Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 10, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 11 to 73, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 74 to 82, inclusive, answered orally.

Industrial Development.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

83 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he is taking to ensure that a more even spread of investment throughout the country can be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37945/06]

A key goal for the enterprise development agencies is the achievement of the national objective of balanced regional development within the framework of the National Spatial Strategy. The recently launched "Gateways Investment Priorities Study" aims to provide renewed impetus to the development of the nine Gateway locations identified in the NSS. Gateway development involves not just physical infrastructure but also the development of labour force participation, the enterprise and economic base, skills and R&D. The enterprise development agencies under my Department and FÁS were closely involved in preparing this report and they will be key partners in implementing its recommendations.

Enterprise Ireland has set itself three broad objectives with regard to its regional focus. First, to drive the growth of innovation-based start-ups in locations throughout the country, second, to develop existing client companies in all locations, and third, to facilitate entrepreneurial development and the development of the enterprise environment in local and rural communities.

IDA also has a strong role to play because of the mobilizing and energizing effect that new investments can have in a region. The impact of new inward investment can be seen in many towns over recent years, for example, Pacificare and Pramerica in Letterkenny, MBNA in Carrick-on-Shannon, Guidant in Clonmel Kostal in Mallow, Cordis in Cashel, M.S.D in Ballindine, Abbot Diabetes in Donegal, Servier in Belview and Arklow, U.S.C.I. in Ballinasloe and Toucan in Sligo.

IDA Ireland is currently in the process of developing a number of high specification, regionally distributed, strategic industrial sites to help the regions compete for high-value projects in both the biopharmaceutical and ICT sectors.

A total of 46 new investment projects, out of the 71 supported by IDA Ireland in 2005, are locating outside Dublin. Over the past six years the new job gains associated with Enterprise Ireland clients have shown strong growth in the regions. In 2000, 54% of employment gains were in EI client companies located in all regions outside of Dublin. By 2005, 65% of employment gains associated with Enterprise Ireland client companies were located in regions outside Dublin.

I am confident that the strategies and policies being pursued by the development agencies are and will continue to bear fruit in terms of a more equitable distribution of investments and jobs.

Labour Inspectorate.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

84 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will ensure that speakers of minority languages are recruited as part of the expansion of the number of labour inspectors in order to direct special attention to migrant workers who may be especially at risk from exploitation; the status of the recruitment campaign for the additional labour inspectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37743/06]

The eligibility requirements and terms and conditions of employment for the position of Labour Inspector do not provide for competence in minority languages. While Inspectors come into contact and engage with migrant workers in the course of investigations a substantial portion of the Inspectorate's time is allocated to the detailed examination of employment records and compliance with a substantial corpus of employment rights legislation generally. The generality of investigative work undertaken by Labour Inspectors does not require that they be competent in a variety of languages. Where the need for interpretation services are required, such as in the taking of statements from employees or the translation of documents, the Inspectorate has adequate access to a panel of competent individuals who can provide the services necessary in a broad range of languages.

The Employment Rights Information Unit (ERIU) of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment produces a range of materials including information leaflets and booklets that provide a condensed and simplified version of the large corpus of Employment Rights legislation that is currently on the Statute Books. With particular regard for the needs of workers from overseas the Department has translated key Employment Rights information into nine languages and made this available both in leaflet form and on the Department's website.

The existing staff complement of the Labour Inspectorate of the Department comprises 31 Inspectors and some 7 administrative support staff. The number of Labour Inspectors under this Office will be progressively increased from 31 to 90 by end-2007, as part of the initiative provided in "Towards 2016" to increase the staffing resources of the Employment Rights Bodies generally.

This Department is in consultation with the Department of Finance in relation to the filling of the new Labour Inspector positions. I expect that the necessary arrangements and selection processes can be progressed between now and end year with a view to assignments being made from the second quarter of 2007.

Employment Rights.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

85 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will introduce measures to provide protections to the Irish based employee’s of non-Irish based firms who operate here during sporting and entertainment events in the future; if he acknowledges the current lack of protections available to such employees whose employment rights may be subverted by such companies as a result of their non-Irish based status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37984/06]

Catherine Murphy

Question:

149 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the options and remedies available to persons (details supplied) who, having engaged in casual work for a company employed by the PGA Tour during the Ryder Cup, have still not been paid for their services and are encountering significant financial difficulty as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37985/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 149 together.

The persons in respect of whom details have been supplied could, in accordance with Section 6 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1991, present a complaint to a Rights Commissioner. The Rights Commissioner may, following examination of the facts and if he/she considers that the complaint is well founded, order the employer to pay appropriate compensation. Complaints must be presented to the Rights Commissioner Service within six months from the date of the contravention or in exceptional circumstances such further period not exceeding six months as the Rights Commissioner considers reasonable. The enforcement of any such order outside the jurisdiction of the State would, of course, be problematic.

Alternatively, the persons involved could take civil proceedings against the employer within the latter's jurisdiction. In such proceedings the unpaid wages would be considered as a simple contract debt.

The option of seeking assistance from the Irish and European representatives of the PGA might also be worth pursuing given the latter's responsibilities for the organisation and hosting of this year's Ryder Cup.

Finally, the persons involved may wish to contact the Private Security Authority, which in accordance with the Private Security Services Act 2004, is the statutory body with responsibility for licensing and regulating the private security industry in Ireland.

There are no proposals to introduce specific legislation to regulate non-Irish firms who employ people during sporting and entertainment events. A comprehensive body of employment rights legislation, which does not distinguish between Irish and non-Irish based firms, is already in place. The Deputy will be aware, however, that a number of legislative commitments in the employment rights area arising from the Partnership Agreement "Towards 2016" are being progressed at present. All measures which will have the effect of enhancing existing provisions and arrangements insofar as compliance, enforcement and redress are concerned will be considered in the context of the preparation of this legislation.

I am also committed to building on the existing contacts between the industrial relations institutions, relevant Departments and the social partners and their UK and EU counterparts, with a view to promoting greater co-operation on workplace issues. Such co-operation and dialogue will be grounded both in the context of developments in their respective labour markets and in the light of EU developments, including in the context of social dialogue at EU level.

Redundancy Issues.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

86 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the changes made within his Department to optimise the advanced warning period in order to ensure a swifter and more efficient response to mitigate the effects of redundancies following the introduction of mandatory notification of the disemployment of 20 or more employees prior to the issuing of redundancy notices. [37982/06]

A Collective redundancy means dismissals effected by an employer for one or more reasons not related to the individual concerned where in any period of 30 days the number of such dismissals is:

(a) at least 5 in an establishment normally employing more than 20 and less than 50 employees,

(b) at least ten in an establishment normally employing at least 50 but less that 100 employees,

(c) at least ten cent of the number of employees in an establishment normally employing at least 100 but less than 300 employees, and

(d) at least 30 in an establishment normally employing 300 or more employees.

In a collective redundancy situation employers are required to notify the Minister at least 30 days before the redundancies commence.

When the notification is received in this Department, the local FÁS Office is informed of the forthcoming redundancies and other relevant agencies are also informed if appropriate. The resources of FÁS are available to all redundant workers. FÁS provides workers with information and advice and places workers on training programmes, which often lead to further employment.

In order to improve its customer service in making payments under the Statutory Redundancy Payments Scheme, this Department introduced on 31st May, 2005 a new user-friendly on-line redundancy applications system. This quicker and more efficient system has proved to be a success and the take-up rate of this on-line facility by customers has increased from an initial 12% to 52% at present.

Research Policy.

Dan Boyle

Question:

87 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the objectives set out under the FP7 framework; the measures he will take to achieve the said objectives; and the budgetary allocation made for the project. [37974/06]

The Framework Programme is the main instrument through which the EU's research policy is implemented. The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) has been designed to build on the achievements of its predecessor towards the creation of the European Research Area and carry it further towards the objective of developing the knowledge economy and society in Europe. The Budget for the FP7 Programme is €50.5 billion for the period 2007-2013.

The Programme has always been an important element in the internationalisation of Irish research. It has enabled academic and industry research groups to work with their peers across Europe and derive the benefits associated with collaborative research. In monetary terms, this activity has injected some €200 million of additional European funding into the Irish research system over the lifetime of the previous Programme FP6 (2003-2006). Ireland's Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI) has set a national target of €400 million for FP7.

There is a very close alignment between Ireland's goals for science and research and those of the European Union. As such, FP7 will be a critical component in delivering on the targets set out in our national strategy for STI, which covers the same timeframe.

Ireland has made a major input into shaping FP7 and we are satisfied with its overall structure and content. Collaborative research, which will provide funding to facilitate transnational research partnerships and, the Marie Curie actions, which will provide support to encourage the mobility of researchers across Europe, will continue to form the bulk of the new Programme. We have played a lead role in pushing for simplification to make FP7 more attuned to the needs of industry and we were successful in ensuring the inclusion of the 15% target for SME participation in collaborative research.

FP7 also provides for new initiatives such as the European Research Council (ERC) which will support Europe's top researchers to undertake frontier research based on a European-wide competition for funding, This new programme will complement SFI initiatives and programmes which are focused on building a base of world class research in Ireland.

Today I officiated at our national launch of FP7 and it is now in the hands of researchers and companies to exploit the opportunities available. All participants in the Programme have to compete for funding — there are no funds allocated to Ireland per se. However, in order to help researchers and companies in Ireland to join partnerships and compete for funding, I have put in place a new national support structure that will provide practical assistance to help potential participants. The main elements of the support structure include: a key feature of the strengthened support structure is the appointment of a National Director for FP7, Dr. Imelda Lambkin, who will head up a dedicated FP7 Office to be based in Enterprise Ireland. This FP7 Office will support the work of our network of 30 National Contact Points and will act as a first port of call for newcomers to the programme. It will ensure that a co-ordinated and coherent approach is adopted across all of the components of FP7 so that researchers and companies are fully aware of all relevant opportunities; the development and promotion of a coherent and easy to access range of funding mechanisms to support applications to the programme from Ireland and the promotion of measures to support all island collaboration in the programme.

The support network will be resourced in all years from 2007 to 2013 using public monies channelled by Government Departments to the agencies and organisations involved.

National Minimum Wage.

Seán Ryan

Question:

88 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason no prosecutions have taken place under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 during 2005 and 2006 despite the increasing evidence of the exploitation of workers, especially those coming from overseas, including the high profile cases from the construction and mushroom picking industries; his views on whether no breaches of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 have taken place since 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37731/06]

The number of inspections which have been carried out by the Labour Inspectorate in respect of compliance with the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 in 2005 and 2006 was 481 and 2,818 respectively.

While no prosecutions were initiated under that legislation in 2005 or 2006 the Deputy should be aware that the primary objective of the Labour Inspectorate in cases where breaches of employment rights legislation have been detected is to seek redress for the individual or individuals concerned in terms of ensuring immediate compliance and rectification of any such breaches and, where these breaches have resulted in an financial loss to workers, to effect payment of any arrears due. In this regard over €1 million in arrears has been recovered to date in 2006 from employers arising from National Minimum Wage and other statutory minimum wage inspections by the Labour Inspectorate.

The Labour Inspectorate will initiate prosecutions, where appropriate, in cases of failure to effect compliance or rectify breaches detected. However, the number of prosecutions initiated or the number of successful prosecutions is not an effective indicator of either the incidence of breaches or the effectiveness of Labour Inspectorate enforcement.

The Deputy should be aware that statutory minimum rates of pay for certain sectors, for example Construction and Agriculture, are provided for under Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements, which are also enforced by the Labour Inspectorate.

Earlier this year the Labour Inspectorate undertook a targeted campaign, which included a focus on National Minimum Wage compliance. This focused campaign has substantially increased the number of inspections/visits carried out under the National Minimum Wage Act in 2006.

I can assure the Deputy that the inspection of compliance with the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 and with other statutory instruments and agreements which provide for minimum rates of pay is a priority objective within the Labour Inspectorate. Routine and targeted inspections of compliance within all sectors, including the construction sector and the mushroom industry in which statutory minimum rates of pay are provided for by Employment Regulation Order and Registered Employment Agreement respectively, are important elements within the Inspectorate's programme of activities.

Employment Rights.

Martin Ferris

Question:

89 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the Office for Employment Rights Compliance will be established as outlined in the social partnership agreement Towards 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37763/06]

Joan Burton

Question:

119 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the timetable for the introduction of the new Office of the Director of Employment Rights Compliance; when he intends to introduce the necessary legislation to the House; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37748/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 119 together.

The Office of the Director for Employment Rights Compliance (ODERC) will be established under primary legislation to be published next year. In the meantime, and as soon as the Director has been appointed and an Advisory Board put in place, I propose to establish this Office on an interim basis.

The Public Appointments Service is managing the recruitment competitions for the positions of Director of, and Legal Advisor and Accountant in, the ODERC. The deadlines for applications for these posts have passed and the associated selection processes will shortly be underway. Arrangements in respect of the filling of other senior management positions within the ODERC are well advanced.

The necessary funding for the Office will be provided in the context of the 2007 Pre-Budget Estimates which will be published this week.

Subject to continued progress on recruitment and other arrangements I hope to be in a position to announce early next year the establishment of the Office on an interim, non-statutory basis. Work has already begun on the preparation of the Employment Rights Compliance Bill which will, among other matters, establish the Office on a statutory basis.

Job Creation.

John Deasy

Question:

90 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action he will take to bring alternative employment to Waterford where 200 jobs are to be lost at a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37938/06]

In September, 2006, the company in question announced a reduction in its employment with the removal of 200 temporary positions from its Waterford plant. The full services of the Industrial Training agency FÁS are available to these employees. The jobs in question are not permanent positions and the company continues to employ over 1,500 permanent people.

On 27 October, 2006, I announced that a French company would be investing €115 million in establishing a pharmaceuticals ingredients facility at Belview which is located on the border of Waterford and Kilkenny. A total of 155 new jobs will be created in this facility. The real significance of this project is that the French company is the first company to locate in the Belview site. Belview is a key strategic site developed by IDA Ireland to attract a cluster of cutting-edge multinational pharmaceutical companies to the South East. This is a very promising beginning.

On 12 October, 2006, Waterford County Council organised a Conference entitled "Invest in Waterford" which was held in Dungarvan. On that occasion, the Secretary General of my Department launched a new website to promote County Waterford as a prime business location for a range of sectors including retail, healthcare, bio-pharma and pharmaceuticals, shared services and tourism. The website also seeks to attract people to return to the county to work.

Earlier this year, I announced the extension of the Enterprise Ireland Community Enterprise Centre Scheme. Under this Scheme, Dungarvan Enterprise Development was approved for €300,000 towards the construction of a new Centre. Enterprise Ireland is also involved in the Interagency Forum which was established by the Waterford County Manager last year following job losses at the Dungarvan Crystal Plant. In this regard, support has been provided for an Economic Development Executive and this position was filled at the end of last year.

I am confident that the strategies and policies being pursued will continue to bring about investment and jobs for the people of Waterford.

Foreign Direct Investment.

Ivor Callely

Question:

91 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the success of the IDA policy in attracting direct foreign investment to Ireland over the past seven years; the benefits received from such policy; the policy areas that have been identified where reform is necessary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38016/06]

IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ireland and its regions. For a number of years now the Agency has been very successful in marketing Ireland to overseas investors and we continue to win a disproportionate share of available investments relative to our size and population.

The level of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ireland, relative to the size of the economy, is one of the highest in the world. At the end of 2005 there were over 132,000 people employed in 1,010 IDA supported companies. These include many of the leading companies in information technology and communications, life sciences, international services, engineering and financial services.

The challenge for IDA Ireland now is to sustain, embed and grow these investments and to entice new investments. In responding to this challenge IDA Ireland is focusing on the development of its employment base into high technology, high value added and high skill functions, including not only high-end manufacturing, but also areas such as high-end services and R&D.

Ireland has re-invented its value proposition for inward investment over the past seven years, recognising changes in global conditions and in our own circumstances. Today's investments are characterised by their leading-edge nature, in terms of technology, such as in Amgen and Intel, or their market innovation, such as in eBay and Google. They are increasingly reliant on a highly skilled workforce. They require an agile, flexible and responsive operating environment.

Ireland has now established a reputation globally as a location for advanced manufacturing, sophisticated business services and, increasingly, for leading research and innovation. Each of these areas will be of critical importance to our continuing success.

In order to support this continued success, IDA Ireland has adopted a series of interlinked programmes of work, the main elements of which are as follows:

Concentrating more resources on helping to underpin the competitiveness of existing overseas companies in Ireland, by encouraging and supporting existing clients to move up the value chain into higher value products and services and into higher order functions, such as R&D;

Seeking out niches of business in which Ireland can carve out world market leadership;

Developing new networks and relationships to work towards developments in new areas such as strengthening links between business and third level institutions and other research centres with a view to increasing innovation;

Pursuing high quality new FDI that is in keeping with the competitive characteristics of the Irish economy today.

I am satisfied that the policies and strategies being pursued by IDA Ireland are the most appropriate ones to attract and grow foreign direct investment in the country which will, in turn, maintain and grow sustainable, quality employment into the future.

Bullying in the Workplace.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

92 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the ESRI has completed its survey on workplace bullying that he commissioned since the report of the Expert Group on Workplace Bullying; when the details of this survey will be reported; when he will take the necessary steps to implement the proposals of the report launched by him on 17 August 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37724/06]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

161 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the Health and Safety Authority will update the 2002 Code of Practice on Workplace Bullying to bring it into line with the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 as recommended by him. [37767/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 92 and 161 together.

The Report of the Expert Advisory Group on Workplace Bullying was launched and published by me on the 17th August 2005 and it follows on from a 2001 Report by the Taskforce on the Prevention of Workplace Bullying. The recommendations of the 2001 Taskforce were implemented.

One of the recommendations in the 2005 Report of the Expert Advisory Group was that a follow up survey on workplace bullying, similar to that commissioned for the 2001 report, be conducted as soon as practicable to establish a baseline from which the effectiveness of the new structures and processes would be measured. This Department has commissioned the ESRI to carry out this survey, which is currently ongoing. It is expected that the survey will be completed in early 2007. I have already given a commitment to publish the results of the survey.

In the meantime, I have asked the Health and Safety Authority to update the 2002 Code of Practice on Workplace Bullying (one of the recommendations of the 2001 Report) and bring it in line with the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act. I expect that the Authority will be in a position to publish a draft of the Code of Practice very soon as part of the statutory requirement on consultations with the public. I also expect to receive the Code from the Authority early in the New Year for approval under the 2005 Act.

Ministerial Appointments.

Liam Twomey

Question:

93 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when he will appoint a new chief executive to the Health and Safety Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37948/06]

The appointment of a Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority is in the first instance a matter for the Board of the Authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 39 and Schedule 6 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. The appointment is subject to the consent of the Minister. I am informed that the board is putting in place arrangements and procedures to recruit and appoint a new Chief Executive.

EU Directives.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

94 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his assessment of the future of the EU Working Time Directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37937/06]

I consider that the failure of the EU Employment Ministers to reach agreement on the politically sensitive draft EU Working Time Directive at their Council on 7 November 2006, was a missed opportunity to bring a consensus approach to EU working hours. A better opportunity will not arise again for some considerable time as Germany, Slovenia and Portugal have signalled that they have other priorities during their respective upcoming Presidencies of the EU.

Despite big efforts over the course of the last five Presidencies and in particular, the heroic efforts of both the Austrian and current Finnish Presidencies, agreement foundered on the issue of the ending of the "opt-out" clause allowing workers in some Member States to work beyond an average maximum of 48 hours per week. The UK, supported by some of the new Member States, were opposed to a definitive end date for the "opt-out" clause as proposed by France, Italy and Spain.

While Ireland does not avail of the opt out, we saw the Finnish Presidency proposal as a pragmatic and workable compromise which would have protected the health and safety of workers without compromising the competitiveness of enterprises. Despite the flexibilities on offer in the compromise, blocking minorities in opposing camps prevented agreement.

The initiative now lies with the European Commission in its role as guardians of the EU Treaty to decide whether or not to take Infringement Proceedings against 23 out of 25 Member States, who it says are in breach of the Directive following recent ECJ Rulings in the Simap and Jaeger Cases.

However, given the political sensitivity of the Directive for Member States, particularly in relation to the provision of healthcare services, it is not yet clear as to how the EU Commission might approach Infringement Proceedings should they choose to pursue this option.

Decentralisation Programme.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

95 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of his Department’s decentralisation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37933/06]

My Department has been making good progress in the relocation of the required 250 posts to Carlow under the Government's Decentralisation Programme.

With regard to the property side of the Department's move, the Office of Public Works completed the purchase of a site in Carlow town centre late last year. On 31st May 2006, the OPW commenced the tendering process by seeking expressions of interest from developers in relation to the design, build, finance and maintenance of new office accommodation and car parking for the Department in Carlow.

On completion of this stage, a short-list of developers will be drawn up from whom tenders will be invited. Following the tender evaluation process the preferred tenderer will be requested to seek suitable planning permission. On obtaining this, the OPW will formally award the contract and construction will commence. The OPW expect construction to begin late in 2007 and the construction phase may take up to 24 months.

In order to accommodate staff who wish to move earlier than the projected building completion date, officials of my Department, in consultation with the Department of Finance and the OPW, as well as decentralising staff and Business Units, are progressing an earlier move to Carlow, subject to securing high quality temporary accommodation. I expect this option to allow for the movement of approximately 80 decentralising staff to Carlow during the second quarter of 2007, on a voluntary basis.

The number of posts in Business Units decentralising to Carlow, as at 10th November, is 280. Having regard to the agreed staffing transfer protocols governing decentralisation, my Department has approached all General Service staff who expressed a first preference before 7th September 2004 i.e "Priority Applications" for relocation to Carlow through the Central Application Facility.

Officials in my Department have analysed the "Two to Ten" priority applicants — those who before the 7th September 2004 deadline identified Carlow as their 2nd or subsequent choice. In addition, given that there still remains a deficit in some grades, my Department has assessed the post September 2004 CAF applicants, in line with Department of Finance policy.

My Department currently has 109 Carlow-bound applicants assigned within the Department, with a further 74 Carlow-bound applicants yet to be assigned to the Department. None of the required 250 staff have been decentralised to date. It is hoped to have all decentralising posts filled in sufficient time to ensure that staff are adequately trained in advance of the move to Carlow.

County Enterprise Boards.

Denis Naughten

Question:

96 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has satisfied himself that State funding for county enterprise boards is sufficient for them to carry out their remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37759/06]

Denis Naughten

Question:

117 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will provide additional funding to efficient county enterprise boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37758/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 96 and 117 together.

I have provided funding of more than €30m to the County and City Enterprise Boards this year. This represents an increase of nearly 8% on the allocation provided in 2005. In addition to the Exchequer funding provided, the CEBs have an increasing flow of funds available to them from repayments of refundable grants provided in earlier years. It is estimated that some €3m has been available to the CEBs in 2006 from this source.

I believe that the level of funding available to the CEBs is adequate and appropriate at this time and that it enables all CEBs to fulfil their function and their remit in maximizing entrepreneurial development in the micro-enterprise sector throughout the country. The CEBs play an extremely important role in the development of indigenous enterprise in Ireland and it is my intention that an appropriate level of financial support for all CEBs will continue to be made available. I am confident that the level of funding available is sufficient to enable any CEB support any good quality projects that may present.

In determining the allocations for individual CEBs, my Department adopts a systematic approach to ensure the maximum degree of objectivity and equity of treatment. This approach involves the provision of funding on the basis of a standard initial allocation to each CEB as well as an additional allocation that is determined mainly by population but which also takes account of issues such as local unemployment trends, capacity to spend, existing commitments and regional spread. Furthermore, my Department works closely with the CEBs throughout the year to ensure that the available funding is utilised to the maximum extent possible. This can involve funds being reallocated from Boards that are not in a position to spend their full allocations to Boards that have a demand for additional funding. This exercise is taking place at present as Boards are now in a better position to determine actual requirements to year-end.

Proposed Legislation.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

97 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason he has failed to introduce legislation to control arms brokering here by this Autumn; when such legislation will be introduced; the reason he is continuing to allow Ireland be used as a potential hub for the brokerage of military hardware; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37755/06]

The Government approved the General Scheme of the Control of Exports Bill on 19 July. The Bill is currently with the Parliamentary Counsel's Office for drafting and I expect it to be published by the end of this year. I hope to bring the new legislation before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the first half of 2007.

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 practice. 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.

Working Conditions Survey.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

98 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has studied the results of the Fourth European Working Conditions Survey, which states that Ireland has one of the highest levels of reported exposure to violence, or the threat of violence, in the workplace of 27 countries surveyed with 8% of workers reporting such incidents in the previous twelve month period; and his proposals to deal with this phenomenon. [37766/06]

John Gormley

Question:

120 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the recent findings of the EU Living and Working Conditions report that violence in the workplace in Ireland is the third highest in the EU; and the measures his Department will take to address the issue. [37980/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98 and 120 together.

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions has not yet completed work on the "Fourth European Working Conditions Survey", referred to in the Deputies' questions. The Foundation published its "first findings" on 7th November last and the full report is due to be published in February 2007.

I understand that the survey, which was conducted in 2005 covering nearly 30,000 workers in 31 countries, shows that bullying or harassment, violence or the threat of violence, and various forms of discrimination all contribute to psychological ill-health and stress. Around 5% of workers reported having experienced some form of violence, bullying or harassment in the workplace in the previous 12 month period. In general, exposure to violence and threats of violence was greater in northern Europe, with higher than average levels reported in the Netherlands(10%), France and the UK (9%) and Ireland (8%).

These figures certainly give cause for concern. It would appear that an issue to be addressed is "attitude of employers to increasing workplace violence." To address this, I am advised that the National Workplace Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which is due to be published in early 2007, will recommend a more proactive role by employers in minimising the risk of violence to employees.

In addition, I am also advised that the Health and Safety Authority intends to carry out inspections in relation to violence in the healthcare sector in 2007. Already, the Authority has published general guidance on the prevention of violence at work and specific guidance on the prevention of violence in healthcare as well as for the cash in transit industry.

I look forward to publication of the full report by the European Foundation and following its publication, I will ask the relevant agencies under the aegis of the Department to have regard to its findings in the development and implementation of their programmes of work.

Finally I might also mention that a survey completed in Ireland in 2001, and which I am now having updated by the ESRI, revealed that 7% of workers experienced bullying in the previous 6 month period.

Research Funding.

Dan Boyle

Question:

99 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount of money spent by Enterprise Ireland in each year of the advanced technology research programme; the number of projects funded under the programme; the number of the said projects converted to start-up companies or licensing income; and the amount of State investment in the start-up companies that were established. [37975/06]

The information being requested falls within the statutory remit of Enterprise Ireland, an agency under the aegis of my Department. However, I understand that a significant proportion of the requested material now being sought is incorporated in the material recently supplied to Deputy Ryan by Enterprise Ireland following the Deputy's Parliamentary Questions, numbers 406, 407 and 408, of the 17th October.

I am also aware that senior Enterprise Ireland officials are to meet with Deputy Ryan on November 17th and a comprehensive briefing of Enterprise Ireland's Research and Development activities will be provided at that meeting.

UN Conventions.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

100 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the significant changes that he has indicated would need to be implemented with regard to existing legislation, employment, social welfare, education, taxation and electoral law in order for the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families to be ratified. [37761/06]

Martin Ferris

Question:

154 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the European Union dimension that he believes will complicate any proposed ratification by Ireland of the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37762/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 and 154 together.

