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 12, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 13 to 81, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 82 to 88, inclusive, answered orally.

Energy Conservation.

Liam Twomey

Question:

89 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of his Departmental offices, and offices of the agencies under his auspices, that use energy saving light fittings and renewables sources of energy for heating and lighting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7395/07]

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the fitting out and provision of maintenance services, including light fittings, to Government Departments and certain other State Agencies.

In accordance with its Environmental Policy Statement, my Department is fully committed to the effective management of our consumption of energy resources. This is a critical element of our ongoing accreditation to ISO 14001 which we achieved for our headquarters offices in 2003. We are working towards achieving this certification for all our offices.

My Department's policy is to use a number of energy saving devices such as energy efficient lights, powersave function on electrical office equipment and photocopiers with duplex facilities. This has led to energy consumption in the Department's headquarters decreasing from 982,000 kilo Watt hours in 2003 to just over 948,000 kilo Watt hours in 2005.

My Department has committed to obtaining its electricity from renewable sources and following a tender process, under the auspices of the Office of Public Works, a contract is now in place with Energia for the supply of electricity from renewable sources to the Department's main offices.

Under the Government's decentralisation programme, the bulk of my Department's Dublin based operations are being decentralised to four locations in the South East. In collaboration with the OPW, my Department has set very high environmental specifications for its decentralised offices. It is intended that the new offices will incorporate many of the latest developments in sustainable construction, energy conservation and use of renewable energy sources.

While the day to day operation of the Agencies are a matter for the Agencies themselves, I am advised that in keeping with Government policy on energy efficiency, most of the Agencies under the remit of my Department are active in promoting energy conservation in their offices including, for example, the use of low energy light fittings, solar panels and other renewable sources of energy. In some instances, heating systems are modified to facilitate temperature control in individual offices. My Department is also undertaking a review of the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Residential Density to take account of changing population and settlement patterns and the extensive experience built up since the introduction of the 1999 guidelines in the design, assessment and development of higher density proposals.

I have noted that many of the policies and measures outlined by the Urban Forum in their recent paper, such as NSS alignment of NDP expenditure, implementation of the Regional Planning Guidelines and the Atlantic Gateways Initiative, are already being addressed by my Department. I am confident that the continuing implementation of these policies outlined above will have a positive influence on bringing about more compact urban design and sustainable development within the consolidated area of the capital into the future.

John McGuinness

Question:

90 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he proposes to increase the energy efficiency of homes here by 40% as recently stated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7491/07]

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

167 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the fact that Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Council have agreed to change their county development plan to improve the energy efficiency of all new building developments greater than 10 dwellings from 2008, it is time that his Department produce regulations that would require all local authorities to set such targets for local area plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7469/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 167 together.

Thermal performance and insulation standards under Part L of the Building Regulations (Conservation of Fuel and Energy) have been progressively increased since their introduction in 1992. I am committed to updating these standards on a continuous and regular basis in accordance with the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. (2002/91/EC).

This Government has improved the energy performance of buildings three times since 1997. I will shortly be announcing the further review of these standards with the intention of improving energy efficiency of new Irish homes by 40% or more relative to current standards. Once adopted, the revised Regulations will apply nationally.

The approach adopted by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in regard to energy efficiency in housing schemes of more than 10 houses will be useful in the review of the existing standards. The approach adopted by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown was commended by my Department.

It should be noted that Ireland's building energy standards compare very well internationally. Data produced by the European Insulation Manufacturers Association showed that Ireland's insulation standards are among the highest in the EU. We have the second lowest energy loss through walls behind Sweden and the lowest loss of energy through roofs.

On the broader energy efficiency issue, I noted German newspaper reports last week that a study by the German Economic Institute showed that Ireland was the most energy efficient nation among industrial nations studied by the Institute.

Property Management.

Joe Costello

Question:

91 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to regulate the operation of management companies and to control management fees in housing developments and in multi-unit dwellings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7451/07]

Management companies, consisting of the owners of dwellings, are generally constituted under the Companies Acts and are required to operate in compliance with company law, which comes within the area of responsibility of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Determination of management fees is primarily a matter for the management company. My Department does not have a role in this or other aspects of company governance.

The Director of Corporate Enforcement published a report on the operation of management companies in December 2006, which includes guidance for company directors and members on company governance. I understand that changes to simplify company law applying to management companies are also proposed. A consultation paper dealing with a range of issues relating to property management in multi-unit developments was published by the Law Reform Commission in December 2006. Both of these papers are currently subject to a public consultation process.

The Government have already decided that property managing agents will be regulated by the Property Services Regulatory Authority being established by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. This Authority will regulate property service providers, including property managing agents, which are commercial firms engaged by management companies to provide management and maintenance services for which management fees are paid. I understand that legislation to establish the Authority is being prepared and that the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform is also convening an inter-Departmental committee to assist in the development of a legislative response to issues generally relating to property management companies. My Department will be represented on this committee and will make every possible contribution to its work.

Election Management System.

Pat Breen

Question:

92 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if and when electronic voting will be used in elections here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7394/07]

The Commission on Electronic Voting, in its Second Report on the Secrecy, Accuracy and Testing of the Chosen Electronic Voting System, (published on 4 July 2006), concluded that it can recommend the voting and counting equipment for use at elections in Ireland, subject to further work it has recommended. The Commission made it clear that many of its recommendations involve only relatively minor modifications or additions to the system.

In response to the report, the Government has established a Cabinet Committee on Electronic Voting, which I chair, to consider the report in detail; to report to the Government on the full implications of the Commission recommendations; consider the composition of a peer review group — drawn from international electoral reform bodies and the IT industry — to supervise any software redesign work; report to the Government on confidence building measures; and identify any other improvements that might be built into the system.

The Cabinet Committee also includes the Tánaiste and the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. The work of the Committee, which met most recently earlier this month, is underway to address the important and complex issues involved.

The timing of the further use of the system depends on the outcome of the ongoing work of the Committee, the associated decisions arising in this regard, and the dates at which future polls may be held.

Housing Grants.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

93 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the changes in the housing grant for people with a disability will only cover 95% of the total cost of works to a home and the need for the applicant to provide the 5% shortfall will present problems due to the well documented links between poverty and disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7338/07]

Details of the revised housing adaptation grant schemes for older people and people with a disability were announced recently as part of My Department's new housing policy statement Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities. The revised schemes are based on the outcome of the review of the Disabled Persons Grant scheme which was recently completed within my Department. The review also incorporated the conditions governing the Essential Repairs Grant scheme and the Special Housing Aid for the Elderly scheme.

As part of the new conditions, a revised grant scheme to be known as the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability, will be introduced. The scheme will assist in the provision/adaptation of accommodation to meet the needs of people with a disability. The maximum grant available will be €30,000.

Significant improvements have been made to the terms and conditions of the grant scheme for people with disabilities in recent years. In 2001, the percentage of works covered by the grant was increased from two-thirds to 90%. Under the revised scheme the Housing Adaptation Grant has been further improved and may now cover up to 95% of the approved cost of works.

The Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for People with a Disability is intended, like a number of other housing grant schemes operated by my Department, to assist works which provide additional or adapted accommodation in private houses. However, it is not designed to cover the full cost of works for all applicants. Local authorities may provide reconstruction loans to qualified applicants who have difficulty in obtaining finance to meet the balance of the cost. The grant may cover the full cost of the works to local authority dwellings.

The revised scheme will become operational during 2007 and I intend to issue detailed administrative guidance later this year to all local authorities.

Local Authority Funding.

Enda Kenny

Question:

94 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will introduce new local revenue based streams of income as recommended by the Indecon Report on Local Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7430/07]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

109 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way he will fund the expected deficit of €2 billion in local government funding by 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7429/07]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

190 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the recommendations of the Indecon Report on Local Government he will introduce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7428/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 94, 109 and 190 together.

The Review of Local Government Financing by Indecon Economic Consultants estimated, on the basis of different methods of projecting expenditure, that by 2010 local authority expenditure would increase by €1 billion to €2 billion in nominal terms over 2004 levels. Funding this expenditure will be met by a combination of the buoyancy in the existing funding system, some additional funding and the achievement of efficiencies over the period.

Indecon estimated that commercial rates income and motor tax income would increase in line with the consumer price index. However, there is significant natural buoyancy in the current revenue sources, with the valuation bases of local authorities growing substantially as a result of continued economic growth. In addition, revenue from motor taxation — which is paid directly into the Local Government Fund — continues to increase without any increases in the rates of this taxation; in 2006, motor tax revenues totalled €879.7m, an increase of 9.6% above 2005 levels. The combined additional income from rates and motor tax alone will substantially address the Indecon income gap projections.

Since the publication of the Indecon Report, I have put in place a number of measures to supplement local authority income and to enhance efficiencies across the sector.

For 2007, I have allocated some €948m in general purpose grants to local authorities, an increase of 8% over the record amount provided in 2006. General purpose grants are my Department's contribution towards meeting the cost to local authorities of providing an acceptable level of day to day services to their customers.

Under the Local Government (Business Improvement Districts) Act 2006, local authorities can now collect entry year property levies on newly valued commercial property from the date of their valuation rather than the next rating year, as was the case heretofore. This provision is expected to generate some €20m in additional revenue to local authorities each year.

The Indecon report acknowledged that local authorities have achieved significant efficiencies in a number of areas and are focused on pursuing ongoing improvements. They are utilising new integrated financial management systems, incorporating modern accounting practices. A shared service approach is being promoted, for example in regional waste management planning and water management. Annual reporting on performance over a range of 42 service areas provides an innovative insight into the functioning of local authorities and represents an important step in measuring performance across the entire local government sector.

Measures to combat motor tax evasion are being continued and stepped up. I am also considering ways of bringing planning fees, which are fixed by Regulations, into line with the economic cost of dealing with planning applications. In addition, the Value for Money Unit in my Department will continue to undertake in-depth analyses of local authority activities and identify "best practice".

In line with a recommendation in the Indecon report, I have amended the Local Government Act 2001 to provide for the mandatory establishment of audit committees to ensure a more comprehensive audit function in local authorities. These committees, to be established this year, will have an independent role in advising the Council on financial reporting processes, internal control, risk management and audit matters, as part of the systematic review of the control environment and governance procedures of local authorities.

I am also developing a new costing system for the local government sector which will deliver enhanced management information, particularly in relation to unit costs. This will facilitate local authorities in assessing their unit costs over time and in comparing costs with other local authorities.

Environmental Policy.

John Moloney

Question:

95 Mr. Moloney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many off-licences and take away food premises are not correctly operating the plastic bag levy; if he proposes to ensure that local authorities enforce the law in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7490/07]

It is important that the plastic bag regulations should be rigorously enforced. I recognise the need to ensure that the efforts and commitment of the vast majority of retailers are not undermined by the non-compliance of a few. Therefore, my Department has written to local authorities asking them to carry out inspections of retail outlets with a view to improving current practices in relation to the implementation of the Plastic Bag Levy Regulations. An enforcement network of local authority officers has been established to monitor and co-ordinate the enforcement drive.

The relevant enforcement officers have extensive powers to enter any retail premises, to conduct any searches or investigations considered necessary, and to inspect or remove any records, books and documents for the purposes of any proceedings in relation to the levy.

All complaints received in my Department concerning non-compliance are forwarded to the relevant local authority and the Revenue Commissioners. The operation of the levy is also subject to the normal Revenue Commissioner auditing arrangements.

Where information in relation to possible non-compliance arises, this should be notified to the relevant local authority. Alternatively the Deputy may wish to notify my Department who will forward any information supplied to the relevant authorities.

Deputies will be aware of my decision this week to raise the plastic bag levy to 22 cent under new Regulations which take effect from 1 July. There has been no increase in the levy since its inception and I am anxious to ensure that its impact is not diminished. Income from the levy has been increasing in the recent past and data from levies remitted and population estimates provided by the Central Statistics Office would indicate that plastic bag usage rose from the initial rate of 21 bags per capita following introduction of the levy in 2002 to 30 currently.

I am increasing the levy to the maximum of 22 cent allowable under the existing legislation. I believe that it will have the desired effect in stemming the pattern of increased usage of plastic bags that has been evident.

Local Authority Housing.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

96 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of applicants for local authority housing and for other forms of social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7456/07]

Simon Coveney

Question:

184 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the new means of assessing housing needs envisaged in Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7401/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

576 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of persons on housing lists in various local authorities throughout the country; his proposals to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7740/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 96, 184 and 576 together.

There are a number of social housing options available to households who cannot meet their own accommodation needs. The main options are social rented accommodation provided by local authorities, by voluntary and co-operative housing bodies or under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).

A statutory assessment of housing need is undertaken by local authorities on a triennial basis. The most recent assessment of need for social housing was undertaken by local authorities in March 2005. The results of that assessment indicated that there were 43,684 households on local authority housing waiting lists. More comprehensive data in relation to the 2005 assessment at an individual local authority level was published in the Annual Bulletin of Housing Statistics, a copy of which is available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie.

My Department does not have figures on the number of applicants for voluntary or community housing; however, some 75% of householders accommodation by this sector are taken from local authority waiting lists.

RAS caters for the accommodation needs of households in receipt of rent supplement who have a long-term housing need. The target group for RAS is the number of households on rent supplement for more than 18 months. The target national figure, for the end of 2006, is 31,959 households. There is, however, a significant overlap between households in receipt of rent supplement and those on local authority waiting lists.

An objective and comprehensive assessment of a person or family's housing need is an essential first step in putting in place a modern system of housing supports. As part of the social housing reform programme outlined in Delivering Homes; Sustaining Communities, a new means of assessment is being developed to provide an improved basis for policy development and service delivery. This new means of assessment has been the subject of consultation with local authorities through the CCMA and the social partners through the Housing Forum and is currently being discussed with relevant special needs groups. The key components of the new approach include:

an objective set of criteria to enable local authorities to assess need for housing support;

a rigorous but fair and consistent approach to means testing;

early assessment by housing authorities to build up individual case histories of requirements and support responses; and

maintenance of a record of household preferences to reflect as far as possible individual choice.

The total Exchequer provision for housing in 2007 is almost €1.5 billion — an increase of 9% on the 2006 provision. Specifically, resources available this year will allow for over 6,600 local authority houses to be started/acquired; some 2,000 starts by the voluntary and co-operative housing sector and continuing implementation of the Rental Accommodation Scheme. In addition, NDP 2007-2013 announced a €18 billion investment programme in housing over the next seven years. This programme sets targets of 60,000 new units of social housing together with some 40,000 affordable homes to be delivered over the Plan period.

Local Authority Management.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

97 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether his Department should have more responsibility for the workings and decisions of local authorities across the country as apparently there is no accountability between the two; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7467/07]

Local authorities are independent, democratically elected bodies that are recognised by the Constitution and in law. They operate in accordance with local government and other legislation, as well as national policy, directions and guidelines as provided for in such legislation. In their day-to-day activities, local authorities are accountable on an on-going basis to their elected members, who in turn are accountable to the electorate every five years through the election process.

Within this framework, arrangements have been put in place by my Department to oversee and monitor the operations of local authorities; these include ongoing formal and informal liaison between the Minister, the Department and local authorities (at elected member and senior management levels). Local authorities are also subject to audit by the Local Government Audit Service, and, to review by the Office of the Ombudsman. They are, in addition, subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The programme of modernisation in local government, which has been underway for over 10 years, incorporates many elements that strengthen the accountability of local authorities. These include—

An emphasis on the role of elected members in determining policy and in monitoring and overseeing the implementation of such policy by management, especially through Strategic Policy Committees and Corporate Policy Groups

The introduction of an ethics framework for elected members and senior staff in local authorities

The introduction of modern financial management and accounting systems, as well as new audit committees

A focus on improving the quality of services provided to the public, including greater use of customer consultation, improved complaints procedures, and the requirement to report publicly on performance across a range of service indicators.

I am satisfied that these arrangements ensure a level of accountability compatible with the independent standing of local authorities and in the broader context of the principle of subsidiarity.

Nuclear Safety.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

98 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the recent decision of the British Courts on the UK Government’s plans to expand its nuclear power network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7414/07]

Tom Hayes

Question:

123 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the proposed development of new nuclear power stations in the UK; if he is opposing such development; the discussions he has had with the UK authorities on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7441/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98 and 123 together.

The Green Paper on European Energy Policy, published in March 2006 by the European Commission, recognised that the use of nuclear power was a matter for decision by each Member State.

While it is a matter for the UK to decide on its energy mix, the issues for Ireland arising from decisions made by the UK on nuclear policy are well known and long standing. The issue of reprocessing operations at Sellafield raises particular concerns for Ireland and the Energy Review as published was silent on any future role for reprocessing in the context of UK new build. This issue was particularly addressed in a submission by my Department to the UK Energy Review Consultation that also reiterated Ireland's concerns on radioactive discharges to the Irish Sea, the danger of accidents, the continued reprocessing of spent fuel, the threat of terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities, proliferation issues, marine transports of nuclear fuel as well as waste and the risks arising from the proximity of nuclear power stations located in the UK to Ireland itself.

