is practicable for small vans (entry into service).

Directive 2005/78/EC of 14 November 2005 relating to the measures to be taken against the emission of pollutants from engines for use in vehicles.

08/11/2006

Implementation issues under consideration.

Directive 2005/55/EC of 28 September 2005 relating to the measures to be taken against the emission of pollutants from engines for use in vehicles.

09/11/2006

Implementation issues under consideration.

Directive 2005/64/EC of 26 October 2005 on the type approval of motor vehicles with regard to their reusability, recyclability and recoverability.

15/12/2006

S.I. No. 166 signed on 11 April 2006 for Type Approval of Motor Vehicles. To be implemented as soon as is practicable for small vans (entry into service).

Directive 2005/35/EC of 7 September 2005 on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of sanctions for infringements.

01/04/2007

Implementation issues under consideration.

Directive 2005/14/EC of 11 May 2005 relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles.

11/06/2007

Documentation has been circulated to stakeholders for observations.

Directive 2005/65/EC of 26 October 2005 on enhancing Port Security.

15/06/2007

Implementation issues under consideration.

Directive 2005/45/EC of 7 September 2005 on the minimum level of training of seafarers.

20/10/2007

The bulk of the Directive is already in place.

Commission Directive 2006/27/EC of 3 March 2006 on the braking, statutory markings, maximum design speed, maximum torque and maximum net engine power of two- or three-wheel motor vehicles.

31/12/2006

Implementation issues under consideration.

Rail Services.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

327 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Transport when it is intended to rationalise the fare structure on the suburban rail system that continues to result in commuters in the outer suburban area’s such as Sallins and Kilcock paying substantially more for daily commuting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18504/06]

The structure of rail fares is a matter for Iarnród Éireann. As is common internationally, Iarnród Éireann operates two fare structures — a Dublin commuter area, which encompasses Balbriggan, Maynooth, Hazelhatch and Kilcoole, and the national network.

With the dramatic growth in longer distance commuting, issues have arisen in regard to fare arrangements between the two areas. These issues are most relevant around the boundary areas of the fare structures. Iarnród Éireann has informed me that it is currently engaged in a review of all fares structures. It is expected this review will be completed by the end of the year.

A number of season tickets are available that offer very good value to regular commuters from these stations, including the monthly and annual taxsaver tickets which can reduce the cost to commuters by up to 42%.

Port Development.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

328 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the various asset or property transactions entered into by Shannon Foynes Port Company since its establishment, particularly the sale of a warehouse (details supplied) and lands; if these meet with established guidelines for State bodies either disposing of or acquiring assets; if his attention has further been drawn to recent statements by the chief executive officer of the Shannon Foynes Port Company in relation to that company’s intention to seek developer interest in acquiring their strategically located land in and adjacent to Limerick docks; and his views on whether this seeking of developer interest results in potential conflict of interest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18506/06]

Shannon Foynes port is a State-owned company established under the Harbours Act 1996. The Act provides that the principal objects of the company include the provision of such facilities, services and lands in its harbour for ships, goods and passengers, as it considers necessary. The company is required to take all proper measures for the management, control, operation and development of its harbour. Decisions regarding the use of the land within the port estate are primarily a matter for the port company.

Regarding compliance with established Government guidelines, the company is required to confirm on an annual basis that it is fully compliant with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies. The company's latest annual report for 2005 confirms compliance for that year. With regard to the former Koala Warehouse property referred to in the Deputy's question, in June 2004 Shannon Foynes Port Company informed my Department that the company proposed to sell this site as part of a composite transaction that offered a number of benefits to the company.

Turning to more recent events, on 15 March last Shannon Foynes Port Company announced that it is conducting a strategic review of its property portfolio, which could result in a major expansion and upgrade of its facilities in the Shannon Estuary at a cost of over €100 million. The company has recently sought expressions of interest with regard to the Limerick Docklands and is seeking tenders for two sites within the docklands.

The Government's Ports Policy Statement from January 2005 outlines that the disposal of non-core assets is a potential source of funding for new port developments. Any such new developments will, of course, be subject to rigorous capital appraisal in accordance with Department of Finance guidelines.

There are six different port installations in the Shannon Estuary that fall within the jurisdiction of Shannon Foynes Port Company. The company projects significant increases in its volume of trade over the coming years and states that investment in new modern facilities that can handle bigger ships is required to accommodate this growth in trade. Whatever the conclusions of the strategic review, the company has said it will continue to work in partnership with other stakeholders in the region.

As is required by the Code of Practice, Shannon Foynes Port Company has a Code of Business Conduct for Directors and Employees, which covers procedures with regard to any potential conflicts of interest. If any such potential conflicts arise in relation to the seeking of developer interest, this would be a matter for the company in the first instance.

Road Safety.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

329 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport further to his public pronouncements, the number of serious road accidents deemed to have been caused by road conditions at recognised accident blackspots; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18507/06]

Overall responsibility for the planning, design and implementation of National Road Projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority and the relevant local Authority — Roads Act 1993. Section 17(1). Statistics relating to road accidents are based on information provided by the Garda Siochana, and are currently published by the National Roads Authority (NRA) in their annual Road Accident Facts reports. The most recent report, now entitled "Road Collision Facts", relates to 2004 and is available in the Oireachtas Library and on the NRA website. Statistics relating to 2005 are not yet fully analysed or authenticated.

The 2004 report refers in particular to the various contributory factors to collisions where such data is available. In that context the Report in respect of 2004 notes that driver error accounted for 88% of all contributory factors in respect of all collisions where such were identified. Pedestrian error was the next most listed factor at 8% with road factors accounting for 2% of all of those listed. The remaining factors listed related to vehicle and environmental factors.

The NRA Report does not specifically publish information with regard to the number of road accidents deemed to have happened at recognized accident blackspots. As part of the Government's Road Safety Strategy 2004 to 2006, the NRA, the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government and Local Authorities have been implementing low cost remedial measures at approximately 240 locations on national roads and another 400 locations on non-national roads. In addition a further 20 higher cost works are being carried out at other locations on national roads.

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

330 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which research has been carried out into accessing Dublin Airport by road, rail or otherwise as per Transport 21, in the future in view of the chaotic traffic situation that already exists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18508/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

331 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the way in which it is intended, in the context of Transport 21 or otherwise, to alleviate traffic congestion in the vicinity of Dublin Airport; his views on whether he should take particular initiative to resolve the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18509/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 330 and 331 together.