As I and other Ministers have indicated to similar questions in the past, Ireland has not signed nor has it any plans to ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1990. This is also the position of other Member States of the European Union.

This Convention is a complex and wide ranging one, which has been examined by a number of Government Departments. I understand that before Ireland could consider ratifying it there would need to be significant changes across a wide range of existing legislation, including employment, social welfare, education, taxation and electoral law. Moreover, many of the issues addressed by the Convention would have a European Union dimension. This would also complicate any proposed ratification by Ireland of it, if our European partners were to continue to refrain from ratification, as they seem likely to do.

My responsibilities relate to economic migration and employment protection policies and I would emphasise that I am committed to many of the ideals and aspirations which the Convention endeavours to advance. In particular, I am fully committed to the prevention of exploitation of migrant workers and to ensuring that all workers benefit from the full range of our employment rights protections.

In this respect I would point out that this range of protections has been added to by the Employment Permits Act 2006. The Act provides a number of new important protections for migrant workers including: the granting of the employment permit to the employee, rather than the employer; the employment permit containing a statement of the rights and entitlements of the migrant worker, including that the employee may change employment through the application for another permit by a new employer.

Finally, I would also stress that the provisions of the new Social Partnership agreement "Towards 2016" contain a new employment rights compliance package for all workers, which includes new legislation as well as the establishment of a new Office for Employment Rights Compliance.

Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy.

John Perry

Question:

101 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of the implementation of the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006 to 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37935/06]

In the months since the launch of the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI) in June, 2006 the following implementation initiatives have been set in train:

The composition and terms of reference of Technology Ireland (TI) have been agreed and it has become operational. TI, which operates under the aegis of the Office for Science and Technology, is charged with ensuring coherence in activating the enterprise elements of the SSTI.

The counterpart of TI in the higher education area of the SSTI is the Higher Education Research Group (HERG). The terms of reference of HERG and its institutional membership have been agreed and it will hold its first meeting shortly.

The 2007 work programme of the Advisory Committee for Science has been approved and is ongoing.

A National Director for the 7th EU R&D Framework Programme has been appointed as has the network of national delegates and national focal points. The Framework Programme was launched at national level earlier today.

For the most part these might be termed the implementing structures of SSTI. Their work programmes will address in a complementary way the realization of the objectives of the SSTI. In addition, the InterDepartmental Committee on SSTI has been reactivated to drive all aspects of the strategy. The InterDepartmental Committee reports in turn to the Cabinet SubCommittee on SSTI so there is both administrative and political oversight of delivery of the different strands of the Strategy, and scope for its review on an ongoing basis.

Live Register.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

102 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his assessment of the failure of 9,000 people on the live register to turn up for interviews with FÁS; the implications of this for training and employment policy in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37943/06]

As part of the Government's National Employment Action Plan (NEAP) Preventive Strategy, people aged between 18 and 64 years and who are approaching three months' duration on the Live register, are systematically referred by the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA) to FÁS for interview with a view to assisting them enter/re-enter employment.

During the period January to December 2005, 40,718 persons were referred to FÁS for interview. Of these 9,139 failed to attend. More recently, during the period January to July 2006 (the last period for which full data is available), 22,251 persons were referred to FÁS under this process. Of these 4,590 persons on their responsibility did not attend on the scheduled date. FÁS reports to DSFA in respect of each person referred. Every case of failed attendance is examined by DSFA and, in these circumstances, a person's continued entitlement to welfare payment may be reviewed.

The effectiveness of the National Employment Action Plan Preventive Strategy was independently reviewed last year by Indecon Economic Consultants. The overall findings were positive and the report concluded that the NEAP had resulted in significant savings to the Exchequer and had contributed to maintaining the low level of unemployment.

In response to the findings of the report the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, FÁS and the Department of Social and Family Affairs have developed and agreed an Action Plan.

Proposed Legislation.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

103 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 14 of 11 October 2006, and other questions on that day, if he will introduce legislation, either primary or secondary, to instruct the Companies Registration Office to obtain in future data regarding the gender and other demographic information of each company director registered with them; if he believes that such information would be useful in targeting training and development efforts at certain sectors of society that are not well represented at company director and officer positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37751/06]

I have no plans to introduce additional reporting requirements relating to gender or other demographic information concerning directors of registered companies. Responsibility for gender equality matters generally is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Further to the debate in the House on Parliamentary Question No. 14 of 11 October 2006, the Companies Registration Office have informed me, based on a very preliminary scan of names of company directors, that it appears that about one-third of directors of Irish registered companies are women.

Decentralisation Programme.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

104 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on the decentralisation process at the Health and Safety Authority; the number of staff who have formally expressed an interest in decentralising; the number of staff who have been decentralised; the number of specialist staff who have expressed an interest in decentralising; the number of specialist staff currently employed by the HSA; the number of staff required to decentralise; the progress made to date in securing a new office at Thomastown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37735/06]

The Health and Safety Authority is to move 110 posts to Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny. To date a total of 62 people (11 HSA staff, 41 Civil Servants, 10 Public Servants) have expressed an interest through the Central Application Facility (CAF) process in transferring to Thomastown.

In advance of decentralising to Thomastown, in August 2006 the Authority established an interim office in Kilkenny city. Fifteen staff, including staff recruited for the REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) strategy, have recently relocated to that office in advance of moving to Thomastown. In addition, future staff, who will be recruited for the REACH strategy, will also be based in Thomastown. All staff that move in the interim to the Kilkenny office will transfer to Thomastown when the premises there are completed.

The Authority currently has approximately 110 specialist staff. 7 have applied to CAF to decentralise to Thomastown in addition to all newly recruited Dublin based Inspectors, including those recruited for REACH, referred to above, who are ultimately contracted to move to Thomastown.

The Authority has been advised by OPW that as the site procurement is in the final stages, the current timeline for availability for occupancy is late 2008.

Public Services Portal.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

105 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the work that has been done to date within agencies under the Vote of his Department in integrating services with the Reach Services public services portal; the spend to date and the planned spend by agencies under the Vote of his Department on such integration; the services from agencies under the vote of his Department that it is intended to offer through this portal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37738/06]

Liz McManus

Question:

113 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the work that has been done to date within his Department in integrating services with the Reach Services public services portal; the spend to date and the planned spend by his Department on such integration; the services from his Department that it is intended to offer through this portal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37737/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 113 together.

My Department has co-operated with Reach Services on the integration of electronic services into one common portal. At present, all of the Department's websites and online services are available via Reach. These services include database and register searching, downloading official forms, and document searching, downloading and browsing. Expenditure on the integration of these specific services has been incurred by Reach, with my Department providing appropriate links and information on its electronic services.

In the case of the Companies Registration Office, circa €4,000 has been spent to date on the implementation of a Business Validation Service which will be integrated with Reach. It is estimated that the full cost of this system will be in the region of €10,000. It is not envisaged that my Department will spend any other funds on integrating services with Reach Services.

My Department will continue to offer all of its electronically available services through this portal. Should further integration be required, my Department remains committed to developing the necessary interfaces to allow this to happen.

The integration of services between Reach Services and agencies under the aegis of this Department are day-to-day operational matters for the agencies concerned and not ones in which my Department has a direct function.

EU Directives.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

106 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the compromise on the Working Time Directive reached by the European Parliament on 11 May 2005; his further views on whether the current proposals of the Finnish Presidency match with the parliament’s proposal; if he will fully implement the Working Time Directive regardless of any opt-outs that might be offered or given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37745/06]

Liz McManus

Question:

141 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the Government’s position on the Working Time Directive opt-out; if he will apply for a continuing opt-out on elements of the Directive; if so, the elements involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37744/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 141 together.

The opt out in Council Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time is an opt out from the average maximum 48 hour working week. The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, which transposed the above Directive into Irish Law, does not contain such an opt out provision and the Government does not intend to avail of this opt out in the future.

Following the European Parliament's First Reading of the draft Working Time Directive, the European Commission issued a Revised Proposal — COM (2005) 246 final — on 31 May 2005.

This Revised Proposal, which took account of some of the amendments proposed by the European Parliament, has been the subject of detailed discussion at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council on 4 occasions in the interim, culminating in last week's Council under the current Finnish EU Presidency.

The ending of the "opt-out" clause, allowing workers in some Member States to work beyond an average maximum of 48 hours per week, continues to be the main obstacle to reaching a compromise agreement that would be acceptable to all 25 Member States. At last week's Council, the UK, supported by some of the new Member States, were opposed to a definitive end date for the "opt-out" clause as proposed by France, Italy and Spain.

We saw the Finnish Presidency proposal as a pragmatic and workable compromise which would have protected the health and safety of workers without compromising the competitiveness of enterprises. Despite the flexibilities on offer in the compromise, blocking minorities in opposing camps prevented agreement.

Ireland will fully implement the provisions of any amending Working Time Directive, ultimately agreed by the Council and the European Parliament. Ireland does not avail of the opt out at present and does not intend to do so in the future, regardless of any opt-outs that might be offered or given.

Employment Rights.

Seán Ryan

Question:

107 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of applications received for the post of Director of Employment Rights Compliance; the number of candidates who have been shortlisted; the expected timetable for the selection of a successful candidate; the expected salary of the final candidate; the expected non-salary benefits, including bonuses, to be allocated to the successful applicant; the total expected cost to the State of employing the Director of Employment Rights Compliance, including employer’s PRSI and other outgoings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37720/06]

The competition for appointment to the post of Director of the Office for Employment Rights Compliance is being conducted by the Public Appointments Service. 19 applications were received by the closing date of 26th October, 2006. The arrangements and timelines for shortlisting and final selection are being finalised at present by the Public Appointments Service and it is anticipated that the selection of a candidate will be made by end year at the latest.

The conditions of employment for the position provide for current reduced PRSI and standard PRSI salary scales ranging from €113,070 to €129,483 and from €119,023 to €136,295 respectively. While entry will generally be at the minimum of the appropriate scale an appointee who possesses qualifications and/or experience additional to the eligibility requirements which would be of special value to the position of Director may enter the salary scale at a point above the minimum of the scale.

Where the appointee is already a serving Civil Servant, the entry point will be either existing salary plus accrued increment or the minimum of the appropriate scale, whichever is the greater, subject to the maximum of the scale not being exceeded.

The Scheme of Performance Related Pay which operates in respect of positions at this level within the Civil Service and other standard conditions of employment for Civil Servants will also apply to the position of Director.

The total expected cost to the State in 2007 of employing the Director for Employment Rights Compliance, including employer's PRSI and other outgoings, will be approximately in the range €160,000 to €200,000.

Ministerial Appointments.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

108 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-departmental bodies under the remit of his Department; and their legislative origin. [37976/06]

I understand that the information being sought by the Deputy refers to Bodies or Agencies that come under my Department's remit, and which are funded by my Department, but which are statutorily independent of the Department in the execution of their day-to-day functions.

I should also say that under Delegation of Ministerial Functions Orders, responsibility for making a number of the appointments which fall to be made by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment have been delegated to my colleague Ministers of State in the Department. This delegation of functions does not, however, alter the modalities of how these appointments are made.

Finally, the information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

Competition Authority

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints the Chair following a competition and selection process held under Sections 15 and 17 of the Civil Service Commissioners Act, 1956

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints the Members, having being advised by the Civil Service Commissioners following a competition and selection process held under Sections 15 and 17 of the Civil Service Commissioners Act, 1956

Section 35 of the Competition Act, 2002

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA)

The Chair is nominated and appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment in accordance with Section 11(1) & (2) of the Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003.

The Board of Directors are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment in accordance with Section 11(1) and (2) of the Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003. 1 Member is nominated and appointed by the Minister of Enterprise, Trade & Employment 3 Members are nominated jointly by agreement among the prescribed accountancy bodies 9 Members are nominated by designated bodies as set out under Section 6(2) of the Act

Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003

Company Law Review Group

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment under Section 69(2) of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001

The Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment under Section 69(2) of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001

Company Law Enforcement Act 2001

Forfás

The Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, appoints the Chair of the Board of Forfás under powers conferred by the Industrial Development Acts 1993-2003, Paragraphs 2 (6), (7), of the 1st Schedule.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints Members to the Board of Forfás, with the consent of the Minister of Finance under Paragraph 2(5), 1st Schedule, Industrial Development Acts 1993-2003. Under the Industrial Development Acts 1998-2003, the Chief Executive Officers of Forfás itself, Enterprise Ireland, the Industrial Development Authority and the Director-General of Science Foundation Ireland are automatically appointed to the board of Forfás as ex-officio Members. (Paragraph 2(3); 1st schedule, 1 (4); 2nd Schedule, Industrial Development Act (1993), and Paragraph 13(5) of the Industrial Development Act (Science Foundation Ireland) (2003)).

Industrial Development Acts 1993-2003.

Enterprise Ireland

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under Section 9 (5) of the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act, 1998.

The Board Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under Section 9 (4) of the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act, 1998.

Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act, 1998.

IDA Ireland

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under Section 2 (6) of the First Schedule of the Industrial Development Act 1993.

The Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under Section 2 (5) of the First Schedule of the Industrial Development Act 1993.

Industrial Development Act 1993.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

Crafts Council of Ireland

The Crafts Council of Ireland was established by the Crafts Sector in 1973 and is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee without share capital. It is, therefore, not a statutory body and procedures regarding the appointment of board members are set out under its Memorandum and Articles of Association. By agreement with the Department and in recognition of the grant-in-aid it receives from the State via Enterprise Ireland, the Minister appoints the Chairperson and four other members to the fifteen-member Board. While the Minister and the Department do not have statutory powers with regard to the Council, funding is provided on the basis that the Council undertakes enterprise development functions for the Crafts sector in line with its strategy.

As outlined across, the Minister appoints the Chairperson and four other members to the fifteen-member Board.

While not a State Body established under statute, given that exchequer funding is made available via Enterprise Ireland to the Crafts Council of Ireland each year, in order to support the crafts industry, the Minister may appoint 5 members to the Board of Crafts Council of Ireland including the Chairperson under Section 37 (a)-(d) of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Crafts Council of Ireland Limited.

National Standards Authority Ireland

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints the Chair under the provisions of the National Standards Authority of Ireland Act, 1996.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints the Members of the Authority under the provisions of the National Standards Authority of Ireland Act, 1996.

National Standards Authority of Ireland Act 1996

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited

The legislation establishing the company does not provide any statutory process for the appointment of Chairs, but does provide that the company is subject to relevant Company Law. Appointments are made in accordance with the provisions of Articles 73 to 87 and 94 of the company’s Articles of Association. Essentially, this provides that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment makes such appointments after consultation with the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism.

The legislation establishing the company does not provide any statutory process relating to the appointment of Board Members, but does provide that the company is subject to relevant Company Law as outlined across. Appointments are made in accordance with the provisions of Articles 73 to 87 and 94 of the company’s Articles of Association. Essentially, this provides that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment makes such appointments after consultation with the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited Act, 1959.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

InterTrade Ireland

The Chair of InterTradeIreland is appointed in accordance with the interim Ministerial decision-making procedures that currently apply in relation to the North/South Implementation Bodies and Tourism Ireland Limited. In accordance with these procedures the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, along with a Minister of the UK Government, is responsible for appointing the Chair of InterTradeIreland. The statutory process for appointing the Chair of the Board of InterTradeIreland is set out in the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999, as amended by the British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Act, 2002.

The Members of the Board of InterTradeIreland are also appointed in accordance with the interim Ministerial decision- making procedures. In accordance with these procedures the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, along with a Minister of the UK Government, is responsible for appointing the Members of the Board of InterTradeIreland. The statutory process for appointing the Members of the Board of InterTradeIreland is set out in the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999, as amended by the British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Act, 2002.

Arising from the Good Friday Agreement, 1998, the British–Irish Agreement Act, 1999, established six North/South Implementation Bodies including InterTradeIreland. The Board of InterTradeIreland ordinarily consists of twelve Members, six of whom are nominated by the South and six by the North. There are currently eleven Members on the Board of InterTradeIreland. As a result of the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly in October 2002, the North/South Ministerial Council cannot meet. As a consequence the British-Irish Agreements have been amended. The amendments provide that during the period of suspension of the North/South Ministerial Council, the British and Irish Governments take joint decisions, when appropriate, on matters relating to InterTradeIreland and the other North/South Implementation Bodies.

County Enterprise Boards (CEBs)

The CEBs are established as companies in accordance with the Companies Acts. The appointment of Chairs of the CEBs is governed by the Memorandum and Articles of Association of each Board. At the First Meeting of the Board following each Annual General Meeting the Directors elect from amongst themselves a person, other than a Local Authority Representative, to be Chair of the Company and of the Board of Directors. In the absence of the Chair at any meeting of the Company or the Board, the Members present shall elect from amongst themselves a person to act as Chair of that meeting. Section 10 of the Industrial Development Act, 1995 granted the CEBs formal statutory recognition. Each CEB operates as a company limited by guarantee and has its individual Memorandum and Articles of Association, Manual of Accounting Procedures and an Operating Agreement with the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The appointment of Board Members of the CEBs is also governed by the Memorandum and Articles of Association of each Board. The Membership of each Board consists of representatives from a number of categories — local authority elected representatives, Farmers’ organisation representatives, ICTU, IBEC/CIF, the State Development Agencies and persons involved in small business, community organizations or local economic development. Where a Member from one of the above categories ceases to be a Member of the Board, that Member shall be replaced by a new Member from the same category as the former Member. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment may at any time alter or vary the category of persons, bodies or organisations from whom persons are eligible for election as Members or nominated to the Board.

Industrial Development Act, 1998.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

Science Foundation Ireland

Appointments to the Board of Science Foundation Ireland are governed by statute under the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Act 2003 and are made on the basis of the relevant experience and skills of the individuals concerned. The issues of gender balance, industrial and higher education expertise are also taken into consideration. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment designates one Member of the Board as the Chair.

The Members of the Board are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, as outlined in column 2, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, following consultation with the Minister for Education and Science. The Minister for Education and Science nominates a person for appointment to the Board also.

Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Act 2003 Sections (1) to (7) — Board of Foundation

Health and Safety Authority

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, after consultation with such organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of workers and of employers.

Section 37 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, states that, of the ordinary Members of the Authority:— 3 persons are nominated by such organisations representative of employees as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, considers appropriate, 3 persons are nominated by such organisations representative of employers as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, considers appropriate, 5 persons are nominated as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment considers appropriate, which shall include one person from the Department under whose auspices the Authority operates.

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005

Labour Court

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, under Section 10(3) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946. Appointments as Deputy Chairmen by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment are provided for under Section 4(1) and 4(4) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and Section 8(3) of the industrial Relations Act, 1976.

Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment upon nomination by ICTU (workers’ Member) and IBEC (employers’ Member) under either Section 10(4) or 10(5) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946.

Industrial Relations Act, 1946; Industrial Relations Act, 1969; Industrial Relations Act, 1976.

Employment Appeals Tribunal

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, appoints the chair under Section 39 of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1967, as amended.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, appoints the vice-chairmen and Members of the Employment Appeals Tribunal under section 39 of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1967, as amended. 36 of the Members are nominated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the remaining 36 by various employer bodies for appointment by the Minister.

Redundancy Payments Act, 1967 as amended.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

Labour Relations Committee

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, after consultation with such organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of workers and of employers, under Paragraph 2 of the Fourth Schedule of the Industrial Relations Act 1990.

Paragraph 3 of the Fourth Schedule of the Industrial Relations Act 1990 states that, of the ordinary Members of the Commission— two shall be workers’ Members; two shall be employers’ Members two shall be nominated by the Minister. Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Fourth Schedule of the 1990 Act provide that the employers’ and workers’ Members appointed shall be nominated by such organisations as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment determines to be representative of employers and of trade unions of workers.

Industrial Relations Act, 1990.

FÁS

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in accordance with the provisions of Part I of the Schedule to the Labour Services Act 1987.

The Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in accordance with the provisions of Part I of the Schedule to the Labour Services Act 1987. There are 16 ordinary Members: representatives from employer (4), trade union (4), education, social welfare and youth interests (3), two FÁS employee Members, a representative of the Minister for Finance and two representatives of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The education and social welfare Members are selected after consultation with the Minister for Education and Science and the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, respectively. The FÁS employee Members are appointed following election by FÁS staff.

Labour Services Act, 1987; SI 528 of 2005

Personal Injuries Assessment Board

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, in accordance with the provisions of Section 58 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003.

Members of the Board are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, in accordance with the provisions of Section 56 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003.

Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003.

Departmental Funding.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

109 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether his Department can play a role in improving access to finance for the SME sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37940/06]

My Department and its agencies support the financing of SMEs in a number of ways. The funding provided by Enterprise Ireland and the County and City Enterprise Boards in the form of grants, refundable aid and equity participation provides an important source of finance to many SMEs. In addition, Enterprise Ireland actively promotes the availability of venture capital in Ireland and, earlier this year, I approved funding of €175m for venture capital that is projected to leverage venture capital funding of some €1 billion over the next decade.

Furthermore, the HALO Business Angel Partnership which is managed by the Dublin Business & Innovation Centre (BIC) and supported by the Cork, Waterford and Galway BICs, is designed to encourage and facilitate the provision of informal investment in enterprises by Business Angels, typically high net worth individuals who wish to invest in early stage companies with good growth potential. This partnership is being supported financially by Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland.

Finally, my Department is currently researching the possibility of the financial institutions accessing loan guarantees from the European Investment Fund that would enable them to expand their lending to small enterprises. This initiative is being taken in response to a recommendation of the Small Business Forum earlier this year.

Groceries Order.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

110 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his assessment of the effect of the removal of the Groceries Order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37944/06]

Ivor Callely

Question:

145 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there has been a noticeable alteration of prices in the grocery industry over the past 12 month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38017/06]

Ivor Callely

Question:

207 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the issues that have been brought to his attention since the abolition of the Groceries Order 1987; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38079/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 110, 145 and 207 together.

The Groceries Order was abolished on the 20th March 2006. Recent CSO figures show that the prices of products previously covered by the Groceries Order fell by 0.7% in the seven-month period from April to October. However, food prices have been fluctuating during the past 12 months and while we are seeing a downward trend in some grocery prices, the Consumer Price Index also shows an increase in the price of fresh meat and fish, products which were not covered by the Groceries Order. During the same seven month period prices of products not covered by the Groceries Order rose by 1.5%. Overall the price of Groceries Order and Non Groceries Order items decreased by 0.2% in the same period.

The Order was in place for 18 years and, in that time, it fundamentally altered the structure and composition of the grocery trade. It was abolished primarily because it allowed wholesalers and suppliers to determine minimum retail prices charged to consumers, thereby seriously constraining competition in the market.

I have always maintained that we should not expect to see fundamental changes in the sector in the short term following the abolition of the Order. This is because there are many factors which impact on prices of groceries in our shops. The lack of competition caused by the Groceries Order was only one such factor. Other factors include production costs, labour costs, interest rates, overheads, international exchange rates and so on.

Having said that, some multiples are beginning to pursue competitive pricing strategies and this appears to be having a positive impact on competition in the market. So while I believe that consumers are seeing some benefits from these price reductions, I expect that the real benefits will only be felt over time as price competition increases at retail level.

Following the enactment of the legislation which abolished the Groceries Order, I asked the Competition Authority to review and monitor developments in the grocery sector in light of the new regulatory environment. Since removal of the Order, the Competition Authority has received no complaints of anti-competitive behaviour in the sector, nor has it seen any evidence of such behaviour. Nonetheless, the Authority's monitoring of the sector is on going but I understand they believe it is too early to reach any conclusions.

In April 2007, one year's worth of post Groceries Order data will be available for analysis. Thus by mid 2007 the Competition Authority intends to publish an analysis of developments in the sector focusing on pricing trends, market structures and barriers to entry.

In addition, my own officials are keeping a close eye on developments in the grocery sector and in the past months have brought many issues to my attention, including:

the strong growth showing in the convenience store market segment which comes despite predictions in some quarters of difficulties for this sector following removal of the Groceries Order,

the recognition by one convenience chain that the removal of the Order has not materially affected its operations and leaves it well positioned to "challenge for further growth in the post Groceries Order market environment",

monitoring of monthly CSO figures which I have referred to earlier. The CSO has expanded it figures to include a detailed sub-index of prices of goods previously covered by the Order and those products not covered by the Order,

a Report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business on the grocery trade in the UK, which my officials are examining and I will respond shortly to the Committee with views on this Report.

My Department also maintains close contact with interested parties and industry stakeholders and is available to meet with such parties at any time.

Company Mergers.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

111 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has made representations to the European Commission seeking a referral of the case of a potential merger within Ireland’s aviation industry pursuant to Article 9 of EU Merger Regulation. [37972/06]

I have not made any representations to the European Commission in relation to the proposed acquisition of Aer Lingus by Ryanair as for the purposes of the EU Merger Regulation, the Irish Competition Authority is the competent authority responsible for regulating mergers and, accordingly, I have no function in mergers, other than media mergers.

Question No. 112 answered with QuestionNo. 82.
Question No. 113 answered with QuestionNo. 105.

Insurance Industry.

John Gormley

Question:

114 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of cases that have been lodged with the Personal Injury Assessment Board since its establishment; the number of cases that the Board has assessed; the number of cases that are currently outstanding; the statutory deadline for the processing of same; the number of awards made by the PIAB that have been rejected; and the cost of legal fees incurred by the PIAB in the same period. [37981/06]

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board has received thirty six thousand cases since it was established. I understand from the PIAB that six thousand of these were settled up-front from the outset, nine thousand cases were settled between the parties during the PIAB process, over five thousand assessments have been made, and an estimated four thousand cases are heading into litigation, although not all of these will necessarily go to a full hearing. Of the five thousand, three hundred and nineteen assessments which have been made to 3rd November 2006, four thousand, five hundred and ten have outcomes, in other words these are cases where all parties have accepted the award or where one or more party has rejected an award (the remainder of the cases are awaiting a response from some or all of the parties). Of these cases where the outcome is known, one thousand, six hundred and fifty eight have been rejected, representing a sixty percent acceptance rate.

This leaves twelve thousand cases which are currently in the PIAB system. Seven thousand five hundred of these are in the assessment phase, and I am assured by the PIAB that they will all be dealt with within the statutory time frames. The balance of cases is awaiting documentation from one of the parties or a decision from the Respondent to consent to process or not.

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 provides that the Board must ensure that assessments are made within a period of nine months beginning on the date on which it receives the respondent's consent to assessment, or in circumstances where it appears to the Board that it would not be possible or appropriate, because of the particular circumstances of the claim concerned, to make an assessment within the nine month period, the period for making an assessment may be increased to fifteen months. I am advised by the PIAB that ninety three percent of assessments are made within the nine month period; the remaining seven percent are assessed within a further six months as allowed by the legislation (these would normally be cases where a stable medical prognosis is not available in nine months).

The PIAB has assured me that it has the capacity to deal with the volumes of cases on hand and projected to come before it. Currently seventy-two staff are employed by the Board. This is expected to rise to eighty-five by year-end. In addition, the Board outsources claims preparation and helpline services to a contracted service centre, which provides flexibility and the capacity to expand processing volumes quickly to meet increased demand. Based on statistical and actuarial trends, the PIAB has projected annual volumes of cases rising to twenty five thousand per annum, forty percent of which are expected to be resolved between the parties following contact with the PIAB, twenty percent are expected to head into litigation (but not necessarily to a Court hearing), and the remaining forty percent will be assessed by the PIAB.