These issues are raised directly and regularly at official and Ministerial level with the UK and most recently were addressed by me in my meeting with Alistair Darling, M.P., Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry on 9 January.

I am aware of the recent judicial review by the UK courts of the Energy Review consultation which determined that the consultation process was inadequate. As this finding was procedural rather than substantive, it would not appear to offer any new approach to pursuing Ireland's concerns. These will continue to be pressed through the channels referred to above.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

99 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way he proposes to underpin housing strategies with effective housing action plans to support delivery of affordable housing and social housing supports as envisaged in Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7399/07]

New arrangements for the planning and delivery of social and affordable housing programmes based on housing strategies were put in place by my Department in 2004 through the introduction of five-year housing action plans. These action plans identify priority needs and provide a coherent and coordinated response to those needs across all housing sectors, including the voluntary and co-operative sector, and translate the objectives for social and affordable housing identified in the housing strategies into specific target driven delivery programmes.

Because the action plans are focused on delivery, my Department has introduced three year rolling implementation programmes to support the process and meets with individual local authorities annually to review progress. I propose to issue updated guidelines on action plans to local authorities later this year to take account of the experience gained in the current round of the action plans and of the policy direction of the Housing Policy Statement Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities.

Nuclear Safety.

Willie Penrose

Question:

100 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the procedures in place to monitor shipments of mox fuel from the Sellafield plant to ensure that they do not pass through Irish waters; and the plans in place with the British Government in the event of an emergency arising. [7346/07]

The Mixed Oxide (MOX) Plant at Sellafield utilises plutonium, separated during reprocessing of spent fuel for foreign customers at Sellafield, and returns it, predominantly by sea, to those customers in the form of MOX fuel for use in their nuclear reactors.

Such shipments of radioactive material are subject to international maritime regulations including the right of innocent passage and to strict international safety standards applicable to the marine transport of such material.

The continuing concerns of the Irish Government in relation to all transports of radioactive material through the Irish Sea are regularly and repeatedly conveyed to the UK Government at Ministerial and official level. Ireland also co-operates on this issue with like minded coastal States at international fora such as the International Atomic Energy Agency. Our concerns relate to safety, security and environmental risk from an accident or incident.

Arising from our efforts over the years, information is made available to Ireland on a voluntary and confidential basis by the Governments of shipping States, principally, Japan, France and the UK, in relation to shipments of radioactive material including MOX fuel. The Irish Government in response makes clear that such shipments are unwelcome, and seeks and obtains assurances from shipping States that such shipments will not enter Irish territorial waters and that they comply with the stringent system of regulation established in line with internationally agreed standards and practices.

The information received is transmitted for operational reasons to relevant Government Authorities such as the Coast Guard Service. The Coast Guard has access to Naval resources (and other resources of the State) as and when required to address operational requirements on a case by case basis.

Any potential accident or incident involving these shipments would be covered by the Bi-Lateral Agreement on Early Notification of a Nuclear Incident between Ireland and the UK, and there is a highly developed co-operation and co-ordination relationship between the respective Coast Guards of Ireland and the UK in relation to all potential maritime emergencies. Additionally, I understand that the company undertaking these marine shipments has in place standing emergency response teams and procedures providing continuous cover on all aspects of emergency response should the need arise.

House Prices.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

101 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the average price of a new house in Dublin and nationally in July 1997 and the current average price of a new house; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7461/07]

My Department publishes quarterly house price data compiled from returns from the mortgage lending institutions. The average new house price in the July to September quarter 1997 was €123,537 in Dublin and €104,146 nationally.

In the second quarter of 2006, the most recent period for which complete returns have been received from lending financial institutions, the average new house price was €397,337 in Dublin and €308,302 nationally.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

102 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will make a statement on the outcome of the EU Environment Council in relation to climate change and carbon reduction. [7453/07]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

147 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has reviewed the EU’s comprehensive new energy measures that were announced on 10 January 2007; if he will seek to adopt one of the key targets of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5271/07]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

183 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the recent decision of the EU Environment Council to commit to a 20% reduction on carbon emissions by 2020; the consequential levels of carbon reduction that will be required from Ireland; and the way he proposes that Ireland will achieve those new targets. [7463/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102, 147 and 183 together.

At the EU Environment Council on 20 February 2007, my European colleagues and I considered the future development of the international climate regime in light of recent scientific and economic analyses and Europe's stated objective of limiting the increase in global mean temperature to 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. I welcomed the presentation by the Commission of its communications Limiting Global Climate Change to 2 Degrees Celsius — the way ahead for 2020 and beyond and An Energy Policy for Europe, which formed the basis for our discussions.

The Council reaffirmed the position that developed countries should collectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the order of 30% by 2020 compared to 1990.

In that context, we agreed that the EU is willing to commit to a reduction of 30% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 as its contribution to a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012, provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emissions reductions, and that economically more advanced developing countries adequately contribute according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Furthermore, we decided that, until a global and comprehensive post-2012 agreement is concluded, and without prejudice to its position to the EU's position in international negotiations, the EU should make an independent commitment to achieve at least a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990.

We also decided that a differentiated approach to the contributions of the Member States to these targets, that reflects fairness and transparency and taking into account national circumstances, is needed. The Commission and the Member States will work closely on an analysis of criteria to form the basis of further discussions, which will contribute to the formulation of individual commitments of the Member States, including Ireland.

Pat Carey

Question:

103 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the actions other EU Member States propose to use to utilise the flexible mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol to purchase carbon credits; if these mechanisms form a part of the climate change policies of those Member States; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7493/07]

John Gormley

Question:

120 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the Government’s designation of €270 million to purchase carbon credits will lead to a reduction in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions, which have risen by 1.9% according to the latest EPA figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7475/07]

John Curran

Question:

132 Mr. Curran asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if other EU Members States have invested in the carbon allowance funds with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank in which Ireland invested recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7496/07]

Pat Carey

Question:

157 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the types of project which are supported in the developing world on foot of the carbon credits purchased by Ireland; the benefits to Ireland and to the developing world by pursuing this approach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7494/07]

Seymour Crawford

Question:

213 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount Ireland will have to spend on carbon emission trading to meet its international commitments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7392/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103, 120, 132, 157 and 213 together.

The Government has designated €270 million for the purchase of carbon allowances over the period 2007-2013. This sum is in addition to €20 million provided in my Department's Vote in 2006.

According to Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections in Europe 2006, published by the European Environment Agency, ten EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain) have decided to use the flexible mechanisms to meet their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Total financial resources of approximately €2,830 million have been allocated for the five-year Kyoto Protocol commitment period to meet a combined purchasing commitment of 552.5 million allowances for the period. This corresponds to about one third of the required emissions reduction of 8% for the EU-15.

In 2006, Ireland invested €20 million in Multilateral Carbon Credit Fund operated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Five other EU Member States have invested in this fund; Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain and Sweden. Ireland has also signed agreements to invest €20 million in funds operated by the World Bank. As these funds have not yet been launched, I am not in a position at this time to say which other EU Member States may have invested in these funds.

The types of projects that are supported by funds operated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank include:

renewable energy projects such as solar, biomass, wind, and geothermal initiatives.

energy efficiency projects that reduce consumption of fossil fuels.

recovery and use of methane from, for example, waste landfills and waste-water treatment.

switching to fuels with lesser greenhouse gas intensity, for example from coal to natural gas.

While the purchase of allowances by parties to the Kyoto Protocol does not lead to domestic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for those parties, the flexible mechanism facility in the Kyoto Protocol recognises the equivalence in impact of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that take place anywhere in the world. The flexible mechanisms provide an essential nucleus for the development of a global carbon market and also promote the transfer of clean technology to developing countries.

Population Density.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

104 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his view on the recent report of the Urban Forum on the urban sprawl of Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7405/07]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

140 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he will take to increase population density here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7403/07]

Dan Boyle

Question:

159 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the rate of urban sprawl in Irish cities, as outlined in the report by the Urban Forum (details supplied), which predicts that Dublin will soon have the same geographical footprint as Los Angeles despite only having one quarter of its population; the measures he has taken to alleviate this condition in the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7472/07]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

178 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether his Department has a role in reducing the carbon footprint of cities here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7404/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 104, 140, 159 and 178 together.

A broad range of policies and measures is being implemented to address pressures in the urban environs of Dublin and promote balanced regional development across the country. A key policy response has been the National Spatial Strategy (NSS), which was published in November 2002.

The NSS acknowledges that it is not sustainable for Dublin to continue to spread outwards into counties on its periphery and beyond, and that imbalanced development impacts on quality of life through, for example, long-distance commuting patterns and people living further away from where they work.

The NSS seeks to distribute the anticipated growth in population across all regions and to generate the economic and social benefits closer to where people live. The target is to consolidate the future growth of the capital through more compact development and to strengthen the other gateway cities to enable them to grow to their full potential and provide more spatially balanced patterns of development around the country.

Similarly, the Regional Planning Guidelines for the Greater Dublin Area, prioritise the consolidation of development within the Metropolitan Area, allowing for the accommodation of a greater population than at present, together with a much-enhanced public transport system. Outside the Metropolitan Area, the concentration of development at key identified towns, with higher residential development densities, particularly in locations close to public transport corridors, will over time lead to a more compact urban form, relative to the size of population, and should reduce the growth in overall demand for travel.

Furthermore, to secure more balanced regional development across the western and southern parts of the island of Ireland, complementing the growth currently being experienced in the Greater Dublin Area and along the East Coast, the NSS recommends the development of an Atlantic Gateways corridor, linking the gateway cities of Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford, to create an inter-connected network of co-operating and complementary cities. The Atlantic Gateways Initiative report was published in September 2006 and its findings are being implemented.

The alignment of the recently published National Development Plan with the principles and objectives of the NSS, places the NSS at the heart of future investment decisions by Government Departments and Agencies. Furthermore, linking the NSS with other Government policies, such as Transport 21, enables future residential and commercial developments to be concentrated as close as possible to existing and forthcoming public transport systems.

My Department is also undertaking a review of the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Residential Density to take account of changing population and settlement patterns and the extensive experience built up since the introduction of the 1999 guidelines in the design, assessment and development of higher density proposals.

I have noted that many of the policies and measures outlined by the Urban Forum in their recent paper, such as NSS alignment of NDP expenditure, implementation of the Regional Planning Guidelines and the Atlantic Gateways Initiative, are already being addressed by my Department. I am confident that the continuing implementation of these policies outlined above will have a positive influence on bringing about more compact urban design and sustainable development within the consolidated area of the capital into the future.

Social Inclusion.

David Stanton

Question:

105 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the Combat Poverty Agency publication Poverty and Social Inclusion Linking Local and National Structures 2007; the action his Department is taking to ensure that poverty and social inclusion strategies are in operation in all local authorities and State agencies under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7465/07]

Shane McEntee

Question:

176 Mr. McEntee asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the recent report of the Combat Poverty Agency on Poverty and Social Inclusion, Linking Local and National Structures; the way he will appropriately incorporate same into his Department’s strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7435/07]

Shane McEntee

Question:

181 Mr. McEntee asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the recent report of the Combat Poverty Agency on Poverty and Social Inclusion, Linking Local and National Structures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7434/07]

Damien English

Question:

202 Mr. English asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will encourage the setting up of a pilot poverty impact assessment on a local planning area in conjunction with a local authority and his Department and the Combat Poverty Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7436/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105, 176, 181 and 202 together.

The Combat Poverty Agency report on Poverty and Social Inclusion, Linking Local and National Structures, is currently being examined in my Department.

The promotion of social inclusion is a key policy objective for my Department and is prioritised in our Statement of Strategy 2005-2007.

Local authorities have a key role in achieving this objective at local level, through the delivery of a wide range of services, including specific responsibilities in areas such as housing and community development. Local authorities are also required to ensure that social inclusion is properly addressed in their Corporate Plans and supporting annual Business Plans.

Through the local government reform programme, local authorities have expanded their social inclusion and community development role, particularly through the establishment of Community and Enterprise Sections and their lead role on the County and City Development Boards (CDBs) and the Boards' supporting Social Inclusion Measures Working Groups. The national to local linkage is a key focus for the CDBs, which also comprises the State Agencies, local development bodies and social partners operating locally, and whose main function is to co-ordinate the delivery of services at local level.

My Department also works with a range of organisations to enhance and support local government's capacity in tackling poverty and promoting social inclusion, including with the Combat Poverty Agency. In this context, my Department chairs a national Social Inclusion Steering Group comprising representatives from the Agency, the Office for Social Inclusion, Local Government Management Services Board, County/City Managers Association, Institute of Public Administration and the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs. This group supports and will continue to support the development of a strong anti-poverty focus within local government, including in relation to local social inclusion strategies referred to in the report. In addition, I note that some pilot work, within local government, on poverty impact assessment is being undertaken by the Agency, in conjunction with the Office for Social Inclusion, and that this work is being overseen by the Steering Group.

Local authorities are giving effect to national policies and programmes at local level through the implementation of a range of initiatives. For example:

Local authorities participate in delivering the National Anti-Poverty Strategy (NAPs) and the new National Action Plan for Social Inclusion (NAP Incl.);

Pilot Social Inclusion Units were established in seven local authorities in 2002 with funding from my Department. These units have now been placed on a permanent footing and the programme, with the support of my Department, will be extended to half of all county/city councils by the end of 2008 in line with a commitment in Towards 2016;

The Local Government Anti-Poverty Learning Network, representative of elected members and officials, was established in 2000 by my Department in conjunction with Combat Poverty Agency and Office of Social Inclusion, to provide a forum for sharing information and exchanging different local experiences and best practice on anti-poverty measures;

Local authorities support the national RAPID (Revitalising Areas by Planning Investment and Development) Programme, which is targeted at the most disadvantaged areas in the country and under which such areas are prioritised for investment to tackle social exclusion. The cost to local authorities of employing the local co-ordinators in RAPID areas is met directly by my Department (€2.8m per annum);

Community & Voluntary Fora, established in each city and county in 2000 with funding of over €1.3m per annum from my Department, are also supported by local authorities. The Fora are involved in promoting social inclusion and in facilitating community representation on public sector structures.

Litter Pollution.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

106 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the impact of recent measures on ATM receipts; his views on extending such measures to the retail sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7413/07]

Agreement was reached at the end of December last year with the Irish Banking Federation (IBF), acting on behalf of retail banking groups with ATM networks, on a protocol to tackle the problem of litter caused by ATM advice slips. The protocol provides for a review of the impact of the agreed measures in July. Local authorities around the country have been asked to monitor and report on the level of compliance with the protocol, and its impact on litter levels, prior to this review. Anecdotal evidence gathered over the Christmas and New Year period suggests that software changes made to ATM machines have helped significantly to reduce litter arising from ATM advice slips over this busy period.

Retail receipts account for only some 0.69% of litter composition countrywide, and it is not proposed to prioritise agreement with the retail sector in this regard. Priority will be given this year to finalising agreement with the fast-food sector to tackle the problem of litter arising from take-away packaging.

Radon Gas Survey.

Seán Ryan

Question:

107 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will supplement local authority finances if there are high levels of radon identified under the audit of local authority housing stock requiring major expenditure on retrofitting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7348/07]

It is intended to commence an audit of the social housing stock, including an assessment of radon concentration levels, later this year. Funding will be made available to local authorities to undertake the survey. The question of future funding will be addressed when the results of the survey are available.

Planning Issues.

Michael Noonan

Question:

108 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his proposals in relation to the “use it or lose it” provision in relation to zoned, designated land which the owners had failed to develop or to allow be developed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7422/07]

Dan Neville

Question:

152 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his proposal to speed up the supply of development land particularly land for housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7424/07]

Michael Noonan

Question:

185 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his proposed “use it or lose it” provision under which the State will compulsorily acquire development land from owners who have failed to exploit its potential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7423/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108, 152 and 185 together.

The Government has approved the drafting of a Designated Land (Housing Development) Bill. The primary purpose of the proposed legislation is to provide for a "use it or lose it" scheme which could be deployed by planning authorities on a selective basis to accelerate the development of appropriate land that is already zoned for housing.

The General Scheme of the Bill provides for—

powers for planning authorities to enter into a binding agreement with, or impose requirements on, the owners of designated land in order to bring such land into housing development;

an amended compensation mechanism whereby designated land, if not developed in agreement with, or in accordance with requirements imposed by, the relevant planning authority, could be compulsorily acquired at below market value; and

as a possible alternative to compulsory acquisition, provision for the imposition by planning authorities of an annual development incentive levy on designated land.

The General Scheme also provides for mandatory registration of, and the imposition of a levy on, land purchase options.

Question No. 109 answered with QuestionNo. 94.

Library Service.