Transport 21 will put in place a greatly enhanced network for the Greater Dublin Area, which will significantly improve access to Dublin Airport. Transport 21 will fund the building of 2 Metro lines, Metro North and Metro West. Metro North will provide a direct link from the City Centre to Dublin Airport and beyond to Swords, while Metro West will bring airport bound passengers from the Western suburbs of Dublin to interchange with Metro North, and onwards to Dublin Airport.

Metro interchanges with greatly expanded Luas, bus, DART and suburban rail networks, will enable passengers in the Greater Dublin Area to conveniently access Dublin Airport by public transport. The greatly enhanced commuter rail network to be built under Transport 21 will be a high quality public transport alternative to car travel in the Greater Dublin Area and will contribute significantly to reducing road congestion, including in the area of Dublin Airport. There will also be a continuing important role for bus services, both commuter and long distance, in providing improved access to the airport.

However, even when this enhanced public transport network is in place, many people will, for various reasons, continue to travel to Dublin Airport by car. Enhanced public transport will help reduce road congestion, but Transport 21 will also make that car journey easier by improving road infrastructure en route to and in the vicinity of Dublin Airport.

The M50 motorway is a key part of the road infrastructure serving Dublin Airport. An upgrade project is currently underway to improve the capacity of the M50 motorway by providing three lanes in each direction and the upgrading of most junctions to provide freeflow movements. Work has already commenced on the first phase of this work. In addition, Fingal County Council has, in its Draft Masterplan for Dublin Airport, identified further necessary regional and local road improvements to service Dublin Airport.

While this improved road and public transport infrastructure is being built, I understand that the Dublin Airport Authority is focussing on facilitating buses, coaches and taxis accessing the airport and ensuring that pick-up and set-down facilities are adequate. The Authority is also focussing on the development of a mobility management strategy to encourage staff and passengers to explore their transport options.

Driving Tests.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

332 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the average waiting time for a driving test in each of the years this century; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18510/06]

The information requested is set out in the table.

Year

National Average Waiting Time at 31 December

2000

25 weeks

2001

15 weeks

2002

11 weeks

2003

29 weeks

2004

31 weeks

2005

33 weeks

Ministerial Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

333 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Transport the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by him since January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18519/06]

No staff have been employed by me since January 2005. However, the table shows a list of personal staff that have been employed by me since September 2004.

Name

Role

Colin Hunt

Special Adviser

Dan Pender

Press Officer

Sean Dower

Personal Assistant

Inez O’Neill

Personal Secretary

Driving Tests.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

334 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the number of driving tests in each of the years this century where the tester was paid overtime or a financial bonus over and above their normal pay; the number of driving tests carried out by testers as part of an incentive scheme to curb driving test waiting times in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18526/06]

A bonus scheme for driver testers operated between 2000 and 2001. This bonus scheme resulted in about 24,000 driving tests being delivered outside normal hours. A second bonus scheme commenced in 2003. Three testers participated in the scheme which delivered approximately 1,000 bonus tests. In 2003, however, just over 20,000 tests were done in overtime without attracting a bonus.

The information sought by the Deputy in relation to the number of driving tests carried out by testers on overtime is not available for the years 2000 and 2001. The figures for 2003 to 2005 are set out in the table.

Year

Tests conducted on Overtime (Approx)

2002

24,800

2003

20,600

2004

19,900

2005

18,300

Rail Network.

Enda Kenny

Question:

335 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Transport the state of development of the section of line from Ennis to Claremorris in respect of the western rail corridor; the extent of moneys allocated towards the relaying of this section; when he expects this section to be open for passenger and freight traffic; the state of development of the section from Claremorris to Colooney and Sligo; the allocation for 2006; the numbers employed and the work to be carried out and completed in 2006; when he expects this section to be open for passenger and freight traffic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18527/06]

Transport 21 provides for the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor between Ennis and Claremorris on a phased basis and the preservation of the remaining alignment as far as Collooney. The current position regarding the Western Rail Corridor is that Iarnród Éireann has submitted proposals to my Department relating to Phase 1 (the reopening of the Ennis to Athenry section) and Phase 2 (re-opening of the Athenry to Tuam section). These are currently being examined in my Department. When this examination is completed I will make a decision on Iarnród Éireann's applications and the allocation of funding.

Departmental Staff.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

336 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the average, median range and lower and upper quartiles of the gross pay of a driving tester in the last year for which figures are available. [18528/06]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

337 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the amount paid in travel and subsistence to driver testers in the past three years for which figures are available; and the typical proportion this constitutes of the gross pay of the average driver tester. [18529/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 336 and 337 together.

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the tables.

2005 Driving Tester Gross Pay

Average Pay

45,000

Median Pay

46,000

Lower Quartile

14,000-42,000

Upper Quartile

49,000-57,000

Driving Tester Travel and Subsistence

2003

2004

2005

Travel and Subsistence

€1,848,000

€1,918,000

€1,944,000

Proportion of Gross Pay

38%

37%

36%

Road Traffic Offences.

Billy Kelleher

Question:

338 Mr. Kelleher asked the Minister for Transport if he intends to bring in legislation to deal with the problem of cars not registered here not having the correct tax, insurance or national car test documentation and the fact that the Gardaí are unable to seize or impound these vehicles due to the fact that they are registered outside of the State; his views on whether this is becoming a major problem in the interest of road safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18543/06]

As I previously informed the house in March this year, this issue will be dealt with in the upcoming Road Traffic Bill. The Government approved priority drafting of the Road Traffic Bill 2006 in April. It is intended that the Bill will be published during the current Dáil session. Provision is made in the Bill to amend section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1994 to allow An Garda Síochána to impound vehicles registered outside the State which do not have motor insurance in place.

With regard to motor taxation and NCT documentation, vehicles registered outside the State are not liable to Irish motor tax or to the NCT. In accordance with EU Directive 96/96/EC all vehicles in the EU are required to undergo a periodic roadworthiness test in the country in which the vehicle is registered. However, An Garda Síochána currently have powers to remove from the road vehicles that they consider not to be roadworthy. The Revenue Commissioners decide in accordance with EU Directives whether or not drivers of foreign-registered vehicles are required to re-register their vehicle in the State.

I would say that this issue has very little to do with road safety. As I have said on many occasions recently, driver behaviour is responsible for over 90% of accidents and that is the major issue that we all need to address.

It is important to remember that victims of uninsured drivers will be compensated by the Motor Insurer's Bureau of Ireland. My officials have ascertained that nearly all foreign-registered vehicles involved in accidents reported to the MIBI have insurance in place.