To date the PIAB has paid legal fees in respect of judicial review of €92,913.99 in 2004, €265,542.73 in 2005 and €25,811.41 in 2006, and has paid legal fees in respect of commercial, contractual and operational advice of €64,506.97 in 2004, €141,924.36 in 2005 and €190,696.82 in 2006. The PIAB does not make awards in respect of the legal costs incurred by the claimant and respondent in respect of claims.

Export Markets.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

115 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he is satisfied that Irish export markets are secure and capable of maintaining their position for the future in view of increased evidence of greater competition; the markets currently under most pressure; his plans to address the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37952/06]

I would refer the Deputy to the reply I made to similar Questions put by him on 7th February, 2006.

The ability of Irish companies to successfully market and sell overseas is critical for the success of the Irish economy, particularly in the rapidly evolving international marketplace. In this connection, there has been a very creditable performance recently on the part of Irish exporters in a difficult trading environment against a background of global economic slowdown and rising oil prices. The Irish economy has absorbed the effects of the increased energy prices remarkably well and has managed to remain competitive in international markets.

The latest trade figures released by the Central Statistics Office indicate that Irish merchandise exports increased by 3% for the seven-month period January-July 2006 relative to January-July 2005. This is a robust performance and well in line with our main competitors. Exports to the UK have kept pace relative to last year which is again a good performance. Elsewhere, exports increased by 7% to the United States, by 5% to Germany and by 9% to Belgium, relative to the same period in 2005.

The EU continues to increase in importance as an export market, consistently accounting for 62% of all Irish exports. The latest CSO figures also show that, in almost all cases, exports to the ten new Member States have been increasing, with Poland showing the largest increase at+33%, or up by €50 million in value terms.

Enterprise Ireland is the agency with responsibility for the development of the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector. In 2005, Enterprise Ireland clients won 733 new customers, distributors or partners in export markets in 2005. In addition, 157 client companies established an overseas market presence during the year, 187 companies entered new export markets and 74 clients were first-time exporters.

My Department and its agencies continue to encourage Irish companies to undertake increased levels of investment in research, to use more technology in product development and to encourage more innovation across all sectors of the economy. This will help firms produce improved value added products and services, and in the longer term lead to longer lasting and higher quality jobs. In order to develop fully and optimise true potential, Irish companies must also develop the capability to win international sales and establish international presence in core markets. This of course, requires the ability to market successfully overseas.

Following on from the recommendations contained in the strategy review — "Ahead of the Curve" — Enterprise Ireland has put in place an International Selling Programme to increase the number of sales professionals within the agency's client companies. The Programme is aimed at companies that are currently exporting and seeks to develop their current and long-term sales strategies.

In addition, both myself, and my colleague, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, T.D., have been active in leading trade missions, in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland, to a range of markets. Most recently, Trade Missions were led to South Africa, Canada and China, in each of which approximately 30 Irish companies participated.

Jobs Relocation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

116 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he has taken or proposes to take to address the issue of job relocation to the more competitive economies; the number of jobs so far lost to such locations; the number pending over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37951/06]

It is not possible to determine the number of jobs which have relocated to lower wage economies, nor can the number of posts awaiting relocation be identified. The offshoring of lower value-added functions is, however, part of the reality of modern global manufacturing for a highly developed economy such as Ireland.

There are a variety of differing and complex factors which might influence a decision to relocate all or part of a firm's functions. In addition to relative wage rates and other cost factors, these may include business takeovers, consolidations and changes in product or market focus. While offshoring can contribute to job losses for firms in some sectors, productivity gains achieved through offshoring also represents an opportunity to develop higher end manufacturing and related activities domestically.

Ireland no longer operates as a low cost location for investment: our strengths and competitive advantages have changed. Our economy is now characterised by high output and productivity, together with high returns to labour in the form of wages, salaries and better living standards. Higher technology and services enterprises are replacing low technology production, which in the past was the predominant source of economic output. The fact is that since 1999 overall employment has grown by 26.9%. We now have over 2 million people in employment, with historically low levels of unemployment.

My Department and the enterprise development agencies are continuing to work to ensure that Ireland remains an attractive place to do business. In that regard, we are making significant efforts to enhance our framework competitive conditions, and to promote new areas of competitive advantage, such as developing our R&D base as elaborated recently in the new Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation. We are also continuing to pursue policies to promote lifelong learning and up-skilling to improve labour market flexibility and, where necessary, ensure that appropriate training supports are provided for workers in sectors that are no longer competitive, to help them find alternative employment.

Our priority remains the creation of high quality, 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 on the basis of simple cost influences.

Question No. 117 answered with QuestionNo. 96.

Economic Competitiveness.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

118 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the changes he believes need to be made to the regulatory regime here in order to foster competition and reduce the cost base for Irish businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37946/06]

Open and fair competition is one of the central keys to a successful economy. A visible effect of competition is that companies that compete to win business and to increase market share will reduce prices, provide enhanced service and variety, and generally become more responsive to the needs of consumers. Another benefit of competition, and the one that is less visible, is the fact that competition drives companies to cut their costs and find more efficient and productive ways of doing business.

The promotion of competition in the economy requires an effective legal framework. Strong competition legislation contributes to our competitiveness by penalising anti-competitive and anti-consumer behaviour, and by protecting the competitive process in all sectors of the economy. The 2002 Competition Act consolidated, reformed and modernised previous legislation relating to competition policy and merger control and the Irish Competition Authority is one of the most empowered, pro-active and successful enforcement agencies of competition law in Europe.

The Government also recognises that restrictions on competition arising from regulation can impose substantial costs on the economy and have adverse effects on the international competitiveness of Irish business. In this regard the Government is committed to addressing sectors where barriers to entry or restrictive practices exist. Our commitment to better regulation stems from the recognition that if State regulation is excessive in quantity, or is of poor quality, then it will be an unnecessary burden on economic and social activity. By minimizing regulatory barriers, we can make it easier for entrepreneurs to avail of business opportunities and to enter markets, and we can achieve greater efficiency and choice for consumers.

Strong competition legislation is only one regime within which businesses operate. The Government has stepped in as needed in order to develop effective regulatory structures and practices in areas of regulatory failure. In the Company Law area the government has taken several initiatives to improve the regulatory infrastructure, by, for example, setting up the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority. In both cases, existing regulatory structures were not working or not working well enough. Reform was necessary. And reform has been accomplished. Business regulation in the field of company law feeds into improvements to our national competitiveness, through high standards of corporate governance and brings about a stable and predictable environment in which entrepreneurs can establish businesses, investors can invest, creditors can lend and the interests of the employees, consumers and other stakeholders are protected. Low standards of corporate governance cause serious damage, not just to the immediate victims of the misconduct — the investors, creditors, employees and pensioners of scandal hit companies, but to confidence in the operation of markets and with follow-on damage to whole economies.

Commercial regulatory regimes are just one part of the picture. The Government is very conscious of the need to control costs in order to maintain competitiveness. As part of the new Social Partnership agreement, Towards 2016, the Anti-Inflation Group has been re-activated to help exert downward pressure on inflation. Forfás, under the aegis of my Department, have published research such as the Statement on Prices and Costs, and are due to publish further work in this area over the coming weeks. Many other factors influence the cost of doing business in Ireland, for example the cost of energy. Energy costs are predominantly a global issue, as they are driven primarily by oil prices. The development agencies under my Department are monitoring the issue of energy costs and the impact of such costs on the overall competitiveness of companies.

To the extent that a regulatory change is identified as being necessary to foster competition, to improve competitiveness and reduce cost bases, such change will be considered and effected if warranted.

Question No. 119 answered with QuestionNo. 89.
Question No. 120 answered with QuestionNo. 98.

Labour Inspectorate.

Joan Burton

Question:

121 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 9 of 11 October 2006, if any joint investigation units between the Labour Inspectorate, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social and Family Affairs have been established; if so, the number of these JIUs established to date; the number that have completed their work; the number in which work is still ongoing; the outcome of each investigation that has been completed; the number of prosecutions that have resulted and the number of these that have been successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37749/06]

The Joint Investigation Units to which the Deputy refers will be established under primary legislation to be published next year. Work has already begun on the preparation of this legislation which will also address a number of other commitments provided for under "Towards 2016", the new Social Partnership Agreement.

A Working Group on Compliance, which was established in the context of social partnership negotiations, and which comprised representatives of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social and Family Affairs, reported in March, 2006 on the potential for co-operation and collaboration between the three organisations and the legislative changes which would be required to facilitate joint investigations. This report will inform the legislation now under preparation.

Finally, "Towards 2016" also provides for the deployment of the Labour Inspectorate on a regionalised basis. Proposals in this regard are being prepared at present and will be finalised following the appointment of the Director of the Office for Employment Rights Compliance. The proposed regionalisation of the Inspectorate will facilitate enhanced liaison with local and regional offices of both the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social and Family Affairs and support the effective and efficient working of the proposed Joint Investigation Units.

Employment Rights.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

122 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the actions he is taking to ensure that the former employees of Greencore are paid their full and correct compensation, as agreed by the Labour Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37730/06]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

127 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he supports the Labour Court recommendations on the redundancy agreement for the workers of Irish Sugar; and if he has had communication with Greencore with regard to the implementation of the recommendations. [37983/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 127 together.

On the 26th of April 2006, the Labour Court made a recommendation regarding the redundancy terms for Irish Sugar workers at the Mallow plant. The recommendation provided that redundancy should be 5 weeks' pay per year of service, where a week's pay would be defined as actual finishing salary, excluding overtime, plus statutory redundancy entitlement, plus a bonus payment for an orderly wind-down. The Court issued two clarifications in May, but these failed to achieve a resolution to the dispute.

The Labour Court invited the parties to return to the Court with a view to resolving the dispute. However, the company rejected the Court's invitation. I very much regret the decision taken by the company in this regard.

The Labour Court issued a third clarification of its Recommendation on the 17th of October 2006. The company has indicated that it is not prepared to alter its offer. Similarly, the trade unions have not changed their position and are not prepared to accept the company's existing offer.

My colleague, Minister Micheál Martin, has met with representatives of both the trade unions and the company and urged them to resolve their differences and to avail of the dispute settling machinery of the State, as necessary. I have also met with union representatives to discuss this matter. The National Implementation Body has also worked with the parties concerned to seek to identify an agreed procedure to resolve the issue in dispute.

Ireland's system of industrial relations is, essentially, voluntary in nature and responsibility for the resolution of industrial disputes is a matter for the parties involved. The system of industrial relations in Ireland is designed to help and support parties in their efforts to resolve their differences, rather than imposing a solution on the parties to an industrial dispute.

Where the Labour Court operates as an industrial relations tribunal in trade disputes, its recommendations are not enforceable. In such cases, the Court hears both sides and then issues a recommendation setting out its opinion on the dispute and the terms on which it considers the dispute should be settled. While these recommendations are not binding on the parties concerned, the parties are expected to give serious consideration to the Court's recommendation. As the Labour Court is a Court of last resort in the industrial relations process, it is expected that the parties come to the process in good faith and, consequently, are prepared to accept the outcome of the process, namely, the Labour Court recommendation.

Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

123 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 470 of 24 October 2006, if he will confirm he has plans to implement the new class of company that has been designated by the Commission Young Innovative Companies as a separate designation, as has been suggested by the Commission, and it is up to each member state to implement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37734/06]

I understand that a scheme supporting "Young Innovative Companies" has been in operation in France since 2004. While I am not aware of a specific EU Programme or proposals for a new type of company under the general title mentioned by the Deputy there are a range of initiatives proposed under the Commission's Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme 2007-2013, which includes a module for early stage financing for SMEs. The Programme overall will operate under the auspices of the European Commission and will take effect from 2007. I understand that funding for innovative companies, such as high potential start-ups (already eligible for funding under Enterprise Ireland Programmes) or the type of company supported by the French initiative, may be made available through financial intermediaries such as banks which may compete for funding schemes operated on behalf of the Commission by the European Investment Fund (EIF). The EIF operates under the aegis of the European Investment Bank.

Company Mergers.

Billy Timmins

Question:

124 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the administrative handling of the acquisition of a company (details supplied) by the Competition Authority; the nature of the contact he made with the authority following this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37942/06]

Under the merger provisions of the Competition Act, 2002, proposed mergers require regulatory clearance from the Competition Authority. I have no role in this process, other than in the case of "media mergers".

Following the announcement from the Competition Authority that it had incorrectly calculated the legal deadline before which it was required to issue a determination under the mergers provisions of the Competition Act, officials in my Department entered into correspondence with the Authority's Chairperson, Mr. William Prasikfa. I am satisfied with the explanation offered by the Chairperson and I continue to have the utmost respect for and confidence in Mr. Prasikfa and the Authority itself. The Authority has informed my Department of the various reviews it has carried out on foot of the error and of the measures it has put in place to ensure such an error will not happen again.

The Authority Chairperson appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise and Small Business on 25 October 2006 and he has offered a full explanation and apology to that Committee.

Energy Costs.

Joe Costello

Question:

125 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the actions he is taking to examine the effect of recent increases in electricity prices on small and medium enterprises; the assistance he is making available to companies being put under competitive pressure internationally due to the increase in electricity prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37725/06]

International oil and gas prices are the main drivers of electricity prices in the country. We are price takers when it comes to buying fuel for electricity generation and are subject to the same fossil fuel cost pressures experienced by SMEs in other economies. In addition, economic expansion and a growing population makes it imperative that our generating and electricity network is both modernised and strengthened to meet the growth requirements of the economy. €2.8 billion is being invested in network improvements that will provide Ireland with one of the most modern and reliable electricity distribution systems in Europe. These costs are reflected in the prices all users pay for their electricity.

Despite increases in international energy prices that have seen oil rise in price from around $20 a barrel five years ago to today's $60 level, the economy has proved resilient. Economic growth was over 5% last year and is expected to be over 5% again this year. At the same time manufacturing employment, a sector exposed to international cost pressures and comprising many SMEs, has been expanding for the first time in many years. The latest CSO manufacturing employment data shows that jobs in the sector grew by 5,200 in the year to last June.

The enterprise agencies under my Department have very active programmes to help companies become more competitive and productive across all aspects of their operations. The agencies also monitor the effect of costs on business. In addition Forfás has recently undertaken a comparative study of the Costs of Doing Business in Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland's range of supports to help indigenous SMEs are making a big difference to the efficiency and productivity of its client base. For example the impressive €1.275 billion increase in new exports recorded by EI's clients last year is real evidence how our broader enterprise policy is helping SMEs.

The recently published Green Paper on Energy identifies many of the key issues and challenges which we face in energy policy and among many other issues, proposes a target of 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. This Green Paper consultative process provides a framework through which any necessary decisions or reform will be made including those impacting in the medium and long term on cost competitiveness, sustainability and security of supply.

Finally, sustainable Energy Ireland vigorously promotes and advises on energy efficiency through a range of programmes and is eager to provide its knowledge on energy conservation and cost control to the SME sector.

Proposed Legislation.

Willie Penrose

Question:

126 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when it is intended to establish the National Consumer Agency on a statutory basis; the reason this Bill has yet to be published; when he intends that the Bill will be introduced to the Houses of the Oireachtas; when he expects the NCA to be fully established and operational; the arrangements that have been made for the transfer of personnel and resources from the ODCA and other agencies to the NCA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37754/06]

The Deputy will be aware that I published the general scheme of the legislation to establish the new National Consumer Agency in August this year. Since then my Department has been working in close co-operation with the Attorney General's office in relation to the legal drafting of the Bill. It is my intention that the Bill will be published before the end of the year and that it will be debated in the Oireachtas early in the new year. Accordingly I expect the Agency to be operating on a statutory basis during the first half of 2007.

Notwithstanding that the Agency is not yet established on a statutory basis, the NCA has been operating on an interim basis since June 2005. In that time the Agency has been very active in articulating the consumer's case and in promoting greater awareness of consumers' rights. A total of €3m has been allocated in my Department's vote to support the activities of the Agency in 2006 and the recruitment of 7 additional staff has been sanctioned to assist the Agency in this regard. I am satisfied that these additional resources will help to ensure that the Interim Agency can continue to forcefully advocate the consumer's cause until the statutory Agency assumes its full remit.

With regard to Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs, the Bill will provide for the transfer of the Director's functions to the new Agency. The financial resources of the Director's office, which are provided from the vote of my Department, will also be redirected to the NCA. In terms of the existing ODCA personnel, it is envisaged that these staff, who are employees of my Department, will be assigned to the new Agency when it is established. The Bill will allow that, for a period of two years after the establishment of the NCA, ODCA staff can seek to transfer their employment to the new Agency if they so wish. Alternatively during that period staff can opt to return to the Civil Service. Additional staffing resources for the Agency, over and above those approved for the ODCA, will be the subject of discussions with the Minister for Finance.

Question No. 127 answered with QuestionNo. 122.

National Regulators.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

128 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the details of the collaborative system that is to be established between the National Competition Authority and the national regulators in each of the energy, telecommunications and aviation sectors. [37979/06]

I presume the deputy is referring to co-operation agreements between the Competition Authority and statutory bodies. Section 34 of the Competition Act, 2002 requires the Authority to enter into formal co-operation agreements with the regulators and I can confirm that such agreements are in place. The Authority currently has agreements with the following bodies:

Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI)

Commission for Electricity Regulation (CER)

Commission for Aviation regulation (CAR)

Director of Telecommunications Regulation (COMREG)

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs (ODCA)

Health Insurance Authority (HIA).

The purpose of these agreements is to ensure the efficient use of resources and to improve co-operation and co-ordination of work between the Authority and the various bodies in the performance of their respective functions in so far as they relate to issues of competition between undertakings.

Ministerial Travel.

Bernard Allen

Question:

129 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the outcome of his recent trade trip to Canada; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37934/06]

Between 16th to 19th October, 2006, in my capacity as Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, I paid an official visit Canada at the head of an Enterprise Ireland-sponsored Trade Mission.

The main purpose of the Trade Mission was to promote Ireland as a source of world-class products and services in Canada, and also to highlight the growing economic links between the two countries. At company-specific level, it had the objective of raising the profile of selected clients and enhancing their relationship with local customers. Canada is a well-developed market of 32 million people, offering significant opportunities for increased sales growth for Irish exporters. It is the 7th largest economy in the world, is English speaking, has no trade barriers and offers a low cost gateway to the North American market place. As such, it offers unique opportunities for Irish exporters seeking to create new markets for their products.

A total of 32 companies participated on the Trade Mission, 23 of which were from the Republic and 9 from Northern Ireland. The companies involved on the Mission were representative of all sectors, including software and services, industrial, healthcare and consumer products. The Trade Mission played an important role in introducing these Irish companies to exporting opportunities in Canada, and in raising the awareness of Ireland among the Canadian business community. In this, it will also be greatly assisted by the opening of Enterprise Ireland's Toronto office, which took place during the course of my official visit.

In terms of the objectives set out for the visit, the Trade Mission was deemed a great success. During the Mission, contracts were signed between Irish suppliers and Canadian customers, totalling €32 million. In addition, another Irish company signed an investment contract worth €7 million. Over 500 meetings were held between the Irish participants and potential and existing customers.

During the course of the Trade Mission, I addressed two major business networking events in Toronto and Montreal, which were organised by Enterprise Ireland and at which approximately 400 people attended. During the opening ceremony for Enterprise Ireland's new office in Toronto, at which I officiated, separate contracts were signed by several Irish companies.

In all, a total of 11 signing ceremonies were organised for companies throughout the locations visited. In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between BioLink Canada and the MaRS organisation on Biotechnology, and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Enterprise Ireland and the National Research Council of Canada, (IRAP) on mutual cooperation and development in the area of Technology Transfer between Irish and Canadian SME companies.

The cost of the Trade Mission was approximately €110,000 — this included flights and logistical activity support to achieve Mission objectives, including evening networking receptions and dinners. The cost also included related activities such as signage, local fees, including local transport and hotel costs.

During my visit, I separately met Ms Sandra Pupatello, the Minister for Economic Trade and Development in the Ontario Government, Mr. Maxime Bernier, Minster for Industry in the Canadian Federal Government and Mr. Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources in the Canadian Federal Government. We discussed a range of political issues and measures to strengthen the trade and economic links between Ireland and Canada.

I want to pay a warm tribute to my own officials and the staff of Enterprise Ireland for their hard work and dedication over the three days of the trade mission which took in engagements in the cities of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

Insurance Industry.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

130 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the concerns which have been expressed regarding the operations of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board; and if he has proposals to review the operation of the board. [37757/06]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

144 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his assessment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board’s performance to date; his views on the delay in processing claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37949/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 144 together.

I am aware of recent media publicity concerning the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. The PIAB has received thirty six thousand cases since it was established. I understand from the Board that six thousand of these were settled up-front from the outset, nine thousand cases were settled between the parties during the PIAB process, over five thousand assessments have been made, and an estimated four thousand cases are heading into litigation, although not all of these will necessarily go to a full hearing.

This leaves twelve thousand cases which are currently in the PIAB system. Seven thousand five hundred of these are in the assessment phase, and I am assured by the PIAB that they will all be dealt with within the statutory time frames. The balance of cases is awaiting documentation from one of the parties or a decision from the Respondent to consent to process or not.

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 provides that the Board must ensure that assessments are made within a period of nine months beginning on the date on which it receives the respondent's consent to assessment, or in circumstances where it appears to the Board that it would not be possible or appropriate, because of the particular circumstances of the claim concerned, to make an assessment within the nine month period, the period for making an assessment may be increased to fifteen months. I am advised by the PIAB that ninety three percent of assessments are made within the nine month period; the remaining seven percent are assessed within a further six months as allowed by the legislation (these would normally be cases where a stable medical prognosis is not available in nine months).

The PIAB has assured me that it has the capacity to deal with the volumes of cases on hand and projected to come before it. Currently seventy-two staff are employed by the Board. This is expected to rise to eighty-five by year-end. In addition, the Board outsources claims preparation and helpline services to a contracted service centre, which provides flexibility and the capacity to expand processing volumes quickly to meet increased demand. Based on statistical and actuarial trends, the PIAB has projected annual volumes of cases rising to twenty five thousand per annum, forty percent of which are expected to be resolved between the parties following contact with the PIAB, twenty percent are expected to head into litigation (but not necessarily to a Court hearing), and the remaining forty percent will be assessed by the PIAB.

The success of the PIAB represents a good news story for consumers who can now have their claims processed much more quickly, and will receive the same level of awards as made in the Courts without the trauma of litigation. The average time which it takes PIAB to assess cases is 7.2 months from the date of consent. Under the previous litigation based system cases took 3-4 years to be settled. Ninety three percent of PIAB cases are assessed within nine months, the remaining seven percent are assessed within a further six months as allowed by the legislation (these are cases where a stable medical prognosis is not available in 9 months). In addition, a large number of cases have been removed from the Courts system, freeing up the Courts to deal with other matters.

As is the case with all agencies under my remit, my Department is in regular communication with the PIAB, and continually reviews with it the effectiveness of its operations.

Work Permits.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

131 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made to date in regard to the process of consultation with the social partners in regard to the question of access to the Irish labour market for workers from Bulgaria and Romania following the accession of those countries to the EU; the form this process has taken; when it is expected to be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34033/06]

Brendan Howlin

Question:

138 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the actions he will take to examine or deal with the possibility that significant numbers of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens, who will be allowed to freely travel to Ireland from January onwards, may obtain employment in the black economy and therefore be subject to abuses by exploitative employers but will be unable or unwilling to report these abuses because of their legal situation; the additional actions he will take to ensure that the small number of employers who might exploit these people do not do so, and to catch those who do; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37747/06]

Brendan Howlin

Question:

150 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will outline his position regarding whether he will continue restrictions to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the accession in view of the Government’s recent announcement regarding the access of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to the Irish labour market following their accession to the European Union in January 2007, and with regard to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 5 of 11 October 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37746/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131, 138 and 150 together.

I announced on 24th October 2006 that the Government had decided to continue to require that nationals of Romania and Bulgaria apply for work permits in order to participate in the Irish labour market, on these countries' accession to the EU on 1st January 2007, but that preference would be given to them over nationals of non-European Economic Area countries.

These arrangements will be kept under on-going review and will be assessed comprehensively before 1st January 2009, when the second phase of the transitional period will commence.

I also indicated on that occasion that the Government was informed in its decision by the very significant inflow of labour migrants Ireland had experienced since May 2004, when nationals of the EU 10 Member States were allowed to participate in the Irish labour market without work permits. The views of IBEC and ICTU were sought and received in writing and the position of other Member States on the issue were also taken into account. The Government felt that on this occasion, it was appropriate to take stock, be cautious and concentrate on addressing the integration needs of those who had already come to live and work in Ireland.

As regards the possibility of employment in the black economy and of exploitation, my Department is, as part of the Towards 2016 Agreement, putting in place a range of employment rights compliance and enforcement measures to combat these.

Migrant Issues.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

132 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the report published by the ESRI entitled Migrant’s Experience of Racism and Discrimination and its findings that insults or other forms of harassment at work are the second most common form of discrimination against immigrants with 32% of work permit holders across all groups having reported it; and his plans to address this problem. [37765/06]

Seán Crowe

Question:

133 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the report published by the ESRI entitled Migrant’s Experience of Racism and Discrimination and its findings that insults or other forms of harassment at work are the second most common form of discrimination against immigrants with 32% of work permit holders across all groups having reported it; and his plans to address this problem. [37765/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 133 together.

The Employment Equality Act 1998 as amended by the Equality Act 2004 places an obligation on all employers in Ireland to prevent harassment in the workplace. The administration of this legislation is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and, more particularly, the Equality Authority. Persons who consider themselves to be the victims of harassment may bring a claim to the Equality Tribunal.

The responsibilities of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment relate to compliance with employment rights legislation. I am, nevertheless, aware of the ESRI Report on Migrants' Experience of Racism and Discrimination in Ireland. The Report describes the subjective experiences of racism, discrimination and exploitation in respect of a random sample of employment permit holders and asylum seekers. I understand that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has already stated, in response to the publication of the ESRI Report, that his Department is developing integration strategies through the National Action Plan Against Racism and the existing equality framework with a view to combating racism and creating an intercultural society through interaction, equality of opportunity, tolerance and respect.

Corporate Enforcement.

Willie Penrose

Question:

134 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the situation with regard to the request by the Director of Corporate Enforcement for additional staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37732/06]

The latest position regarding this matter is that my Department is examining the issues involved in conjunction with the Department of Finance.

National Minimum Wage.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

135 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the next review of the minimum wage will take place; the process by which this review is undertaken and the persons or agencies invited to make submissions; the date on which he expects the next increase of the minimum wage to take effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37741/06]

In the national partnership agreement, Towards 2016, ICTU and IBEC agreed to make a joint recommendation to Government by 1 September, 2006 on a new minimum wage rate to be effective from 1 January, 2007. In the event that no agreement was reached, either party could refer the matter to the Labour Court.

As no agreement was reached between ICTU and IBEC, ICTU has referred the matter to the Labour Court asking that the Court examine the national minimum wage and make a recommendation to me on the matter. In accordance with the terms of the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000, the Court is currently engaging in a consultation process as part of its examination of the application.

As provided for in the minimum wage legislation, the Labour Court must consult with such persons, including representatives of employers and employees in the private and public sector, as it thinks appropriate in undertaking its examination of the minimum wage. If the Labour Court is satisfied that general agreement is reached between the parties as to an appropriate minimum wage, it will recommend the rate agreed.