John Dennehy

Question:

110 Mr. Dennehy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the support his Department has given for the provision of library facilities over the past ten years; his plans to enhance the public library service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7485/07]

The Government has provided some €90.2 million, through my Department towards the local authority public library service over the years 1997 to 2006.

On foot of this expenditure, supplemented by local authorities from their own resources, 57 new library buildings were opened by the end of 2006. In addition, the investment has also contributed to the provision and development of ICT including:

automation of the public library service,

cataloguing,

1,400 public access Internet PCs,

optical scanning facilities,

colour printers to allow printing of OSI maps.

The development and population of the Ask About Ireland website and the digitisation of library authorities' local studies material has also been supported.

The library service was the subject of a major review in 1997/1998, which resulted in the publication of Branching Out: A New Public Library Service in 1998. This report put forward a series of recommendations designed to bring the public library service into the 21st century. One of the key recommendations in the report was that an eight-year capital programme be undertaken and that recommendation, along with the others in the report, was approved by Government.

A full review of Branching Out, in the light of Ireland's current economic and social climate, is currently nearing completion. On the basis of this review, I will shortly be publishing an updated policy and vision for the public library service over the next 6 years.

Energy Conservation.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

111 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he will make the promised European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7452/07]

The European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2006 were signed on 19 December 2006. Copies of the Regulations have been placed in the Oireachtas Library.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

112 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he will publish the review of the National Climate Change Strategy; the reason for the delay in publication of the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7444/07]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

168 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the revised National Climate Change Strategy will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7340/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 and 168 together.

I refer to the reply to Question No. 602 of 13 February 2007.

A review of the National Climate Change Strategy was published in July 2006. Following a public consultation on this review, I am preparing a revised National Climate Change Strategy which will take account, inter alia, of commitments in Budget 2007, the National Development Plan 2007-2013 and actions for the energy sector which will be announced shortly in a white paper to be published by my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Waste Management.

Phil Hogan

Question:

113 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether the Government should spearhead moves at EU level to reduce packaging waste in view of the amount of such waste that comes from goods produced abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7389/07]

My Department is currently participating in, and will continue to contribute proactively to, discussions at EU level on a new Waste Framework Directive, which will include provisions in relation to waste prevention across all waste streams. It is likely that legislation will be required to transpose the new waste framework directive into Irish law once agreement has been reached by Member States and it has come into effect.

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Waste Report 2005, which was published in January 2007, reported that 925,221 tonnes of packaging waste was generated in that year, up from 850,911 tonnes in 2004 and from 819,863 tonnes in 2003. While the evidence is that the trend over the period 2003-2005 in the production of packaging waste was upwards, there has also been a rapid increase in the population of this country, coupled with unprecedented economic growth and a significant rise in single person household occupancy. All of these are contributory factors towards the recent growth in packaging waste arisings.

There are positive trends, however: Ireland has enjoyed considerable success in recent years in meeting targets for the recovery and recycling of this significant waste stream. Data from the EPA shows that the 25% recovery target for 2001 set under Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste was achieved and also that, with 59.9% recycling of packaging waste in 2005, Ireland has not only exceeded the 2005 recovery target of 50% set under the Directive but reached the 60% target required by end 2011, a full six years ahead of schedule.

It is important to appreciate that Ireland's recycling rate for packaging waste now compares favourably with many EU countries who have long been regarded as leaders in environmental protection. As the following table shows Ireland is in sixth place amongst EU Member States in 2004, finishing higher than countries like Sweden, France, Denmark and Finland. It must also be borne in mind that the countries which have higher recovery rates than Ireland have, in general, achieved this through thermal treatment with energy recovery, an option not yet available in Ireland.

Despite these positive trends, I acknowledge that we must further reduce our reliance on landfill. I am pleased therefore that the National Strategy Group on Packaging Waste Recycling, which comprises key public / private stakeholders such as Repak, IBEC, producers, waste collectors, reprocessors, local authorities the EPA and my Department, is currently developing a five-year strategy to achieve new higher targets for recovering and recycling packaging waste. I have made it clear that prevention and minimisation measures must be at the heart of that strategy.

On foot of recommendations from the Packaging Waste Strategy Group, I have recently forwarded new draft packaging regulations to the EU Commission which aim to bring greater clarity, transparency and accessibility to the packaging waste regulatory regime. The draft regulations also introduce a range of integrated measures aimed at optimising the recovery and recycling of packaging waste in Ireland. In the light of the proposed changes to the existing regulatory regime and the success achieved to date in meeting and exceeding targets for the recovering and recycling packaging waste, I am confident that with the continued support of stakeholders, particularly householders, that these draft Regulations will allow Ireland to maintain and improve its position among the high performing countries in Europe.

EU Packaging Waste Recycling Rates — 2004

Country

Recycling

%

1

Belgium

76.4

2

Germany

69.6

3

Austria

66.2

4

Luxembourg

61.0

5

Netherlands

58.5

6

Ireland

56.4

7

Czech Republic

55.7

8

Italy

53.3

9

Denmark

53.2

10

France

50.7

11

Sweden

49.8

12

United Kingdom

49.7

13

Spain

47.4

14

Latvia

45.6

15

Hungary

43.3

16

Portugal

41.0

17

Finland

39.9

18

Slovakia

37.6

19

Greece

36.7

20

Slovenia

34.3

21

Estonia

33.5

22

Lithuania

32.7

23

Poland

28.3

24

Cyprus

22.0

25

Malta

0.0

Local Authority Staff.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

114 Ms Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of local government employees by administrative area per head of population, the position held and the increase or decrease since 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7421/07]

Based on the information supplied by local authorities, the number and category of staff, expressed in whole time equivalents, employed by each local authority (including town councils) at the end of 2006, and the change over 2002 is included in the table below.

Figures are not compiled by my Department by administrative area per head of population.

2006 Local Authority

Managerial/ Admin./ Clerical

Professional/ Technical

Outdoor

Other

Overall Total

Difference over 2002

County Councils

Carlow

120.00

45.00

139.00

40.00

344.00

-33.00

Cavan

183.60

71.00

203.00

43.00

500.60

-45.30

Clare

286.00

111.00

391.00

134.00

922.00

+31.00

Cork

780.20

391.10

1,138.63

313.00

2,622.93

+132.93

Donegal

358.50

141.50

479.00

261.00

1,240.00

-25.50

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

483.00

218.00

529.00

72.00

1,302.00

-113.00

Fingal

557.58

318.76

621.76

93.60

1,591.70

-32.30

Galway

320.01

107.00

437.45

175.48

1,028.94

-170.06

Kerry

419.30

159.30

530.88

156.42

1,265.90

+16.90

Kildare

354.00

150.50

347.00

183.50

1,035.00

-30.00

Kilkenny

174.00

83.00

294.00

55.00

606.00

-11.00

Laois

157.20

58.00

141.20

503.00

406.70

-82.30

Leitrim

125.00

53.00

121.50

23.00

322.50

-81.50

Limerick

260.00

116.00

361.00

119.00

856.00

-79.00

Longford

149.90

49.00

126.50

57.00

382.40

+58.40

Louth

252.72

101.10

326.98

87.80

768.60

+46.60

Mayo

303.10

143.80

629.60

163.30

1239.80

-66.20

Meath

260.90

110.80

251.13

139.17

762.00

+36.50

Monaghan

169.20

66.60

183.50

51.50

470.80

+114.80

Offaly

159.50

62.50

207.00

83.00

512.00

+52.50

Roscommon

163.00

60.50

279.00

88.50

591.00

+123.50

Sligo

216.75

87.00

218.03

62.00

583.78

-7.20

South Dublin

662.10

118.30

510.50

97.80

1388.70

-53.30

North Tipperary

170.00

60.00

221.00

101.00

552.00

+87.00

South Tipperary

222.00

102.00

350.00

52.00

726.00

-58.00

Waterford

170.00

63.00

288.50

83.00

604.50

-27.00

Westmeath

176.00

72.40

218.40

84.60

551.40

+21.40

Wexford

303.50

84.00

374.46

121.02

872.98

+87.98

Wicklow

288.25

108.00

371.90

107.50

875.70

-49.30

City Councils

Cork

373.00

154.00

894.00

140.00

1561.00

+119.00

Dublin

2170.90

494.20

3665.50

368.45

6699.05

+41.05

Galway

134.00

51.00

273.50

65.00

487.50

+16.50

Limerick

158.75

44.10

298.00

48.00

548.85

-1.15

Waterford

138.00

37.00

204.00

69.00

448.00

-30.00

Social and Affordable Housing.

Billy Timmins

Question:

115 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of social housing units completed in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7406/07]

My Department is currently compiling figures from local authorities on social housing output for 2006. Current indications are that there were in the region of 6,200 local authority and voluntary housing units completed/ acquired in 2006. Detailed figures on a local authority basis will be published in due course in my Department's Annual Housing Statistics Bulletin for 2006 and on the Department's website at www.environ.ie.

Liz McManus

Question:

116 Ms McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the estimated cost to the State of implementing all of the proposed measures in Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities between now and 2012, between now and 2016 and for each year up to 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7458/07]

Liz McManus

Question:

195 Ms McManus asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the current annual cost to the State of the provision of social housing, provision of affordable housing, the RAS scheme, rent supplement, mortgage interest relief and all other forms of housing assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7459/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 195 together.

The programme of investment and the policy priorities reflected in Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities underpin the approach to increased housing investment set out in the National Development Plan 2007-2013. The NDP envelope provides for an investment programme of some €21 billion, including the provision of €3 billion for SWA Rent Supplement.

As agreed in Towards 2016, some 27,000 new social homes will be commenced or acquired and 17,000 new affordable units will be delivered in the initial 2007-2009 period. The resources being made available under the NDP will allow for similar levels of activity post 2009 and in total, it is estimated that the needs of some 140,000 households will be met over the full period of the Plan. The actual delivery will be determined as part of the mid-term review of the NDP in accordance with the commitment in Towards 2016 to review progress taking account of market developments and capacity.

The total Exchequer provision for housing in 2007 is €1.495 billion. In addition, more than €700m in non-Exchequer finance will be available to local authorities primarily in the form of HFA loan finance for on lending to purchasers under the various affordable housing schemes. The Department of Social and Family Affairs provision for SWA Rent Supplement in 2007 is €405m and it is estimated that mortgage interest relief in 2007 will cost some €480m.

Full details of the 2007 Exchequer and non-Exchequer investment programme for housing are set out in the Revised Estimates for the Public Services 2007 and the Public Capital Programme 2007 which were published on 22 February 2007.

Seán Crowe

Question:

117 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures his Department plan to take to monitor whether social integration of different income groups in new housing developments as guaranteed in Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 is being implemented to its fullest capacity. [7334/07]

Earlier this month, I published a new housing policy statement, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities, the central objective of which is the creation of sustainable communities — places where people want to live and work, now and in the future. A key element of the sustainable communities agenda is the achievement of integrated housing developments meeting the needs of people from a variety of social backgrounds.

A broad programme of actions is being implemented to support the realisation of that sustainable communities vision. Among the key elements involved is the effective implementation of Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2006.

Under Part V, each planning authority is required to prepare a housing strategy to ensure that the authority's Development Plan, into which the strategy is incorporated, provides for the housing requirements of the existing and future population of the area. Among the factors which planning authorities are statutorily obliged to take into account when preparing housing strategies are the need to ensure that housing is available for persons with different levels of income and the need to counteract undue social segregation in housing.

In the context of finalising individual agreements with developers under Part V, each planning authority must give careful consideration to its housing strategy. In particular, where the agreement would provide for Part V to be satisfied by means other than the provision of land on-site, the planning authority must consider a range of factors, including whether the agreement will contribute effectively and efficiently to the achievement of the objectives of the housing strategy, and whether the agreement would constitute the best use of the resources available to the authority to ensure an adequate supply of housing.

On the basis of the information available, I am satisfied that, in overall terms, Part V is being implemented in a manner which delivers effectively on social integration objectives.

Housing Schemes.

Joe Costello

Question:

118 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has decided when and where he will introduce a pilot scheme for tenant purchase in the cooperative and voluntary housing sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7450/07]

There is no provision at present in the voluntary housing schemes for the purchase of individual houses by tenants. However, it was agreed under Housing Policy Framework — Building Sustainable Communities that consideration would be given, in consultation with the voluntary and co-operative sector, to pilot a tenant purchase scheme for some new voluntary homes under the scheme.

The modalities of such a scheme have been the subject of ongoing discussion between my Department and representatives of the voluntary and co-operative sector including the Irish Council for Social Housing and the National Association of Building Co-operatives. Submissions received from a number of these organisations with regard to a pilot tenant purchase scheme have been examined in my Department. A number of issues have been identified by the voluntary and co-operative sector which require further examination and consultation. The introduction of such a scheme including its timing and possible location, will be determined in the coming months.

Departmental Strategy Statements.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

119 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will list the strategy documents published by his Department since 1997; the cost of publishing the documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7446/07]

The cost to my Department of publishing strategic documents since 1997 is €578,269.02. The documents are listed in the following table:

Strategic Document

Managing Ireland’s Rivers and Lakes — A Catchment-based Strategy Against Eutrophication — 1997

Strategic Review of the Construction Industry (April 1997)

Sustainable Development — A Strategy for Ireland (1997)

Branching Out — A New Public Library Service — 1998

Department’s Statement of Strategy 1998-2001

Waste Management: Changing Our Ways — 1998

Homelessness — An Integrated Strategy — 2000

National Climate Change Strategy May 2000

Taking Pride in Our Environment — A National Anti-Litter Strategy 2000

Department’s Statement of Strategy 2001-2004

Litter Action Plan 2001

Action on Architecture 2002-2005

Biodiversity Plan 2002

Heritage Plan 2002

Homeless Preventative Strategy — 2002

Making Ireland’s Development Sustainable — Review, Assessment and Future Action (2002)

National Spatial Strategy — November 2002

Preventing and Recycling Waste: Delivering Change 2002

Progress Report on the Implementation of the National Climate Change Strategy May 2002

Department’s Statement of Strategy 2003-2005

Waste Management — Taking Stock and Moving Forward 2004

Department’s Statement of Strategy 2005-2007

Fire Service Change Programme — A Framework for Implementation 2005-2007

Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act 2005

A Framework for Major Emergency Management — September 2006

National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste (2006)

Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities — 2007

Question No. 120 answered with QuestionNo. 103.

Water Quality.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

121 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he is taking to remedy the remaining deficiencies in public and group water supplies, as identified recently by the EPA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7497/07]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

144 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he has taken to enable local authorities to ensure the adequate protection of drinking water standards in view of the concerns raised by the EPA regarding the quality of drinking water (details supplied), since the production of the same report by the EPA for 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7473/07]

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

201 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he is taking to ensure that the monitoring of public water supplies by local authorities is satisfactory in view of the poor performance of some local authorities as identified recently by the EPA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7498/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 121, 144 and 201 together.

Recent annual reports by the Environmental Protection Agency on the quality of drinking water in Ireland indicate a sustained increase in the overall rate of compliance with all prescribed standards, from 96.1% in 2003 to 96.4% in 2004, and up to 96.7% in its most recently published report for 2005. Notwithstanding high overall compliance rates, the reports nevertheless, have drawn attention to water quality problems in certain private group water schemes in particular, and to the shortfall in the levels of monitoring by local authorities of water supplies, particularly in these group schemes.

Statutory controls are being strengthened to underpin comprehensive supervision and monitoring regimes for both local authority and group water scheme supplies. The Water Services Bill 2003, which is currently awaiting Dail Report Stage, provides for the introduction of a licensing system for group water scheme supplies, under local authority supervision. The Bill also provides for the amendment of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 to provide for supervision of local authority water supplies by the Agency. In each case, the relevant supervisory authority will have new powers of direct intervention, if required, to ensure that measures are taken to achieve compliance with prescribed water quality standards.

As an interim measure, pending the introduction and implementation of the new arrangements provided for under the Water Services Bill, I propose to make amending Regulations to strengthen the existing Drinking Water Regulations. These will provide for supervision by the Agency of local authorities' functions in relation to monitoring and management of drinking water generally.

I envisage that these provisions will strengthen considerably the level of monitoring and enforcement in relation to drinking water supplies, and will ensure adequacy and consistency in monitoring performance in drinking water supplies throughout the State.

The Government continues to invest very considerable resources in water services infrastructure, with some €4.7 billion provided under the new National Development Plan (2007 to 2013), in addition to the unprecedented investment of €3.7 billion in infrastructure already put in place under the previous Plan. Significant increases in water treatment capacity and improvements in distribution systems will be achieved as a result. Water supply schemes completed in the period 1997 to 2006 have already produced additional drinking water treatment capacity equivalent to the needs of a population of some 1.2 million.

Substantially increased sums have been invested in resolving group scheme difficulties in meeting drinking water standards. Some €130 million was invested in the Rural Water Programme in 2006 — twice what was spent in 2002, and three times more than the corresponding expenditure in 2000.