Light Rail Project.

Billy Timmins

Question:

339 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Transport when the Luas line will be extended to Citywest, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18546/06]

Transport 21 provides for a spur from the Tallaght Luas line to the Citywest Campus (Line A1). The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) is at present progressing this project. The inclusion of it in the Transport 21 project was contingent on agreement being reached between the RPA and private developers on the sharing of the costs involved in the project.

Public consultation on the proposed route from Belgard to Fortunestown Lane began on 23 February 2006 following the signing, in September 2005, of Heads of Agreement between the RPA and developers in relation to the scheme. My Department recently approved an extension of the project to Garter Lane arising from an agreement among the developers, which, inter alia, involves additional private sector involvement in funding the scheme.

South Dublin County Council have confirmed their strong support for the project. Subject to compliance with the relevant statutory procedures etc, construction should be completed in 2009.

Grant Payments.

Ivor Callely

Question:

340 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of older people who benefited from the grants scheme for security equipment and social monitored alarms in 2005; and the breakdown of the figures for socially monitored alarms, window locks, door locks and door chains designed to strengthen points of entry to the dwelling, security lighting and smoke alarms. [18031/06]

Ivor Callely

Question:

341 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of additional older people who are expected to benefit from the increase in grant amounts for security equipment and social monitored alarms scheme. [18032/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 340 and 341 together.

Over 6,500 individuals have been approved for funding under the 2005 Scheme of Community Support for Older People. Of these, over 5,000 were approved for socially monitored alarms; almost 1,600 for equipment designed to strengthen points of entry to the dwelling; almost 3,000 for security lighting and in the region of 1,600 for smoke alarms. As can be seen from these figures, many individuals received grants for two or more of the security features provided for under this scheme.

Earlier this year my Department carried out an extensive review of the scheme, including a consultation process with a geographic spread of participating groups and organisations. As a result of this review, I have incorporated the following important changes to the scheme for 2006:

•The 2006 scheme will be open for applications throughout the year;

•The maximum individual grant in respect of physical security equipment is being increased to €200 from €150;

•The maximum individual grant in respect of security lighting is being increased to €200 from €150;

•A new grant of €150 in respect of interior emergency lighting has been introduced for qualifying older people living on our offshore islands;

•An administration subvention will be made available to participating groups in 2006.

These changes are intended to make the scheme more accessible to applicant organisations and older people in their communities over the course of the year, and to facilitate participation by a wider range of groups. As already stated, over 6,500 individuals benefited under the 2005 scheme. It would not, however, be possible at this time to estimate the number of additional older people expected to benefit from the increases in grant amounts and, indeed, from the other changes to the 2006 scheme.

Questions Nos. 342 and 343 answered with Question No. 105.
Question No. 344 answered with QuestionNo. 77.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

345 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the expenditure to date on various projects in County Kildare funded by his Department; the source of such funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18394/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

351 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if closing dates for grant aid available from his Department have been reached in respect of 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18400/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 345 and 351 together.

I refer the Deputy to my replies to Questions Nos. 114 of 19 May 2005; 221 of 26 October 2005 and 285, 286 and 289 of 8 February 2006. As the Deputy will be aware my Department was established on 6 June 2002. Details of the expenditure to date on various projects in County Kildare funded by my Department are set out in the following appendix.

My Department's schemes have varying arrangements regarding closing dates, details of which are on my Department's websitewww.pobail.ie. If the Deputy would like information in relation to a particular scheme, I would be glad to provide details to him.

Appendix RAPID Leverage Fund (Kildare-Athy RAPID Area Allocations)

Scheme

2004 Funding

2005 Funding

2006 to date

Local Authority Housing Estate Enhancement

20,000

45,000

45,000

RAPID Playgrounds

30,000

30,000

Sports Capital Top-ups*

90,600

63,600

Traffic Measures

N/A

22,500

45,000

Health Sector Co-fund

N/A

38,500

Total

140,600

199,600

90,000

* The Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs tops up the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism allocation.

The RAPID Leverage Fund was initiated in 2004. The above figures represent this Departments allocation to the Athy RAPID area. The Local Authority Housing Estate Enhancement, Playground, Traffic Measures and Health Sector Co-fund schemes receive matching funding from other Departments.

Under the RAPID Programme, the Athy Area Implementation Team (AIT) received support budget funding. Total allocation under the support and communications budget: 2002 — €14,500; 2003 — €9,600; 2004 — €9,200; 2005 — €12,500.

Local Development Social Inclusion Programme.

Allocations €

Name

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

OAK Partnership *

866,730

743,940

706,742

779,920

793,935

Action South Kildare

672,195

651,977

586,945

638,294

649,765

Total

1,538,925

1,395,917

1,293,687

1,418,214

1,443,700

*Oak Partnership serves, roughly equally, parts of both Co. Kildare, and Co. Offaly

Community Development Programme

The following table outlines funding under the Community Development Programme to Projects in Kildare. The 2002 to 2005 columns represents funding currently committed for 2006.

Total Funding

Name

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

The Bridge CDP 5 Frances Lane Newbridge County Kildare

N/A

Start-Up Funding €13,000

Annual core funding — €59,000 *Once-Off Grants — €4,000

Annual core funding — €62,400 *Once-Off Grants — €8,000

Annual core-funding — €92,600

Athy CDP Woodstock Street Athy County Kildare

Annual Core Funding Pre 24 June €39,991 Post 24 June €46,737

Annual core funding — €60,000 *Once-Off Grants — €8,000

Annual core funding — €103,285 *Once-Off Grants — €2,000

Annual core funding — €105,400 *Once-Off Grants — €4,000

Annual core-funding — €111,200

North West Kildare Allenwood, Naas County Kildare

N/A

N/A

N/A

Annual core funding — €60,000

Annual core-funding — €60,000 Start-Up Funding €10,706

Total

€86,728

€81,000

€168,285

€239,800

€274,506

*In addition to core funding, applications are invited each year from Community Development Projects for once-off grants towards small scale refurbishment projects, purchase of equipment, and programme activities. Decisions on such applications are taken on the basis of resources available. The applications for 2006 are currently under consideration and projects will be notified in due course.

Details of funding approved under the Scheme of Community Support for Older People (CSOP) and the Programme of Grants for Locally Based Community & Voluntary Groups are available on my Department's website atwww.pobail.ie.