If, on the other hand, agreement is not reached between the parties, the Labour Court may still make a recommendation on a new rate but in doing so the Court shall have regard to the movement of earnings of employees, relevant exchange rate movement and the likely impact on employment, unemployment, inflation and national competitiveness.

The Act requires that, before declaring a new minimum wage rate, I must take into account the impact the proposed rate may have on employment, the overall economic conditions in the State and national competitiveness.

EU Legislation.

Jack Wall

Question:

136 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of reasoned opinions received by his Department from the European Commission relating to European legislation already transposed that have not been resolved to the Commission’s satisfaction; the date on which each of these was received; the timetable for each of these issues to be resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37728/06]

In relation to European legislation already transposed, my Department has received one reasoned opinion from the European Commission with regard to incorrect transposition of Directive 92/100/EC (Rental and Lending rights in the field of Intellectual Property). In that regard, the Commission made application to the European Court of Justice on 15th April 2005 against Ireland under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. A decision in this case is expected very shortly. The drafting of legislation to give statutory effect to a public lending scheme is currently in preparation and my intention is to have legislation, dealing with the issue of public lending, published by year end 2006.

Question No. 137 answered with QuestionNo. 82.
Question No. 138 answered with QuestionNo. 131.

Price Display Order.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

139 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 18 of 11 October 2006, if any prosecutions were forthcoming against the three licensed premises that were found by the ODCA to be in breach of the Price Display Order; the status of these prosecutions at present; if prosecutions were not taken against any of the three, the reasons for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37753/06]

The Director of Consumer Affairs is responsible for initiating prosecutions for breaches of price display orders. I have no function in this matter, however I have asked the Agency to reply directly to the Deputy.

Manufacturing Group.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

140 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the High Level Manufacturing Group promised in Towards 2016 has been established; if so, if he will outline the membership of the group; if each member is an ex-officio appointment or not and the qualifications of each member; if the group has not yet been established, the reason for the delay in establishing the group; the expected timetable of the group’s work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37750/06]

My Department has initiated discussions on the terms of reference and composition of the High Level Group. The membership of the Group will be determined following consultation with the relevant Social Partnership representatives. I expect the Group to be established before Christmas.

Question No. 141 answered with QuestionNo. 106.

Labour Relations Commission.

Jack Wall

Question:

142 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress that has been made to date in the recruitment of the additional five rights commissioners for the Labour Relations Commission, as promised in Towards 2016; when he expects that they will take up their duties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37729/06]

Towards 2016 contains, inter alia, a commitment by the Government to increase the staffing resources of the Employment Rights Bodies generally in order to accelerate the processing of cases through the adjudication and redress system. Included in this section is a commitment that an additional 5 Rights Commissioners will be provided, increasing, as necessary, in line with the Commissioners’ caseload.

The Department is currently actively engaging with the Department of Finance to settle the additional staff resources required to meet the above commitments.

European Council Meetings.

Joe Costello

Question:

143 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the business he expects to be transacted at the next meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council; if Ireland will be bringing any particular issues to the table; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37727/06]

As the Agenda for the Council has not yet been agreed by COREPER, I am not in a position to give details of the content of the Agenda. However, it is expected that the Competitiveness Council meeting scheduled for Council of 4th and 5th December 2006 will deal with policy areas such as competitiveness, innovation and better regulation. In addition, it is likely that the Council is expected to discuss a number of legislative items.

I have not sought to have any specific items raised on the Agenda. However, I will be making my views known on the individual agenda items as appropriate and in accordance with Ireland's interests.

Question No. 144 answered with QuestionNo. 130.
Question No. 145 answered with QuestionNo. 110.

Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

146 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the total invested in delivering commercial intellectual property projects in collaboration with the United States; and the number of projects that have been delivered to date. [37973/06]

The Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy outlines (Paragraph 7.6.2) the four priority areas identified for collaborative research and consequential knowledge transfer between Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States: Nanotechnology; Sensors; Cystic Fibrosis; Diabetes. Respiratory Disorders have been suggested as an additional area for collaborative research.

Knowledge transfer is the process of engaging, for mutual benefit, in the generation, acquisition, application and making accessible of knowledge to enhance material, human, social or environmental well-being. Knowledge transfer for commercial benefit represents a specific sub-set of this broader concept. The immediate challenge in enhancing the capacity for knowledge transfer within the US/Ireland Partnership is to stimulate capabilities, infrastructure and relationships with the objective of identifying, developing and executing joint research projects of interest in all three jurisdictions.

This initial phase of cooperation is being facilitated, for example, through dedicated workshops for experts and institutions (nanotechnology, cystic fibrosis) to identify the likely themes and areas of mutual, complementary interest for projects, the identification of Principal Investigators or lead scientists interested in such collaboration (diabetes), and the mapping of R&D activities underway on the island (sensors).

The intention is these connections and developing communities of knowledge will facilitate the emergence of trilateral research teams to prepare integrated research proposals and compete for funding in appropriate competitions agreed by the three jurisdictions. Part of the infrastructure development is to establish clarity about the terms and processes of such competitions and work is also in train towards this end.

This ongoing structured approach will, in time, lead to realisation of the deeper aspects of knowledge transfer, including commercialisation.

Departmental Expenditure.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

147 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cost to the State of the consultants contracted to examine the effects of the main regulations on companies as referred to in his reply to Parliamentary Question Nos. 34, 88 and 166 of 11 October 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37719/06]

The consultancies in question are being undertaken by the Business Regulation Forum as part of their examination of how regulations impact on the business sector. The cost to the State of the six case-studies of individual firms, on attitudes to regulations affecting them, will be €14,520, inclusive of VAT. The case studies involved single interviews with representatives of the companies designed to elicit broad perceptions about regulatory impact.

The second study is a pilot study on how the "Standard Cost Model" (a method of costing the administrative cost of complying with regulations) could operate. The consultants are conducting a detailed study into two regulatory requirements ie the annual return to the Companies Registration Office and Unit Price Labelling. The cost of the pilot study has been agreed at €151,719 including VAT. A maximum of €7,000 may be added to cover expenses.

Employee Education.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

148 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the recent OECD report that showed Ireland to be 17th of 22 European countries in terms of the number of hours devoted to job related education and training; and the measures he will take to ensure the retraining of half a million workers over the next 15 years as deemed necessary by the expert group on future skills needs report for the continued growth of the economy. [37977/06]

The information contained in this OECD report is based on 2003 data. The situation has changed significantly since then. However, I agree that the training of those in employment is crucial to competitiveness. The fact that the majority of the 2020 workforce are already working reinforces the need to upskill and progressively develop the competencies of those in employment.

A recent report of the National Competitiveness Council also indicates that, while Ireland is close to OECD averages in terms of labour market training, there is a need to focus more on the training needs of those in employment. Investing in lifelong learning for those in employment has to encompass the respective roles of employers, individuals and the State. The primary responsibility for training workers rests with employers and individuals themselves. However the State supports training for particular groups where necessary, especially for the low skilled and more disadvantaged in the labour market.

The importance of training the existing workforce will be reflected in a national skills strategy that is being prepared by my Department. The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs is finalising research to inform this work. The conclusions of that research will shortly be available.

Question No. 149 answered with QuestionNo. 85.
Question No. 150 answered with QuestionNo. 131.

Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

151 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the report of the Employment Appeals Tribunal published by the University of Limerick and NUI Galway; if he agrees with or contests its findings; if he will take action to provide a more level playing field between employees and employers at the Tribunal; his views on the differences in compensation received by those who retained legal representation versus those who did not; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37740/06]

I have read — and I would like to say with a great deal of interest — the recent report on research done by Dr. Collette Darcy of the National University of Ireland, Galway and Dr. Thomas Garavan from the University of Limerick, which provides an insight into employees' experience of the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

The Tribunal is an independent statutory body which is required to adjudicate on a range of issues and grievances which could broadly be regarded as coming within the sphere of industrial relations. The current membership of the Tribunal comprises a legally qualified chairperson, 31 vice chairpersons with legal qualifications and a total of 72 members whose numbers are equally representative of employers and trade unions.

The research finds that about 95% of the Tribunal's workload is concerned with unfair dismissal cases. The research also bears out representations which I have received about the perception that the Tribunal's proceedings are becoming ever more legalistic in nature, and not, as envisaged, a place where the ordinary person could turn when faced with a perceived injustice where they could have their voice heard in an informal and relaxed setting.

I am particularly taken aback at the view which has emerged from the report that there is a difference in compensation awarded to those who had legal representation and those who did not. Even though the researchers state in their report that they did not set out to capture information regarding respondents' representation, I am concerned that there would be a perception out there that either the Tribunal's proceedings or its findings would be dependent on legal representation.

I intend to ask the Tribunal for its formal response to the research, before deciding what action may be appropriate.

Work Permits.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

152 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the communication he has had with his US counterparts regarding the legalisation of undocumented Irish living in the US in exchange for Irish work permits; the proposed details of the agreement; and the communication he has had with the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Foreign Affairs in this regard. [37978/06]

The issue raised by the Deputy is a complex and cross-cutting one and accordingly, in the first instance, requires detailed examination by a number of Government Departments, and in particular by reference to Ireland's obligations under EU Treaties as regards the granting of priority access to our labour market by EU nationals.

Health and Safety Authority.

Mary Upton

Question:

153 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason the chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority is leaving his post; if he was consulted before the board of the HSA offered the chief executive a one year extension to their original five year contract; if he has satisfied himself that the independence of an executive agency charged with the implementation of health and safety law has not been compromised by this outcome; if a successor suitable to the post will be appointed without delay; if he will ensure that all outstanding contractual and financial obligations to the chief executive will be honoured swiftly and in full by the HSA, his Department and the Department of Finance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37742/06]

The current Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority was originally appointed by the Board of the Authority for a 5-year term. When that term expired on 16th September 2006, he was offered and accepted a further 1 year contract.

The appointment of a Chief Executive is a matter for the Board of the Health and Safety Authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 39 and Schedule 6 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. I understand that the Chairman of the Board consulted with the Chief Executive before his reappointment and I have given my consent to the reappointment in accordance with the 2005 Act.

I also understand that the Board has decided, with the agreement of the Chief Executive to terminate his employment contract. The Board will immediately be putting arrangements and procedures in place to recruit and appoint a new Chief Executive of the Authority.

I want to pay tribute to the Chief Executive for his contribution to the safety, health and welfare of the workforce of the country and his outstanding service as a public servant. The Department will make every effort to ensure that all contractual and financial obligations are honoured.

I am also quite satisfied that the independence and integrity of the Health and Safety Authority remains at the very highest level and is not compromised by the departure of the Chief Executive.

Question No. 154 answered with QuestionNo. 100.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Mary Upton

Question:

155 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of prosecutions and convictions recorded by the Health and Safety Authority in each year from 2002 to 2005, and to date in 2006; the cases where the HSA found failure to meet required standards but did not proceed to a prosecution; the reason a prosecution was not taken in each of these cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37736/06]

I would like to refer the Deputy to the following Schedule which contains the prosecution and conviction information requested from 2002 to 30 October 2006. A significant change has taken place over the years in the nature of the court proceedings resulting from investigations by the Health and Safety Authority. In the first decade of the Authority's existence (1989-1999) all health and safety prosecutions were heard in the District Court.

In recent years the Authority undertook a review and upgrade of its criminal investigation procedures with a view to sending files to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration for trial on indictment.

No data is available on the numbers of investigations by the Authority where alleged breaches of the legislation were encountered by the Authority's Inspectors but which did not proceed to a prosecution. In many of these cases the Inspectors would have exercised their discretion under the Safety, Health and Welfare legislation to issue prohibition or improvement notices. However, in general terms, files will only be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions where, on the basis of the evidence collected during an investigation, there is prima facie evidence of the commission of an offence.

Schedule

Year

Type of Proceedings

Total Heard

% of total Cases heard summarily and on indictment

Dismissals etc.

Convictions (%)

Probation of Offenders Act applied

Fines €

2002

Summary

86

95%

13

70 (81%)

3

137,149

Indictment

5

5%

5 (100%)

48,809

Total

91

100%

13

75 (82%)

3

185,958

2003

Summary

61

80%

7

53 (87%)

1

101,450

Indictment

15

20%

15 (100%)

596,500

Total

76

100%

7

68 (89%)

1

697,950

2004

Summary

25

61%

6

17 (68%)

2

42,886

Indictment

16

39%

16 (100%)

1,2295,750

Total

41

100%

6

33 (80%)

2

1,338,636

2005

Summary

22

55%

5

16 (73%)

1

31,588

Indictment

18

45%

1

17 (94%)

431,750

Total

40

100%

6

33 (83%)

1

463,338

2006 to 30 Oct.

Summary

9

32%

1

8* (89%)

20,000

Indictment

19

68%

1

18 (95%)

402,000**

Total

28

100%

2

26 (93%)

422,000**

Notes 2006

*One case being appealed by the defendant.

**Sentencing yet to take place in 5 cases where the parties have been found guilty or pleaded guilty.

Decentralisation Programme.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

156 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his view of the decision by Enterprise Ireland to take out a 25 year lease on two office blocks in Dublin to accommodate 600 staff, even though the State agency is supposed to move to Shannon under the Government’s decentralisation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37932/06]

On the 13th September 2006 Enterprise Ireland (EI) signed the lease for a single site Dublin office in the East Point Business Park. The agency plans to have completed the move to the new office by the end of December 2007. Currently, Enterprise Ireland occupies four office locations in Dublin, primarily as a result of the amalgamation of various state agencies over a number of years into a single organisation to support indigenous enterprise. The lease on two of these buildings will expire in Quarter 4 2008 necessitating the move to a single site. The East Point building will accommodate all of EI's currently Dublin based staff of approximately 600.

From an operational perspective, occupying four separate locations in Dublin was sub-optimal especially for an Agency mandated to provide a range of services and expertise across several critical business functions in a holistic fashion. Crucially, having all Dublin based Agency staff in one location will enable Enterprise Ireland to further deliver on one of its most important new initiatives, the creation of integrated teams of staff with complementary expertise to service client companies. Locating Dublin based staff in a single location will significantly increase the level of collaboration within the organisation which will enable Enterprise Ireland to deliver a more effective service to client companies.

To facilitate moving to one Enterprise Ireland office in Dublin, EI has taken a normal commercial 25 year lease on two office units in East Point. The lease has in-built break clauses and a clause to enable the Agency to sub-let space, if required, to meet its on-going accommodation needs. The break clauses demonstrate the fact that EI remains focused on delivering on the Government's decision to relocate 300 EI staff to Shannon.

Enterprise Ireland, working closely with the Office of Public Works (OPW), has identified, but not yet acquired, a preferred site for the construction of a new HQ building in Shannon. The preferred site is a 13-acre site owned by Shannon Development. In co-operation with Shannon Development and the OPW, the site was valued and a feasibility study carried out. It is not possible, at this stage, to say with certainty when the full move of Enterprise Ireland's HQ will take place. Influencing factors regarding the timing of the move to Shannon include the level of interest in the Shannon location expressed by CAF applicants and suitable transfer arrangements being established. In the interim, Enterprise Ireland is to relocate its Regional Development Headquarter activities to Shannon. These activities will include the existing Shannon Development activities relating to indigenous enterprises and support functions and the new Enterprise Ireland County Enterprise Board Co-ordination Unit.

Also, from January 2007, Enterprise Ireland will be responsible for the development of indigenous industry in the Mid West Region. This will involve the transfer of a number of Shannon Development staff to Enterprise Ireland. EI plans to establish interim office accommodation in the region, to accommodate both the Shannon Development staff and EI HQ staff, by mid 2007. Between the EI staff moving to Shannon and the transfer of Shannon Development staff to EI, there will be approximately 70 EI staff located in Shannon by mid-2007.

Job Losses.

Phil Hogan

Question:

157 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has noted the recent job losses in the food manufacturing sector; the proposals he has to ensure that indigenous employment remains competitive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37950/06]

The food processing sector is Ireland's single largest indigenous industry. It plays a critical role in the continued growth and success of the Irish economy, contributing an annual output in excess of €18 billion, and direct employment of 54,000. Job losses have been experienced in the food sector in recent times due to a variety of circumstances, including the availability of lower cost imports from third countries. However, despite operating and trading in a very competitive global economy, the Irish food and drinks processing sector continues to exhibit steady growth. In 2005 the sector achieved export sales of €7 billion. Irish food manufacturers are continuing to expand their operations, and invest in research and development and world-class production facilities, in order to remain competitive on the global market. The recent announcement of an investment of €180m by Irish speciality foods company Cuisine de France, is a case in point. The investment will lead to the creation of a 42,600-sq.m purpose built centre of excellence, incorporating an R&D centre and state of the art food manufacturing facility. The facility will lead to the creation of 130 new jobs, 5 of which are specific to Research and Development.

Enterprise Ireland is focused on helping to develop world-class companies by increasing competitiveness through increased productivity and innovation. Particular emphasis is being placed on growing and emerging sectors such as functional foods, ready meals, indulgence or luxury products, as well as products designed to satisfy the health and well-being agenda. Continuous innovation and investment in R&D is directly contributing to export growth in the food sector. The announcement in 2005 of plans to develop facilities such as the Glanbia Group's innovation centre in Kilkenny, as well as the Dairygold Co-operative Society's applied food sciences R&D centre in Mitchelstown, and the announcement this year by Dawn Farm Foods to establish a state of the art meat science centre in Naas, are indicative of the strides being made to establish Ireland to the forefront of food research and innovation.

Earlier this year my colleague Ms Mary Coughlan T.D., Minister for Agriculture and Food, announced a development fund for the dairy sector. The fund is designed to improve efficiency and add value to the dairy industry and will help to further develop a modern, competitive, innovative and market-focused food sector in Ireland. The investment will include some €100 million of Government grant assistance. This scheme will be managed by Enterprise Ireland. Enterprise Ireland will continue to actively encourage its client companies in the food sector to innovate, grow and engage in export markets through a range of support programmes. Enterprise Ireland, together with organisations such as Bord Bia and BIM, will work to help ensure continuing gains in productivity, competitiveness, innovation, sales and exports in the food sector.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

158 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the plans he has to tackle the shortage of Health and Safety inspectors in the State as it has been identified as a factor hindering the authorities ability to carry out their inspection and enforcement functions; and if he plans to inject sufficient resource to enable the HSA to fulfil its responsibilities under existing worker health and safety legislation. [37769/06]

This year the Health and Safety Authority will receive a grant of €20.598m which is an increase of 27.95% on 2005. The HSA allocation for 2007 has not yet been published. The Authority currently has a sanctioned staff complement of 185 comprised of inspectors, professional specialists, administrators and clerical support staff. Included in the 185 sanctioned posts are 21 for the proposed new EU Regulation on Chemicals (REACH). The Authority has 110 inspectors involved in the inspection and enforcement function. I am confident that the Authority has adequate resources to fulfil its programme of work.

Industrial Development.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

159 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment If he will report on the work undertaken through Enterprise Ireland’s productivity improvement fund; the number of companies assisted by this fund in each year since its creation; if any empirical data on the effects of this assistance has been recorded, and if so the average and median expected annual savings for companies assisted by the fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37752/06]

The administration and evaluation of Enterprise Ireland's productivity improvement fund is a day to day matter for the agency itself, and not one in which I am directly involved. The productivity improvement fund (PIF) was launched in May 2005. The initiative is primarily aimed at encouraging client companies, of both Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development, to undertake investments in capital equipment, technology acquisition and training projects. It is envisaged that productivity improvement projects, approved under this fund, will assist recipient companies in increasing exports, or establishing a base from which they can develop their exports.

Since the productivity improvement fund was launched in May 2005, 147 companies have been approved funding totalling €29.178m. In 2005, 39 companies were approved funding totalling €8.533m. In 2006, to date, 108 companies were approved funding totalling €20.645m. The €29 million approved by the fund has resulted in leveraging investments of €55 million from companies, bringing the total projected spend by companies to circa €84million. Under the PIF scheme, companies have two years from the date of initial letter of offer, to start drawing down the grant. Since the launch of the scheme, 21 companies have had payments made to them, these payments amounted to €1.660m. The following table outlines payments and approvals made to companies under the scheme in 2005 and 2006. The companies who have been approved funding to date have committed to undertaking projects that will be implemented over a two year period. As the scheme was only launched in May 2005, the majority of projects have not yet been completed, and it is therefore too early to conduct a full impact assessment of the funding on client company performance. However, I am informed that Enterprise Ireland plan to commence an interim review of the scheme in December 2006.

2005 Productivity Improvement Fund Approvals

Productivity Fund

Companies Approved 2005

Total Funding Allocated

No. of Applications Received

Total Funding Requested

Industrial & Life Sciences Markets

22

5,212,067

41

10,423,476

Food & Retail Consumer Markets

16*

3,239,347*

31

6,990,243

Software Services & Emerging Sectors

1

81,627

1

81,627

Total

39*

8,533,041*

73

17,495,346

*Includes 2 Shannon Approvals (total funding approved €435,825 — Capital: €293,721; Training: €142,104).

2006 Productivity Improvement Fund Approvals

Productivity Fund

No. of Approvals to date

Total Funding Allocated

No. of Applics. Received

Total Funding Requested

Industrial & Life Sciences Markets

66*

14,278,335

99#

22,419,351

Food & Retail Consumer Markets

35

5,512,243

53

11,707,663

Software Services & Emerging Sectors

7

854,117

13

2,095,952

Total

108

20,644,695

128

36,222,966

*Includes 8 Shannon Development Client approvals/total funding allocated €2,011,756 (Capital: €1,143,500/Training: €868,256).

#Includes 5 Shannon Development Client applications.

PIF Cumulative Payments to 3rd November 2006

Agency

Total Amount Paid Today

No. of Companies

Cap/TA

Training

Total

Enterprise Ireland

19

1,271,550

79,832

1,351,382

Shannon Development

2

288,971

19,613

308,584

Total

21

1,560,521

99,445

1,659,966

PIF Claims on Hand to 3rd November 2006

Agency

Total Claims on Hand

No. of Companies

Cap/TA

Training

Total

Enterprise Ireland

15

920,852

124,722

1,045,574

Shannon Development

1

5,094

1,625

6,719

Total

16

925,946

126,347

1,052,293

Fair Trade Products.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

160 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the roll-out of fair trade products, particularly tea, coffee and sugar, in his Department’s offices and in the offices of its agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37726/06]

My Department's offices are spread over 8 separate buildings, none of which have cafeterias or restaurants. My Department has only a medium sized canteen in Davitt House and a very small canteen in Kildare Street. As already indicated in replies to recent questions on this matter, the tea, coffee, sugar and other products served in those two canteens are not confined to Fair Trade products. However, I can confirm that both canteens have introduced Fair Trade products for sale or are in the process of doing so. I have again asked that consideration be given to the enhanced sale of Fair Trade tea, coffee, sugar and other products in my Department's two small canteens.

As regards the agencies under the control of my Department, you may wish to know that last June my Department wrote to all of the agencies involved drawing attention to this issue and asking, on my behalf, that consideration be given to the enhanced sale of Fair Trade products in the canteens, cafeterias or restaurants of those agencies. The replies received by my Department indicate support for this initiative and the majority of the agencies involved have indicated that they have introduced Fair Trade tea, coffee, sugar and other products for sale in these canteens, cafeterias or restaurants or are in the process of doing so.

Question No. 161 answered with QuestionNo. 92.

Work Permits.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

162 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of work permits issued to non-EU nationals to date in 2006; the number issued in each year from 2002 to 2005; the breakdown of permits issued per country of origin overall from 2002 to date in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37739/06]

The data supplied by the Work Permits Section of my Department shows that the number of permits being issued has reduced, in particular due to EU Enlargement in May 2004. This is in line with the obligation contained in the Accession Treaty to give preference to nationals from the EEA when filling job vacancies, including both new and renewal permits. The total number of work permits issued to non-EU Nationals to date, including both new and renewal permits, in 2006 is 22,280.

The following are the numbers issued from 2002 to 2005:

Year

New

Renewals

Total

2005

7,344

18,945

26,289

2004

10,003

23,203

33,206

2003

21,930

25,013

46,943

2002

23,306

16,547

39,853

The chart shows permits issued per country of origin from 2002 to date in 2006:

Nationality

Issued

Afghanistan

2

Albania

272

Albanian

5

Algeria

442

Anguilla

1

Antigua & Barbuda

6

Argentina

379

Armenia

17

Australia

3,913

Austria

Azerbaijan

9

Bahamas

9

Bahrain

42

Bangladesh

4,364

Barbados

16

Belarus

3,704

Belize

1

Benin

1

Bhutan (Kingdom of)

4

Bolivia

16

Bosnia Herzegovina

309

Bosnian

5

Botswana

173

Brazil

6,752

Brunei

15

Bulgaria

3,297

Burma

5

Burkina Faso

3

Burundi

5

Cameroon

57

Canada

1,488

Chad

1

Chile

93

China

6,440

Chinese

8

Colombia

99

Congo Republic of

7

Congo (Democratic Republic of)

8

Costa Rica

16

Croatia

670

Cuba

36

Czech Republic

2,514

Cyprus

5

Dominica

1

Dominican Republic

2

Ecuador

53

Egypt

1,156

El Salvador

21

Equatorial Guinea

1

Eritrea

9

Estonia

2,136

Estonia Alien

6

Estonia (alien)

29

Ethiopia

69

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

1

Fiji

6

Gabonese (Republic of)

1

Gambia

15

Georgia

46

Ghana

87

Grenada

3

Guadeloupe

2

Guatemala

13

Guyana

5

Haiti

4

Honduras

10

Hong Kong

804

Hong Kong S.A.R.

5

Hungary

848

India

6,741

Indonesia

269

Iran

168

Iraq

99

Israel

195

Ivory Coast

16

Jamaica

74

Japan

1,063

Jordan

123

Kazakhstan

161

Kenya

67

Korea (Democratic Peoples Republic of (North))

11

Korea (Democratic Peoples Republic of (South)

5

Korea (Republic of South)

76

Korea (Republic of (South))

104

Kosovo

115

Kuwait

41

Kyrgyz Republic

21

Latvia (Alien)

15

Latvia

5301

Latvia (Alien)

105

Latvia (Alien)

132

Latvia (Alien)

150

Latvia/Alien

46

Lebanon

105

Libya

53

Macedonia (FYR)

52

Malawi

36

Malaysia

4,610

Malaysian

1

Maldives

3

Mali

2

Mauritania

33

Mauritius

109

Mexico

208

Moldova

3,938

Mongolia

50

Morocco

612

Myanmar

5

Myanmar (Formerly Burma)

183

Namibia

17

Nepal

352

New Zealand

2,789

Niger

25

Nigeria

384

Oman

13

Pakistan

4,039

Paraguay

31

Peru

98

Philippines

19,160

Romania

10,225

Romanian

8

Russian

4

Russian Federation

4184

Samoa (USA)

3

Santa Lucia

1

Saudi Arabia

5

Senegal

18

Serbia

17

Sierra Leone

16

Singapore

118

South Africa

10,139

South Korea

4

Sri Lanka

618

Sudan

73

Swaziland

10

Syria

166

Tanzania

71

Thailand

2,562

Tonga

3

Trinidad & Tobago

70

Tunisia

376

Turkey

2,293

Uganda

19

Ukraine

10,507

United Arab Emirates

58

United States of America

3,722

Uruguay

14

Uzbekistan

58

Venezuela

94

Vietnam

388

West Indies

9

Western Samoa

6

Yemen

3

Yugoslavia

10

Yugoslavia (Federal Republic of)

526

Yugoslavia (Federal Republic)

5

Zambia

47

Zimbabwe

1,157

Import Licences.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

163 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason for the significant decrease in the number of import licences applied for in 2006 to date, when compared to 2005; if there is any underlying change in Department policy that means that fewer products now require import licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37718/06]

The decision to impose a licensing requirement for imports is taken under the European Union Common Commercial Policy. EU Council Regulation (EC) No. 2200/2004 introduced a system of prior surveillance import licensing on imports of certain textiles and clothing originating in the Peoples Republic of China. This Regulation took effect on 1 January 2005 and ran until 31 December 2005. On 1 February 2005, in accordance with EU Commission Regulation (EC) No. 117/2005, a system of prior surveillance import licensing was introduced on imports of certain footwear originating in the Peoples Republic of China. This system was applicable until 31 January 2006.