A comprehensive overhaul of sewage collection and treatment infrastructure has also been undertaken nationally to tackle pollution of surface and ground water from which water supplies are abstracted, and the capacity of Ireland's wastewater treatment infrastructure was increased by a population equivalent of 3.1m under the last National Development Plan.

Election Management System.

Pat Breen

Question:

122 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reasoning behind the decision to move electronic voting machines to a central location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7393/07]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

171 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the dates on which the Cabinet Committee on Electronic Voting has met; when it expects to report [7445/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 171 together.

The Government decision to proceed with the movement of the electronic voting equipment to centralised premises was made taking into account a range of factors, including costs of current and centralised arrangements and the likely benefits to be realised. In this regard, the Commission on Electronic Voting in its Second Report concluded that, as the current arrangements under which voting equipment is stored at 25 locations are likely to give rise to continuing variations in the implementation of security and related control measures, together with replication of similar costs of implementation of these measures which are not insignificant across individual centres, enhanced and more uniform security and greater economy of security costs could be achieved through the rationalisation of storage on a regional or centralised basis.

The Commission also concluded in its Second Report that it can recommend the voting and counting equipment for use at elections in Ireland, subject to further work it has recommended. The Commission made it clear that many of its recommendations involve only relatively minor modifications or additions to the system.

In response to the report, the Government has established a Cabinet Committee on Electronic Voting, which I chair, to consider the report in detail; report to the Government on the full implications of the Commission recommendations; consider the composition of a peer review group — drawn from international electoral reform bodies and the IT industry — to supervise any software redesign work; report to the Government on confidence building measures; and identify any other improvements that might be built into the system.

The Cabinet Committee, which also includes the Tánaiste and the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, met on 31 July 2006 and 13 February 2007. The Committee will report to Government when its work is completed.

Question No. 123 answered with QuestionNo. 98.

Strategy on Homelessness.

Martin Ferris

Question:

124 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the date on which he will convene a National Consultative Committee to guide the development of a new national homeless strategy; the length of time it will take for the committee to complete their work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7336/07]

Work is underway on the preparation of a revised and updated Government Strategy on Homelessness, having regard to the Independent Review of Implementation of Homeless Strategies, which was published last year. As part of the process of preparing the new Strategy, a National Homeless Consultative Committee is being established under the aegis of the Housing Forum which was set up under the social partnership process.

The Consultative Committee, including representatives from the providers of local homeless services, will provide input into the development of the revised Homeless Strategy and ongoing Government policy on addressing homelessness. Nominations for membership of the Committee have been sought and depending on the availability of the members, I anticipate that the first meeting of the Committee will be held next month. While the initial task of the Committee will be to provide input into the finalisation of the revised homeless strategy which will be published later this year, it is expected that the Committee will continue to meet periodically thereafter, in order to provide an ongoing input into the development and monitoring of Government policy on homelessness.

Election Expenditure.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

125 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will make regulations increasing spending limits for the 2007 General Election; the amounts to which spending limits will be increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7447/07]

Section 32 of the Electoral Act 1997, as amended, specifies the maximum amounts of expenditure which may be incurred on behalf of a candidate at a Dáil election. The amounts are €25,394.76 in a 3 seat constituency; €31,743.45 in a 4 seat constituency; and €38,092.14 in a 5 seat constituency. Section 3 of the Act provides that these amounts may be varied, by order of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, having regard to changes in the Consumer Price Index. Any such order must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

I am currently examining the expenditure limits at Dáil elections and I hope to be in a position to make an announcement in this regard shortly.

Social and Affordable Housing.

John McGuinness

Question:

126 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way the aims of the Government’s new housing policy statement Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities will assist in providing the delivery and quality of social and affordable homes here. [7492/07]

Martin Ferris

Question:

133 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason the housing policy document Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities does not contain a provision regarding the construction of social housing units specifically by local authorities, in view of the fact that there are nearly 44,000 people on social housing waiting lists here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7337/07]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

134 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the way the roll-out of vital social infrastructure can be delivered before or at the same time as new housing units, rather than significantly after they are built; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7416/07]

Bernard Allen

Question:

137 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way he proposes to deliver evolution of housing policy to reflect the diversity of communities as envisaged in Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7398/07]

Paul McGrath

Question:

151 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his proposals to reform housing policy; the new measures he will introduce to assist people acquiring social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7426/07]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

154 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of the 600,000 houses estimated to be built over the next nine years that will be social housing units provided by local authorities.. [7333/07]

Liam Twomey

Question:

166 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way he proposes to deliver supply of sufficient homes of the right type, in the right locations, integrated with other infrastructure requirements as envisaged in Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7396/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126, 133, 134, 137, 151, 154 and 166 together.

The housing policy statement Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities sets out a range of actions to ensure that housing is delivered in a way that builds sustainable communities and encourages continuing improvements in quality. A range of guidance documents to support the building of sustainable communities will issue to local authorities. These will include guidance building on the existing suite of best practice guidance on urban planning and reinforcing the need to make connections with transport, schools and other social infrastructure. Resources are being provided under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 to support transport infrastructure, servicing of land and social infrastructure.

Sustainable communities provide a means for newcomers to integrate and participate fully in society. A focus on building sustainable communities should ensure better social integration, which will enhance the vibrancy of communities for all. To inform evolving policy in this area my Department is supporting research under the auspices of the National Consultative Council on Racism and Inter-Culturalism to consider issues arising for neighbourhood planning, housing provision and estate management policy from increased ethnic and cultural diversity.

Urban Renewal Schemes.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

127 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of urban renewal schemes approved by his Department since July 1997; the number of residential units embraced by those schemes; the estimated cost of all tax and other reliefs provided for those schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7460/07]

Three area-based tax incentive renewal schemes were introduced since 1997. These were the 1999 Urban Renewal Scheme, the 2000 Town Renewal Scheme and the 2001 Living Over the Shop (LOTS) scheme.

The three schemes were subject to a detailed review in 2005, carried out by Goodbody Economic Consultants on behalf of the Department of Finance. The relevant report was published in February 2006 and is accessible on www.finance.gov.ie.

The review found that by the end of 2004, the Urban Renewal Scheme had delivered 4,257 residential units, while the Town Renewal Scheme had delivered 971 residential units. It projected the delivery of, respectively, 15,538 units and 2,905 units under these two schemes by end-June 2006, the date at which the schemes were then scheduled to end. At the end of 2004, the LOTS scheme had resulted in the development of 155 residential units, with 440 completions projected by June 2006.

Tax forgone to June 2006 under each scheme was estimated as follows—

Urban Renewal Scheme €1,423 million

Town Renewal Scheme €148 million

LOTS Scheme €36 million

My Department is currently collecting and compiling data from local authorities on progress under the three schemes in the period up to 31 December 2006.

Control of Dogs.

Martin Brady

Question:

128 Mr. M. Brady asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his intentions to control dangerous dogs, such as pit bull terriers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7499/07]

Tony Gregory

Question:

191 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his response to the call from the ISPCA for the introduction of a ban on pit-bull terriers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6442/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 and 191 together.

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

The Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 made under the above Acts, place controls on ten breeds of dogs including the American Pit Bull Terrier, and the English and Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeds. The controls, which must be observed when the dog is in a public place, require that these dogs, or types and crosses thereof, must be kept on a short lead by a person over 16 years of age who is capable of controlling them and that they are securely muzzled. Furthermore, the Control of Dogs Act 1986 gives specific powers to the courts to order that a dog, which the court considers dangerous, must be kept under proper control or be destroyed.

I consider that these arrangements provide a workable regulatory framework for enforcement by local authorities and I do not propose to ban the owning of any particular dog breed at this stage. However, I propose to review existing control measures to consider, for example, if the micro-chipping of dogs could bring benefits to dog control.

Irish Language.

Bernard Allen

Question:

129 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the cost to date to his Department of implementing the Official Languages Act, 2003 including translation and printing costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7433/07]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

161 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress to date on the implementation of the Irish language policy within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7432/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 129 and 161 together.

A statutory Scheme for the provision of services through Irish as provided for under Section 11 of the Official Languages Act 2003 was prepared by my Department, following public consultation during 2004-2005. The Scheme, which came into effect on 15 August 2005, sets out how the Department will give effect over a three-year period to the provisions of the Official Languages Act, taking into account what is reasonably practicable within the timescale.

Progress is measured on an annual basis in relation to the implementation of the Scheme and this is reported on in the Department's Annual Report. To date progress has included, for example, the provision of a wide range of information resources — core policy documents, leaflets, advertisements and interactive services — in Irish, and the availability of language supports, including Irish language training, for staff.

Following the first year of implementation of the Scheme, a report was prepared for An Coimisinéir Teanga and my Department also met with the Coimisinéir's office. In the letter's subsequent assessment, the good progress made in relation to many aspects of the Scheme was noted. Recommendations and advice were also provided on its ongoing implementation.

Substantial costs are incurred by my Department in the translation, advertising, and publishing of documents bilingually, in advertising in the Irish language media and in providing Irish language training for staff. However, the total amount of money spent on this is not readily available and its compilation would involve a disproportionate amount of time and work. A commitment is given in the Department's Language Scheme, however, that the Department will consider during 2007 the need to provide an in-house translation service having regard to the demand for services through Irish. In order to determine the need for such a service, information will be compiled as part of the Department's annual progress report on implementation of the Scheme on costs associated with translation.

Radon Gas Awareness.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

130 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of money spent in 2006 in highlighting public awareness of radon and on improving information to householders and employers in order to enable and encourage them to address monitoring or remedial requirements effectively and economically. [7342/07]

Over the years, the Government, largely through the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), has committed significant resources to assessing the incidence of radon throughout the country and highlighting public awareness of radon and the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to high concentrations.

The RPII continues to actively promote public awareness of radon and to encourage householders and employers to have their homes and workplaces tested for radon and to undertake radon remediation works where necessary. In this regard, the RPII's activities include:

Producing and publishing information brochures and documents in relation to radon;

Publishing reports on radon;

Issuing press releases and giving radio and TV interviews;

Undertaking a series of nationwide public information seminars, or roadshows, on the dangers of radon which are targeted at selected high radon areas;

Setting up information stands at public events, for example, the National Ploughing Championship;

Organising the National Radon Forum, of which the fifth of these took place in Galway in November 2006;

Producing a radio advertisement for use on local radio in High Radon Areas.

In addition, the RPII publishes detailed information about radon on its website. It should be noted that the number of website hits for the RPII has grown over the last number of years as both the public and employers increasingly use websites to garner more information on matters such as radon.

The actual cost to the RPII of these activities is not separately quantified in their accounts. However, the RPII would estimate expenditure on these activities in 2006 at approximately €40,000.

I understand recent research commissioned by the RPII has found that 75% of the general population are aware of radon. In addition, over the past two years, there has been a significant increase in the number of radon measurements undertaken by householders compared with previous years.

In addition to activities undertaken by the RPII, my Department has also undertaken a number of initiatives to promote further awareness of radon among the general public and for tackling the radon problem. My Department has published a booklet entitled Radon in Existing Buildings — Corrective Options advising designers, builders and home owners on remediation options for reducing radon in existing houses to, or below, the national reference level of 200 Bq/m3. In addition, up-graded building regulations, introduced in June 1997 by my Department, require all new houses commencing construction on or after 1 July 1998 to incorporate radon protection measures. My Department published an updated edition of its Technical Guidance Document C on Part C of the Building Regulations (Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture) incorporating enhanced radon prevention measures for new buildings commencing construction on or after 1 April 2005. This new guidance document is aimed at ensuring that the 1997 radon protection measures are carried out more effectively.

Considerable resources are therefore being expended by Government and the RPII on promoting public awareness of radon and to addressing the radon problem. Both the RPII and my Department will continue to use all appropriate opportunities to raise public awareness on this issue.

Road Network.

Seamus Kirk

Question:

131 Mr. Kirk asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of funding provided by his Department for non-national roads for each of the years 1994 to date in 2007; and the progress made to address deficiencies in the non-national road network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7484/07]

The provision and improvement of non-national roads is a matter for local authorities to be funded from their own resources supplemented by State grants provided by my Department.

There have been significant increases in recent years in the level of State funding provided to local authorities for the provision, improvement and maintenance of non-national roads. State funding in 2007 for non-national roads, at over €607.5 million, is at its highest ever level, and represents a very substantial increase of 9% on last year's record allocation, or an increase of almost €50 million.

As regards my Department's pavement restoration programme, the results of a Pavement Condition Study on non-national roads, which was carried out by consultants and completed in 2005, show that there has been a very large growth in traffic volumes, including numbers of heavy goods vehicles, on our roads over the last 10 years and that the combination of growth in traffic volumes and damaging power has dramatically increased the structural loading on the non-national roads network. The study concluded that the economic boom, since the first study was carried out in 1996, has fundamentally changed the loading regime on the non-national roads network, with much higher and more frequent loading by heavier vehicles now being the norm.

The rate of occurrence of potholes and road disintegration has effectively halved since 1996 as a result of the €1.5 billion investment in Restoration Improvement and Maintenance works over the 1997 to 2004 period. However, the instance of other defects, such as rutting and edge cracking, has increased since 1996 as a result of growth in traffic on the network — particularly that of heavier and wider commercial vehicles.

On foot of the findings of the study, I have increased the grants available to County Councils for Restoration Improvement works to almost €225 million in 2007, which is an increase of almost €20 million, or 9.6%, on the 2006 allocation. This very substantial increase means that significant progress can be made in allocating funds to address the deficiencies identified by the Pavement Condition Study. I have also allocated grants totalling €81 million for Restoration Maintenance works this year. This represents an increase of €6 million, or 8%, on the 2006 allocation.

In addition to the pavement restoration programme, my Department also provides grants to local authorities for works on non-national roads under a number of other grant categories. In determining the annual non-national road grant allocations, the overall objective is to resource each local authority appropriately in relation to their ongoing and special needs. The process is guided by a range of criteria, including road pavement conditions, length of road network, population and eligibility in relation to specific projects such as Specific Improvements Schemes.

Details of total non-national road grants paid by my Department for each of the years 1994 to 2006 and the initial allocation for 2007 are set out in the following table:

Grant Payment

1994

139,036,319

1995

159,920,972

1996

186,476,274

1997

225,819,108

1998

261,112,576

1999

307,510,397

2000

341,229,407

2001

400,917,790

2002

435,457,000

2003

436,592,000

2004

480,200,000

2005

501,270,000

2006

557,730,000

2007 (allocation)

607,525,000

Question No. 132 answered with QuestionNo. 103.
Questions Nos. 133 and 134 answered with Question No. 126.

Waste Management.

Barry Andrews

Question:

135 Mr. Andrews asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the further steps necessary to take in order that Ireland meets best waste management practice as achieved by the most environmentally progressive EU Member States; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7488/07]

Irish waste management policy is based on the internationally recognised integrated approach which places the main emphasis on waste prevention, reuse and recycling. The local authorities have the statutory responsibility for waste management planning, generally on a regional basis. Control to these plans is the need to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to manage our waste properly and in accordance with international best practice.

This approach is now delivering demonstrable and successful results. In 1998 Ireland had a recycling rate of just 9% but this had risen to 35% by 2005, reaching a national target set for 2013. Our recycling of packaging waste over the same period rose from 15% to 60%, comfortably exceeding the 50% EU target set for 2005 and reaching the EU 2011 target.

The Government is determined to build on these achievements to create a recycling society supported by appropriate infrastructure to deal with waste that cannot be prevented or recycled.

Planning Issues.

Paul McGrath

Question:

136 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will review the policy in relation to the significant increase in development charges nationally to the extent that 13.4% of all local government funding is derived from such charges with widely different charges for the same service in many administrative areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7427/07]

The amount collected in development contributions has increased significantly in recent years, from €122m in 2001 to €519m in 2005 (based on information supplied for Annual Planning Statistics). This reflects to the large increase in construction activity (which in turn led to increased demands for infrastructure), as well as the impact of the now, schemes of development levies finalised by planning authorities in 2004.

The €519 million collected in development contributions for 2005 represents approximately 10.6% of the total local authority capital income for that year which was some €4.9 billion.

Prior to the enactment of the Planning and Development Act 2000, planning authorities could require payment of a development contribution, as a condition of a planning permission, on a discretionary basis. From 2004, in order to introduce transparency and openness to the system, each planning authority was required to adopt a development contribution scheme stating the basis for determining the contributions to be paid in respect of public infrastructure and facilities in its area and indicating the contribution to be paid for different types of infrastructure.

Development contribution schemes are adopted by the elected members of planning authorities after a public consultation process. I consider that the current system, endorsed by the Oireachtas, which helps to ensure that contributions are levied appropriately across all sectors of development, is fair and transparent.

The money raised locally by development contributions is one of the fundamental sources of financing for the infrastructure that underpins and facilitates all new development. The legislation requires local authorities to base the contributions on the actual estimated cost of providing the infrastructure in question. As that cost will differ among authorities, depending on local need for infrastructure investment and rates of development, it is inevitable that there will be variation in development contribution rates.