LEADER Programmes

The following is the expenditure to end April 2006 on the LEADER Programmes in County Kildare: LEADER + €2,629,823 has been paid out from an allocation of €3,887,400 for the period 2000-2006. Area Based Rural Development Initiative €606,632 has been paid out from an allocation of €1,227,600 for the period 2000-2006.

Dormant Accounts Fund

Under the initial round of funding, administered on behalf of the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board by Pobal (formerly known as Area Development Management Ltd), a total of twelve applications from organisations based in County Kildare were approved for funding of over €2.7 million in 2005. A breakdown of these approved projects is provided in the table below. No funding has yet been approved for projects in 2006.

Dormant Accounts Board Approvals (County Kildare)

Group/Organisation

Grant

KARE, County Kildare

194,000

Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, Celbridge, County Kildare

167,336

Board of Management, Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Athy, County Kildare

41,000

Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, County Kildare

300,000

Kildare Youth Services (Curragh Youth Project)

81,226

Camphill Communities of Ireland, Kilcullen, County Kildare

360,000

Athy Youth Project, County Kildare

58,775

Athy Travellers’ Club, County Kildare

50,420

Athy Town Council

70,838

ASSET, Athy, County Kildare

100,000

Cheshire Ireland, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

1,272,273

Dyspraxia Association of Ireland

50,500

Total

2,746,368

Community Services Programme

This Department through its Community Services Programme administered by POBAL, currently funds 5 Projects in County Kildare and expenditure in 2006 is expected to be €565,858. This Programme transferred from Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment on 1st January 2006. It was previously called the Social Economy Programme and was administered by FÁS.

Community Services Groups in Kildare

Group Name

Annual Budget 2006

Paid to Date

Ar an Uisce Enterprise

150,788

45,228

Centre for Performing Arts

56,747

20,156

Larkwood Products Ltd.

140,339

42,703

Lullymore Heritage Park

150,788

90,473

Naas Sports Group Ltd.

67,196

26,424

National Drugs Strategy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

346 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which he is prepared to assist groups involved in the fight against drugs in the eastern region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18395/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

347 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of applications for funding he has received from local or community groups in the eastern region involved in the fight against drugs. [18396/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

349 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which his attention has been drawn to the growth of drug abuse on a county basis; his intentions for dealing with the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18398/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

350 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his expected expenditure in 2006 for utilisation in the prevention of drug abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18399/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 346, 347, 349 and 350 together.

My Department has overall responsibility for the co-ordination of the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008, which aims to tackle drugs misuse in a comprehensive way. The National Drugs Strategy Team plays a vital role in overseeing the work of the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces. Twelve of the 14 Local Drugs Task Forces (LDTFs) are located in Dublin, with the others in Bray and Cork. There are 10 Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTFs) in the areas not covered by Local Drugs Task Forces. Thus all areas are now serviced by a Drugs Task Force.

Local Drugs Task Forces are well established and are now implementing the second round of Action Plans at an annual cost of €16m. Since 1997, nearly €125m has been allocated to support this work across the 14 LDTF areas. Over 400 community-based projects have been established, employing more than 300 staff, and delivering services such as advice and support for drug misusers and their families, community drug teams offering treatment, outreach and crisis intervention services and drug training programmes for community groups.

Progress is now being made by the RDTFs, all of which have prepared Action Plans for their Regions. A sum of €5m has been allocated to the 10 RDTFs towards the implementation of those plans for 2006 and €322,000 of this has been drawn down to date. Funding will be increased on an incremental basis over the coming years to achieve the full roll out of the Action Plans, which are estimated to have a full cost in the region of €12.2m per annum. It is expected that the rate of progress being made by RDTFs will accelerate in the latter part of the year, especially in view of the employment of full-time co-ordinators.

Additionally there are a number of funds which I have made available to community based drug projects. The Emerging Needs Fund was devised to provide a flexible and timely response to evolving needs in regard to drug misuse in Local Drugs Task Force areas. My recent announcement concerning the approval of €2.27m for 39 projects brings the total approved to date from this Fund to just over €3.1m.

The Young People's Facilities and Services Fund was established in 1998 to assist the development of youth facilities (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists, or has the potential to develop. My recent announcement of almost €2m for the provision of four new youth facilities in Carlow and Waterford brings the total commitment from the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund to almost €101m since its establishment.

The Premises Initiative, established to meet the accommodation needs of community-based drugs projects in LDTF areas, has now been extended to meet the accommodation needs of community-based drugs projects in RDTF areas.

Overall an allocation of €43m has been made to my Department's Vote for the Drugs Initiative/Young People's Facilities and Services Fund in 2006. This represents an increase of 37% on the original 2005 allocation and a massive 61% increase on the 2004 allocation. I am satisfied that the implementation of the LDTF and RDTF Action Plans, along with the range of additional funding initiatives represents a comprehensive response to the problem of drugs misuse in the eastern region and nationwide.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

348 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his future intentions regarding the RAPID programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18397/06]

As I have already indicated, I believe that the RAPID Programme should continue into the future and that RAPID in its current refocused form provides a long-term model to support disadvantaged communities.

Questions Nos. 349 and 350 answered with Question No. 346.
Question No. 351 answered with QuestionNo. 345.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

352 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the European Directives that have to be implemented by his Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18457/06]

There are no European Directives within my Department's competency which have to be implemented.

Decentralisation Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

353 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which the decentralisation programme for his Department has progressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18482/06]

Very good progress has been achieved. A site has been acquired at Knock Airport and the OPW are currently evaluating tenders for the construction there of the new headquarters of the Department.

Of the 140 posts due to transfer to Knock Airport, some 65 will transfer to temporary accommodation in Tubbercurry from mid-2006. When the new headquarters is ready for occupation, the Tubbercurry posts and those posts still remaining in Dublin at that stage will transfer to Knock Airport.

As regards Na Forbacha, 7 of the 10 posts due to transfer there from Dublin are now in place.

Progress with the decentralisation of bodies reporting to or under the aegis of the Department is also very good.

The decentralisation of Pobal, formerly ADM, to Clifden has progressed very well. Of the 40 posts due to transfer there, a total of 20 will be in place shortly.

I am answering today other Dáil questions specifically relating to the decentralisation programme of Foras na Gaeilge.

Grant Payments.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

354 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will review funding for an organisation (details supplied); the network that supports practitioners with young people at risk after 30 November 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18483/06]

The organisation in question is funded by my Department under the White Paper funding scheme for Federations and Networks. Funding totalling €198,000 is provided over the period 2003 to 2006.