Both of these Regulations were in force throughout 2005. Their expiry in December 2005 and January 2006 accounts for the decrease in the number of import licences issued in the current year.

National Minimum Wage.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

164 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the plans he has to increase penalties for non-compliance of minimum wage legislation. [37768/06]

As part of the national agreement Towards 2016 a commitment has been made to review and increase penalties for non-compliance in all areas of employment law, including the national minimum wage legislation. Work has already begun on the preparation of the Employment Rights Compliance Bill, which will reflect this and other commitments in Towards 2016. In the context of redress, it is proposed to provide for up to two years pay in the adjudicative and appeal processes.

EU Directives.

Seymour Crawford

Question:

165 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the likelihood of legal action against Ireland by the European Commission for breaching regulations governing the working time of employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37947/06]

The EU Commission has indicated that it intends taking infringement proceedings against 23 of the 25 Member States for breaches of Council Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time. Ireland is in breach of the above Directive by virtue of the rulings of the European Court of Justice in the SIMAP and Jaeger cases which determined that "working time" includes time spent "on call" at the place of employment including, the rest time element of such "on call" time. The definition of "working time" in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, which transposed the above Directive into Irish law, does not provide that time spent "on call" in the place of employment is "working time".

The SIMAP and Jaeger rulings also determined that when an employee does not receive the 11 consecutive hours daily rest and 35 consecutive hours weekly rest stipulated in both the above Directive and in the 1997 Act, that equivalent "compensatory rest" should be provided immediately after the end of the working period. Ireland is out of line with this ruling in the sense that the relevant legislation provides for the granting of equivalent compensatory rest in an "adjacent time frame". However, given the political sensitivity of the Directive for Member States, particularly in relation to the provision of health care services, it is not yet clear as to how the EU Commission might approach Infringement Proceedings should they choose pursue this option.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Seán Crowe

Question:

166 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on progress to date in expanding the labour inspectorate. [37764/06]

The existing staff complement of the Labour Inspectorate of the Department comprises 31 Inspectors and some 7 administrative support staff.

The Social Partnership Agreement "Towards 2016" provides for the establishment of an Office of the Director for Employment Rights Compliance (ODERC) which, in addition to the provision of employment rights information and the prosecution of offences, will also have responsibility for the Labour Inspectorate. The number of Labour Inspectors under this Office will be progressively increased from 31 to 90 by end-2007, as part of the initiative to increase the staffing resources of the Employment Rights Bodies generally.

My Department is in consultation with the Department of Finance in relation to the filling of the new Labour Inspector positions. I expect that the necessary arrangements and selection processes can be progressed between now and end year with a view to assignments being made from the second quarter of 2007.

Live Register.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

167 Ms Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland now ranks 37th in the world in terms of women’s presence in the workforce and 51st in the world in terms of their economic opportunity, according to the World Economic Forum; the action he is taking to close the gender gap in industry and employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The report ‘Measuring the Global Gender Gap' is the first attempt by the World Economic Forum to assess the size of the gender gap by measuring equality under five critical areas. I understand that the sources used to carry out this assessment are based on data that is at least two years old.

The overall ranking given to Ireland is 16th place out of 58 countries. While economic participation and opportunity have received a ranking of 37 and 51 respectively, the other areas — political empowerment, educational attainment, health and well-being — received rankings of 12, 9 and 12 respectively.

Garda Deployment.

Michael Ring

Question:

168 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason Gardaí have not been replaced in a town (details supplied) in County Mayo. [38027/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 12,762 on Friday, 8 September, 2006, following the attestation of 249 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,060 (or 19%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 has resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed that the personnel strength (all ranks) of Ballinrobe Garda Station as at 31 December, 1997 and 14 November, 2006 was 7 and 9, respectively, representing an increase of 2 in the number of personnel allocated to the Station during that period.

Garda management state that every effort is made to fill vacancies that have arisen as a result of promotions/retirements during each allocation of newly promoted/attested Garda personnel.

Garda management further state that the situation will be kept under review and the needs of Ballinrobe Garda Station will be fully considered within the context of the overall needs of Garda Stations throughout the country.

I should add that it is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions on a priority basis in accordance with the requirements of different areas. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, administrative functions and other operational policing needs. Garda management state that such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

Garda Operations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

169 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the pulse system in the Garda Station at Raheny and Clontarf does not record incidents outside a venue (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will clarify the way in which anti-social calls and incidents are recorded. [38040/06]

When incidents are being recorded on the PULSE system, the details of the incident, including the location of the occurrence, are entered. It is the responsibility of the Gardaí attending incidents, including any at the premises referred to by the Deputy, to ensure that the particular incident is recorded on the PULSE system.

Anti-social behaviour/public disorder type offences come within the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Acts. These include offences such as, intoxication in a public place, disorderly conduct in a public place, threatening and abusive behaviour in a public place and failure to comply with a direction of a member of An Garda Síochána. Anti-Social/public disorder type behaviour may also be considered offences under the following legislation: — Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act, 1997, Criminal Damage Act, 1991, and the Road Traffic Acts, 1961/2006.

Complaints of noise pollution are dealt with under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 which is also enforced by Local Authorities.

I refer the Deputy also to my reply to his Question No. 211 of today's date.

Garda Deployment.

Michael Noonan

Question:

170 Mr. Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the growth in population in the Castleconnell Lisnagry area of Limerick, he will appoint extra Gardaí to Castleconnell Garda Station and arrange for the station to be open on a full-time basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38095/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 12,762 on Friday, 8 September, 2006, following the attestation of 249 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,060 (or 19%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 has resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed that the personnel strength (all ranks) of Castleconnell Garda Station as at 14 November, 2006 was 4. Castleconnell Garda Station forms part of the Henry Street Garda District. The personnel strength (all ranks) of Henry Street Garda District as at 31 December, 1997 was 204 and the comparable strength of that District today, 15 November, 2006, is 280. This represents an increase of 76 (or 37%) in the number of Garda personnel allocated to the District during that period.

I should say that it is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions on a priority basis in accordance with the requirements of different areas. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, administrative functions and other operational policing needs. Garda management state that such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

I have also been informed that Castleconnell Garda Station is open to the public from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Saturday. Local Garda Management do not view the extension of the opening hours at Castleconnell Garda Station as an effective way of improving the overall policing service in the Sub-District. In this regard, Garda management state that the extension of the openings hours at Castleconnell Garda Station would necessitate the employment of additional personnel on indoor administrative duties who may be more effectively employed on outdoor policing duties.

Citizenship Applications.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

171 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork and on whose behalf additional supporting documentation was submitted on 1 September 2006 regarding the number of months of residency they have. [38096/06]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department on 12 April 2005.

Section 15 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, provides that applicants for naturalisation, other than spouses of Irish citizens, must have been resident in the State for five years of the nine year period prior to the date of application. Resident in this context means residence for which the applicant had the permission of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and where such permission was not granted for the purposes of study or seeking asylum. Generally speaking, reckonable residence is calculated from stamps in applicants' passports and from Departmental and Garda records.

On examination of the individual's application for a certificate of naturalisation, it was determined that he did not have five year's residence at the time of lodging his application, having gaps in his residency for the period November 2001 to December 2002 and for the month of November 2004. Consequently, he did not have the necessary reckonable residence in order to qualify for naturalisation. A letter to this effect first issued to him on 19 April 2005 and was the subject of some communication between the applicant and staff in the Citizenship Division of my Department.

I have noted the Deputy's letter of 1 September 2006 in which he submits copies of work permits on behalf of the person in question which cover the gaps in residency. The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, is quite specific as to how residency is reckoned for the purposes of naturalisation and while the work permits demonstrate that the person in question was authorised to work in the State during this time, the fact remains that he resided here without the necessary permission.

The onus is on the individual who requires permission to remain in the State to keep this permission up-to-date at all times. It will be open to the person in question to submit a fresh application once he satisfies the statutory conditions applicable at that time.

Garda Deployment.

Phil Hogan

Question:

172 Mr. Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the average percentage of gardaí that are on duty at any particular time in respect of each station in south Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38097/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 12,762 on Friday, 8 September, 2006, following the attestation of 249 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,060 (or 19%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 has resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

Garda management state that for security and operational reasons it is not Garda policy to disclose the number of Gardaí on duty in any given area over any specific period of time. The personnel strength (all ranks) of the DMR South Division as at 31 December, 1997 was 471 and the comparable strength for that Division today, 15 November, 2006, is 575. This represents an increase of 104 (or 22%) in the number of Garda personnel allocated to DMR South Division during that period.

I should add that it is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions on a priority basis in accordance with the requirements of different areas. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, administrative functions and other operational policing needs. Garda management state that such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

Garda Investigations.

Tony Gregory

Question:

173 Mr. Gregory asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will request the Garda authorities to report on the allegations contained in correspondence (details supplied); the reason no prosecution was proceeded with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38168/06]

I have received a report from the Garda Authorities in relation to the allegations made in the correspondence referred to by the Deputy and I am informed that the allegations made are the subject of an ongoing Garda investigation.

I am further informed that it is expected that an investigation file on the allegations will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in due course. The Deputy will be aware that it is not the practice to comment on ongoing Garda investigations, which are operational matters for the Garda authorities. I am also informed by the Garda authorities that there is no information to support the allegations made in the correspondence.

Garda Deployment.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

174 Mr. O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will discuss with the Garda authorities the possibility of assigning additional gardaí to Tallaght which is now the third largest population centre in the State; his views on the need for additional Gardaí to work with the community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38169/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 12,762 on Friday, 8 September, 2006, following the attestation of 249 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,060 (or 19%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 has resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed that the personnel strength (all ranks) of Tallaght Garda Station as at 31 December, 1997 and 14 November, 2006 was 133 and 173, respectively, representing an increase of 40 (or 30%) in the number of Garda personnel allocated to Tallaght Garda Station during that period.

I am also informed that the personnel strength (all ranks) of the Community Policing Unit at Tallaght Garda Station as at 30 September, 2006 was 23.

Local Garda Management state that Garda resources at Tallaght are further augmented by the Divisional Crime Task Force and the Divisional Traffic Unit. The Garda Dog Unit, Garda Mounted Unit and Garda Air Support Unit are also utilised from time to time.

Garda management state that the situation at Tallaght Garda Station will be kept under review and the needs of the Station will be fully considered within the context of the overall needs of Garda Stations throughout the country.

I should add that it is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions on a priority basis in accordance with the requirements of different areas. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, administrative functions and other operational policing needs. Garda management state that such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

Garda Stations.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

175 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if he will ask the Office of Public Works to meet South Dublin County Council management to discuss with them potential sites which the council have which might be suitable for the second Garda station for Tallaght; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38164/06]

The Office of Public Works are always willing to meet Local Authorities to consider issues of mutual interest.

Decentralisation Programme.

John Cregan

Question:

176 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Finance his views on examining the possibility of securing temporary accommodation in the Newcastle West area to facilitate the 50 people who will be decentralised to Newcastle West Revenue Commissioners offices and who are presently in temporary accommodation in Limerick City; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38226/06]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that pending completion of the decentralised accommodation in Newcastle West, scheduled for last quarter of 2007 and an indicative date for occupation in early 2008, Limerick City was chosen as the site for temporary accommodation to facilitate the training of staff who were already based in Limerick and were due to move to Newcastle West under the decentralisation programme.

The current temporary accommodation is leased to the Commissioners of Public Works under a short term agreement and it would not be practical to enter into a new lease for temporary accommodation in Newcastle West given the high costs of fit out and the likely timeframe for completion of the decentralised offices. In the circumstances, it is not the intention of the Revenue Commissioners to look for temporary accommodation in Newcastle West.

Tax Code.

John Perry

Question:

177 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Finance the reason a farmer who is in receipt of the farm retirement pension and has his farm leased to his son for 10 years for €3600 per annum is subject to a tax liability in view of the fact that if the said lands were leased to a non-family member for the same amount he would not be liable; if he will clarify same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38236/06]

Under Section 664 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, there is an exemption from income tax in respect of the first €12,000 of annual leasing income where the leasing is for a period of not less than 5 years and in respect of €15,000 where the leasing is for a period of not less than 7 years. The exemptions are available to lessors of agricultural land aged 40 years or over or to those who are permanently incapacitated by mental or physical infirmity from carrying on farming. In Budget 2006 I announced an increase in the annual exemption limits from €7,500 to €12,000 for leases between 5 and 7 years duration and from €10,000 to €15,000 for leases of 7 or more years duration. In addition, in order to provide for situations where land is leased along with entitlement to EU Single Farm Payments, I also announced that rental income arising from such entitlements would qualify for the relief with effect from 1 January 2005. These improvements were provided for in section 12 of the Finance Act 2006.

These tax exemptions apply only in respect of leases to qualifying lessees. In this context, "qualifying lessee" specifically excludes from the scope of the relief any leases made between closely connected relatives. A person is connected with an individual if that person is the individual's husband or wife, or is a relative, or the husband or wife of a relative of the individual or of the individual's husband or wife. A relative in this context is defined as meaning brother, sister, ancestor or lineal descendant.

This restriction covering leasing to closely connected relatives is a standard anti-avoidance measure and such measures are common throughout the tax code. It should also be noted that there are already very generous stamp duty and capital acquisitions tax reliefs available in the case of permanent transfers of land between family members, such as by gift or sale. For all these reasons, there are no proposals to provide an exemption from income tax for rental income from farm land leases entered into between related persons.

Suicide Prevention.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

178 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department can now fund a project (details supplied) following the publication of the report Moving Beyond Coping an insight into the experiences and needs of travellers in Tallaght in coping with suicide; her views on the importance of this initiative; if she will give assurances on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38174/06]

The National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) was established by the Health Service Executive to oversee the implementation of "Reach Out", the National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention. This Office is responsible for the implementation of the Strategy and provides support to groups and organisations for their work in the development of suicide prevention initiatives.

An additional €1.2m has been allocated in 2006 to the Office specifically for suicide prevention initiatives and research.

The Group referred to by the Deputy should be advised to contact the National Office for Suicide Prevention directly in this regard. This Office may be contacted at Health Service Executive, Dr. Steeven's Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8 or by telephone 01 6352179.

Nursing Home Lands.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

179 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Health and Children when the lands for the nursing home in Ballinrobe, County Mayo will be transferred to allow this project to progress to planning; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38025/06]

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.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Dan Neville

Question:

180 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for housing aid for the elderly by a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [38026/06]

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 operation of the Housing Aid Scheme for the Elderly, on behalf of the Department of 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.

Mental Health Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

181 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if an action plan has been put in place to progress the issues identified in the Report of the Working Group on the Role of Psychotherapy in the Health Service including exploration of issues relating to the development of an appropriate model of service. [38086/06]

The 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.

Dan Neville

Question:

182 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the list of properties which will disposed of under her policy of sale of assets in the mental health services; and the valuation of these properties. [38087/06]

The identification of property assets which may be in excess of known HSE requirements and assessment of their value is the responsibility of the HSE National Director of Estates. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Clinical Trials.

Dan Neville

Question:

183 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of clinical trials which were conducted on psychiatric patients over the past three years. [38088/06]

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

Year

Number of Trials

2003

4

2004

6

2005

1

Ambulance Service.

Martin Ferris

Question:

184 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children if, when responsibility for the provision of transport for patients under the Health Act 1970 was transferred from community welfare officers to the hospitals themselves, the hospitals were provided with a separate budget for this purpose. [38089/06]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is arranging for a comprehensive review to be undertaken of the non-emergency transport needs of patients attending HSE facilities. This review will include an examination of the service currently delivered nationally and make recommendations that will inform its future development. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the specific question examined and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

185 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the percentage of beds allocated as private in the hospitals on each of the ten hospital sites designated for the co-location scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38090/06]

In-patient beds in public hospitals are designated as public, private or non-designated in accordance with the Health Services (In-Patient Regulations) 1991. The percentage of in-patient beds designated as private in the 10 hospital sites selected is as follows:

Hospital

Percentage of In-Patient Beds Designated as Private/Semi-Private

%

Beaumont

17

Connolly Hospital

9

St. James’s

15

AMNCH, Tallaght

26

Limerick Regional Hospital

32

Letterkenny General

19

Sligo General

23

Waterford Regional Hospital

22

Cork University Hospital

21

University College Hospital, Galway

21

Hospital Services.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

186 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for urgent care centres to deliver children’s services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38091/06]

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

187 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to be in a position to confirm plans for the future delivery of children’s services at Tallaght Hospital; if her attention has been drawn to the anxiety of the Tallaght community in the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38092/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 and 187 together.

As the Deputy is aware, a review of tertiary paediatric services undertaken by McKinsey & Company on behalf of the Health Service Executive (HSE) advised that:

The population and projected demands in this country can support only one world class tertiary paediatric hospital;

It should be in Dublin, and should ideally be co-located with a leading adult academic hospital (i.e. should be within a practical walking distance of such a hospital); and

It should also provide all the secondary (i.e. less complex) hospital needs of children in the Greater Dublin area

These secondary services should be supported by strategically-located Urgent Care Centres.

When the report was published, each of the Dublin paediatric hospitals (including The Adelaide and Meath Hospital, incorporating the National Children's Hospital) expressed strong support for the development of a single paediatric hospital, and emphasized the need for early decisions in relation to its location. Paediatric Consultants expressed their willingness to move to the new hospital regardless of its location.

Following extensive examination, discussion and consultation, a joint HSE/Department of Health and Children Task Group recommended that the new national tertiary paediatric hospital should be built on a site to be made available by the Mater Hospital. This recommendation was accepted by the Board of the HSE and was subsequently endorsed by the Government at its meeting on 8th June. The Government mandated the HSE to move forward with the development of the new hospital and its associated urgent care centres.

The Taoiseach, the Minister and the Chief Executive Officer of the HSE met with representatives of Tallaght Hospital, including Archbishop Eames, in June to discuss a number of issues, including the implications for the National Children's Hospital of the Government decision to endorse the development of a single national tertiary paediatric hospital at the Mater Hospital. In a letter to the Archbishop following the meeting, the Taoiseach gave an assurance that the Government wishes to see Tallaght Hospital thrive on a sustainable basis as a particular focal point for the involvement of the minority tradition in the healthcare system and as a key health provider to an expanding local population.

A joint HSE/Department of Health and Children Transition Group has been established to advance the development of the national tertiary paediatric hospital. Among the key items to be addressed are the definition of a high level framework brief for the new hospital and the determination of the range of services and location of the associated urgent care centres. The Group will have consultations with relevant stakeholders, which will include representatives of the National Children's Hospital at Tallaght.

To date, no decision has been taken in relation to the range of services to be provided at the National Children's Hospital at Tallaght in the context of the development of the national paediatric hospital and the associated urgent care centres. I understand that the Transition Group is in the process of contracting external assistance in relation to the preparation of the high level framework brief for the new hospital, including operational policies for the proposed urgent care centres.

Care of the Elderly.

Noel O'Flynn

Question:

188 Mr. O’Flynn asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of home care packages and hours provided in Cork City and suburbs in 2006; the number of packages and hours budgeted for 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38093/06]

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.

John Cregan

Question:

189 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card patient is entitled to have an MRI scan carried out free of charge; the average waiting time for such a scan in the mid-west Health Service Executive region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38094/06]

There is no charge payable by public patients who receive an MRI scan in a public hospital. All public patients are entitled to public hospital services subject only to the statutory charges in respect of in-patient services and at Accident and Emergency Departments, where applicable. Statutory charges for hospital in-patient services and out-patient services are not applicable in the case of people with full eligibility i.e. holders of a medical card.

In relation to the specific information sought concerning the average waiting time for an MRI scan, as the management and delivery of health and personal social services are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004, 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.

Nursing Home Accommodation.

Michael Ring

Question:

190 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of elderly people in County Mayo awaiting admission to long stay care in public nursing homes and comparison figures of the waiting lists in each year from 2000 to date in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38166/06]

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.

Willie Penrose

Question:

191 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to provide moneys to the Health Service Executive, in order to permit them to implement the Comhairle na nOspidéal Report, which has made a significant number of recommendations for improvement in the rheumatology service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38203/06]

In December 2005, Comhairle na nOspidéal published a report on Rheumatology Services which included recommendations on the organisation and development of rheumatology services in the future. Responsibility for the implementation of these recommendations rests with the Health Service Executive. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Accommodation.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

192 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the consultations she has had with representatives of Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Dublin 12 in relation to the Government decision to transfer the services available at the hospital to the Mater Hospital site; if her attention has been drawn to significant professional opinion which views the transfer as totally unsuitable and unacceptable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38227/06]

A review of tertiary paediatric services carried out by McKinsey & Co. on behalf of the Health Service Executive recommended the establishment of a single tertiary paediatric hospital in Dublin, co-located with a leading adult academic hospital. Subsequently, a joint HSE/Department of Health and Children Task Group was established to advise on the optimum location of the proposed new hospital.

The Task Group's report was submitted to the Board of the HSE on 1st June last, and its recommendation that the new paediatric hospital be developed as an independent hospital on a site to be made available by the Mater Hospital was endorsed by the Board. At its meeting on 8th June, the Government also strongly endorsed the recommendation.

I am satisfied that the Task Group undertook a rigorous and robust examination of the key issues in arriving at its recommendation. The Group consulted widely with international experts in arriving at its recommendation, and gave in-depth consideration to the key issues of access, governance, clinical values and site suitability.

A joint HSE/Department of Health and Children Transition Group has been established to advance the development of the new Hospital. Among the key items to be addressed are the definition of a high level framework brief for the new Hospital and the determination of the scope and location of the Urgent Care Centres.

I recently met with representatives from Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children and was told that the hospital has commissioned its own report on the issues relating to the location of the National Paediatric Hospital. I understand that the joint Transition Group received a copy of the report and that a meeting between the Group and the Crumlin representatives has taken place.

I understand that the Joint Transition Group is in the process of contracting external assistance in relation to the development of a high level framework brief for the new hospital, and that the tender documentation for the contract specifically requires the report commissioned by Our Lady's Hospital to be taken into consideration in the preparation of the brief.

Regional Fisheries Boards.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

193 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the proposals he has to meet the concerns of the Southern Regional Fisheries Board regarding the implications of the Report of the Independent Salmon Group for the region (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38068/06]

I recently received a letter from the chairman of the Southern Regional Fisheries Board, dated 7 November 2006, which set out the views of the board on the report of the Independent Group which was published on 24 October last. I have not yet had the opportunity to fully consider the views expressed in the letter or to respond directly to the board.

Television Licence Fee.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

194 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if persons who pay a television licence fee to view the State television channels, must pay a further subscription for these channels when accessing via satellite in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38156/06]

Television licences are granted under Section 5 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1926. This Section allows for the grant of a licence to a person for a fee to keep and have possession of a television set in a specified place.

Utilising revenues derived from the television licence fee and other Exchequer income, public funding is made available to allow for the provision of the television and radio services of RTÉ and TG4 on a national free-to-air terrestrial basis, as mandated by the Broadcasting Act 2001. In addition such services are made available to cable and satellite operators for transmission on their broadcast platforms. A person wishing to access services on such platforms must do so on the commercial terms set by the operators.

Harbours and Piers.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

195 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the status for the proposed harbour development at Dunmore East; the funding being provided for the commencement of the construction (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38204/06]

Following a lengthy public consultation process in 2004 on development options for Dunmore East Harbour, a planning application for a harbour development, together with an environmental impact statement, were prepared and submitted to Waterford County Council. Planning permission for the development of the Fishery Harbour Centre was received in late 2005.

The cost of providing the new harbour facility is estimated at between €50 and €60 million depending on final scheme selection and tendering. In 2006, €300,000 is provided for further design and €300,000 for site investigation to progress the development. The project is currently at detailed design stage. The final Phase 3 marine site investigation commenced in July this year and is approximately 50% complete to date. The remainder of the site investigation will be completed during Spring/Summer 2007. A contract has been awarded for hydrographic survey work, which is likely to be completed by the end of 2006, subject to weather. Tender documents are currently being prepared for a Cost Benefit Analysis.

A decision on funding of this project will be made in due course in accordance with the guidelines for Appraisal and Management of Capital Expenditure Proposals in the Public Sector, taking into account the amount of funding made available for fishery harbours, with particular reference to the National Development Plan 2007–2013 and overall national priorities.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

196 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the urgent proposals he has to carry out dredging at Dunmore East Harbour to deal with the chronic silting problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38205/06]

The Department is aware of the siltation problem in the harbour and are currently monitoring the extent of siltation. In this regard, a hydrographic survey of the harbour has recently been completed and the results are currently being evaluated. There are highly elevated levels of TBT and heavy metals contamination existing in the harbour seabed sediments.

Foreign Conflicts.

Michael Noonan

Question:

197 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps being taken by the Irish Government and by the European Union to discourage the Israeli authorities from killing Palestinian citizens; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38085/06]

Finian McGrath

Question:

198 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will intervene urgently on behalf of the Palestine people in the UN and EU and with the Israeli; Government regarding the human rights abuses being perpetrated in Palestine. [38165/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 and 198 together.

The Government is deeply concerned by the situation in the Occupied Territories, and especially by the rising toll of death and destruction in Gaza. I have unreservedly condemned the deaths of 18 civilians, including women and children, in the shelling of Beit Hanoun by the Israeli Defence Forces on 8 November. I have called very clearly for an immediate end to all violence. This includes the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the firing of rockets on Israel from Palestinian Territory.

The meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on 13 November strongly deplored the Israeli military action in Gaza and the unacceptable military operation in Beit Hanoun. The Council emphasised that any military action should not be disproportionate or in contradiction to international humanitarian law. The Government and our EU partners have regularly reminded all parties of their obligation to protect civilian lives. We have stated clearly that Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself against attack, but not at the expense of the lives and welfare of innocent civilians.

The violence of recent months, in the Occupied Territories, Israel and Lebanon, underlines the urgent need to revive a credible peace process in the Middle East. There can be no military or unilateral solutions to the Israeli — Palestinian conflict. The Government has been active in direct contact with the parties, with our partners in the EU, and at the United Nations in arguing strongly that the only way forward for the Israeli and the Palestinian people is the negotiation of a viable two-State solution. The EU strongly supports the continuing efforts of President Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate the formation of a Palestinian national unity government. The Council on 13 November stated that a government with a platform reflecting the Quartet principles and allowing for early engagement would be a partner for the international community in re-launching the peace process.