However, my Department advised planning authorities, in circular letter PD 4/2003, that they should be mindful of the policies adopted by other authorities in their immediate area so as to avoid a major divergence in the level of contributions charged. Planning authorities were also advised in that Circular that while it is expected that developers should make an appropriate contribution towards the costs of public infrastructure and facilities, care should be taken to avoid development contributions that are excessively high. My Department also has the opportunity to comment on draft schemes before they are adopted.

Circular letter PD 4/2003 also stated that it would be advisable to review the scheme at 2 to 3 year intervals at least, where the scheme is adopted for a longer period.

My Department has set up an interdepartmental committee to examine issues raised by interested parties in relation to the operation of the contribution schemes. The committee is due to complete its work shortly and it is expected that this will provide the basis for further guidance to be issued to planning authorities.

Question No. 137 answered with QuestionNo. 126.
Question No. 138 answered with QuestionNo. 87.

Property Management.

Seán Crowe

Question:

139 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the results of his Department’s engagement with the construction industry in relation to problems connected to the management of multi-unit private dwellings; the measures his Department plan to take to solve these problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7335/07]

The Irish Home Builders Association has responded positively to my Department's approach on this matter and we have worked together to develop practical short-term measures to address issues involving developers. I am confident that early and useful progress can be made in this regard, without prejudice to the work of the inter-Departmental Committee being convened by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on the development of a legislative response to issues generally relating to property management companies.

Question No. 140 answered with QuestionNo. 104.

Nuclear Safety.

Ivor Callely

Question:

141 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the level of nuclear discharge emanating from British Nuclear Fuels Limited plants in the UK; the progress that has been made by the Irish authorities with BNFL on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7201/07]

Richard Bruton

Question:

531 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the latest evidence which he has available to him of emission levels from Sellafield and of incidents or shortcomings that have raised the risk of contamination occurring; and his assessment of the risk status to Ireland of the Sellafield plant. [7589/07]

Ivor Callely

Question:

541 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the work carried out by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland with regard to contamination of Irish marine life caused by radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea; the levels of technetium 99 found in seaweed and fish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7204/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141, 531 and 541 together.

In 1998 the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic agreed to a strategy to reduce discharges of radioactivity. The so-called Sintra Strategy requires all Contracting Parties to the Convention to prevent pollution of the maritime area from ionizing radiation through progressive and substantial reductions of discharges, emissions and losses of radioactive substances with the ultimate aim of achieving concentrations in the environment that are near background levels for naturally occurring radioactive substances and close to zero for artificial radioactive substances. A date of 2020 was set for the achievement of these targets. Ireland and the UK are among the Contracting Parties to the Convention.

In 2006 the Radioactive Substances Committee (RSC) of OSPAR undertook an evaluation of the extent to which the reductions in radioactive discharges required under the Sintra Strategy were being achieved. This evaluation concluded that, for the nuclear sector as a whole, there was no clear evidence that discharges were either increasing or decreasing and that more data was required before firm conclusions could be drawn.

In the specific case of discharges of radioactivity to the Irish Sea, the principal source is the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield. These discharges, which are authorised by the UK's Environment Agency, peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s. Subsequently, as a result of the introduction of modern abatement technologies, discharges were significantly reduced. Strong pressure by the Irish and Norwegian Governments resulted in further modifications to reduce the discharge of technetium-99 to the Irish Sea from 2004 onwards. The most recent data from the north east coastline for technetium-99 in seawater shows a further reduction following the implementation of these technologies at Sellafield.

The RSC evaluation also considered the extent to which discharges from the Sellafield reprocessing facility had been reduced since 1998. The evaluation showed that in the period up to 2005 the pattern is uneven. While the discharges of some radionuclides have decreased over these years, the discharges of plutonium have shown a statistically significant increase.

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland implements a comprehensive programme of monitoring of radioactivity in the Irish marine environment so as to assess the level of radiation exposure to the Irish population resulting from discharges to the marine environment. The monitoring programme involves the routine sampling and testing for radioactivity of fish, shellfish, seawater, seaweed and marine sediments. Fish and shellfish are sampled from commercial landings at east coast ports and major ports from the south and west coasts. Seawater and marine sediments are routinely collected from coastal locations and from the western Irish Sea with particular emphasis being placed on sampling at the north east ports of Carlingford, Clogherhead and Howth due to the relative proximity to Sellafield.

The highest annual mean concentration of Tc-99 in fish from northeast ports was 0.5 Bq/kg (1998). In 2005 the equivalent figure was 0.1 Bq/kg fresh. The highest concentration of Tc-99 in seaweed from Balbriggan was 7,985 Bq/kg dry (November, 1997). The mean concentration for 2003 was 2,012 Bq/kg dry.

Since the inception of this monitoring programme in the early nineteen eighties, the RPII annually assess the radiation doses to notional typical and heavy fish consumers. These assessments have shown that year on year the exposure to the Irish population has fallen steadily until about 2000 and has remained relatively constant since then and the current levels of anthropogenic radioactivity in the Irish environment do not pose a significant risk to human health.

The Sellafield site holds large volumes of all types of radioactive waste in many forms including very significant volumes of liquid High Level Waste. The UK Regulator, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) recognises that the storage of this volume of liquid high level waste does not represent best practice and imposed a condition on the operator that will reduce this to a small buffer stock by 2015. Progress is being made in the reduction of the liquid volumes in compliance with the schedule imposed by the Regulator but there remains a large liquid volume of HLW awaiting treatment. With very large volumes of radioactive waste held on site, the need for safety, waste reduction and environmentally acceptable decommissioning programmes is paramount. While there have been no recent significant accidents or incidents that have resulted in the escape of radioactive contamination to the environment, the long standing poor safety record highlighted by the THORP incident in 2005, the high volumes of treated and untreated waste on site, the continuing generation of additional waste through ongoing reprocessing operations and the consequent radioactive discharges to the marine environment underscore the reasons the Government continues to regard the existence of Sellafield as an unacceptable risk to Ireland.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

142 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of social and affordable housing units, which have been delivered to date, under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7454/07]

Information to end September 2006 on the number of social and affordable homes acquired under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2006 is published in my Department's Quarterly Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library and also on my Department's website at www.environ.ie.

Provisional annual data for 2006 indicate that some 2,180 social and affordable homes were acquired under Part V last year. This represents an increase of almost 60% on the corresponding level of delivery achieved in 2005.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

143 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of the 93,419 housing units that were completed here in 2006 that were social housing units provided by local authorities. [7332/07]

Details of the number of social houses completed in each local authority for the 9 months to end September 2006 have been published in my Department's Housing Statistics Bulletins, which are available in the Oireachtas library, or on the Department's website at www.environ.ie.

My Department is currently collating the data for the whole of 2006 and will make this available to the Deputy when completed.

Question No. 144 answered with QuestionNo. 121.

Water Pollution.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

145 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the extent to which he has received information from the various local authorities throughout the country indicating a serious threat of pollution to rivers, streams and waterways from overloaded or defunct sewage treatment plants; when he first became aware of such problems; if the local authorities in question have sought funding or approval for the relevant waste water schemes to proceed; if he has responded positively in each and every case having particular regard to the need to avert any threat of pollution through the provision of modern and efficient treatment systems and avoid EU pollution penalties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7481/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

534 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of requests from the various local authorities on a county basis for capital funding for the provision of new or the upgrading or extension of existing sewerage treatment works in each of the past five years; if he operates a waiting list in respect of such applications; if he or his Department have drawn up a list of priorities in this regard; if any of the applications he received from Kildare County Council or the other local authorities in the county have to date been prioritised or are expected to in the near future; the reason for the delay in meeting these requirements in view of the imminent threat of pollution to the River Liffey and its tributaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7948/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

573 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of applications from the various local authorities for the augmentation, improvement or upgrading of sewerage treatment plants or the provision of new treatment plants on a county basis throughout the country; the length of time such projects have been awaiting his approval; when approval will issue and the relevant works will commence with a view to alleviating pollution of lakes, rivers and waterways in line with urgent requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7737/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 145, 534 and 573 together.

Details of approved wastewater schemes are set out in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2005-2007 which is available in the Oireachtas Library. The schemes included in the Programme are derived mainly from regular assessments of needs undertaken by local authorities, at my Department's request, as an input to the overall strategy for meeting wastewater collection and treatment requirements. The Programme also includes schemes that will provide new or improved infrastructure to resolve all incidences of point source pollution from municipal wastewater discharges identified in the Environmental Protection Agency's report "Water Quality in Ireland 2001 — 2003", published in 2005.

Subsequently, local authorities were requested by my Department in 2006 to carry out updated assessments of needs to inform future investment priorities under the Water Services Investment Programme. In carrying out the assessments, authorities were asked to take particular account of:

national and EU environmental and public health requirements and standards, including the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive and the Urban Wastewater Treatment Regulations, 2001,

relevant reports produced by the Environmental Protection Agency, including Water Quality in Ireland 2001 — 2003 and Urban Wastewater Discharges in Ireland: A Report for the years 2002/2003

reports and studies such as the National Urban Waste Water Study, County Sludge Management Plans and any other relevant studies/reports commissioned locally,

the provisions of their Development Plans or any draft Development Plans and any strategic regional planning guidelines or local area plans,

National Spatial Strategy objectives,

the adequacy of existing collection networks and, in the case of anticipated development, the adequacy of the capacity of existing treatment plants,

the need for continued support for social and economic activity and development,

the need to address infrastructural deficits in small rural towns, and

River Basin District Management Projects and Characterisation Reports completed in 2005 under the Water Framework Directive.

The priorities adopted by the elected members of the various local authorities in their 2006 needs assessments will inform project selection under the next phase of the Water Services Investment Programme.

Register of Electors.

Billy Timmins

Question:

146 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of prisoners who have registered to vote; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7417/07]

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

556 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way prisoners here were made aware of their right to register to vote in the upcoming general election; the number of the prison population who have registered to vote; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6858/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 146 and 556 together.

The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2006, enacted in December 2006, provides for postal voting facilities for prisoners.

Detailed guidance and application forms in this regard were issued by my Department to all registration authorities on 11 January 2007, including guidance on implementation of the statutory requirement on authorities to give public notice of the new facilities during the period from 19 to 26 January; as part of this process, application forms with accompanying explanatory notes have been made available in all prisons. This material also issued to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform for transmission to the Prison Service who are responsible for practical implementation of the new arrangements within the prisons, including the designation of relevant officials to perform specified functions in the registration and voting processes. In addition, to ensure that the new arrangements were publicised as widely as possible, my Department placed prominent advertisements in the main national newspapers on four dates in advance of the public notice period: on Saturday and Sunday 13 and 14 January and on Wednesday and Thursday 17 and 18 January.

The latest date for receipt of applications for inclusion on the 2007/2008 prisoners postal voters list was 14 February 2007.

The compilation of the register of electors is the responsibility of the registration authorities. Preliminary figures from the registration authorities indicate that some 400 prisoners applied by the closing date of 14 February for inclusion on the 2007/2008 postal voters list. The applications are currently being examined by the registration authorities who will notify prisoners of decisions on applications when they have been fully considered. Details of the numbers of prisoners on the 2007/8 postal voters list will be available when this process is finalised.

A prisoner from whom an application was not received by 14 February may apply for inclusion on the supplement to the 2007/2008 postal voters list.

Question No. 147 answered with QuestionNo. 102.

Environmental Policy.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

148 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures outlined in the National Development Plan that will address the protection of the environment and the preservation of village and urban streetscapes and traditional architecture here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5955/07]

Investment under the National Development Plan (NDP) will make a major contribution to the enhancement and sustainability of our environment by requiring that environmental considerations be central to the implementation of sectoral policies over the period of the Plan. There will also be direct investment of some €25 billion under the following NDP sub-programmes which will directly benefit environmental sustainability:

Public Transport Sub-Programme €13 billion;

Water Services Sub-Programme €4.7 billion;

Waste Management Sub-Programme €753 million;

Climate Change Sub-Programme €270 million;

Sustainable Energy Sub-Programme €276m (which includes development of wind energy capacity and alternative energy sources such as bio-mass and bio-fuels, ocean energy and solar and geothermal technologies);

Agriculture and Food Sub-Programme €6 billion (which includes afforestation, agri-environment, compensatory allowance and farm waste management measures);

Natural Heritage Sub-Programme €167 million (which will fund purchase of Natura 2000 sites and acquisition of habitat-rich sites and designated raised bogs);

Built Heritage Sub-Programme €373 million;

Coastal Protection Sub-Programme €23 million; and

Environmental Research €93 million.

The NDP recognises that the public realm is a key element of the overall urban fabric and an important contributor to visual amenity, safety and a sense of place. The Community Infrastructure Sub-Programme provides for investment of some €895m under the NDP, including investment in urban and village renewal. Funding for urban renewal initiatives will be targeted at projects encompassing and demonstrating good urban design, innovation, appropriate scale and cost effectiveness.

€373m will be invested in a range of measures to support architectural and archaeological heritage protection under the NDP's Built Heritage Sub-Programme which will include:

work on major heritage properties undertaken by the OPW on behalf of my Department;

the Heritage Council in respect of the capital grants scheme operated by the Council for heritage buildings at risk;

the scheme of grants administered by the local authorities for works to properties on their Records of Protected Structures;

the Irish Heritage Trust.

The Sub-Programme will also fund expenditure by my Department on the continuing roll out of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage and the scheme of grants administered directly by the Department for the restoration and conservation of buildings of significant architectural heritage merit which are in public ownership or open to the public generally.

Local Authority Grants.

Denis Naughten

Question:

149 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will review the current funding for architectural protection grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7194/07]

I assume that the Question refers to funding in 2007 for Local Authority Architectural Conservation Grants, which stands at €5.059m. In addition, the Revised Book of Estimates provides funding in 2007 of €12.516m for Built Heritage Capital Projects and of €1.129m for grants to local authorities for employment of Conservation Officers.

Needs in relation to built heritage protection and conservation are continuously reviewed by my Department and addressed in the context of the Estimates Process. This has resulted in both the above allocations and in new initiatives for heritage protection such as establishment of the Irish Heritage Trust.

Energy Conservation.

Dan Boyle

Question:

150 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason there was a delay in implementing increased energy efficiency provisions in the Building Regulations, namely the lowering of the u-value in roof and wall construction, from when he was first made aware of the need to increase energy efficiency standards in May 1998 to when the Building Regulations were revised in 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7471/07]

Thermal performance and insulation standards under Part L of the Building Regulations (Conservation of Fuel and Energy) have been progressively increased since their introduction in 1992 and are due for further upward adjustment by 2008.

The 2000 National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS) proposed that 1997 Part L thermal performance standards (operative since 1 July 1998) be significantly increased in two phases — in mid 2002 and 2005. However, it was subsequently decided to implement this increase in a single step and draft Part L Regulations and draft Technical Guidance Document L were issued in 2001 for public consultation. Following the completion of the consultation process amending Part L Regulations were made in 2002 for new dwellings commencing on or after I January 2003. It is estimated that the enhanced standards will reduce CO2 emissions by at least 250,000 tonnes per annum by the end of 2012, in line with the estimate contained in the NCCS.

Part L was again amended in 2005 to require higher thermal performance and insulation standards for new non-domestic buildings which commenced on or after July 2006. It is estimated that these enhanced standards will result in a further reduction in CO2 emissions of 45,000 tonnes per annum by the end of 2012.

Question No. 151 answered with QuestionNo. 126.
Question No. 152 answered with QuestionNo. 108.

Traveller Accommodation.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

153 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his assessment of the situation relating to the accommodation of Travellers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7410/07]

Since the enactment of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, each local authority has adopted two successive Traveller Accommodation Programmes. In the course of the first programmes, 2000 to 2004, some 1,371 additional Traveller families were provided with permanent, secure accommodation. Over the same period there was a 50% reduction in the number of families living on unauthorised sites, down from 1207 families at the start of the programmes to 601 families at their completion.

One of the significant developments during the period of both Traveller Accommodation Programmes has been the establishment of structures and mechanisms at both national and local level to ensure that all services provided to Travellers by statutory agencies, including accommodation, are delivered in a more effective and co-ordinated way. At national level the High Level Group on Traveller Issues, chaired by the Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, works closely with my Department to ensure effective co-ordination, at local level, of the provision of all services to Travellers. The local authorities, through the County Development Boards, are actively engaged in putting the necessary structures in place to ensure effective liaison and co-ordination of services provision to Travellers, using an inter-agency approach.

My Department, in partnership with the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee, will continue to facilitate the development of strategies at national level to further improve the accommodation position of Travellers and to accelerate its provision. A particular priority for the new Committee, which takes up office on 5 March next, will be to consider how families on unauthorised sites can be provided with permanent accommodation as soon as possible and how Travellers can develop self-supporting approaches to meeting their own needs.