The funding provision under the White Paper schemes expires at the end of November, 2006. A review of the effectiveness of the current spend under the White Paper is in progress in my Department and it is anticipated that following this review, a new scheme will be advertised in the coming months. It will be open to the organisation in question to apply for further funding at that stage.

Departmental Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

355 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by him since January 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18520/06]

I do not directly employ staff. However I take it that you are referring to staff employed by the Department at my nomination. No new staff have been employed by the Department in such capacity since January 2005. The following are employed by my Department on my nomination since prior to January 2005.

Name

Role/ Grade

Éadaoin Ní Mhonghaile

Media Adviser

Pádraic Ó hUiginn

Adviser

Máire Ní Fhlatharta

Personal Assistant

Máirín Ní Choisdealbha

Personal Secretary

Muireann Ní Thuairisg

Clerical Officer

Question No. 356 withdrawn.

Quarantine Regulations.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

357 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the facilities which are available and the requirements for those who are bringing dogs with EU passports and other animals into the country through Shannon, Dublin and Cork Airports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17947/06]

Since July 2004, under the EU Pet Passport system, it is possible to bring eligible dogs and cats directly into Ireland without the imposition of quarantine. Such animals travelling directly into Ireland must:

•travel from a qualifying country (specified under the EU Pet passport system).

•be identified by means of a microchip.

•have been vaccinated against rabies.

•have, at least six months before entry, been successfully blood-tested for rabies anti-bodies.

•have been correctly treated for against tick and tapeworm.

Animals arriving by air travel as manifested freight into Dublin airport are subsequently checked for compliance with the conditions of entry at the quarantine premises at Lissenhall, Dublin. Where owners use an airline which has not opted to be an ‘approved' airline for the purposes of the pet passport system, prior approval to land the animal must be obtained from my Department.

In general it is not possible to bring dogs and cats directly into Ireland by air except through Dublin airport. In exceptional circumstances, my Department will consider requests to allow an animal to be brought in through Shannon or Cork airports. There is a common travel area between Ireland and the UK and EU passports for dogs and cats are not required.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

358 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive the forestry premium payment. [17951/06]

The forest premium payment was made to the person in question on 8 May 2006.

Denis Naughten

Question:

359 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a decision will be made on an application under the national reserve for a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon; the reason for the delay in same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17841/06]

The person named submitted an application for an allocation of entitlements from the Single Payment Scheme National Reserve under Category B.

Category B caters for farmers who, between 1 January 2000 and 19 October 2003, made an investment in production capacity in a farming sector for which a direct payment under Livestock Premia and/or Arable Aid schemes would have been payable during the reference period 2000- 2002. Investments can include purchase or long-term lease of land, purchase of suckler and/or ewe quota or other investments.

The person named has been deemed successful under Category B of the reserve on the basis of an investment in suckler cow quota during the reference period. My Department has issued a formal letter setting out the details of the allocation.

If the person named is dissatisfied with my Department's decision he has the opportunity to appeal the decision to the Independent Appeals Committee. An appeals application is available from any of my Department's offices or on the Department website atwww.agriculture.gov.ie.

Assisted Animal Reproduction.

Michael Ring

Question:

360 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding the introduction of artificial insemination straws for a particular breed of cattle; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17906/06]

Under the European Communities (Trade in Bovine Breeding Animals, Their Semen, Ova and Embryos) Regulations, 1996, S.I. 112 of 1996, bovine semen used in A.I. must be approved for use by my Department.

A.I. organisations or individuals can apply to my Department, through the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, to have semen from a bull approved for use in A.I. Applications may be made for unrestricted use of the semen, use of the semen for official test purposes or use of the semen for special breeding purposes. My Department is not aware of outstanding applications for the approval of semen for use in A.I. in respect of the Belted Galloway breed that have been delayed or refused.

Grant Payments.

Dan Neville

Question:

361 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when the single farm payment will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [17927/06]

The person named submitted an application for the Single Payment Scheme 2005 on 16 May 2005. The person named also submitted a Private Contract Clause application to transfer entitlements by way of a lease agreement under the 2005 Single Payment Scheme. The application was successful and payment was made to the applicant for leased entitlements. The applicant is also due a further payment in respect of the 2005 decoupled Dairy Premium and this will issue shortly.

Genetically Modified Organisms.

Martin Ferris

Question:

362 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if there have been documented cases here of contamination of conventional crops by genetically modified strains; and if so, if she will provide information on the crops, locations and dates of such instances. [17960/06]

There have been no reports here of cases of contamination of conventional crops by genetically modified strains. In the absence of legislative on labelling thresholds for the adventitious presence of GM seed in conventional seedlots placed on the market in the EU, most member States (including Ireland) have been operating a voluntary agreement, since 2000, aimed at ensuring that GM seed is not inadvertently marketed in the Community. This involves each consignment of seed in excess of 2 kg, of designated species, being notified to the competent authorities and being accompanied by a certificate from a recognised laboratory stating that the seeds do not contain GMOs above the 0.1% level of detection. Ireland, along with the Other Member States involved, undertake annual random sampling of imported seedlots to verify compliance with interim thresholds for adventitious contamination set at levels recommended by the EU Scientific Committee on Plants in 2001 of 0.3% for oilseed rape and 0.5% for all other species including maize.

Since 2000 my Department has carried out random tests on a number of seedlots. Of 179 maize seedlots tested, no seedlot has been found with GM content exceeding the threshold of 0.5%. Eight seedlots had GM content detected at levels below the threshold — three in importations in each of the years 2001 and 2002 and one in each of the years 2003 and 2004. None have been detected since.

Willie Penrose

Question:

363 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the appropriate allowance will be made for a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath who wishes to purchase outright the Irish Land Commission annuity; if in view of the circumstances the amount being sought will be reduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17963/06]

A special discounted buy out scheme, providing Land Purchase annuitants with the opportunity to buy out their annuities at a reduced price was introduced on the 1st January 2006. My Department has written to all annuitants, including the person named, providing each with an application form giving details of the scheme, the amount of their reduction under the terms of the scheme, the amount required to buy out their annuity and information on how to make their payment. The scheme provides that participating annuitants will receive a 25% discount off the capital sum outstanding on their annuity, assuming they discharge all their current arrears at the same time. In the case of the person named this reduction amounts to €5,421.90. This is a voluntary scheme, which will end on the 30th June 2006.

Grant Payments.