The Government and our EU partners will remain actively engaged in the search for a lasting, peaceful and just settlement. The immediate priority must be to relieve the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank. The EU, and Ireland bilaterally, have significantly increased assistance to the Palestinian people this year, and we have called for the immediate resumption by Israel of withheld tax and customs revenues. We also continue to seek the release of the captured Israeli soldier and of Palestinian legislators detained in Israel, and the re-opening of the Gaza crossing points.

It is essential that all parties demonstrate urgently that they are ready to act on their obligations under the Quartet Roadmap, and under international law. The Council has consistently called on Israel to desist from any actions that threaten the viability of an agreed two-State solution. Of particular concern are the continued expansion of settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the construction of the separation barrier on occupied territory. The EU has also made it clear that it will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed by the parties.

Redundancy Issues.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

199 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if workers over the age of 65 are not entitled to redundancy payments while their colleagues who are aged under 65 are entitled to those payments; if so, the reason this discrepancy exists; if he will correct this discrepancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38042/06]

At the present time, an employee is entitled to receive a statutory redundancy lump sum on being made redundant up to the day before his/her 66th birthday.

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

The Redundancy Review Group Report of July 2002, which produced recommendations for the up-dating of statutory redundancy Legislation, considered that increasing the upper age limit of 66 for redundancy qualification purposes would not be a priority in the short term if resources were scarce.

The Group recognized however that the labour force is becoming older and that participation in the labour force by older people (if desired) should be facilitated. Accordingly it was recommended that consideration should be given in the medium term to removing the age cap or raising the age cap in conjunction with similar changes to Unfair Dismissals, Equality and Social and Family Legislation as recommended by the Equality Authority.

On 18th July, 2004, the upper age limit of 66 for bringing claims under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2001, was removed by the Equality Act 2004.

However, the Unfair Dismissals Acts will not apply to dismissed employees who, at the date of dismissal, had reached the normal retirement age in that employment, i.e if it is the policy in an employment to retire employees at a certain age, then the new provisions would not apply.

The removal of the age cap of 66 for statutory redundancy is being considered in the context of new legislation which is being prepared to give effect to certain commitments in relation to exceptional collective redundancies and Unfair Dismissals arising from "Towards 2016".

Regulation of Small Businesses.

Phil Hogan

Question:

200 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the strategy he has developed to reduce the regulatory burden on small business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38046/06]

The Business Regulation Forum was established by me in November 2005 and has met ten times to date. Its Terms of Reference are to advise the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on any changes necessary to ensure that existing or proposed regulations, impacting on business, meet the criteria set out in the White Paper "Regulating Better".

The Forum has initiated a number of actions, as follows, designed to give "hard intelligence" about regulations affecting the business sector, the perceptions of the sector and the burdens imposed:

The Forum is examining 40 submissions that it received in response to a public call.

A consultant was been contracted to map the main regulations that impinge on six selected companies.

A pilot study has been commissioned to measure the administrative cost to business of providing the annual return to the Companies Registration Office and of legislation regarding labelling.

I understand that the Forum intends to issue a progress report to me before the end of 2006 based on their consideration of the activities outlined above.

In addition to the work of the Business Regulation Forum my Department, as well as other relevant Departments and Agencies, is following up on the recommendations of the Small Business Forum, which included measures to address the administrative burden on small business. In this regard legislation is currently before the Oireachtas, to raise the audit exemption thresholds applying to small companies in respect to turnover and balance sheet to €7.3m and €3.65m. respectively. The existing thresholds are €1.5 and €1.9 million respectively. This will remove the compulsory annual audit costs from the very large number of companies qualifying from the enhanced exemption level.

The Company Law Review Group (CLRG) has almost finalised its work on the preparation of the General Scheme of the Heads of the Companies Consolidation and Reform Bill and I understand that it expects to report on its recommendations shortly. The Bill will introduce a greatly simplified legal framework for corporate activity.

Insurance Industry.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

201 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of cases that have been lodged with the Personal Injury Assessment Board since it establishment; the number of cases that the board has assessed; the number of cases that are outstanding; the statutory deadline for the processing of same; the number of awards made by the PIAB that have been rejected; and the cost of legal fees incurred by the PIAB in the same period. [38199/06]

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board has received thirty six thousand cases since it was established. I understand from the PIAB that six thousand of these were settled up-front from the outset, nine thousand cases were settled between the parties during the PIAB process, over five thousand assessments have been made, and an estimated four thousand cases are heading into litigation, although not all of these will necessarily go to a full hearing. Of the five thousand, three hundred and nineteen assessments which have been made to 3rd November 2006, four thousand, five hundred and ten have outcomes, in other words these are cases where all parties have accepted the award or where one or more party has rejected an award (the remainder of the cases are awaiting a response from some or all of the parties). Of these cases where the outcome is known, one thousand, six hundred and fifty eight have been rejected, representing a sixty percent acceptance rate.

This leaves twelve thousand cases which are currently in the PIAB system. Seven thousand five hundred of these are in the assessment phase, and I am assured by the PIAB that they will all be dealt with within the statutory time frames. The balance of cases is awaiting documentation from one of the parties or a decision from the Respondent to consent to process or not.

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 provides that the Board must ensure that assessments are made within a period of nine months beginning on the date on which it receives the respondent's consent to assessment, or in circumstances where it appears to the Board that it would not be possible or appropriate, because of the particular circumstances of the claim concerned, to make an assessment within the nine month period, the period for making an assessment may be increased to fifteen months. I am advised by the PIAB that ninety three percent of assessments are made within the nine month period; the remaining seven percent are assessed within a further six months as allowed by the legislation (these would normally be cases where a stable medical prognosis is not available in nine months).

The PIAB has assured me that it has the capacity to deal with the volumes of cases on hand and projected to come before it. Currently seventy-two staff are employed by the Board. This is expected to rise to eighty-five by year-end. In addition, the Board outsources claims preparation and helpline services to a contracted service centre, which provides flexibility and the capacity to expand processing volumes quickly to meet increased demand. Based on statistical and actuarial trends, the PIAB has projected annual volumes of cases rising to twenty five thousand per annum, forty percent of which are expected to be resolved between the parties following contact with the PIAB, twenty percent are expected to head into litigation (but not necessarily to a Court hearing), and the remaining forty percent will be assessed by the PIAB.

To date the PIAB has paid legal fees in respect of judicial review of €92,913.99 in 2004, €265,542.73 in 2005 and €25,811.41 in 2006, and has paid legal fees in respect of commercial, contractual and operational advice of €64,506.97 in 2004, €141,924.36 in 2005 and €190,696.82 in 2006. The PIAB does not make awards in respect of the legal costs incurred by the claimant and respondent in respect of claims.

Retail Sector.

Finian McGrath

Question:

202 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will create a role for a regulator who represented the interests of small independent businesses that are facing challenges from national and international multiples; and to support the National Federation of Retail Newsagents on this issue. [38022/06]

The retail sector forms a key part of the Irish economy both in terms of the people it employs directly and the jobs it provides in the associated manufacturing, supply and distribution sectors. The retail sector is very important to the Irish consumer and, indeed, the consumer is vital to the retail sector.

This Government sees competition as the life-blood of a vibrant economy and we are committed to removing unwarranted constraints on competition in all sectors of the economy and placing the consumer at the top of the policy agenda. Consumers and businesses alike, regardless of size, benefit from the protection of Competition law. Competition law prohibits two types of behaviour:

collusion which has the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition, and

abuse of a dominant position.

Irish competition law is currently governed by the Competition Act 2002 and the Competition (Amendment) Act 2006 and is enforced by the Competition Authority which is an independent statutory body.

While some operators in the retail sector might feel uneasy about the additional competition generated by the multiples, I am pleased to see that many small players have faced up to this competition by investing further in their operations and by opening more new stores.

I have no plans to introduce a regulator to represent the interests of small independent businesses as I believe our current level of competition legislation and regulatory regime is more than adequate to foster a competitive economy where both small and large business can operate.

Job Creation.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

203 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to attract new jobs, particularly for young people, in the Tallaght region; his views on whether Tallaght has suffered from job losses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38075/06]

The issue of job creation is a day-to-day operational matter for the industrial development agencies and relevant County Enterprise Boards, and not one in which I have a direct role.

IDA Ireland informs me that it continues to market South County Dublin, including Tallaght and its environs, as a potential location for new foreign direct investment (FDI), in order to secure new investment and additional jobs for the region.

IDA Ireland's strategy for the Dublin area is to attract and expand major FDI projects. South County Dublin is well equipped to compete with other areas for potential foreign direct investment, with superb infrastructural facilities at Citywest and Grangecastle, and a third level Institute of Technology at Tallaght.

Sectors such as pharmaceuticals, provide high value employment. The pharmaceutical company Wyeth Biopharma has established the world's largest biopharma campus facility in Grangecastle, with an investment of €1.8 billion. The company currently employs 1,100 highly skilled people. Wyeth continues to recruit and will eventually employ 1,300 at the facility. Grangecastle is within easy commuting distance of Tallaght.

Last year the Japanese pharmaceuticals company Takeda Pharma Ireland Ltd completed construction of its facility at Grangecastle. This is a significant and important investment from a leading company in Japan, and will highlight Ireland as a key location for other Japanese investors in the future. The project will create approximately 60 high quality jobs upon completion.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) encourages and supports companies adopting new technologies, which will add value to their products and services and help them to compete on world markets. Since the beginning of 2003 Enterprise Ireland has approved over €9.8m and made payments of over €7.7m in support of development projects for indigenous companies in South County Dublin.

EI is also actively involved with the provision of infrastructure to facilitate business development and employment, and has provided funding for the development of Community Enterprise Centres in South Dublin such as Brookfield, Bolbrook and Killinarden. These centres provide incubation space for start-ups and micro enterprises, and also provide ancillary services such as training, mentoring and customised courses to address the needs of the local clients.

Also EI supports the development of business incubation workspace as part of its on-going commitment to fostering links between Colleges and industry, and has provided €2.54m towards the development of incubation space at the Tallaght Institute of Technology. It is anticipated that graduates from the college or members of research teams based in the college will be to the forefront in using the centre, and in creating new jobs, particularly in the high tech sectors.

The South Dublin County Enterprise Board is pro-actively involved in the development of indigenous enterprise, and provides a source of support for small businesses in the region, including the Tallaght area. To date in 2006, South Dublin CEB has paid out circa €400,000 in grant assistance to businesses based in South Dublin. These grants and other related financial supports have assisted in the creation of 56 jobs in the region.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Ivor Callely

Question:

204 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of accidents which occurred on building sites for the years 2000 to 2005 and comparison figures for 1990 to 1995; the impact of the safety health and welfare at work construction regulations of 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38076/06]

I would like to refer the Deputy to the following Schedule which sets out the fatality numbers and rates per 100,000 workers in the periods referred to.

Over the period 1990-1995, there was an average fatality rate in the sector of 11.5 per 100,000 workers. By comparison, the rate was 8.6 per 100,000 workers for 2000-2005.

A specific breakdown for employment in the Construction Sector is not available before 1994 and, accordingly, an estimated figure of 90,000 is used for those years. In respect of non-fatal accidents in the construction sector only limited data is available.

The numbers of non-fatal accidents (resulting in injury requiring more than three days absence from work) reported to the Health and Safety Authority for each of the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 were 1,117, 1,514 and 1,677 respectively. The level of accidents reported to the Health and Safety Authority, however, only shows part of the picture. For example, the Central Statistics Office Quarterly National Household Survey for 2003 and 2004 shows non-fatal occupational accident numbers of 5,300 and 5,820 respectively.

Taking account of a construction workforce of 200,600 in 2003 and 227,400 in 2004, the respective non-fatal accident rates per 100,000 workers were 26.2 in 2003 and 25.0 in 2004. These figures are contained in the Summary of Fatality, Injury and Illness Statistics 2004-2005 published by the Health & Safety Authority earlier this year.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 1995 were introduced, inter alia, to transpose into Irish law Directive 92/57/EEC relating to temporary or mobile construction sites. Those Regulations represented the first change to Construction Safety Regulations in 20 years and shifted the emphasis onto those who procure, design and manage construction for the first time.

Through the recommendations of the tripartite Construction Safety Partnership, the 1995 Regulations were replaced by the updated Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2001 and amendment Regulations 2003.

Following further detailed examination by the Health and Safety Authority, including wide-ranging consultation with relevant interests, I signed the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 504 of 2006) during September and they came into operation on 6 November 2006.

The new Regulations will build on design and management requirements introduced in earlier regulations and also on the duties related to construction work set out in section 17 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.

Modern contractual arrangements have informed the regulations for Clients and Project Supervisors. Timelines are now set out for Project Supervisors to be in place. Phase-in provisions are provided for projects in motion before the regulations took effect on Nov. 6th. Safety Advisers must now be in place during construction where more than 100 people are at work on site. This provides an additional level of supervision for large, potentially complex projects.

Other new additions for Contractors include requirements for the use of Explosives and for Road works. Visibility aids will also be required for vehicles on-site, by May 6th 2008 for existing plant and by May 6th 2007 for new plant. These upgrades arise from research, which shows an increase in vehicle related accidents as the industry becomes more mechanised. The range of Construction Skills Certification Schemes is also extended to include additional courses such as signing and lighting at roadworks. This new extended range of courses will be available 18 months after the Regulations came into effect.

Regulations 80 to 123 of the 2001 Regulations relating to lifting appliances and lifting equipment remain in operation for the time being until they are replaced by proposed separate Regulations.

As recognised in my Department's Regulatory Impact Analysis on the 2006 Regulations, this latest phase of legislative action in this area is a further development arising from the tripartite Construction Safety Partnership with an emphasis on client and management issues. The 1995 Regulations and the substantive amendments in 2001 and 2006 put in place a regime where all construction and civil engineering projects must be planned, managed and carried out in a safe manner. There have been significant improvements in health and safety performance in a number of areas since 1995, particularly in the area of falls from a height, where a steady reduction in associated deaths has occurred.

Construction Fatalities 1990 to 1995

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Construction Sector Total

7

12

10

11

10

13

No. employed in sector (Q4)

90,000*

90,000*

90,000*

90,000*

91,500

96,600

Fatality Rate per 100,000 workers

7.8

13.3

11.1

12.2

10.9

13.5

*Estimated.

Construction Fatalities 2000 to 2005

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Construction Sector Total

17

22

21

20

16

23

Construction Workers

14

18

21

16

15

21

No. employed in sector (Q4)

178,100

185,400

191,300

200,600

227,400

253,200

Fatality Rate per 100,000 workers

7.9

9.7

11.0

8.0

6.6

8.3

Equal Opportunities Employment.

Ivor Callely

Question:

205 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his Department’s policy for people with a disability to avail of training, sheltered employment, employment opportunities and other supports that are in place; the number of people enrolled in such schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38077/06]

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is committed to addressing the needs of those with disabilities, and furthering the policy of mainstreaming services to help them to play a full and active part in society.

The Sectoral Plan advanced by the Department in accordance with the provisions of the Disability Act 2005, which was published in July, 2006, outlines key initiatives to further promote equality of opportunity for disabled people in the open labour market.

These include the implementation of a comprehensive employment strategy for disabled people. This strategy will address the effectiveness of employment and vocational training programmes, and will involve developing supports to the open market employment of disabled people in both the private and public sectors for this category of workers.

In 2006 the total budget provision for FÁS vocational training and employment services amounts to almost €68 million, including a budget of over €47 million for specialist training providers.

As at end October, 2006 the numbers of disabled people in FÁS programmes were as follows:

Specialist Training Providers

1,336

Community Employment

4,996

Supported Employment

2,000

Wage Subsidy Scheme

288

Total

8,620

Responsibility for rehabilitative training and sheltered workshops falls within the remit of the Department of Health and Children.

Job Creation.

Ivor Callely

Question:

206 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of new jobs created during the years 1999 to 2005 and comparison figures for the years 1979 to 1985; the biggest area of growth in jobs; and the area’s identified for further potential. [38078/06]

The tabular statement shows the number of new full time jobs created in enterprise agency assisted companies by broad economic sector over the period 1999 to 2005, as well as the number of job losses (full time) over the same period. In addition the statement also shows the most recent CSO data showing total numbers in employment at Quarter 2 of each year by sector. Comparable data for the period 1979-1985 is not available.

In terms of the wider economy, the CSO data indicates that there are an additional 428,000 people in employment at quarter 2 2006 compared with the same quarter in 1999. The major increase in jobs growth over the period has occurred in the Services sector. In this Ireland follows the trend of the employment growth in services evident across most developed countries. An additional 120,000 or so are employed in Construction Industry while the numbers employed in Financial and Other Business Services has increased by 78,000. Irish employment growth in services outperforms that of most competitor countries and indeed this country has become one of the leading world exporters of services.

Over the same period approximately 127,000 jobs have been created in manufacturing by agency-assisted firms. While some 140,000 jobs were lost in the sector over the same period, it should be noted that many of these losses were in areas of low cost manufacturing. The new jobs created in the enterprise development agencies' client companies in the last number of years are mainly concentrated in high-value added, knowledge-based companies, which offer greater security in the face of intense international competition.

Ireland no longer operates as a low cost location for investment: our strengths and competitive advantages have changed. Our economy is now characterised by high output and productivity, together with high returns to labour in the form of wages, salaries and better living standards.

Our priority remains the creation of high quality, 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 on the basis of simple cost influences. In that regard, we are making significant efforts to enhance our framework competitive conditions, and to promote new areas of competitive advantage, such as developing our R&D base as elaborated recently in the new Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation. We are also continuing to pursue policies to promote lifelong learning and upskilling to improve labour market flexibility and, where necessary, ensure that appropriate training supports are provided for workers in sectors that are no longer competitive, to help them upskill and if necessary find alternative employment.

No. of New (Full Time) Jobs in Agency Assisted Firms 1999-2005

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Totals

All Sectors

37,685

44,604

30,076

26,562

23,661

26,038

26,553

215,179

Manufacturing

23,145

26,103

17,677

15,649

14,748

14,790

15,063

127,175

Financial Services

2,273

2,354

1,463

2,168

1,219

2,338

1,677

13,492

International Services

11,146

15,020

9,880

7,383

6,558

7,892

8,554

66,433

Other Services

1,121

1,127

1,056

1,362

1,136

1,018

1,259

8,079

No. of Job losses Full Time in Agency Assisted Firms 1999-2005

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Totals

All Sectors

-21,315

-20,812

-33,359

-35,342

-31,567

-27,133

-24,174

-193,702

Manufacturing

-17,771

-16,089

-25,136

-24,740

-22,455

-18,349

-15,913

-140,453

Financial Services

-275

-442

-1,036

-1,022

-1,035

-686

-910

-5,406

International Services

-2,506

-3,609

-6,507

-8,422

-7,145

-7,103

-6,643

-41,935

Other

-763

-672

-680

-1,158

-932

-995

-708

-5,908

Source: Forfás Business Information System.

Persons aged 15 years and over in employment (Thousand), Quarter 2 and Economic Sector

1999 Q2

2000 Q2

2001 Q2

2002 Q2

2003 Q2

2004 Q2

2005 Q2

2006 Q2

99 V 2006

% Change

All Economic Sectors

1589.1

1671.4

1721.9

1763.9

1793.4

1836.2

1929.2

2017

427.9

26.9

A-B Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

137.3

132.9

122.5

124

116.6

117

113.7

114.5

-22.8

-16.6

C-E Other Production Industries

307.7

309.5

318.1

305

306.1

300.6

294.2

288.5

-19.2

-6.2

F Construction

142.1

166.2

180

182.2

191.4

206

242.4

262.7

120.6

84.9

G Wholesale and Retail Trade

222.5

235.2

247.8

246.8

251.6

260.2

266.9

284.4

61.9

27.8

H Hotels and Restaurants

102

108.1

103.8

104.2

114.4

107.8

111

116.3

14.3

14.0

I Transport, Storage and Communication

96.2

101.3

111.1

111.7

112.1

113.2

118.2

120.7

24.5

25.5

J-K Financial & Other Business Services

194.6

210.8

217.1

228.9

227.1

237

257.1

267.3

72.7

37.4

L Public Adminstration & Defence

74.5

78.4

81.3

90.6

92.4

89.5

98.2

105.1

30.6

41.1

M Education

100.6

102.8

103.8

111.3

116.1

117.9

123.1

135.6

35

34.8

N Health

120.3

133

144

159.3

169.9

177

188

201.2

80.9

67.2

O-Q Other Services

91.4

93.3

92.4

99.8

95.7

110

116.4

120.6

29.2

31.9

Source: CSO Database Direct.

Question No. 207 answered with QuestionNo. 110.

Legislative Programme.

Ivor Callely

Question:

208 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will advise of all employment legislation put in place over the past seven years; the benefits arising from same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38080/06]

The following is a list of all employee protection legislation enacted by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment over the past seven years and the main provisions of each piece of legislation: Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Night Work and Shift Work) Regulations 2000 — S. I. No. 11 of 2000. The purpose of these Regulations is to give effect, in respect of night workers and shift workers, to the safety and health protection provisions of Article 9 of EU Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time. Inter alia they require employers, who employ night workers, to carry out — for the purposes of the maximum hours of night working permitted under sections 16(2)(a) and 16(2)(b) of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (i.e., the Act by which the main provisions of the Directive have been implemented domestically) — an assessment of the health and safety risks attaching to the work of night workers whom they employ with a view to determining whether that work involves special hazards or a heavy physical or mental strain. They also require employers, whose night workers become ill or exhibit symptoms of ill-health as a result of performing night work, to re-assign such workers to day work suited to them whenever possible.

These Regulations also revoke and replace the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Night Work and Shift Work) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 485 of 1998). Their purpose is to avoid possible confusion as regards the application of the provisions of Regulation 6 of S.I. No. 485 of 1998 to night workers (Regulation 7 of these Regulations refers). The Regulations do not involve new obligations or conditions not intended in the 1998 Regulations.

Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations 2001-S.I. No. 473 of 2001. The main purpose of these Regulations is to require employers, pursuant to the Organisation of Working Time Act,1997, to keep: (a) a record of the number of hours worked by employees (excluding meals and rest breaks) on a daily and weekly basis; (b) a record of leave granted to employees in each week by way of annual leave or in respect of a public holiday and payment made in respect of that leave; (c) a weekly record of the notification of the starting and finishing times of employees.

The Regulations also require that an employer keep a copy of the statement provided to each employee under the provisions of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994. The Regulations also provide for exemptions subject to certain conditions, in relation to the keeping by employers of records of rest breaks and rest periods of employees under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

Organisation of Working Time (National Day of Mourning) Regulations 2001 — S.I. No. 419 of 2001. These Regulations appointed Friday, 14th September 2001 to be a National Day of Mourning in sympathy with all those killed and injured in the terrorist attacks in the United States of America on Tuesday 11th September 2001.

Organisation of Working Time (Inclusion of Transport Activities) Regulations 2004 — S.I. No. 817 of 2004. These Regulations transpose the provisions of Council Directive 2000/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 2000 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time in relation to transport workers other than (a) workers performing mobile road transport activities as provided for in Directive 2002/15/EC and (b) mobile staff in civil aviation as defined in the Annex to Council Directive 2000/79/EC of 27 November 2000. The effect of the transposition of Directive 2000/34/EC is to apply the maximum average working week of 48 hours to mobile and non-mobile transport workers covered by that Directive.

In addition, these Regulations prescribe that persons employed in the activities specified in Regulations 6 and 8 of these Regulations shall be exempt from the application of sections 11, 12 and 13 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 which deal respectively with daily rest, rests and intervals at work and weekly rest, subject to being granted adequate rest or equivalent compensatory rest. Such persons shall also be exempt from the application of section 16 of that Act which deals with nightly working hours.

Organisation of Working Time (Inclusion of Offshore Work) Regulations 2004. These Regulations transpose the provisions of Council Directive 2000/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 2000 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time in relation to offshore work which means work performed mainly on, or from, offshore installations (including drilling rigs), directly or indirectly in connection with the exploration, extraction or exploitation of mineral resources, including hydrocarbons, and diving in connection with such activities, whether performed from offshore installations or a vessel. The effect of the transposition of directive 2000/34/EC is to apply the maximum average working week of 48 hours to offshore workers covered by the Directive.

In addition these Regulations exempt employees engaged in offshore work from sections 11, 12, 13 and 16 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 which deal respectively with daily rest, rests and intervals at work, weekly rest, and maximum nightly working hours.

European Communities (Safeguarding of Employees' Rights on Transfer of Undertakings) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 (S.I. No. 487 of 2000). These Regulations were revoked and replaced by S.I. No. 131 of 2003 as follows: European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 131 of 2003). These Regulations protect the rights of employees arising from an employment contract in the event of a transfer of a business or part of a business, in which they are employed, which entails a change of employer.

Carer's Leave Act 2001. This Act provides for the temporary absence from employment of employees for the purpose of the provision of full-time care and attention to a person requiring it and to protect the employment rights of those employees during such absence.

Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001. This Act introduced procedures for resolving industrial disputes in situations where it is not the practice of an employer to engage in collective bargaining negotiations and where the internal dispute resolution procedures (if any) normally used by the parties concerned failed to resolve the dispute. The Act was introduced in conjunction with S.I. No. 76 of 2004 — Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution.

Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004. This Act enhanced the effectiveness of dispute resolution procedures put in place by the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001. The Bill also introduced a prohibition on victimisation of employees who are members of a union, managers discharging their managerial functions and other employees in the context of a dispute where collective bargaining arrangements are not in place and to provide for a procedure to deal with complaints of victimisation. The Act was introduced in conjunction with S.I. No. 76 of 2004 — an enhanced Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution and in conjunction with S.I. No. 139 of 2004 — Code of Practice on Victimisation.

S.I. No. 8 of 2006 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Access to Part-Time Working) (Declaration) Order 2006. The introduction of a Code of Practice on access to part-time working accords with the principle of minimising the potential for indirect discrimination in relation to part-time working and introduces positive measures to eliminate obstacles and barriers and encourage greater participation in employment on a number of grounds, as set down in the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2004.

S.I. No. 139 of 2004 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Victimisation) (Declaration) Order 2004. This code of practice provides for a procedure to deal with a complaint of victimisation of an employee, as defined in the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004.

S.I. No. 76 of 2004 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution) (Declaration) Order 2004. This is an enhanced Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution and replaces the Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution that was introduced in the year 2000. It introduces time scales to the procedure for the resolution of industrial disputes in situations where it is not the practice of an employer to engage in collective bargaining and it was introduced in conjunction with the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004.

S.I. No. 17 of 2002 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice detailing Procedures for Addressing Bullying in the Workplace) (Declaration) Order 2002. This code of practice acts as a guide for employers, employees and their representatives on effective procedures for addressing allegations of workplace bullying by setting out a formal and informal procedure for addressing such grievances.

S.I. No. 146 of 2000 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures) (Declaration) Order 2000. This assists in the resolution of disputes relating to grievance or disciplinary matters by setting out guidelines on the application of grievance and disciplinary procedures and the promotion of best practice in giving effect to such procedures.