Question No. 154 answered with QuestionNo. 126.

Tribunals of Inquiry.

John Deasy

Question:

155 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his discussions and correspondence with tribunals under the remit of his Department regarding legal costs and time scales for completing their work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7442/07]

Enda Kenny

Question:

199 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will publish his correspondence in relation to the cost of the Mahon Tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7431/07]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

214 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his Department or the Office of the Attorney General have received correspondence or communication from the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7571/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 155, 199 and 214 together.

I refer to the reply to Question No. 83 on today's order paper.

Nuclear Plants.

Jack Wall

Question:

156 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason for the delay in obtaining agreement from the European Commission to meet with Ireland’s international legal team on Sellafield, with a view to clarifying the dispute over Sellafield and the elements which fall within and outside the European Court of Justice jurisdiction. [7344/07]

Paul Connaughton

Question:

210 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of his campaign for the closure of Sellafield; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7412/07]

Richard Bruton

Question:

532 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the basis of a legal case which the Government hopes to take in respect of the operation of the Sellafield plant; and the progress that has been made in the past year in advancing that case. [7590/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 156, 210 and 532 together.

I refer to the reply to Question No. 208 of 22 February 2007.

Question No. 157 answered with QuestionNo. 103.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

158 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures that will be implemented to close the gap of 0.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions that lie between the Kyoto protocol target for 2008 to 2012 and the actual amount of emissions reduced. [7341/07]

Damien English

Question:

160 Mr. English asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he will take as a result of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions here as indicated in the recent Environmental Protection Agency report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7437/07]

Seymour Crawford

Question:

172 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his view on the recent report of the Environmental Protection Agency on greenhouse gas emission data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/07]

John Perry

Question:

173 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the further steps he will take to decoupling carbon emissions from economic growth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7438/07]

Phil Hogan

Question:

179 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he will take to make Ireland meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7390/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158, 160, 172, 173 and 179 together.

I refer to the replies to Question No. 4 of 8 November 2006 and Question No. 126 of 12 December 2006.

Ireland will deliver fully on its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. While the relevant EPA report shows that the downward trend in greenhouse gas emissions was interrupted in 2005, this was expected and in line with projections published by my Department in 2006. The report notes that much of the 2005 increase in Ireland's emissions can be attributed to two factors — the full commissioning in 2005 of new peat-powered electricity plants and the increase in private car ownership.

In a number of sectors, notably the waste, residential and agriculture sectors, emissions are either stable or are on a decreasing trend. Lower emissions in the waste sector can be attributed to the success of my Department's policies on maximising waste diversion from landfill. Lower emissions in the agriculture sector can be attributed to lower livestock levels and decreased fertiliser use.

The stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions in the residential sector must be put in the context of 81,000 house completions in 2005. I am committed to further strengthening the energy efficiency standards in the Building Regulations and a full review of the scope and structure of the current regulations will underpin the next amendment due in 2008. This will ensure that Ireland's standards are among the biggest in the European Union and that they make the maximum practical contribution to Ireland's Kyoto Protocol commitments.

On the basis of policies and measures already agreed, Ireland is now positioned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14.6 million tonnes per annum over the 2008-2012 period. I am preparing a revised National Climate Change Strategy, for publication by April 2007, which will set out the additional measures that will be implemented to close the remaining projected gap for compliance with Ireland's Kyoto Protocol commitments.

Question No. 159 answered with QuestionNo. 104.
Question No. 160 answered with QuestionNo. 158.
Question No. 161 answered with QuestionNo. 129.

Natural Heritage Areas.

Denis Naughten

Question:

162 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he will take to extend the closing date for SAC appeals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7195/07]

Under the Habitats Regulations, 1997, a landowner may seek review of a proposed designation of land as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) by making an objection in writing, and based on scientific grounds, to my Department along with a clear map of the land in question. The Regulations provide that such objections must be made within a three-month period of the site being notified and it is now necessary in the context of EU infringement proceedings against Ireland under the Habitats Directive to strictly enforce this three-month limit.

There are no proposals to amend the Regulations at this time.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Joe Walsh

Question:

163 Mr. Walsh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will expedite the commencement of work on an affordable housing scheme at Clonakilty, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7197/07]

Lead responsibility for planning and developing this project on State land provided under the Affordable Housing Initiative rests with Cork County Council. My Department is in regular contact with the Council with a view to ensuring that the project is advanced as quickly as possible.

The latest information available indicates that following interviews on 23 March next, the Council expect to be in a position to appoint consultants in April to advance a number of issues relating to the project. These include the preparation of the documentation associated with the process of public consultation and approval by the elected members required under Part VIII of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, along with the preparation of cost plans, tender documentation and the construction contract.

The completion of the Part VIII process will be the principal factor determining when construction can commence on site. My Department will remain in ongoing contact with the Council with a view to having this project advanced to the construction stage as expeditiously as possible.

Joan Burton

Question:

164 Ms Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of households who have been transferred to RAS; the number of landlords with whom RAS agreements have been made; the cost to date to the State, including local authorities, of the RAS scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7449/07]

David Stanton

Question:

175 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of money allocated to date to the rental accommodation scheme; the amount of money expended each year since the scheme began; the number and percentage of households in receipt of rent supplement for 18 months or more reviewed and allocated housing under the scheme to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7464/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 175 together.

The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is designed to cater for the accommodation needs of persons in receipt of rent supplement who have a long-term housing need. Since transfers commenced in September 2005, 3,000 households have been provided with RAS accommodation and a further 2,300 rent supplement households have been allocated local authority housing. Information on the number of individual landlords with whom RAS agreements have been made is not held in the Department.

To date some 20,000 cases the equivalent of over 60% of the current target group of recipients on rent supplement for more than 18 months have been reviewed by local authorities for transfer to RAS.

The amount spent to date on the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is of the order of €8.020 million. Information on the full cost of implementing and administering the scheme at local and national level will be included in a review of the scheme to be undertaken at the end of 2007. Allocations and expenditure by year for RAS are set out in the table hereunder.

Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS): Annual allocations and expenditure.

Year

Allocation

Expenditure

€ million

€ million

2004

*

0.165

2005

19

0.723

2006

19

6.200

2007

25

0.932(to date)

* No separate allocation in 2004.

Recycling Policy.

Barry Andrews

Question:

165 Mr. Andrews asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way Ireland’s recycling rates compare with those of other EU Member States; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7487/07]

Ireland has been very successful in recent years in meeting both national and international targets for recycling across a number of specified waste streams. Almost 35%, or a remarkable 964,367 tonnes, of our municipal waste (i.e. household and commercial waste) was recycled in 2005 indicating that our national recycling target of 35% for 2013, as set out in the 1998 Changing Our Ways policy statement on waste management, was achieved a full eight years ahead of schedule.

While Ireland is required to report to the European Commission in respect of our progress on a wide range of EU Directives, no composite up-to-date information in relation to overall waste recycling is available for Member States across the EU. Data in relation to the original EU 15 Member States is available for municipal solid waste in respect of the years 1999/2000 — see following table — but as can be seen Ireland has made rapid progress since this data was compiled.

Ireland's recycling rate (60%) for packaging waste compares favourably with many EU countries who have long been regarded as leaders in environmental protection. As the attached table shows, Ireland is in sixth place amongst EU Member States on the basis of the data available for 2004, finishing higher than countries such as Sweden, France, Denmark and Finland. It must be borne in mind that countries that have higher recovery rates than Ireland have, in general, achieved this through thermal treatment with energy recovery, an option not available in Ireland.

EU Packaging Waste Recycling Rates — 2004

Country/Recycling

(%)

1 Belgium

76.4

2 Germany

69.6

3 Austria

66.2

4 Luxembourg

61.0

5 Netherlands

58.5

6 Ireland

56.4

7 Czech Republic

55.7

8 Italy

53.3

9 Denmark

53.2

10 France

50.7

11 Sweden

49.8

12 United Kingdom

49.7

13 Spain

47.4

14 Latvia

45.6

15 Hungary

43.3

16 Portugal

41.0

17 Finland

39.9

18 Slovakia

37.6

19 Greece

36.7

20 Slovenia

34.3

21 Estonia

33.5

22 Lithuania

32.7

23 Poland

28.3

24 Cyprus

22.0

25 Malta

N/A

EU Municipal Solid Waste Recycling Rates — 1999/2000

Country/Recycling

(%)

1. Belgium

62.8

2. Austria

47.7

3. Netherlands

44.7

4. Germany

44.0

5. Sweden

38.4

6. Denmark

29.3

7. Finland

28.8

8. Spain

20.4

9. Luxembourg

16.5

10. Portugal

12.4

11. Ireland

11.5

12. United Kingdom

10.3

13. Italy

8.5

14. France

8.0

15. Greece

8.0

Question No. 166 answered with QuestionNo. 126.
Question No. 167 answered with QuestionNo. 90.
Question No. 168 answered with QuestionNo. 112.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

169 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the location and exact numbers; the cost per house; if the purchase was part of a wider agreement and if he will make further purchases along these lines in view of his recent announcement regarding the purchase of a number of affordable houses for sale to eligible applicants throughout the greater Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7482/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

574 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the process undertaken by him in relation to the acquisition of 500 affordable houses as announced by him; the person by whose volition the project came about; the location of the houses in question; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7738/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

575 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the extent of the affordability of the 500 affordable houses that he recently announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7739/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169, 574 and 575 together.

In Towards 2016 and the National Development Plan 2007-2013, the Government have committed to the delivery of 17,000 affordable homes over the three years 2007 to 2009. In line with this, my Department, acting on a proposal made to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Housing, Infrastructure and PPPs, requested the Affordable Homes Partnership to initiate a process in late 2006 to source 500 new homes in the Greater Dublin Area, with a view to making these available at discounted prices.

Advertisements were published earlier this month inviting applications for the first 416 of these homes. In general, the homes involved were purchased at prices in the range of €300,000 to €380,000 and are being made available at discounted prices in the range of €200,000 to €280,000. The discounts are being funded by the Exchequer and will be subject to the normal 20-year clawback arrangements that apply to the sale of affordable homes generally. The numbers and locations of the advertised homes are set out in the following table.

This initiative will assist in addressing the difficulties faced by a particular category of eligible applicants in the Greater Dublin Area, where affordability difficulties are most acute. It is additional to the range of other delivery mechanisms, including the 1999 Affordable Housing Scheme, the Part V mechanism and projects on State and local authority lands, through which the needs of a broad range of affordable home purchasers, particularly those on lower incomes, are being addressed.

I expect that the remaining 84 homes in the 500 home programme will be advertised shortly. The bulk of the 500 homes are scheduled to be completed this year, commencing in April. The possibility of undertaking further purchases under this initiative remains under consideration.

Details of affordable homes advertised on 15 February 2007

Development

Number of homes

Dublin City

Beaupark, Balgriffin

50

The Grange, Clongriffin

55

Railway Close, Clongriffin

8

South Dublin

City Park, City West

43

Arena Court, Tallaght

25

Priors Gate, Tallaght

24

The Paddocks, Adamstown

21

Fingal

Latchford, Castaheany

25

The Coast, Baldoyle

15

Carrington, Santry

30

Heywood, Santry

9

Erris Square, Blanchardstown

45

Meath

Dunboyne Castle, Dunboyne

26

Castle Garden, Slane

12

Kildare

Hazelhatch, Celbridge

12

Primrose Gate, Celbridge

16

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

John Perry

Question:

170 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if some of the moneys being used to purchase carbon credits abroad will be used here to encourage research and development into climate change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7439/07]

The Government has already committed significant funding to research and development into topics related to climate change, including €6.9 million through the Environmental Research, Technological Development and Innovation Programme (ERTDI), funded under the National Development Plan 2000-2006. Further funding is proposed for climate change related research under the Science, Technology and Innovation Programme in the current National Development Plan, in line with the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation. I will announce further funding for climate change research when I publish a revised National Climate Change Strategy in April 2007.

Question No. 171 answered with QuestionNo. with 122.
Questions Nos. 172 and 173 answered with Question No. 158.

Local Authority Housing.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

174 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the factors that determine the type of housing units that are acquired by local authorities under Part V of the Planning and Development Act, 2000; if there is a requirement that local authorities acquire a variety of housing types and sizes; the level of discretion that is allowed to local authorities in the types of properties they can acquire under Part V; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7388/07]

Earlier this month, I published a new housing policy statement, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities, the central objective of which is the creation of sustainable communities — places where people want to live and work, now and in the future. A key element of the sustainable communities agenda is the achievement of a better housing mix, particularly in terms of the mix of different types of homes to meet a broad range of housing requirements.

At local level, each local authority, through its Housing Action Plan, sets out its broad approach to addressing the range of social and affordable housing needs in its area. In that context, local authorities employ a range of instruments, of which the mechanism under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2006 is just one.

In implementing Part V, each planning authority is required to prepare a housing strategy to ensure that the authority's Development Plan, into which the strategy is incorporated, provides for the housing requirements of the existing and future population of the area. Among the factors which planning authorities are statutorily obliged to take into account when preparing housing strategies is the need to ensure that a mixture of house types and sizes is developed to reasonably match the requirements of different categories of households.

The finalisation of individual agreements with developers under Part V is a matter for each individual planning authority, subject to considering a range of factors specified in the relevant legislation. In particular, if a planning authority proposes to make an agreement which would result in the delivery of completed homes, the factors which it would have to consider include whether the agreement would contribute effectively and efficiently to the achievement of the objectives of its housing strategy, including the provisions in relation to the mix of house types and sizes.

Question No. 175 answered with QuestionNo. 164.
Question No. 176 answered with QuestionNo. 105.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

177 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the growth in ownership of SUVs and other large engine cars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7411/07]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

212 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason the higher rate of motor tax for high emitting vehicles, announced in Budget 2007, will not come into force for twelve months and the further reason then only for vehicles registered after January 2008; and his views on whether he has given people an incentive to purchase high emitting vehicles throughout 2007. [4050/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 and 212 together.

The total number of licensed cars increased by 7% in 2006 and 5% in 2005. This growth is being driven, inter alia, by increasing population and rising employment and this is contributing to higher transport emissions.

On Budget day (6 December, 2006) I announced proposals which will provide an incentive through the motor tax system for the motoring public to drive cleaner cars by using CO2 emission ratings, in addition to the normal engine c.c. value, in the calculation of motor tax. This approach will rebalance tax payments in favour of cars with lower CO2 emission levels, at the expense of cars with high emission levels. The new system will be applied to any new or pre-owned imported vehicle, registered in this country on or after 1 January, 2008 and taxed within the ‘Private Car' motor tax class, which make up about 75% of vehicles registered each year. Cars, which are registered prior to 1 January 2008, will continue to be taxed under current arrangements and CO2 ratings will not apply to these vehicles. SUVs do not constitute a specific category of vehicle for motor tax purposes and are taxed on the basis of engine capacity.

The timeframe for introduction of CO2 based motor tax charges for vehicles in the Private Car category is influenced primarily by operational considerations. These include the lead-in time for comprehensive software adjustments to the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) which supports all motor tax application processing including the on-line motor tax service as well as the need to evaluate submissions from interested parties to the public consultation paper which I published on 6 December 2006. The period of consultation will conclude on 1 March 2007.

The NVDF does not have CO2 values for all pre 2008 cars, as these data are only comprehensively available on the NVDF since the middle of 2004.

Question No. 178 answered with QuestionNo. 104.
Question No. 179 answered with QuestionNo. 158.

Dog Licences.

Martin Brady

Question:

180 Mr. M. Brady asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he proposes to introduce a new system of the electronic tagging of dogs to replace the current licensing system; the advantages of such an approach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7500/07]

The Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 require the owner or other person in charge of a dog to ensure that the dog at all times wears a collar bearing the name and address of the owner on an attached plate, badge or disc. The regulations contain penalties for non-compliance with this requirement or for defacing or rendering illegible the above particulars. These requirements followed consideration of all practicable options for ensuring identification of dogs, including that of micro-chipping. I am now arranging for a review of those provisions in the light of experience, and having regard in particular to the ten breeds of dog which are subject to muzzling and other additional requirements under the above-mentioned regulations.

Question No. 181 answered with QuestionNo. 105.

Archaeological Sites.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

182 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if new national monuments have been discovered or revealed in the course of the works associated with the M3 motorway at Ráth Luigh in County Meath or elsewhere; if he is satisfied with the protection given to Ireland’s archaeological heritage in the course of the works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7478/07]

The route of the proposed M3 road development has been archaeologically assessed through geophysical surveys and test trenching and all of thus identified areas of archaeological interest are being fully excavated and recorded in accordance with directions given by me under the provisions of the National Monuments Acts. Excavation and recording at some of the identified areas of interest has been completed, while excavation and recording at other such areas is still in progress.

Regular reports are furnished to my Department and regular inspections are carried out by my Department of the archaeological works being carried out by the road authority. On the evidence of these reports and inspections, I am satisfied that the statutory directions in relation to these works are being fully complied with. I am also satisfied that to date, no new national monuments have been discovered or revealed at Ráth Lugh or elsewhere.