David Stanton

Question:

364 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food further to the single payment scheme national reserve 2005, the maximum nominal fee per hectare under category A leased land; when and the mechanisms under which this was decided; the way in which this information was communicated and made available to farmers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17977/06]

The position is that the EU Regulations governing category A of the Single Payment Scheme National Reserve provide that the land acquired by an applicant must have been acquired free of charge or at a symbolic price. The application form made available to farmers clearly sets out the fact that the land must have been acquired free of charge or for a nominal consideration.

A Single Payment Advisory Committee, comprising representatives of the farming organisations, Teagasc and officials from my Department was established to advise on various aspects of the National Reserve including the question of what should constitute a "nominal consideration" in the context of Category A. I am satisfied that the figure of up to €100 per hectare which has been applied as a nominal amount per hectare is reasonable.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

365 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will be advised of their full single payment rights; if they have been granted additional rights as a young qualified farmer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18002/06]

The person named submitted an application under the inheritance measure of the 2005 Single Payment Scheme. The applicant was subsequently notified that his application was unsuccessful as the land was leased, not inherited.

The person named submitted an application for consideration to transfer entitlements in by way of Private Contract Clause (Lease), he was notified that his application was successful and the requested entitlements were transferred to his name, and payment issued to him on 9 December 2005 in respect of the transferred entitlements. A further application to transfer entitlements was also submitted by the person named by way of Private Contract Clause (Lease). These entitlements have now been transferred to the applicant and a further payment will issue to him shortly.

The person named submitted an application for an allocation of entitlements from the Single Payment Scheme National Reserve under Categories A, B and D.

Category A caters for farmers who inherited land or received land free of charge or for a nominal sum from a farmer who had retired or died by 16 May 2005 and who had leased out his/her holding to a third party during the reference period 2000 — 2002. Category B caters for farmers who, between 1 January 2000 and 19 October 2003, made an investment in production capacity in a farming sector for which a direct payment under Livestock Premia and/or Arable Aid schemes would have been payable during the reference period 2000- 2002. Investments can include purchase or long term lease of land, purchase of suckler and/or ewe quota or other investments. Category D caters for farmers who commenced farming after 31 December 2002 or who commenced farming in 2002 but who received no direct payments in respect of that scheme year.

It should be noted that the rules governing the Single Payment Scheme National Reserve stipulate that an applicant who is found to be eligible under more than one category may only receive an allocation of entitlements under whichever category is most beneficial.

My Department requested additional information from the applicant and this is now being examined.

A formal letter setting out my Department's decision will issue shortly to the person named and if he is dissatisfied with my Department's decision in relation to the National Reserve he then has the opportunity to appeal this decision to the Independent Payment Appeals Committee. An appeals application form is available from any of my Department's offices or on the Department website atwww.agriculture.gov.ie.

John Perry

Question:

366 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the action she will take in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Sligo to have their entitlements granted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18005/06]

An application under the 2005 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 29 April 2005. The person named had established 131.47 entitlements based on his farming activity in 2001 and 2002. The Single Payment of €1,434.67, which issued on 1 December 2005, represented the full payment due.

However, as 65.73 entitlements were also established in 2000 under the herd number quoted, by a now deceased relative of the person named, an official of my Department has contacted the person named directly, advising that an application under the inheritance measure of the Single Payment Scheme, together with supporting documentation, should be submitted. When this documentation is received and processed, the Single Payment application will be further processed with a view to the issue of any outstanding payment.

David Stanton

Question:

367 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will review an application, for entitlements from the national reserve, from a person (details supplied) in County Cork; when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18018/06]

The person named submitted an application to the National Reserve under category B. Category B caters for farmers who, between 1 January 2000 and 19 October 2003, made an investment in production capacity in a farming sector for which a direct payment under Livestock Premia and/or Arable Aid schemes would have been payable during the reference period 2000- 2002. Investments can include purchase or long term lease of land, purchase of suckler and/or ewe quota or other investments.

The Regulations governing the Single Payment Scheme provide that applicants who apply under more than one measure of the Scheme must be examined to ensure that the application of both measures does not result in double benefit to the applicant for the same reason. The person named has already benefited from another measure i.e. New Entrant during the reference period and therefore this National Reserve application will now be assessed to establish whether the provisions precluding double benefit or accumulation in certain circumstances are appropriate to the case.

Following this examination the person named will be notified of the outcome and should he be dissatisfied with my Department's decision, he has the opportunity to appeal this decision to the Independent Payment Appeals Committee. An appeals application form is available from any of my Department's offices or on the Department website atwww.agriculture.gov.ie.

David Stanton

Question:

368 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will review an application, for entitlements from the national reserve, from a person (details supplied) in County Cork; when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18019/06]

The person named submitted an application for an allocation of entitlements from the Single Payment Scheme National Reserve but did not indicate under which category of the reserve he wished to be considered for entitlements.

An official from my Department contacted the person named on 1 March 2006 and it was established that the person named did not qualify under any of the categories of the National Reserve.

There are four main categories A, B, C and D. Category A caters for farmers who inherited land or received land free of charge or for a nominal sum from a farmer who had retired or died by 16 May 2005 and who had leased out his/her holding to a third party during the reference period 2000-2002.

Category B caters for farmers who, between 1 January 2000 and 19 October 2003, made an investment in production capacity in a farming sector for which a direct payment under Livestock Premia and /or Arable Aid Schemes would have been payable during the reference period 2000 to 2002. Investments can include purchase or long term lease of land, purchase of suckler and/or ewe quota or other investments.

Category C caters for farmers who, between 1 January 2000 and 19 October 2003, participated in the Milk Quota Restructuring Scheme and who converted to a farming sector for which a direct payment under the Livestock and/or Arable Aid Premium Schemes would have been payable during the period 2000-2002.

Category D caters for farmers who commenced farming after 31 December 2002 or who commenced farming in 2002 but who received no direct payments in respect of that scheme year.

It should be noted however that the rules governing the Single Payment Scheme stipulate that an applicant who is found to be eligible under more than one category in the Reserve may only receive an allocation of entitlements under whichever category is most beneficial to him.

Departmental Staff.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

369 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her views on adding extra resources in terms of staff to her Department’s offices here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18022/06]

The introduction of the Single Payment Scheme (SPS), falling disease levels and efficiency gains means that staff numbers in my Department are currently on a downward trend.