S.I. No 145 of 2000 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution) (Declaration) Order 2000. This sets out the voluntary procedure for the resolution of disputes in situations where collective bargaining did not take place. Was replaced in 2004.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000. This Act introduced a National Minimum Wage for the first time in Ireland. Low paid workers benefited from its introduction, particularly women, young people and part-time workers.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (National Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay) Order 2000. This Order sets the national minimum hourly rate of pay at £4.40 and also sets out the monetary allowances for (i) full board and lodgings, (ii) full board only and (iii) lodgings only, which may be included by an employer in calculating the national minimum hourly rate of pay of an employee, not exceeding those specified in the Order.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2000. This Order appoints the 1st day of April, 2000 as the day on which the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 comes into operation.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (Prescribed Courses of Study or Training) Regulations 2000. This Order prescribes the criteria a course of study or training must satisfy in order that an employee undergoing such a course and who is aged 18 or over, shall be paid in accordance with section 16(1) of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (National Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay) (No. 2) Order 2000. This Order sets the national minimum hourly rate of pay from 1 July 2001 at £4.70 and from 1 October 2002 at £5.00.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (National Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay) Order 2003. This Order sets the national minimum hourly rate of pay from 1 February 2004 at €7.00.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (National Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay) Order 2005. This Order sets the national minimum hourly rate of pay from 1 May, 2005 at €7.65.

Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice detailing procedures for addressing bullying in the workplace) (Declaration) Order 2002. This Order sets out the Code of Practice detailing procedures for addressing bullying in the workplace.

Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001. This Act provides that a part-time employee shall not be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time employee in respect of conditions of employment including pay and pensions. In order to invoke the anti-discrimination provisions in the Act, the part-time employee must find a full-time comparator with (a) the same or associated employer or, (b) where (a) does not apply, as specified in a collective agreement or, (c) where neither (a) nor (b) applies, in the same sector or industry. In the case of (a) and (c) above, the part-time employee and the comparable full-time employee, must perform the same work or similar work or work of greater or equal value.

The only way the employer could avoid granting the part-time employee equal terms with the full-time employee in the above circumstances, would be, if he or she had objective grounds for treating the part-time employee less favourably than the comparable full-time employee.

Under the 2001 Act, a ground shall not be regarded as an objective ground for the purposes of the Act, unless it is based on considerations other than the status of the employee concerned as a fixed-term employee, and the less favourable treatment which it involves for that employee, is for the purpose of achieving a legitimate objective of the employer, and such treatment is appropriate and necessary for that purpose.

Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work Act) 2003. This Act provides that a fixed-term employee shall not be treated less favourably than a comparable permanent employee in respect of conditions of employment including pay and pensions. In order to invoke the anti-discrimination provisions in the Act, the fixed-term employee must find a permanent comparator with (a) the same or associated employer or, (b) where (a) does not apply, as specified in a collective agreement or, (c) where neither (a) nor (b) applies, in the same sector or industry. In the case of (a) and (c) above, the fixed-term employee and the comparable permanent employee, must perform the same work or similar work or work of greater or equal value.

The only way the employer could avoid granting the fixed-term employee equal terms with the permanent employee in the above circumstances or granting a service related benefit in the above circumstances, would be, if he or she had objective grounds for treating the fixed-term employee less favourably than the comparable permanent employee.

Under the 2003 Act, a ground shall not be regarded as an objective ground for the purposes of the Act, unless it is based on considerations other than the status of the employee concerned as a fixed-term employee, and the less favourable treatment which it involves for that employee, is for the purpose of achieving a legitimate objective of the employer, and such treatment is appropriate and necessary for that purpose.

The Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 also provides in relation to an employee who enters on a fixed-term contract of employment before the commencement of the Act — on 14 July 2003 — that if that employee is employed continuously on such a contract of employment for three continuous years, his or her contract of employment can only be renewed one more time on a fixed-term basis for up to one year and that if it is renewed again after that, it is deemed to be a contract of indefinite duration — unless the employer has objective grounds for renewing the contract of employment again on a fixed-term basis.

In addition, the 2003 Act provides in relation to an employee who enters on a fixed-term contract of employment after the commencement of the Act, that if that employee is employed on such a contract of employment for four continuous years and the contract is renewed again after that, then it is deemed to be one of indefinite duration unless the employer has objective grounds for renewing the contract of employment again on a fixed-term basis.

In 2003, a amendment to the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984 under a provision in the Redundancy Payments Act 2003 enabled the existing arrangement for processing claims for payment in lieu of notice under the Insolvency Payments Scheme to be streamlined and output to be increased. The effect of this amendment was to allow employees covered by the Insolvency Payments Scheme to claim their minimum notice entitlements without first having obtained an award from the Employment Appeals Tribunal. That, in turn, freed the EAT to take on more cases under other legislation. As a result of the amendment, In most cases, all the main claims could be processed together following the amendment, speeding up payments to employees.

The Redundancy Payments Act 2003 was commenced in two phases viz (1) The Redundancy Payments Act 2003 (Commencement) Order 2003 brought the new enhanced levels of redundancy into being on 25th May, 2003 i.e. two weeks pay for every year of service between 16 and 66, plus a bonus week. Hitherto, the rates were much lower — a half a week's pay for every year of service up to 41 and a weeks pay for every year of service over 41. (2) The Redundancy Payments Act 2003 (Commencement) Order 2005 implemented on 10th April, 2005 the remaining provisions improving statutory redundancy pursuant to the Redundancy Payments Act 2003. This mainly involved simplifying the legislative basis of the Redundancy Payments Scheme and cleared the way for the Department's new on-line System for processing statutory redundancy employee lump sum and employer rebate claims. The system went "live" on 31st May, 2005 and has proved to be a major success, with 52% usage in October 2006.

(3) In addition to these two benefits resulting from the 2003 Act, the Redundancy Payments (Lump Sum) Regulations 2004 increased from €507.90 to €600 the ceiling on weekly gross pay which must be taken into account when calculating a statutory redundancy lump sum entitlement.

In 2005, a set of regulations — the European Communities (Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency)) Regulations 2005 — extended the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984 to cover employees in Ireland of companies that have become insolvent under the laws of another Member State. The Regulations also added a number of existing employment rights-related awards to the Act.

The Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006. This act came into operation on 24 July 2006 and implements EU Directive 2002/14/EC of the 11 March 2002 and provides for the establishment of a general framework setting out minimum requirements for the right to information and consultation of employees in undertakings with at least 50 employees. It introduces a new era of information and consultation in Ireland and marks an important development in the history of Irish industrial relations.

The intention of the Act is to ensure that information and consultation is provided by employers systematically, so that employees are able to acquire an informed understanding of the challenges faced by the business. Timely information and meaningful consultation are prerequisites for the improved adaptability of Irish workplaces, which is vital to meet the challenges created by the globalised economy.

A list of the 36 pieces of occupational safety and health or dangerous substances legislation administered and enforced by the Health and Safety Authority, which were made over the past 7 years and which are currently in force, is set out below. In the context of a response to a Parliamentary Question, it would not be possible to detail all the benefits arising. However, the overall thrust and objective of the legislation is encapsulated in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, which I brought into operation in September 2005 which updated, repealed and replaced the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 and, together with appropriate Regulations, Codes of Practice and guidance material developed under its ambit, provides a modern legal framework to guarantee best international practice in regard to health and safety in Irish workplaces.

The Act aims at striking an appropriate balance between imposing duties, encouraging better consultation at workplace level on occupational safety and health matters, providing for an improved focus on better prevention systems and practices and the possible application of increased fines and penalties, where warranted.

Legislation List

Occupational Safety and Health

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (No. 10 of 2005)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (Commencement) Order 2005 (S.I. No. 328 of 2005)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Work at Height) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 318 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Control of Vibration at Work) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 370 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Control of Noise at Work) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 371 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 386 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 504 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Fishing Vessels) Regulations 1999 (S.I. No. 325 of 1999)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Night Work and Shift Work) Regulations 2000 (S.I. No. 11 of 2000)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Pregnant Employees etc.) Regulations 2000 (S.I. No. 218 of 2000)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Carcinogens) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 078 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 188 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Confined Spaces) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 218 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989 (Repeal of Section 38 of Factories Act 1955) (Commencement) Order 2001 (S.I. No. 219 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 481 of 2001)

[Note: S.I. No. 481 amended by S.I. No. 277 of 2003 and by S.I. No. 318 of 2006. From 6 November 2006, revoked and replaced by S.I. No. 504 of 2006, other than Regulations 4 and 6 as they apply to a Project Supervisor Design Stage or Project Supervisor Construction Stage appointed under the 2001 Regulations for transitional periods up to 6 May 2008 and 6 May 2009, and Regulations 80 to 82, 84 to 86 and 88 to 123, which remain in place until they are replaced by proposed separate Regulations.]

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agents) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 619 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 53 of 2003)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Explosive Atmospheres) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 258 of 2003)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) (Revocation) Regulations 2005 (S.I. No. 392 of 2005)

Dangerous Substances

Dangerous Substances (Retail and Private Petroleum Stores) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 860 of 2004)

Other EU and International

European Communities (Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres) Regulations 1999 (S. I. No. 83 of 1999)

European Communities (Safety Advisers for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 6 of 2001)

[Note: From 31 July 2006, these Regulations were revoked and replaced, in so far as they relate to the transport of dangerous goods by road, by the European Communities (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road)(ADR Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 406 of 2006) which is shown below.]

European Communities (Classification, Packaging, Labelling and Notification of Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 116 of 2003)

European Communities (Dangerous Substances and Preparations)(Marketing and Use) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 220 of 2003)

European Communities (Dangerous Substances and Preparations)(Marketing and Use)(Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 503 of 2003)

European Communities (Classification, Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Preparations) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 62 of 2004)

European Communities (Transportable Pressure Equipment) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 374 of 2004)

European Communities (Dangerous Substances and Preparations)(Marketing and Use)(Amendment) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 852 of 2004)

European Communities (Classification, Packaging, Labelling and Notification of Dangerous Substances) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 25 of 2006)

European Communities (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 74 of 2006)

European Communities (Dangerous Substances and Preparations) (Marketing and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 364 of 2006)

European Communities (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) (ADR Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 406 of 2006)

Chemical Weapons (Licensing of Scheduled Toxic Chemicals and Precursors) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 54 of 2001)

Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Act, 1998 (Commencement) Order 2001 (S.I. No. 495 of 2001)

Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 405 of 2006)

Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Act 1998 (Appointment of Competent Authorities) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 407 of 2006)

National Minimum Wage.

Ivor Callely

Question:

209 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of breaches found of the national minimum wage over the past five years; the penalties imposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38081/06]

The number of breaches found of the National Minimum Wage Act over the past five years and the penalties imposed are set out in the tabular statement. The primary function of the Labour Inspectorate is to seek compliance and rectification of any breaches identified, including payment of any arrears due to employees. Inspectors pursue allegations of worker mistreatment and seek redress for the individual/s concerned and, if appropriate, a prosecution is initiated. Successful prosecution can be dependent on adequate support from witnesses. The Deputy should be aware that Rights Commissioners of the Labour Relations Commission — a body independent of the Department — also hear complaints concerning breaches of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000.

NMW Visits and Prosecutions initiated 2002-2006

Year

Breaches Detected

Prosecutions Initiated

Penalties Imposed by the Courts

2002

*

3

850

2003

*

0

0

2004

79

1

3,809.22

2005

153

0

0

2006

115

0

0

* No. of breaches detected prior to 2004 not available.

Economic Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

210 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the basis for his belief that high wage or salary employment is less likely to be affected by competition from more cost effective economies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38208/06]

My belief in the long-term sustainability of high wage or salary employment is based on the realities of recent economic growth and employment expansion. Ireland's success has been based not only on attracting highly skilled, high value-added and well-paid jobs and investment, but in retaining them. Currently we have both a competitive and comparative advantage in attracting foreign investment such as the Digital River European Headquarters in Shannon and the new indigenous QUMAS research and development centre in Cork. These companies have chosen to invest here because their shareholders and managers know that we have the economic environment and infrastructure to support businesses based on technological excellence and sophistication.

This type of investment is not footloose, nor necessarily influenced by the headline advantages of lower cost locations. Complex manufacturing, regional headquarters operations or advanced support service companies set up in Ireland because the long term advantages of so doing make compelling business sense. These companies have stronger strategic connections with the economy — an economy that has many more competitive attractions in human capital, research ability and productivity opportunities that far outweigh the simple cost advantages of other investment locations.

We are by no means immune from global competition. This is why we must continually work on maintaining our competitiveness and developing our comparative advantages. The strategic advantage of investing for long term growth in Ireland is clear to many. It will become unambiguous as my Department's Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation, invests significant resources and delivers different ways to help enterprise research new products and bring them to market faster than possible in low cost competitors. This is just one of the major initiatives that this Government is taking to protect the economic and employment prospects, that sound policies have delivered over the past decade.

Industrial Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number and skills level of job loss in County Kildare in each of the past five years; the number and skills level of replacement jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38209/06]

The following table sets out the position in relation to full-time job gains and job losses, in agency assisted firms in County Kildare over the period 2001-2005. It is not possible to provide details of the skill levels attached to either the job losses or gains.

Over the past five years, IDA Ireland's focused strategy for Kildare has been to promote the county as part of an integrated east region, with access to a population base of 1.5 million people. IDA Ireland's strategy for County Kildare is to:

Progress the development of a knowledge economy;

Encourage increased co-operation between foreign direct investment; companies and third level institutions in the county;

Work with the existing client base in the county to expand its presence

Provide modern property solutions with supporting infrastructure;

Work with Local Authorities and relevant infrastructure providers to influence the delivery of appropriate infrastructure to the county, for example the new Millennium Park, Naas which is comprised of 3 modern 40,000 sq.ft advance office buildings, available for marketing to inward investors.

To support this strategy, IDA Ireland is working closely with educational institutions in the county, to develop the skill sets necessary to attract high value added employment to the county. IDA Ireland is also working with FÁS to provide guidance in developing the skill sets needed by those already in the workforce who are interested in upskilling.

Kildare has in recent years attracted some world class manufacturing companies such as Intel, Braun Oral B and Hewlett Packard. IDA Ireland is also working to attract the International Services, Software, Financial Services and Pharmaceuticals sectors and in recent months IFS (a financial services firm) has established a facility in the Millennium Park, Naas.

In terms of job creation, Enterprise Ireland activity is focussed on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs in manufacturing and internationally traded services companies who are setting up new High Potential Start-Up Companies, the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies and in enhancing the innovation capability of Ireland at a national and regional level through supporting research in companies and third level institutions. Since the beginning of 2003, E I has approved over €12m in support to companies in Kildare to help them grow their sales and exports and improve innovation and new product development in order that they can compete on world markets.

New companies — now leaders in the consumer products market — have been established and have created new employment. The consumer foods sector in particular, has shown rapid growth over the last number of years, reflecting significant changes in eating habits and an increase in demand for convenience foods. The announcement in January 2005 by Green Isle Foods of a major €22.6 million expansion investment in the county, supported by Enterprise Ireland, is well underway and is expected to lead to the creation of 130 new jobs.

The announcement in May 2006 of a €28 million investment by Dawn Farm Foods Ltd. in Naas, County Kildare, supported by EI, relates to the development of a State-of-the-Art meat science innovation centre, together with significant investment in R&D and additional capital investment. Overall, 100 new jobs will be created, increasing employment in Dawn Farm Foods to 580 by 2011. In addition, the number of dedicated R & D personnel in the company will double from 15 to 30.

Job Losses / Job Gains in Agency Assisted Companies 2001-2005 in County Kildare

Full-time jobs

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Total

Job gains

689

1,026

984

1,098

963

4,760

Job losses

-1,205

-902

-879

-813

-485

-4,284

Net change

-516

124

105

285

478

476

Source: Forfás Business Information System.

Work Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

212 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of applications for work permits received in each of the past five years; the numbers approved or rejected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38210/06]

The Work Permits Section of my Department has informed me that the following are the figures for permits approved and rejected for the past five years to date.

Total Received

Approved

Rejected

2001

36,751

36,017

734

2002

40,923

39,853

1,070

2003

48,562

46,943

1,619

2004

34,491

33,206

1,285

2005

26,419

26,289

1,130

2006 to date

22,626

21,502

1,124

Skill Shortages.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

213 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he is satisfied regarding the future strength and skills of the labour force; his plans to address the issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38211/06]

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs has been monitoring future skills requirements since 1997 and much has been done in the interim to ensure awareness of, and responses to, identified skills needs at all levels. To ensure that we have the skills to meet future demand in the medium to longer term, I have asked the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs to report on the most likely developments in this regard.

Its study, which will be published shortly, will seek to identify the likely skills profile of the economy in the period to 2020 and will allow us to advance a national skills strategy for the medium term.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

214 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he is satisfied that adequate resources are available to FÁS to maintain its various programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38212/06]

The budget for FÁS is agreed on the basis of detailed discussions between FÁS, my Department and the Department of Finance in the context of the annual Estimates process. My Department allocated a total of €985.175 million to FÁS in the 2006 Estimate. This is an increase of approximately 8% on the amount spent by FÁS in 2005.

This budget is allocated by FÁS to the specific approved programmes/schemes, which are designed to meet the overall objectives set out in the FÁS Statement of Strategy 2006-2009.

International Trade.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the ten countries from whence most Irish imports have come in each of the past five years; the extent to which this trade has increased or decreased in that period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38214/06]

The table provides details of the ten countries from whence most Irish imports have come in each of the past five years (i.e. between the years 2001 and 2005.) From the table, it can be seen that during the period 2001-2005, with the exception of Singapore which has dropped out of the list and the significant rise of China, the list of the top ten import markets has largely remained the same.

This table provides details of the total value of imports from the 10 main import markets. From this table, it can be seen that, the total value of imports from these 10 countries is essentially at the same level in 2005 as 2001. However, when one considers the effect of the time-value of money in the interim, the value of imports coming from the 10 main import markets has in fact fallen.

One significant factor in this development is that the total value of imports from Great Britain fell from €19 billion in 2001 to €13 billion in 2003, and has now risen again to €16 billion in 2005. Apart from the gradual shift away from over-reliance on the UK as our main trading partner (in 1960 75% of Irish exports were destined for the UK, now that figure is at 18%), the dramatic reduction in imports from and exports to Great Britain may have been influenced by what is referred to as a VAT Carousel Fraud, which resulted in export figures being significantly inflated. (This did not result in significant loss of VAT to the Irish Exchequer, but resulted in VAT evasion abroad, particularly in the UK).

Elsewhere, import values from our other main import markets, USA, Germany and France remained largely the same. The value of imports from Northern Ireland remained consistent at just over €1 billion per annum during this period. It is notable that the value of imports from China increased significantly during this period, from just under €1 billion in 2001 to €3.7 billion in 2005. However, there has been a corresponding increase in the value of Irish exports to China during this period also.

Ten Main Import Markets 2001-2005

No.

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

1.

Great Britain

Great Britain

Great Britain

Great Britain

Great Britain

2.

USA

USA

USA

USA

USA

3.

Germany

Germany

Germany

Germany

Germany

4.

China

China

Japan

France

France

5.

Netherlands

France

China

Japan

Japan

6.

Japan

Japan

France

Netherlands

Netherlands

7.

France

Netherlands

Netherlands

China

Singapore

8.

Norway

Nthn. Ireland

Italy

Italy

Nthn. Ireland

9.

Italy

Italy

Singapore

Nthn. Ireland

Italy

10.

Nthn. Ireland

South Korea

Nthn. Ireland

Taiwan

China

Total value of imports from the ten main import markets

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

€42.2 billion

€37 billion

€35.1 billion

€42.3 billion

€43.5 billion

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

216 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the ten most reliable markets for Irish exports in the past five years; the extent to which these have improved or otherwise in that period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38215/06]

The table provides details of the 10 main export markets for each of the past five years (i.e. between the years 2001 and 2005.) From the table, it can be seen that the 10 countries listed have consistently been our most reliable markets for exports over the past five years. Although there has been some slight shifting in the ranking order, the 10 largest export markets have remained the same.

Of particular note is the fact that since 2003, the USA has replaced Great Britain as our largest export market. This is due in part to the strategy of reducing over-reliance on the UK market for Irish exports in favour of diversification to other markets such as the EU, USA and global markets. (in 1960 75% of Irish exports were destined for the UK, now that figure is at 18%). However, the reduction in exports to Great Britain may also have been influenced by what is referred to as a VAT Carousel Fraud, which resulted in export figures being significantly inflated. (This did not result in significant loss of VAT to the Irish Exchequer, but resulted in VAT evasion abroad, particularly in the UK).

The trend in recent years has been for Irish exports to increase incrementally, year on year. Figures released by the Central Statistics Office, recently, show that in the first seven months of this year exports increased by 3% relative to the same period last year. CSO figures for year end 2005 showed that exports had increased by 5% over 2004, while the figures for year end 2004 showed an increase of 3% relative to 2003. The evidence shows that Irish exporters are continuing to perform well in a difficult trading environment caused by the global economic slowdown and the recent hike in oil prices. I have no doubt that, when a global recovery takes place and oil prices fall back to their pre-crisis levels, Irish exporters will be well placed to take full advantage of the improved economic circumstances.

Ten Main Export Markets 2001-2005

No.

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

1.

USA

USA

USA

Great Britain

Great Britain

2.

Great Britain

Great Britain

Great Britain

USA

USA

3.

Belgium

Belgium

Belgium

Belgium

Germany

4.

Germany

Germany

Germany

Germany

France

5.

France

France

France

France

Belgium

6.

Netherlands

Netherlands

Netherlands

Italy

Netherlands

7.

Italy

Italy

Italy

Netherlands

Italy

8.

Switzerland

Switzerland

Switzerland

Switzerland

Japan

9.

Spain

Spain

Spain

Japan

Switzerland

10.

Japan

Japan

Japan

Spain

Spain

Job Creation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

217 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs created in the past 12 months; the proportion of these that are valued added or high wage or salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38216/06]

The latest data from the Central Statistics Office (QNHS) indicate that there were an additional 88,000 people in employment in Quarter 2 2006 compared to the same period in 2005. Data in respect of agency-assisted enterprises are compiled by Forfás on a once yearly basis and therefore the latest data available are for 2005. In that year 26,553 new full-time jobs were created in enterprise agency-assisted firms across all sectors.

It is not possible to specify precisely how many of these jobs can be classified as high value added. However, the trend in recent years has seen higher technology and services enterprises replacing low technology production. Many of the job losses that have occurred in manufacturing in particular over the last few years have been in low cost manufacturing processes while the new jobs created in the enterprise agencies' client companies are mainly concentrated in high value-added, knowledge-based companies, offering greater security in the face of intense international competition.

Activities in areas such as Pharmaceuticals, Bio Pharmaceuticals, Medical Technologies, ICT, Globally Traded Business, and International and Financial Services will continue to provide opportunities for high value added jobs. For example, in the last five years there was a 21% increase in employment in the Medical, Precision and Optical Instruments sector, while over the same period employment in the Textile sector fell by 51%.

Services activities have become the primary source of employment growth in developed countries including Ireland. Indeed, Ireland has become one of the leading exporters of services. Between 2000 and 2005 the contribution of Services increased from 21 to 34 per cent of total exports. Computer Services, other Business Services and Finance and Insurance are the most significant growth sectors. Again, jobs in these particular areas of the services sector tend to be higher value added and high wage ones.

Enterprise policy is being actively focused towards creating conditions that will make possible a sustained shift to higher skilled, knowledge-intensive activities in which internationally tradeable services and advanced manufacturing expertise will be an important contributor to economic growth and sustainable high-quality employment.

Economic Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

218 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to address the issue of competitiveness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38217/06]

Competitiveness is a remarkably broad policy area constantly under review and consideration both in my Department and across the Departments of my Government colleagues. Several activities are directed at identifying and improving our competitiveness.

Recently the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) published its Annual Competitiveness Report (ACR) with its presentation of international benchmarks of competitiveness. I look forward to the next publication from the NCC, its annual Competitiveness Challenge that will use the results of the ACR to suggest policy options to strengthen competitiveness. This presents on an annual basis reminders of where we need to focus attention to maintain and improve upon current levels of competitiveness. I will bring this report to Government so that its policy suggestions are given the widest circulation to Ministers and their policy advisers.

My Department is currently working with Groups associated with implementation of important enterprise reports such as that from the Small Business Forum and the Enterprise Strategy Group.

In addition to this, the Business Regulation Forum is working to identify disproportionate administrative burdens that may impede competitiveness. In addition Forfás produces a range of research on issues affecting competitiveness that helps inform and guide policy innovation and thinking across my Department.

Numerous other activities by the various enterprise development agencies under my Department are underway. These operational programmes are helping individual enterprises in Ireland maintain competitiveness in a fiercely demanding market, develop their capacity to build their businesses and extend their ability to profitably export to a growing number of international markets.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

219 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the three most obvious costs affecting industry and competitiveness; his plans to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38218/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

220 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he has identified cost issues which might inhibit investment and thereby employment here; the remedial action proposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38219/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 219 and 220 together.

The National Competitiveness Council recently published a Statement on the Costs of Doing Business in Ireland. The Statement outlines the key findings of research assessing the cost of doing business at four locations in Ireland — Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. These locations are compared with international centres in both developed and developing economies, including Bangalore, Boston, Budapest and Copenhagen across a range of 8 sectors such as biopharmaceutical manufacturing, engineering and funds administration. The data are for one period only — January 2006 — but will be updated in two subsequent reports in 2007 and 2008, which will allow for comparisons over time.

As many observers would expect, labour costs (59%) dominated firms' business costs. These were followed by property costs (11%), utility costs (9%) and transport costs (4%). However as the analysis mentions, the research excludes other business input costs such as equipment or raw materials. These can be significant in some sectors, such as biopharmaceutical manufacturing and food processing.

It should be noted that, while the cost profiles of selected firms in the study will not necessarily be representative of all firms in the sector, the analysis by the NCC shows that labour costs, taxes and transport costs are competitive when compared with benchmarked locations in the EU-15 economies or in the Unites States. Furthermore labour costs in manufacturing are marginally more competitive than in the services sectors, compared with other EU-15/US cities. This underlines the competitive position of a large part of our economy.

The NCC Statement identifies utility costs, particularly electricity and property costs as having the potential to weaken competitiveness, but the analysis points out productivity is the key determinant of competitiveness. In relation to energy utility charges, these are for the most part driven by international cost pressures on fossil fuels and the need to modernise and strengthen our energy infrastructure.

The Government's Green Paper on Energy Policy sets out a vision, with clear targets and timelines, for making the economy less reliant on imported fossil fuels by building our capacity in indigenous renewables. In relation to other costs such as telecommunications and waste, the forthcoming National Development Plan will play a significant role in investment in these sectors to address their competitive impact on enterprise.

Regarding productivity, my Department's enterprise support agencies provide an extensive range of programmes to help companies address either specific competitiveness challenges or the productivity and efficiency of their entire business functions. These include initiatives in technology acquisition, innovation, research and development, management capability and strengthening export capabilities. The joined up strategic links between our education and business sectors as set out in my recent Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation exemplifies a new approach to building both national and enterprise competitiveness in a globalised world.

FÁS Training Programmes.

David Stanton

Question:

221 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the specific vocational training programmes run by FÁS or through specialist training providers for people with an acquired brain injury; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38220/06]

David Stanton

Question:

222 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the vocational training opportunities available for people with an acquired brain injury where existing FÁS or specialist training providers cannot support the unique needs of people with an acquired brain injury. [38221/06]

David Stanton

Question:

223 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way FÁS intends to support people with an acquired brain injury to participate in their vocational training programmes. [38222/06]

David Stanton

Question:

224 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way FÁS supports people with an acquired brain injury to participate in their vocational training programmes; and the additional supports they intend to put in place to allow participation by people with acquired brain injury. [38223/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 to 224, inclusive, together.