Question No. 183 answered with QuestionNo. 102.
Question No. 184 answered with QuestionNo. 96.
Question No. 185 answered with QuestionNo. 108.

Planning Issues.

John Dennehy

Question:

186 Mr. Dennehy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he proposes to finalise new guidelines on the design and quality of apartments here to reflect the needs of a more diverse population; and his objectives for such guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7486/07]

Draft Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Design Standards for Apartments were published by my Department for public consultation on 9 January 2007, with a closing date for comments and submissions of 5 March 2007. Following consideration of the comments and submissions received, it is intended to finalise the guidelines for publication as soon as possible thereafter.

The primary aim of the draft Guidelines is to promote sustainable urban housing by ensuring that the design and layout of new apartments will provide satisfactory accommodation for a variety of household types and sizes — including families with children — over the medium to long term. The new guidelines will form part of a suite of guidance being prepared by the Department within a wider housing/planning context, which will also include:

new draft sustainable residential development guidelines which will incorporate a revision of the 1999 residential density guidelines;

a new best practice handbook on urban design and housing layouts which will illustrate, with examples drawn from current practice, how the policies set out in the planning guidelines might be implemented; and

a revision of the 1999 Social Housing Design Guidelines.

The final guidelines will be issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. This will require planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála to have regard to them in the performance of their functions. However, pending finalisation of the guidelines, planning authorities are being requested to have regard to the recommended standards for new apartment schemes, when preparing or varying development plans and local area plans, particularly when their current plans incorporate older standards.

Waste Management.

Joan Burton

Question:

187 Ms Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when will he announce his intentions regarding the regulation of the waste sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7448/07]

In August last year, my Department published a consultation paper on options for future regulation of the waste sector. Submissions were invited on whether there is a need for a regulator for the sector, if so on what model of regulator might be most appropriate and on what powers any such regulator should be given. Over fifty, many very detailed, submissions were received addressing the range of complex issues which surround the regulation of the sector. Following consideration of these submissions I intend to finalise further policy proposals.

Local Authority Housing.

Richard Bruton

Question:

188 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of vacant social housing units here at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7408/07]

The management and maintenance of their rented dwellings, including the control of vacant dwellings, is the responsibility of the housing authority concerned.

The most recent data available to my Department, based on housing authority returns, indicate that a total of 5,539 dwellings were vacant at the 31 December 2005. Of this figure, 2,927 were vacated for planned maintenance or regeneration purposes.

Water Charges.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

189 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether the controversial farm water charges go way beyond requirements of EU water legislation; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that farmers do not have the income to meet these charges; if he will review these charges and listen to the farmers’ deep concerns and worries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7196/07]

Local authorities are required to recover from all non-domestic water consumers the full costs incurred in the provision of water services to those consumers. The application of the polluter pays principle, as required by Article 9.1 of the EU Water Framework Directive, entails the metering of non-domestic consumers so that a volumetric charge can be applied, with the cost of meter installation being borne by the metered consumers.

I have met farming representatives on a number of occasions in the past year about their concerns on the issue of water charges. In response to representations on the cost of metering, and following a pilot billing project in one local authority area, I arranged for my Department to issue billing guidance to local authorities in December 2006, including a request that authorities consider the necessity for special discounting arrangements in the case of multiple water meters on fragmented small farm holdings. Furthermore, in response to the position of farm holdings with fragmented holdings, the guidance recommends that the total metering charge in such instances should not exceed 180% of the cost of the first connection irrespective of the number of meters.

Question No. 190 answered with QuestionNo. 94.
Question No. 191 answered with QuestionNo. 128.

Nuclear Plants.

Tom Hayes

Question:

192 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the issues discussed by him during his recent meeting in Dublin with a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7440/07]

I met with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, in the Custom House on 16 February. Dr. El Baradei who had met the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs separately earlier that day, was in Dublin at the invitation of the Trinity College Philosophical Society.

I took the opportunity to emphasise Ireland's opposition to nuclear as a source of energy. I stated that Ireland's opposition to nuclear is borne out of genuine concerns about safety. A major accident at an installation abroad could have the potential to impact on public health and the environment and could damage Ireland's economy significantly. I referred to Ireland's concerns about Sellafield, in particular, the poor safety practices at the plant borne out by numerous incidents down the years.

Dr. El Baradei foresaw an inevitable expansion in nuclear energy capacity over the next 20 years, driven by energy needs and concerns about climate change. He respects Ireland's position and is aware that Ireland works closely with the IAEA on safety matters. Given the likely expansion of nuclear, he considers that there is a need for the IAEA to put even more emphasis on safety aspects also.

I referred to the recent ECJ judgment in regard to Ireland's legal action against the UK and stated that, in the light of the judgment, I have stressed to the EU Commission that it should exercise its responsibilities and assume a greater supervisory role in regard to safety of nuclear facilities.

Regarding the THORP leak, I informed the Director that I had sought from the UK an international expert peer review of the safety case for re-opening THORP but the UK has not responded positively. Dr. El Baradei was also informed of my recent meeting with Mr. Alastair Darling M.P., Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, where I raised this issue.

Dr. El Baradei stated that the IAEA does everything in its power to improve safety standards but it does not have the statutory right to inspect facilities. The IAEA provides a Peer Review service to States if asked to do so by the State and the IAEA tries to encourage use of this service.

I conveyed Ireland's concerns about the recent US-India Agreement referring to the fact that Ireland strongly supported the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) regime to which India is not a party. I referred to a meeting I had with the Indian Prime Minister's Special Envoy in Dublin recently in which I had conveyed Ireland's concerns. Dr. El Baradei said he had earlier discussed this Agreement with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Dr. El Baradei considered that the Agreement had a zero impact on the NPT but felt that there are positive aspects on the safety and environmental side.

I believe that the meeting and discussion was constructive and that Dr. El Baradei has a clear understanding of Ireland's position on nuclear matters as well as an appreciation of our constructive engagement in the IAEA.

John Deasy

Question:

193 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the continued processing of nuclear waste in Sellafield; the discussion he has had with the UK authorities regarding operations and safety at Sellafield; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7443/07]

Jack Wall

Question:

194 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will report on his meeting with the British Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Mr.Alistair Darling, on 9 January 2007. [7345/07]

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

There are two fuel reprocessing plants at Sellafield. The Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) reprocesses uranium oxide fuel used in nuclear reactors in UK, Europe and Japan, while the Magnox reprocessing plant reprocesses spent fuel from Magnox reactors primarily in the UK. The current stated position of the UK Government is that based on current contracts the THORP Plant (subject to its early reopening by mid 2007) will complete its reprocessing operations in 2010 while the Magnox plant will complete in 2012. No new contracts are currently foreseen and in the event of the UK Government proposing further contracts, it will consultwidely.

I met Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry, Mr. Alistair Darling, in London, on 9 January 2007. The meeting focused on issues relating to Sellafield and in particular the THORP plant. While our meeting was cordial there was a very frank exchange of views.

I made very clear to the Secretary of State the extent of this Government's concerns regarding Sellafield. I strongly underlined our view that the operations there are uneconomic, environmentally damaging and have a particularly poor track record in safety. I also emphasised our particular concerns regarding THORP, which has been closed for nearly two years following a serious leak. I impressed upon the Secretary of State the Irish Government's strong view that the operating life of THORP should not be extended and called upon the UK Government to undertake an international expert peer review of the safety case prior to the reopening of the THORP Plant. The response of the UK Secretary of State to this proposal was, regrettably, less than positive.

In the context of the outcome to the UK Energy Review, I also advised the Secretary of State that adverse consequences have arisen for Ireland as a result of nuclear policy decisions and actions taken by the UK in the past and the building of any new nuclear power stations in the UK would be viewed by us in that context. I also sought and received assurances from the Secretary of State that new nuclear build was not proposed for Northern Ireland.

I have little doubt that it is the diplomatic and legal initiatives of this Government in regard to Sellafield that have resulted in the greatly increased recognition by the UK Government and its Agencies of the priority accorded to the issue of Sellafield by the Irish Government. I am confident that my meeting with Secretary of State Darling served to highlight, again, the Government's concerns and to reiterate our ongoing commitment to securing the safe and orderly closure of the Sellafield Plant.

Question No. 195 answered with QuestionNo. 116.

Waste Management.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

196 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures he has taken to reduce the levels of recyclable waste exported from the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7477/07]

National waste statistics for all waste streams are published by the Environmental Protection Agency with the most recent National Waste Report being in respect of 2005. As outlined in successive National Waste Reports, the general situation in Ireland is that we rely significantly on foreign based materials recycling infrastructure, which dealt with 83% of recycled waste in 2005. Europe accounts for 86% of all recyclable waste exported from Ireland.

While there has been recent progress in the provision of more infrastructure within Ireland to process materials recovered for recycling, for example, in the development of new facilities to process waste electrical and electronic equipment, it should be noted that clean segregated materials are a sought after resource which are freely traded under EU and international law. This is supported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Decision of C(92)39 Final on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations which notes that the recovery of valuable materials and energy from wastes is an integral part of the international economic system and that well established markets exist for, and can contribute to, the collection and processing of such materials within OECD member countries.

While international trade in waste is consistent with Government policy insofar as it supports improved performance in recycling, the Government also recognises the value of developing markets for recyclates in Ireland. To this end, a Market Development Group was established in 2004 and has been working on the development of a National Market Development Programme. Sub-committees were established by the Market Development Group to deal specifically with market development for both recovered paper waste and for plastics. It is intended to publish the National Market Development Programme shortly, and its roll-out and effective implementation will be an important priority for my Department.

My Department has also been working with the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland with a view to developing all-island market development strategies. Both Departments have co-funded an all-island paper mill study which was published in 2006. The study provides valuable research and information for businesses interested in investing in this field. I hope that the report will help pave the way for the possibility of greater paper recycling through increased efficiency and added market value.

Natural Heritage Areas.

Ivor Callely

Question:

197 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the importance and recognition that his Department attaches to the natural heritage of Bull Island, Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5619/07]

The North Bull Island is recognised as being of national and international significance for nature conservation. The Island, and the surrounding intertidals flats, are variously designated as a candidate Special Area of Conservation, as a candidate Special Protection Area for birds and as a Statutory Nature Reserve. The Island therefore forms part of Ireland's contribution of sites to the European network of nature conservation sites — NATURA 2000. In addition, North Bull Island is also a Wildfowl Sanctuary, a Ramsar Convention site, a Biogenetic Reserve, a Biosphere Reserve and a Special Area Amenity Order site. The site is used regularly for educational purposes and there is a staffed interpretative centre on the island. The North Bull Island therefore plays an important role in the conservation of Ireland's biodiversity.

Environmental Law.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

198 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the European Commission proposal to introduce EU-wide minimum sentences for nine offences ranging from dumping toxic waste to unsafe transport of hazardous materials, harming protected plants or species, and unlawful trade in ozone depleting substances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7409/07]

My Department is examining the provisions in the European Commission proposals for a directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law. We will be engaging in detailed discussions on the proposal in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform.

The Government is fully aware of the importance of effective deterrents for breaches of environmental law and the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003, the Waste Management Act 1996 and the Water Services Bill 2003, among other legislation, provide for significant penalties for such breaches.

Having regard to the need for penalties for breaches of EU law to be effective, proportionate and dissuasive and in response to court judgments and to the concerns of the European Commission about levels of penalties, the Government is in the process of making an amendment to the European Communities Act 1972 to make provision for the creation on indictable offences in regulations transposing EU law. The maximum penalties provided for are up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to €500,000. This proposed amending legislation is currently before the Dail.

Question No. 199 answered with QuestionNo. 155.

Housing Policy.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

200 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the cost of producing, publishing and laminating Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7457/07]

The Government's statement on housing policy, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities, was published at an estimated cost of €37,528 excluding VAT. This price includes design, translation, printing, CDs and launch material.

Question No. 201 answered with QuestionNo. 121.
Question No. 202 answered with QuestionNo. 105.

Strategy on Homelessness.

Simon Coveney

Question:

203 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress being made towards the elimination of homelessness by 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7402/07]

The Independent Review of the Implementation of Homeless Strategies, which I published last year and copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library, examined the implementation of the Government's Integrated and Preventative Homeless Strategies and concluded that the Integrated and Preventative Strategies should be amalgamated and revised.

The Review specifically recommended that the resultant revised strategy should have an overarching goal to eliminate long-term homelessness in Ireland by a defined date in the future and should include clearly defined objectives, actions, projected outcomes, timescales for delivery and an appropriate monitoring mechanism to track progress. The Government have accepted the broad thrust of the recommendations of the Independent Review and work is underway on the preparation of a revised and updated Strategy on Homelessness, having regard to the recommendations of the Independent Review.

The social partnership agreement Towards 2016 contains a commitment to the elimination of the long-term occupancy of emergency homeless accommodation by 2010. Indeed, it should also be noted that in Dublin the Homeless Agency had already defined as its overarching goal the elimination of long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough in Dublin by 2010. In this context, it should be noted that long term is generally taken to mean any period greater than six months, i.e. that persons should not occupy emergency homeless accommodation for any longer than six months.

Very significant resources are being made available to address the issue of homelessness at national level in a comprehensive and co-ordinated manner. Since 2000, the Government through my Department and the Department of Health and Children have provided in the order of €450 million in capital and current funding nationally for the provision of accommodation and care related services for homeless people.

Recent assessments indicate that there has been a welcome decrease in the overall numbers of homeless persons in Dublin over recent years. Counted In 2005, the Homeless Agency's most recent assessment of homelessness in the Dublin area was 1,361 comprising some 2,015 persons and that this represented a 19% reduction in the number of homeless households since the previous assessment in 2002. This was comparable with the experience of the Dublin Homeless Persons Unit which saw a 20% decrease in the number of households presenting as homeless in the same period.

Nationally, through the vital work of the local homeless fora, there has also been significant progress in reducing the numbers of homeless persons. In the Housing Needs Assessment 2005, local authorities recorded a 46% fall in the numbers of homeless persons nationally, from 5,581 persons in 2002 to 3,031 persons in 2005.

There is now a wide range of accommodation and services for homeless persons across the country — from emergency hostels, transitional accommodation programmes to outreach and resettlement services and long term supported accommodation. A key task and a particular focus of attention in the future is to assist homeless persons who can live independently into mainstream long-term accommodation as soon as possible. This will involve the refocusing of efforts on the provision of accommodation in the social, voluntary and private rented housing sectors. The Rental Accommodation Scheme has significant potential in this area. This increased supply, together with appropriate outreach and resettlement support is essential in assisting people out of homelessness altogether.

Local Authority Funding.

John Carty

Question:

204 Mr. Carty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the impact on local council funding for County Mayo from the recent proposals to change the basis on which Government funding for local councils were implemented; and the impact allocating funds on a population basis would have had in 2005, 2006 and 2007 on the allocations for Mayo County Council rather than on the existing allocation system. [7199/07]

I assume that the Question refers to general purpose grants from the Local Government Fund. I allocated some €948m in general purpose grants to local authorities for 2007. This represents an increase of 8% over the record amount provided in 2006 and is almost three times the amount provided in 1997. General purpose grants are my Department's contribution towards meeting the cost to local authorities of providing an acceptable level of day to day services to their customers.

Allocating this funding on a per capita basis in 2005, 2006 and 2007 would have substantially reduced the overall amount made available to the local authorities in County Mayo. In the case of Mayo County Council, the reduction would have been some €13.3m in 2005, €14.48m in 2006 and €16.16m in 2007, or an overall reduction of nearly €44 million on the total allocation of €105.75 million over the period.

In allocating general purpose grants, I have regard to each local authority's expenditure on, and income from, each service, the overall amount of funding available for these grants and the need to provide each local authority with a baseline allocation that will ensure its financial stability. Local authorities cost and income bases vary significantly from one another and calculating an appropriate distribution of these grants is complex. Any system designed to align funding solely or mainly on a per capita basis would ignore important differences between local authority cost and income bases.

The very significant increase in funding in real terms to local authorities in recent years is an indication of this Government's firm commitment to the sector. This funding, together with the continued rates buoyancy from the greatly strengthened commercial base supported by the Government's successful economic policies, will enable local authorities to continue to improve the range and quality of the services they provide to their local and business communities.

Recycling Policy.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

205 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if there is a national strategy on the establishment of new recycling facilities and the improvement of existing facilities in order that all persons are facilitated in recycling; if his Department will or does provide specific and ringfenced funds to local authorities for the establishment and running of recycling facilities and services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7468/07]

Statutory responsibility for the making and implementation of regional waste management plans, including in respect of the provision of recycling infrastructure, rests with the local authority, or local authorities, concerned.