The introduction of the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and efficiency gains generally will result in a reduction of over 400 staff in my Department's local and other offices. My Department is actively managing the transition to ensure an orderly redeployment of staff. Where additional work becomes available in the Single Farm Payment area, this work is transferred to local offices. My Department is also consulting with other Government Departments, including the Department of Justice, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social & Family Affairs, to fill vacancies in those Departments from surplus Agriculture staff.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Question:

370 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive the single farm payment, in view of the fact that the herd number has been fully transferred into their name. [18053/06]

The person named submitted an application requesting the transfer of entitlements by way of inheritance in respect of the Single Payment Scheme. The entitlements in question were amended to take account of the provisions relating to Agri-Environmental Measures in the relevant EU Regulations. The calculation of entitlements has now been completed. The applicant has been notified that his application for inheritance has been successful and that payment will issue shortly.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

371 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason a forestry grant has not been awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18054/06]

The Forest Service of my Department has been in correspondence with the Solicitors representing the person in question relating to documentation required in connection with a change of ownership of the plantation. That documentation has now been received. Payment of the premium will be made at the earliest possible date.

Questions Nos. 372 and 373 withdrawn.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

374 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when the remainder of the special beef premium will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18058/06]

The person named submitted four applications under the 2004 Special Beef Premium Scheme, in respect of a total of forty-two animals.

Following computer validation, it was found that eight of the animals on the second application and three on the fourth application, were non-CMMS compliant, in that they were not recorded as being in the herd of the person named on the date the applications were received by the Department.

The appropriate regulatory penalty was that no premium would be payable. The person named, having been advised accordingly, subsequently appealed this decision and, after due consideration, the appeal was allowed. Arrangements are now being made to process the applications further, with a view to payment issuing shortly.

Pat Breen

Question:

375 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive the single farm payment 2005 and dairy top-up; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18321/06]

An application under the 2005 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 16 May 2005. This person also applied under the Consolidation and Private Contract Clause measures of the Single Payment Scheme. The application for the consolidation of entitlements has been accepted and fully processed to payment stage. The Private Contract Clause application to transfer in entitlements by way of a lease agreement has been successful. Full payment including Dairy Premium will be issued to the person named shortly.

David Stanton

Question:

376 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will review an application, for entitlements from the national reserve, from a person (details supplied) in County Cork; when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18323/06]

My Department has no record of receipt of an application form for the National Reserve measure of the Single Payment Scheme from the person named.

The person named did, however, apply to transfer out some entitlements under the inheritance/gift measure of the Single Payment Scheme to a relative. This transfer has been completed. Payment of €11,190.75, in respect of the entitlements retained, will issue shortly to the person named.

EU Directives.

Billy Timmins

Question:

377 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the European Directives that have to be implemented by her Department; when these directives were first issued; the timeframe for their implementation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18458/06]

The 23 directives currently due for implementation in my Department are set out in the schedule below. Six are overdue for transposition. Directives 2005/70/EC, 2005/74/EC and 2005/76/EC relating to plant protection products are being implemented through a package of four Statutory Instruments, three of which have been signed into effect. The remaining Statutory Instrument will be signed before 31 May 2006. Preparations for the transposition of Directives 2006/35/EC and 2006/36/EC relating to plant health, and Directive 2005/57/EC relating to plant protection products are well advanced and the Statutory Instruments will also be implemented before 31 May 2006. In all other cases I intend to have the directives implemented by the due date. Schedule Directives to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture and Food: 23.

Title of Directive

Commission Directive2005/70/EC of 20 October 2005 amending Council Directives 76/895/EEC, 86/362/EEC, 86/363/EEC and 90/642/EEC as regards maximum residue levels for certain pesticides in and on cereals and certain products of animal and plant origin. (OJL 276, 21/10/05, p35)

Commission Directive2005/74/EC of 25 October 2005 amending Council Directive 90/642/EEC as regards the maximum residue levels of ethofumesate, lambda-cyhalothrin, methomyl, pymetrozine and thiabendazole fixed therein (OJL 282/10/05, p9)

Commission Directive2006/35/EC of 24 March 2006 amending Annexes I to IV to Council Directive 2000/29/EC on protective measures against the introduction into the Community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products and against their spread within the Community (OJL 88, 25/3/06, p9)

Commission Directive2006/36/EC of 24 March 2006 amending Directive 2001/32/EC recognising protected zones exposed to particular plant health risks in the Community and repealing Directive 92/76/EEC (OJL 88, 25/3/06, p13)

Commission Directive2005/57/EC of 21 September 2005 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include MCPA and MCPB as active substances (OJL 246, 22/9/05, p14)

Commission Directive2005/76/EC of 8 November 2005 amending Council Directives 90/642/EEC and 86/362/EEC as regards the maximum residue levels of kresoxim-methyl, cyromazine, bifenthrin, metalaxyl and azoxystrobin fixed therein (OJL 293 9/11/05, p14)

Commission Directive2005/72/EC of 21 October 2005 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include chlorpyrifos, chlorpyrifos-methyl, mancozeb, maneb and meitram as acxtive substances. (OJL 279, 22/10/05, p.63)

Commission Directive2006/9/EC of 23 January 2006 amending Council Directives 90/642/EEC as regards the maximum residue levels of diquat, fixed therein (OJL 22, 26/01/06, p24)

Commission Directive2006/4/EC of 26 January 2006 amending the Annexes to Council Directives 86/362/EEC and 90/642/EEC as regards maximum residue levels for carbofuran (OJL 23, 27/01/06, p 69)

Commission Directive2005/43/EC of 23 June 2005 amending the Annexes to Council Directive 68/193/EEC on the marketing of material for the vegetative propagation of the vine (OJL 164, 24/06/05 p37)

Commission Directive2006/30/EC of 13 March 2006 amending the Annexes to Council Directives 86/362/EEC, 86/363/EEC and 90/642/EEC as regards maximum residue levels for the benomyl group (OJL 75, 14/03/06, p.7)

Commission Directive2006/10/EC of 27 January 2006 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include forchlorfenuron and indoxacarb as active substances (OJL 25, 28/01/06, p24)

Commission Directive2006/19/EC of 14 February 2006 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include 1-methylcyclopropene as active substance (OJL 44, 15/02/06, p44)

Commission Directive2006/13/EC of 3 February 2006 amending Annexes I and II to Directive 2002/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on undesirable substances in animal feed as regards dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs (OJL 32, 04/02/06, p46)

Commission Directive2005/86/EC of 5 December 2005 amending Annex I to Directive 2002/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on undesirable substances in animal feed as regards camphechlor. (OJL 318, 06/12/05, p16)