The Department is fully committed to addressing the needs of those with disabilities, and furthering the policy of mainstreaming services to help them play a full and active part in Irish society. The Sectoral Plan of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment under the Disability Act 2005, outlines the Department's key initiatives in promoting equal opportunities for disabled people in the labour market, which includes the development of a Comprehensive Employment Strategy for disabled people.

The key pillars of this strategy are:

enhancing the effectiveness of employment and vocational training programmes for disabled people

further developing financial and other supports to potential employers and disabled employees, and

further developing measures to promote the continued employment of workers who acquire a disability while in employment.

In line with current mainstreaming policy, disabled people are encouraged by FÁS to apply for training and the appropriate supports are put in place to meet their particular individual needs. If the disabled person cannot meet the requirements of mainline vocational training, with supports, then the individual is referred to Specialist Training Provision contracted by FÁS. The Specialist Training Provider will then carry out a functional assessment to determine whether the person would be able to undertake vocational training, or would require rehabilitative training under the Department of Health and Children.

The current extra supports that would be available in FÁS Specialist Training Provision for a person with an acquired brain injury would include psychologists, remedial teachers, social skills instructors, job coaches and an individual holistic assessment of needs. I would like to commend the work of the groups working in this area, many of whom I have met personally, including the Irish Association of Supported Employment, Brí and Headway. Indeed, I understand that FÁS are currently considering a proposal from Headway for a pilot scheme in this area.

I wish to declare that I have a personal interest in this issue through having a family member who has an acquired brain injury, and who may benefit from vocational training and/or employment provision.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

225 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if mortgage assistance can be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38167/06]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes mortgage interest supplement, is administered on my behalf by the Community Welfare Service of the Health Service Executive.

The Executive has been contacted concerning this case and has advised that it has not received an application for mortgage interest supplement from the person concerned. It has advised that the person concerned should contact his community welfare officer at the local health centre if he wishes to make an application for assistance under the supplementary welfare allowance.

Departmental Staff.

David Stanton

Question:

226 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of counsellors employed by his Department; the number who have been recruited since April 2005 and where they have been recruited from; the type of qualification these counsellors must hold; the locations of these counsellors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38232/06]

David Stanton

Question:

227 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his progress to date in recruiting personal counsellors to give one-to-one interviews to lone parents and assist them in accessing training, education and employment as announced in 2005 (details supplied); the number of such counsellors employed by his Department and locations of same; the number of lone parents who have had access to these services since April 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38233/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 226 and 227 together.

My Department does not directly employ counsellors to assist lone parents. Rather, it has a number of facilitators who provide a range of services for people attempting to rejoin the labour market. A key role of the facilitator is to focus on the support programmes available to those seeking work, to identify their needs and to seek to engage them on a progression path towards employment and self reliance.

The announcement referred to by the Deputy was in the context of the Government proposals to support lone parents, subsequently published in a discussion paper in March 2006. As the Deputy is aware, the discussion paper proposes the expanded availability and range of education and training opportunities for lone parents; the extension of the National Employment Action Plan to focus on lone parents; focused provision of childcare; improved information services for lone parents and the introduction of a new social assistance payment for low income families with young children.

As co-ordination of this cross-cutting initiative will be crucial, the Government has instructed the Senior Officials Group on Social Inclusion to draw up an implementation plan to progress the non-income recommendations in tandem with the development of the legislation required in my Department to introduce a new payment scheme.

Work on the development of this implementation plan is under way. Issues including access to childcare support, education, training and activation measures are being actively considered by the relevant Departments and Agencies. It is envisaged that my Department's facilitators will play a key role in the operation of the implementation plan within my Department.

Social Welfare Benefits.

David Stanton

Question:

228 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reduction in claim processing times for one parent family payment applications in weeks as a result of decentralisation to local offices; the average time for OFP claims to be processed in 2003, 2004, 2005 and to date in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38234/06]

The processing of one-parent family claims has heretofore been carried out in the Social Welfare Services Office in Sligo. Following a review of the arrangements for administering the scheme, it was decided that services should in future be provided through my Department's network of Local and Branch Offices. The primary aim of providing services at local level is to improve customer service by reducing claim processing times through closer linkage with the local investigative officer network and by providing more direct local contact for lone parents with the Department's employment and educational support services.

My Department currently processes new applications for one parent family payment (OFP) at 39 Social Welfare local offices. The process to move the stock of claims currently administered in Sligo to Social Welfare Local Offices commenced during 2006. The average time from date of claim to date of award for one parent family claims for unmarried claimants was approximately 14 weeks in 2003, 16 weeks in 2004, 9 weeks in 2005 and 8.5 weeks in 2006 to date.

National Car Test.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

229 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the reason a NCT certificate (details supplied) is valid for only four months in view of the fact that the vehicle was recently purchased by the new owner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38035/06]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. 477 of 2006) the Road Safety Authority has responsibility for the oversight and monitoring of the National Car Test scheme.

Annual Accounts.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

230 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the reasons he has not yet lodged a copy of the 2004 annual accounts of the Dublin Transportation Office in the Houses of the Oireachtas library as of 8 November, 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38036/06]

I understand from the Dublin Transport Office that while the accounts for 2004 have been finalised, preparations for their publication are almost complete. I expect to be in a position to submit them to the Library of the Houses of the Oireachtas very shortly.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

231 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if he has received the 2005 annual accounts of the Dublin Transportation Office; when he will publish this and lodge a copy in the Houses of the Oireachtas library; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38037/06]

The 2005 annual accounts of the Dublin Transportation Office are currently being audited by the C&AG and will be submitted to me on completion of the audit. I will submit a copy to the Library of the Houses of the Oireachtas as soon as I receive them.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

232 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport if he has received the 2005 annual report and accounts of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety; when he will lay these documents before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38038/06]

I have not yet received the 2005 Annual Report from the Medical Bureau of Road Safety. The Bureau submit their Annual Report and Accounts together to my Department, on the completion of the audit of the accounts by the C & AG's Office, and after the translation of the report into Irish under section 10 of the Official Languages Act, 2003. The 2005 Report will be laid before the Houses shortly thereafter.

Community Development.

Willie Penrose

Question:

233 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he will take to ensure that monies which are owed to a voluntary group (details supplied) under the FÁS social economy programme, which ended on 31 December 2005 are now granted to the group; if this voluntary body which is a not for profit organisation and is run by a committee on a voluntary basis, is permitted to hold onto its current level of staff who are performing an essential role in the running of the facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38160/06]

When the funding for the Social Economy Programme (now renamed the Community Services Programme) transferred to my Department on 1st January 2006, the amount of funding which transferred matched the existing staffing and liabilities within the Programme.

My Department has made no reduction in the number of positions, nor in the budgets of projects funded since taking responsibility for the Programme. In the case of Kilbeggan Preservation and Development Association (KPDA), my Department is satisfied that the agreed staffing of the project for 2005 was for 1 Manager and 2 full-time equivalent staff. FÁS has confirmed these numbers to my Department. Given that this project is an income earning tourist attraction it is open to the project to fund additional positions from its tourism income. My Department is ensuring that the project is funded on the basis of the above numbers.

Harbours and Piers.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

234 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will confirm that he has informed the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and Donegal County Council of a €6 million grant allocation towards Greencastle Pier, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38018/06]

The development of Greencastle Pier is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy N. Dempsey, to progress. There are also ongoing discussions within my Department in relation to this matter.

Teangacha Oifigiúla.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

235 D’fhiafraigh Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuair sé na leasuithe atá molta ag Conradh na Gaeilge ar a dhréacht-rialacháin de bhun Alt 9 d’Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla chun foráil a dhéanamh go mbeidh comharthaíocht, fógraíocht agus fógraí ó bhéal de chuid comhlachtaí poiblí dátheangach; an ndéanfaidh sé na leasuithe sin; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas i dtaobh na ceiste seo. [38019/06]

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an bhfreagra a thug mé ar Cheisteanna Uimh. 20, 21, 28, 29, 35, 50 agus 55 den 9 Samhain 2006 maidir leis an ábhar seo.

Herd Keepers.

Billy Timmins

Question:

236 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position in relation to farmers with joint herd numbers with their spouses, parents, siblings and so on who received correspondence from her Department requesting them to appoint one contact name as keeper of the herd in case of problems in order that they would have one contact name; the location this directive came from; the person who was authorised to contact all joint herd numbers with this request; the status of the person left off the herd number now compared to their previous status, in case of cheques and so on being issued in one name; if there is a change of circumstances, death, probate and so on, the way this will effect the person left off, if they wish the way they can will reinstate their name on the herd number; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38065/06]

A herd number is an administrative arrangement designed primarily for the purposes of disease control under the disease eradication schemes, which involves the allocation of a number to a herd as provided for under S.I. No. 276 of 1999 (European communities (Identification and registration of bovine animals) Regulations, 1999). The traditional term "herdowner", which required the nomination of one person in respect of the herd in the 1989 TB Order, has been replaced by the term "keeper" which is defined in Regulation (EC) No 1760/2000 as any natural or legal person responsible for animals, whether on a permanent or on a temporary basis, including during transportation or at a market. In effect, the "keeper" is the person who is to be the initial point of contact in regard to animal inspections, testing, identification, records etc. to sign movement documents passports of animal(s) and to be deemed legally responsible for the day to day care and welfare of the animals. The keeper also has responsibility to notify the database of animal births, deaths and movements, to keep the herd register and to sign certain documents such as the animal passport when the keeper takes possession of an animal.

My Department, as a matter of policy, when issuing a herd number registers one individual person as the "keeper" of the animals. The designation of more than one person as "keeper" would lead to general confusion, possible denial of responsibility, duplication of communication to all named parties, difficulties in supply of identification tags and documents and difficulties in prosecutions, all of which could delay immediate action in relation to the prevention of the spread of animal disease and the protection of animal welfare.

The registration of a person as keeper does not infer ownership of the lands or animals in the herd. When multiple persons, a company, or an institution wish to register an interest in the herd number, they are registered as "herdowners" and are asked to nominate the keeper. Irish national legislation on the TB eradication programme has, since its inception in the 1950s, required the nomination of a single responsible person when more than one person is involved with the herd. In a recent effort to align Department computer systems, to regularise records and to bring the terminology more into line with the EU regulations, in cases where multiple persons had been recorded and no single person was nominated as keeper, my Department issued a request to farmers to nominate one person as keeper for the herd.

With regard to the position of persons who have a beneficial interest in the herd but who are not registered as keepers, such persons may register their interest in the herd as "herdowners" through Form ER1.1 and, accordingly, qualify for payment under the various schemes implemented by my Department. In this regard, I should emphasise that the "keeper" role is classified as a non-financial role and payments are made to "herdowners" rather than to "keepers".

In the event of the death of a person registered as herdowner and not as keeper, the same requirements that arise in cases where persons have an interest in the herd or in any payments due from the Department will apply. In the event of the death of the nominated keeper who also has an interest in the herd, the same rules will apply. In addition, where a keeper dies, those persons remaining in the role as herdowner will be required to nominate a new keeper or, if there is no extant registered herdowner, the estate will be required to nominate a keeper to be responsible for the animals in the herd in relation to dealings with this Department and for the day-to-day care, maintenance and welfare of the animals.

In view of the fact that this policy has been in place for many years, I have asked my Department to have it reviewed.

Higher Education Grants.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

237 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science if there is assistance available to students wishing to study in Australia for a final year of an Irish course; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38020/06]

My Department funds four maintenance grant schemes for third level and further education students which are administered by the Local Authorities and the Vocational Education Committees.

The Higher Education Grant Scheme operates under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992. Generally speaking, students who are entering approved courses for the first time are eligible for maintenance grants where they satisfy the relevant conditions as to age, residence, means and nationality.

The decision on eligibility for third level or further education grants is a matter for the relevant local authority or VEC. These bodies do not refer individual applications to my Department except, in exceptional cases, where for example, advice or instruction regarding a particular clause in the relevant scheme is desired.

The Third Level Student Support Schemes were extended to provide maintenance grants to eligible students pursuing approved full-time undergraduate courses of at least two years duration (pursued in a university or a third level institution which is maintained or assisted by recurrent grants from public funds) in other EU Member States with effect from the 1996/97 academic year. The extension of the Schemes at that time did not include courses at postgraduate level or to courses outside the EU and, accordingly, there is no grant aid available under the schemes for students pursuing studies outside of the EU.

However clause 7.3 of the Higher Education Grants Scheme 2006 and the Vocational Education Committees Scholarship Scheme 2006 provides that where grant-holders, as part of their approved course, are required to attend foreign university courses for a period of up to one year, a maintenance award may continue to be paid where the period abroad does not affect the normal duration of the approved course.

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind and provides more detailed information in relation to the case the matter can be examined further.

Schools Refurbishment.

Finian McGrath

Question:

238 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will support a school (details supplied) in Dublin 3 with their prefab replacement and replacement of windows under the summer works scheme; and if she will support it in this matter. [38021/06]

I can confirm that the Department is in receipt of an application for the Summer Works Scheme 2007 from the management authority of the school to which the Deputy refers.

All applications for the Summer Works Scheme are currently being assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for the scheme. I intend to publish a list of successful applicants before Christmas.

John Deasy

Question:

239 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in County Waterford has barely over 40% of the space per pupil recommended for classrooms in Circular 0097/2006 from her Department, that the cloakroom is being used as a resource room, that a learning support room has also to be used as a multi-purpose room, library and computer room and that there is no staff room or principal’s room; the status of the application from the Board of Management for an extension; and when funding will be made available for that extension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38069/06]

I can confirm to the Deputy that the Department is in receipt of an application for capital funding under the Small Schools Scheme 2007 (SSS) from the management authority of the school to which he refers.

Applications for the SSS are currently being assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for the Scheme and a list of successful applicants will be published when this process is complete.

School Enrolments.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

240 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Science the enrolment at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the number of such students pursuing PLC, VTOS or other alternative adult programmes; the number of second level students enrolled; the trend in enrolment at second level in this school over the past six years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38070/06]

Below are the figures for the school in question with regard to enrolment at Second level and in PLCs. There is no VTOS programme provided in the school. However if students for the VTOS programme available in another centre in town require access to specific modules available in the school, this access is facilitated.

Year

Second Level

PLC

Total

01/02

182

120

302

02/03

187

136

323

03/04

193

63

256

04/05

182

65

247

05/06

202

67

269

06/07

182

64

246

There are Adult Education evening classes provided and approximately 200 adults participate in these classes. The trend in enrolment has been steady between 2003/04 and 2004/05 with a rise in first year enrolment in 2005/06 and a subsequent drop in 2006/07.

First year Second level enrolment:

Year

Students

02/03

39

03/04

39

04/05

40

05/06

49

06/07

26

PLC enrolment after dropping 2002/03 has remained consistent from 2003/04 up to and including the current school year with 64 participants.

Educational Disadvantage.

Niall Blaney

Question:

241 Mr. Blaney asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will give approval to a review application for a school (details supplied) in County Donegal to be included in band 1 rather than band 2 of the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools on the basis that the review was submitted on 9 October 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38071/06]

DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the action plan for educational inclusion, provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and a new integrated School Support Programme (SSP). The School Support Programme will bring together, and build upon, a number of existing interventions in schools with a concentrated level of disadvantage.

The process of identifying primary and second-level schools for participation in the SSP was managed by the Educational Research Centre (ERC) on behalf of my Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the Inspectorate.

As a result of the identification process, 840 schools were invited to participate in the SSP. These comprised 640 primary schools (320 urban/town schools and 320 rural schools) and 200 second-level schools. A review process has been put in place for urban primary schools included in Band 2 of the School Support Programme where there is evidence that the level of disadvantage is of a scale sufficient to warrant their inclusion in Band 1.

The review is operating under the direction of an independent person, charged with ensuring that all relevant identification processes and procedures were properly followed in the case of schools applying for a review. The closing date for receipt of review applications was Monday 25th September, 2006.

Review applications must be evidence-based and based on the variables and reference dates used in the identification process for the SSP. In the case of schools seeking a review, applications must relate to data on the relevant variables included in the ERC survey of May, 2005 and to the reference date of 30th September, 2004.

A completed application for review from the school indicated by the Deputy was received in the Social Inclusion Unit of the Department on 20th September 2006 and a formal acknowledgement has issued to the school. It is anticipated that the review process will be completed shortly.

Schools Building Projects.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

242 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will confirm details of plans for a new school building at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6W; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38072/06]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the school to which he refers is included in my recent announcement of 80 schools which have been given the go-ahead to commence architectural planning.

The Department's Building Unit will shortly be inviting the schools concerned to an information session to outline how the projects will proceed from here.

Special Educational Needs.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

243 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason there is a shortage of places in special classes for children with speech disorders in Dublin south west; the action she will take on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38073/06]

I can confirm that there are currently 59 special classes for children with specific speech and language disorder operating in primary schools nationwide.

In the greater Dublin area there are 8 special classes for children with specific speech and language disorder. Each class can cater for up to 7 children and the children have access to a speech and language therapist.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through the local special educational needs organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special needs supports, including applications for the establishment of special classes.

Responsibility for enrolment to these classes rests with the individual school authority. The Deputy will also be aware that the provision of therapy services and the recruitment of speech and language therapists to support pupils in these classes is a matter for the Health Services Executive (HSE) and funding is provided to the HSE for such purposes. The extent of service provided to these classes is a matter for the HSE.

School Staffing.

Liam Twomey

Question:

244 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a school (details supplied) in County Wexford is losing a teacher that was only approved during summer 2006 in view of the huge disruption this will cause students and the increase to class sizes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38074/06]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy, that following a review of the position, the school concerned has been allowed to retain the post in question.

Schools Building Projects.

Tony Gregory

Question:

245 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps her Department is taking to provide a new school building for a school (details supplied) in Dublin 1; the steps she is taking to obtain a site for the proposed new school; if a budget has been set aside for this purpose; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38157/06]

Officials from the School Planning Section of the Department recently met with the Trustees of the school to which the Deputy refers to discuss its long term accommodation needs.

A possible location has been identified and this is currently being considered by the Department's technical staff. The Department will be discussing the outcome with the Trustees at the appropriate time.

Third Level Fees.

Richard Bruton

Question:

246 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will reconsider the charges for the four-year post-graduate medical degree, in order to make it easier for qualified applicants to take up this option. [38158/06]

On the 1 February 2006 the Minister for Health and Children and I published the report of the Fottrell Working Group on Undergraduate Medical Education and Training. Among the recommendations of the Fottrell Group was that a graduate stream of entry to medicine be introduced and that all graduates of honours Bachelor degree programmes should be eligible to apply.

It is anticipated that the Higher Education Authority will shortly issue a competitive call for proposals to provide the new graduate entry programme, with a view to additional places being provided on this programme from 2007. It has been decided that graduate entry will be open to graduates of all disciplines. The provision of a graduate entry stream is an important development in reducing pressures on aspiring medical students who until now have effectively had one chance of entry, based on their Leaving Certificate performance. This will allow students to make a decision to enter medicine at a more mature age and should result in a more diverse range of entrants into the profession.

No decisions have been made on the level of tuition fees for the graduate programme, as this will form part of the overall outcome of the competitive call for proposals.

Special Educational Needs.

Finian McGrath

Question:

247 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the services that a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 with a disability is receiving; if she will request the N.C.S.E. to assist this pupil with adequate services in the future. [38159/06]

My Department provides a range of supports to second level schools to enable them to cater for students with special educational needs. The supports in question include remedial and additional teaching support, special needs assistant support and funding for the purchase of specialised equipment.

With effect from 1 January 2005, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has taken over key functions from the Department of Education and Science in relation to special educational provision. The NCSE was formally established as an independent statutory body on the 1st October 2005 under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2005. The Council acts under the broad policy direction of my Department but has the resources and the remit to play the leading role in the delivery of education services to children with disabilities/ special needs.

The provision of speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and other health related supports is a matter for the Health Service Executive. However, the NCSE co-ordinates with the health services, schools and other relevant bodies regarding the provision of education and related support services to children with disabilities/special needs.

The responsibilities of the NCSE include the following: deciding on applications for additional teaching support in respect of children with disabilities with special educational needs at second level; deciding on applications for special needs assistant (SNA) hours; processing applications for school placement in respect of children with disabilities with special education needs.

The precise model of provision made available at second level will depend on the assessed needs of the pupils involved. Some pupils are capable of attending ordinary classes on an integrated basis with additional teacher and/or special needs assistant support. In other cases, placement in special dedicated classes or units attached to the school may be the more appropriate response. Such special classes operate at significantly reduced pupil teacher ratios. Students attached to these special classes may be facilitated in attending ordinary subject classes on an integrated basis wherever possible.

The NCSE, through the local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) will process the relevant application for resources and inform the school of the outcome. It is important to note that in the case of decisions on additional teaching and SNA support, the SENO will outline the process to the school and parents, where appropriate, and will at the end of the process outline the basis on which the decision was made.

The NCSE has confirmed that additional teaching resources have been granted to the school in question to cater for the special educational needs of pupils enrolled, including the pupil referred to by the Deputy. An application for assistive technology for the pupil in question has also been received and is currently being processed by the SENO.

I am confident that the advent of the NCSE will prove of major benefit in ensuring that all children with special educational needs receive the support they require.

Schools Building Projects.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

248 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the extension to a school (details supplied) in County Cork has not been approved; the reason funding has not been provided therefor; and if he will make a full statement in the issue in view of the many promises and commitments that have been made on this issue over many years. [38206/06]

An application for capital funding from the school to which the Deputy refers has been assessed and schedules of accommodation to meet the current and long-term accommodation needs of the school have been drawn up by my Department. The further progression of this project will be considered in the context of the School Building and Modernisation Programme 2006-2010.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

249 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will confirm that a new building at a school (details supplied) in County Cork can now proceed and that funding will be provided therefor in the estimates for 2007. [38207/06]

A suitable site has been acquired by the Office of Public Works on behalf of my Department for this project. The long term projected staffing, on which the accommodation needs will be based, has been determined and also notified to the school authority. The building project required to deliver the new school will be progressed in the context of the School Building and Modernisation Programme 2006-2010.

Register of Electors.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

250 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will give a detailed breakdown on a county basis with respect to the cost of the recent electoral register campaign; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38023/06]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

252 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of the Electoral Register on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38082/06]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

253 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will use his powers under Section 164 of the Electoral Act, 1992 which allows him to make a special order to change a regulation in order to amend the deadline for registration to the Electoral Register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38083/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 250, 252 and 253 together.

In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty to ensure, as far as possible and with the cooperation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register.

In April 2006, I announced a package of measures to assist local authorities in their work on preparing the 2007/8 Register. This included a commitment to provide additional ring-fenced financial resources to support local authorities' own spending in respect of the register campaign; I advised authorities that a contribution of some €6 million can be made available in this regard. An initial allocation of some €3 million, based on the number of households in each local authority area, was made available in July to local authorities for registration work; details of allocations are set out in the following table.

I am satisfied that the implementation by local authorities of the measures which I announced in April has resulted in the most extensive electoral registration campaign in decades. However, the process is not finished. The Draft Register of Electors has been published by all local authorities and is available for checking up to the 25 November in council offices, libraries, Garda stations, post offices and on-line at www.checktheregister.ie. Local authorities must publish the final Register of Electors for 2007/8 on 1 February 2007. Summary data from all local authorities regarding the Draft Register have been compiled by my Department and are also set out in the following table.

As indicated above, people have up to 25 November to make claims for corrections to the Draft Register. While it has been suggested that this period should be extended, I am not convinced that there is a need to do so, particularly given the level of public attention now being given to the registration process, and the alternatives that are already available for people to get on the register. Should a cogent case to extend the period involved be made by any local authority, which has the primary responsibility in this area, I would of course give detailed consideration to the matter, taking into account the relevant legislative provisions.

Local Authority

Draft Register 2007/2008 Total Electors

Draft Register 2007/2008 Dáil Electors

Grant for Electoral Register Purposes

€,000

City Councils

Cork

82,152

80,525

100

Dublin

325,323

314,105

421

Galway

43,781

40,751

49

Limerick

32,781

31,989

44

Waterford

23,239

23,009

36

County Councils

Carlow

38,976

38,053

35

Cavan

49,253

48,510

43

Clare

83,747

81,486

79

Cork

286,617

280,112

245

Donegal

115,638

114,488

104

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

148,382

145,320

149

Fingal

157,191

145,788

142

Galway

125,348

123,736

105

Kerry

110,923

107,715

101

Kildare

123,491

120,633

118

Kilkenny

65,973

65,033

60

Laois

48,710

48,258

43

Leitrim

22,640

22,085

21

Limerick

96,731

95,701

89

Longford

27,132

26,524

24

Louth

92,240

89,455

78

Mayo

96,858

95,475

92

Meath

102,576

101,702

97

Monaghan

40,996

40,061

39

North Tipperary

47,798

46,985

47

Offaly

53,040

52,192

47

Roscommon

46,912

45,856

42

Sligo

49,114

48,404

46

South Dublin

163,338

157,831

171

South Tipperary

60,392

59,655

62

Waterford

47,518

47,088

43

Westmeath

59,791

58,907

54

Wexford

101,234

99,448

89

Wicklow

84,607

82,955

85

Totals

3,054,442

2,979,835

3,000

Local Authority Housing.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

251 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of local authority houses that have been sold to tenant purchasers each year for the past 10 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38024/06]

Data on the number of tenant purchase sales completed for each of the past ten years are available in the Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library and also on the Department's website at www.environ.ie.

Questions Nos. 252 and 253 answered with Question No. 250.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Dermot Fitzpatrick

Question:

254 Dr. Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the location and number of affordable houses which will be available in Fingal County Council over the next 12 months; the expected timing for each development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38084/06]

Information on planned future activity under the various affordable housing schemes in each local authority area is published in my Department's Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library and also on the Department's website at www.environ.ie. It is envisaged that many of these units will become available in 2007.

While the detailed information sought in the Question relating to location and expected timing for each development is not available in my Department in relation to the delivery of Part V affordable units or the Shared Ownership Scheme, information supplied by Fingal County Council in relation to the 1999 Affordable Housing Scheme and the Affordable Housing Initiative indicates that some 109 units will be delivered under these schemes in Balrothery/Balbriggan in the next twelve months.

Special Areas of Conservation.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

255 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the situation regarding the green area at Canalside, Ballina which is protected as part of SAC 002298; and if he does not have the information whether he will make the relevant enquiries of Mayo County Council and Ballina Town Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38161/06]

I am advised that Ballina Town Council resolved, at a meeting on 20 July 2006, not to proceed at this time, with their proposed development of a riverside walk and car park on part of this SAC.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

256 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if an allocation has been made towards the Killybegs sewerage scheme, County Donegal; the amount of the allocation; when it is expected that work will begin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38224/06]

The Killybegs Sewerage Scheme is included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2005-2007 at an estimated cost of €17.5M. The scheme will be progressed as a grouped project with Bundoran Sewerage Scheme.

I have recently approved Donegal County Council's Preliminary Report for the Killybegs scheme.

Fire Stations.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

257 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if an application has been received towards the provision of a fire station in the Gweedore area, County Donegal; when the application was received; when it is expected work will commence on the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38225/06]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. O’Keeffe)

An application from Donegal County Council for the provision of a new fire station in Gaoth Dobhair, Co. Donegal was received in my Department on 15 February 2006. The project has been included in the 2006 Fire Services Capital Programme and my Department is currently awaiting receipt of detailed cost plans from Donegal County Council in relation to the project.