Commission Directive2005/87/EC of 5 December 2005 amending Annex I to Directive 2002/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on undesirable substances in animal feed as regards lead, fluorine and cadmium. (OJL 318, 06/12/05, p17)

Commission Directive2006/26/EC of 2 March 2006 amending, for the purposes of their adaptation to technical progress, Council Directives 74/151/EEC, 77/311/EEC, 78/933/EEC and 89/173/EEC relating to wheeled agricultural or forestry tractors (OJL 35, 07/03/06, p22)

Commission Directive2006/16/EC of 7 February 2006 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include oxamyl as active substance (OJL 36, 08/02/06, p.37)

Council Directive2005/24/EC of 14 March 2005 with regard to the use of ova and embryos and storage centres for semen from pure-bred breeding animals of the bovine species. (OJL 78, 24/03/05, p43)

Commission Directive2006/5/EC of 17 January 2006 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include warfarin as active substance (OJL 12, 18/01/06 p, 17)

Commission Directive2006/6/EC of 17 January 2006 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include tolyfluanid as active substance (OJL 12, 18/01/06 p, 21)

Council Directive2005/94/EC of 20 December 2005 on Community measures for the control of avian influenza and repealing Directive 92/40/EEC (OJL 10, 14/01/06, p16)

Commission Directive2006/39/EC of 12 April 2006 amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC to include clodinafop, pirimicarb, rimsulfuron, tolclofos-methyl and triticonazole as active substances (OJL 104, 13/04/06, p30)

Ministerial Staff.

Billy Timmins

Question:

378 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the name and role of advisers, assistants or other staff employed by her since January 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18521/06]

A Press Adviser vacancy has existed since February 2005 and an appointment is pending.

Grant Payments.

Billy Timmins

Question:

379 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the criteria for qualification for the national reserve; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18549/06]

The four main categories and qualifying criteria for the 2005 Single Payment Scheme National Reserve are as follows: Category A: Farmers who inherited or otherwise obtained a holding free of charge or for a nominal sum from a farmer who retired or died before 16 May 2005 where the holding was leased out to a third party during the reference period.

CategoryB(i) B(ii) B(iii) and B(iv): Farmers who made an investment between 1 January 2000 and 19 October 2003, which resulted in an increase in production capacity. Investments include purchase or long term lease of land, purchase of suckler and/or ewe quota or other investments.

Category C: Farmers who sold their milk quota into a re-structuring scheme between 1 January 2000 and 19 October 2003 and who converted to a farming sector for which a direct payment under the Livestock and/or Arable Aid Schemes would have been payable in respect of the years 2000 to 2002.

Category D: New entrants to farming since 31 December 2002 and farmers who commenced farming in 2002 but who received no direct payments in that year. The applicant's total income could not exceed €40,000 and any off-farm income could not exceed €20,000. Farming qualifications were required for this category.

Vetting Procedures.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

380 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the vetting procedures which are in place to ensure the suitability in terms of physical and mental health in order to obtain a public service vehicle licence for the transport of high capacity passenger vehicles; the criteria which are applied; his views on whether they are adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17863/06]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there is no requirement to hold a public service vehicle driver's licence to drive high capacity passenger vehicles.

I am further informed that the only requirement is to hold the appropriate driving licence to drive such vehicles.

Road Safety.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

381 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of left-hand drive cars which were involved in road fatalities in the past 12 months; [17955/06]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

383 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of vehicle accidents resulting in the death of non-nationals which involved a left-hand drive car; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18330/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 381 and 383 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that for the period 1 January, 2006 to 9 May, 2006 four collisions involving left hand drive cars resulted in deaths of non — Irish nationals and in the same period six left hand drive cars were involved in fatal road traffic collisions.

I am also informed that the specific statistics requested are not available for 2005 or previous years.

A new foreign language road safety campaign was recently launched by my colleague the Minister for Transport. The objective of the campaign is to provide safety information to various minority ethnic groups. It focuses on legal requirements and road safety advice for driving in Ireland. Leaflets have been printed in a number of different languages and distributed to Garda Stations and workplaces where non-Irish nationals are likely to work.

Taxi Regulations.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

382 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the testing regime for qualification as a taxi driver and the details of the testing process; the number of stages, the subjects tested, the points pass threshold that currently exists and so on; if there are circumstances whereby a higher pass threshold exists for Irish drivers than does for foreign drivers; if so, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18112/06]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the testing for qualification as a public service vehicle driver commences at the local Garda station. The applicant submits his application to the local District Officer. Checks are carried out to ensure that the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

The application is then processed and in accordance with the regulations the applicant is tested on his/her knowledge of the taxi meter area, the taxi regulations regarding drivers and the carriage of passengers and road traffic legislation.

There is no distinction between foreign drivers and Irish drivers in this procedure.

The licensing of small public service vehicles (taxis, hackneys and limousines), and the drivers of such vehicles is currently governed by the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations 1963 to 2002 made under the Road Traffic Acts, the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2003 and Regulations made under that Act in 2005 and 2006 by the Commission for Taxi Regulation.

Question No. 383 answered with QuestionNo. 381.

Human Rights Issues.

Finian McGrath

Question:

384 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason he is allowing the breaching of human rights in prisons here; and if he will stop closing down positive educational and workshop services for prisoners. [17844/06]

I strongly reject the assertion in the Question that I am somehow allowing the breaching of the Human Rights of prisoners. Prisoners Human Rights are safeguarded by law, by prison visits and inspections by oversight bodies viz, Prison Visiting Committees, the Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention and the Council of Europe's European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and by the daily management and operational practices in all our prisons and places of detention.

No decision has been taken to close educational or workshop services for prisoners. It is my policy to ensure that available resources are used to best advantage in maximising the provision of such services. On-going implementation of the Proposal for Organisational Change, which has been agreed with the Prison Officers' Association, should facilitate improved access to prisoner programmes as additional vocational training staff become available. In addition, the workshops at St. Patrick's Institution, which have been closed temporarily for renovation, will reopen in the near future and it is envisaged that the general education unit at Cloverhill Prison will be opened later this year.

Garda Stations.

Marian Harkin

Question:

385 Ms Harkin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda stations without a fax machine, computer or resident squad car in Sligo, Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17857/06]

The detailed information requested by the Deputy is not readily available and is currently being compiled by the Garda authorities. I will contact the Deputy again when the information is to hand.

Citizenship Applications.