Since 2002 my Department has allocated almost €100 million in capital grants to assist local authorities in the provision of recycling and recovery services. The projects assisted include bring bank networks, civic amenity sites, materials recovery, composting and biological treatment facilities. This funding is provided from a number of sources including the Exchequer, the European Regional Development Fund and the Environment Fund, and is normally on the basis of my Department meeting 75% of the cost and the relevant local authority funding the balance.

I am conscious of the escalating costs to local authorities of operating the substantially increased network of recycling facilities and my Department has allocated some €29 million since 2003 to the authorities concerned to assist with the operating costs of these facilities. The costs incurred by local authorities are regularly reviewed to ensure that the available funding is distributed in an equitable manner.

An objective of the new National Development Plan is to continue to support local authority provision of infrastructure that will maximise the value recovered in waste recycling.

Public Play Facilities.

John Curran

Question:

206 Mr. Curran asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has plans to continue supporting the provision of playgrounds and skateboard parks; the progress to date in rolling out this important infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7495/07]

Ready, Steady Play: A National Play Policy, which was published in 2004, provides a framework for the development of public play facilities in Ireland, with the overall aim of ensuring that children have access to a range of quality play opportunities to enrich their childhood. As part of the implementation of this policy, my Department has allocated funding of over €8 million to County and City Councils for the development of new, or refurbishment of existing, playgrounds since 2004. The location of the playgrounds which benefit from these moneys is a matter for the local authority to decide.

In May 2005, I introduced a new initiative for the provision of skateboard facilities by local authorities. Each City and County Council was invited to submit expressions of interest for grant assistance towards the provision of a skateboard park in its area. Applications were assessed in my Department in conjunction with the National Children's Office and some 21 projects in 21 different local authority areas were recommended for grant aid. A sum of €1 million had initially been earmarked for the scheme in 2005 but, in light of the number and quality of submissions received, I approved all 21 projects in November 2005 and increased the funding allocation to over €2 million which is expected to be spent over the two year period 2006 and 2007.

The position regarding the provision of these playground and skateboard park facilities is being monitored by my Department and the question of inviting further proposals from local authorities will be kept under review in the light of progress.

House Sizes.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

207 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the average size of a new house in Dublin and nationally in July 1997 and corresponding average sizes now; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7462/07]

Social and Affordable Housing.

Richard Bruton

Question:

208 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of affordable housing units completed in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7407/07]

Information to end September 2006 on the number of affordable homes completed under the various affordable housing schemes is published in my Department's Quarterly Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library and also on my Department's website at www.environ.ie.

Provisional annual data for 2006 indicate that some 3,200 affordable homes were completed last year under the 1999 Affordable Housing Scheme, the Shared Ownership Scheme, the Part V mechanism and the State/local authority lands element of the Affordable Housing Initiative. This represents a 20% increase on the corresponding level of delivery achieved in 2005.

EU Directives.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

209 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the entrance into force of the European building performance directive, he will provide grants to insulate homes ten years and older; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7480/07]

Ireland's housing stock is comparatively the newest and fastest growing in Europe. Building regulations have represented an important policy instrument for ensuring satisfactory standards of thermal insulation and other energy performance features in new housing stock. Part L Building Regulation insulation standards for new dwellings have been in operation since 1 June 1992 with revisions taking place in 1998 and again in 2003.

The Irish National Survey of Housing Quality (2001-2002) indicated that 82% of the housing stock had roof insulation by 2001/2002. The survey also suggested that there was evidence of a high level of energy-related home improvements in recent years.

While my Department does not operate a grants scheme specifically for thermal upgrading of houses, Sustainable Energy Ireland, under the auspices of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, operates a Low Income Housing Programme. This was set up to help establish and implement a national plan of action to address the problem of fuel poverty. Core delivery is through the Warmer Homes Scheme. This programme aims to improve the energy efficiency and comfort conditions of homes occupied by low-income households and at establishing the systems and growing the capacity in Ireland to install such measures which include attic insulation, draught proofing, lagging jackets, energy efficient lighting, cavity wall insulation and energy advice.

The Government in the Statement on Housing Policy Delivering Homes Sustaining Communities (February 2007), places particular emphasis on the importance of rejuvenating existing social housing and this is supported by an investment of close to €2 billion under the new National Development Plan 2007-2013.

As part of this rejuvenation, my Department financially assists local authorities in upgrading, renovating and re-developing their housing stock through the Remedial Works Scheme and funding for regeneration and redevelopment projects. Works under the Remedial Works Scheme must comply with Building Regulations and where an extensive programme of refurbishment is carried out, measures are taken to improve thermal insulation in accordance with Building Regulations.

In addition, my Department operates a number of targeted options to assist vulnerable groups, such as lower income households and elderly persons, to secure necessary improvement works to their homes. These include the local authority house improvement loan scheme, the disabled persons and essential repairs grant scheme, the improvement works in lieu of local authority housing scheme and a Central Heating Programme, all administered by local authorities, and the Task Force on Special Housing Aid for the Elderly which is administered by the Health Services Executive.

The Essential Repairs Grant and the Special Housing Aid for the Elderly Grant Scheme has been reviewed recently and will be replaced by the Scheme of Housing Aid for Older People, to be administered by local authorities, during 2007.

Question No. 210 answered with QuestionNo. 156.

Local Authority Funding.

Seamus Kirk

Question:

211 Mr. Kirk asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way the increases in the funding allocated to local authorities under the local government fund compare with the rate of inflation over the period since the Government entered office in 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7483/07]

I have allocated record funding of some €948 million to local authorities for 2007 through general purpose grants from the Local Government Fund. This represents an increase of 8% over the record amount provided in 2006, and is well ahead of the projected level of inflation for the year. The 2007 funding represents an increase of 60% over the €592 million provided in 2002, and is substantially ahead of inflation of some 25% over the period January 2002 to December 2006.

Local authorities will spend in excess of €9 billion in 2007 between their current and capital programmes. General purpose grants are provided through the Local Government Fund which funds over 30% of local authorities' current spending. These grants are my Department's contribution to each local authority towards the cost of providing its day-to-day services.

The increased funding provided, together with the continued rates buoyancy from the greatly strengthened commercial base supported by the Government's successful economic policies, will enable local authorities to continue to improve the range and quality of services to their local and business communities.

Question No. 212 answered with QuestionNo. 177.
Question No. 213 answered with QuestionNo. 103.
Question No. 214 answered with QuestionNo. 155.

Census of Population.

Richard Bruton

Question:

215 Mr. Bruton asked the Taoiseach the population in each of the 18 Dublin Garda districts at the 2006 census. [7637/07]

The information requested by the Deputy is not yet available.

The preliminary results of the 2006 census were published in July 2006. The results were based on clerical summaries prepared by each of the 4,400 enumerators employed to carry out the census field work. The levels of geography distinguished in the publication were Electoral Divisions and Counties.

The publication of the definitive population results will commence on 29 March 2007 with the Principal Demographic Results. The population classified by Garda District will be made available in June 2007 with the release of the small area population statistics.

Decentralisation Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

216 Ms Shortall asked the Taoiseach if he will detail, providing in each case the full postal address, of each section of his Department, each State, semi-State body and agency under the aegis of his Department, which has moved or is due to move from Dublin under the Government’s decentralisation programme; the number of staff based there prior to decentralisation; the number of staff that will be based there post decentralisation; and in respect of each building, the intended use it will be put to once decentralisation is complete. [7759/07]

The Deputy will be aware that there are no proposals to decentralise my Department or any of the bodies under its aegis.

Road Traffic Offences.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

217 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of HGV drivers detected and prosecuted for infringements of vehicle standards each year from 2000 to date in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7239/07]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

245 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of HGV drivers prosecuted for infringements of tachograph regulations and driver hours each year from 2000 to date in 2007; the number of detections which led to convictions in relation to such offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7238/07]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

246 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of HGV drivers detected and prosecuted for infringements of weight restrictions each year from 2000 to date in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7240/07]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

247 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of HGV drivers detected and prosecuted for illegally using the passing lane each year from 2000 to date in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7243/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 245 to 247, inclusive, together.

In view of the nature of the questions and in order to supply the details requested by the Deputy I am informed by the Garda authorities that it is necessary to make enquiries at each Garda Division. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Garda Deployment.

Finian McGrath

Question:

218 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support the residents in areas (details supplied) in dealing with anti-social activity; and if he will increase the presence of gardaí on the beat. [7114/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area in question is actively policed by Gardaí from Santry Garda station. Community policing is a central feature and core value of policing policy by local Garda management, who are aware of the difficulties being experienced by local residents with anti-social behaviour in the area.

Additional foot, mobile and mountain bike patrols carried out by uniform and plain clothes Gardaí are in place in the area and these have resulted in a number of persons being prosecuted for anti-social behaviour and public disorder type offences. Members of the local Community Policing Unit regularly meet with local residents and the Residents' Associations.

Current policing plans in the area are predicated on the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence against persons and property and public order offences and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of quality of life of the residents. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of a policing service to the area referred to.

Maintenance Payments.

Joe Higgins

Question:

219 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the avenues of redress open to persons whose former partners renege on their legal obligations to make maintenance payments. [7120/07]

Where a spouse defaults in making agreed payments of maintenance or defaults in making payments ordered by a Court, the Court has at its disposal a system of enforcement of payments. These include an attachment of earnings order and, ultimately, committal for refusal to obey a court order to pay, the means having been assessed by the Court. District Court clerks are empowered, using a special mechanism contained in maintenance cases generally, to prosecute a case for arrears of maintenance. The Legal Aid Board makes the services of solicitors and, where necessary, barristers available to persons of modest means seeking redress in civil law, including family law cases.

Visa Applications.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

220 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will specify what “no provision to grant visa” means on a letter of refusal to a visa applicant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7128/07]

The visa application referred to by the Deputy was submitted to the Visa Office by the person concerned in December 2002.

At that time the words "no provision to grant this visa" were used in situations where, in particular circumstances there was no facility to grant a visa.

Practices and procedures pertaining to the examination of visa applications have changed since 2002 and while the application in question was refused at that time the applicant's own circumstance may have changed. It is now open to the applicant to submit a new application which will be fully examined by my Department.

Residency Permits.

John Perry

Question:

221 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when approval of stamp 4 will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7140/07]

As outlined in my answer to the Deputy's Question No. 214 of 6th February, 2007, the person concerned had permission to remain in the State up to 24 March, 2006. There is no record of any application from the person concerned for any further permission to remain since that date. The person concerned must contact the Immigration Division of my Department outlining the reasons, together with supporting documentation, for further permission to remain.

Work Permits.

Pat Carey

Question:

222 Mr. Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, arising from the occasion of Bulgaria to membership of the European Union, the status of a person (details supplied) allows them to work here without a permit and seek the right of permanent residence without the need for a visa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7156/07]

From the point of view of immigration controls the person concerned, as a Bulgarian national, is subject to the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) (No. 2) Regulations 2006. These Regulations apply to all EU citizens who move to and reside in Ireland. The Regulations mean, inter alia, that EU citizens can enter Ireland on production of a valid passport or national identity card without the need for visas and may remain permanently in Ireland after residing here for a continuous period of 5 years.

Regulation 6(2)(a) provides as follows:

Subject to Regulation 20, a Union citizen may reside in the State for a period longer than 3 months if he or she —

(i) is in employment or is self-employed in the State,

(ii) has sufficient resources to support himself or herself, his or her spouse and any accompanying dependants, and has comprehensive sickness insurance in respect of himself or herself, his or her spouse and any accompanying dependants,

(iii) is enrolled in an educational establishment in the State for the principal purpose of following a course of study there, including a vocational training course, and has comprehensive sickness insurance in respect of himself or herself, his or her spouse and any accompanying dependants, or

(iv) subject to paragraph (3), is a family member accompanying or joining a Union citizen who satisfies one or more of the conditions referred to in clause (i), (ii) or (iii).

It is noted that the person concerned was a student in Ireland prior to the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on 1 January 2007. Non-EEA nationals who have permission to remain in the State as students are currently entitled to take up casual employment (defined as 20 hours per week during school term time and up to 40 hours per week during school holidays) for the duration of their permission to remain as a student. However, while this represents the current position, "Towards 2016" provides that employment of non-EEA students will become subject to an application for an employment permit.

Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are subject to the work restriction announced by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on 24 October 2006. This means that Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, will continue to require a permit to take up employment in Ireland and the job will continue to be subject of the current requirement for a labour market test. However, those nationals who already had the right to work full-time in the State for an uninterrupted period of 12 months or longer prior to the 31 December 2006 will not need an employment permit. From the information furnished by the Deputy it would appear that the person concerned would require a work permit if she wished to enter the labour market in a full-time capacity.

Garda Stations.

John Deasy

Question:

223 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Aglish Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7172/07]

John Deasy

Question:

224 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Ballymacarbery Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7173/07]

John Deasy

Question:

225 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Cappoquin Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7174/07]

John Deasy

Question:

226 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Dunmore East Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7175/07]

John Deasy

Question:

227 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Kill Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7176/07]

John Deasy

Question:

228 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Killmacthomas Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7177/07]

John Deasy

Question:

229 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Killmeadon Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7178/07]

John Deasy

Question:

230 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Leamybrien Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7179/07]

John Deasy

Question:

231 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Lismore Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7180/07]

John Deasy

Question:

232 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Passage East Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7181/07]

John Deasy

Question:

233 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Portlaw Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7182/07]

John Deasy

Question:

234 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Rathgormack Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7183/07]

John Deasy

Question:

235 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Ring Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7184/07]

John Deasy

Question:

236 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Stradbally Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7185/07]

John Deasy

Question:

237 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Tallow Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7186/07]

John Deasy

Question:

238 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Ardmore Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7187/07]

John Deasy

Question:

239 Mr. Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the hours each day that Ballyduff Garda station in County Waterford is open to the public; if telephone calls to the station outside of the public opening hours are answered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7188/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 to 239, inclusive, together.

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 13,000 following the attestation of 299 new members on Thursday, 16 November, 2006. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,298 (or 21.5%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength (all ranks) of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training as at the 31 December 2006 was 14,068. Furthermore, I should say that in December, 2006 as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of approximately 1,100 new recruits per annum into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006 and a 96% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed by the Garda authorities that the Stations referred to in the Deputy's questions are in the Waterford, Dungarvan, Tramore and Fermoy Garda Districts. The personnel strength of each of these Districts (all ranks) at the end of 31 December 1997 and at the end of 31 December 2006 is as set out in the following table:

District

31/12/1997

31/12/2006

Waterford

130

161

Dungarvan

43

53

Tramore

34

44

Fermoy

63

82

I have been informed by the Garda authorities who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel that the normal opening hours of Stations referred to by the Deputy is as set out in the table hereunder:

Station

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thur

Fri

Sat

Sun

P.A.C.B. and Call Diversion

Aglish

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12.30pm to 1.30pm

Yes to Dungarvan Station

Ballymacarbery

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12.30pm to 1.30pm

Yes to Dungarvan Station

Cappoquin

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12.30pm to 1.30pm

Yes to Dungarvan Station

Dunmore East

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Waterford Station

Kill

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Tramore Station

Killmacthomas

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Tramore Station

Killmeadon

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Tramore Station

Leamybrien

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Tramore Station

Lismore

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12.30pm to 1.30pm

Yes to Dungarvan Station

Passage East

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Waterford Station

Portlaw

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Tramore Station

Rathgormack

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Tramore Station

Ring

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12.30pm to 1.30pm

Yes to Dungarvan Station

Stradbally

Stradbally Garda Station is currently in the process of being refurbished following structural renovation and is not yet accessible to the public.

Tallow

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

10am to 1pm

12.30pm to 1.30pm

Yes to Dungarvan

Ardmore

7.30pm to 9.30pm

7.30pm to 9.30pm

7.30pm to 9.30pm

7.30pm to 9.30pm

7.30pm to 9.30pm

7.30pm to 9.30pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Fermoy Station

Ballyduff

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

11am to 1pm

12pm to 1pm

Yes to Fermoy Station

When a Station is not open, P.A.C.B. (Public Access Call Box) and call diversion systems are in operation to the relevant District Headquarters Garda Station. District Headquarters Garda Stations are open to the public on a 24-hour basis.

I should add that it is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends and other operational policing needs. 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 Recruitment.

Ivor Callely

Question:

240 Mr. Callely asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the minimum height regulations for entry to An Garda Síochána; his views on removing such height regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7202/07]

Under the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) (Amendment) Regulations, 2001 (S.I. No. 498 of 2001) which commenced on 31 October 2001, the height requirement for entry to the Garda Síochána was abolished. These Regulations also provide for a physical competence test to be completed prior to entry to the Garda Síochána.

Crime Prevention.

Finian McGrath

Question:

241 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will put a security and safety plan in place at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 5 in order to deal with anti-social activity. [7215/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is regularly patrolled by uniform and plain clothes gardaí from its local Garda station with a view to ensuring a concentrated and visible Garda presence in the area. These patrols are backed up by Divisional Garda Units, including the Traffic Corps, Mountain Bike, Drug, Task Force and the District and Divisional Detective Units. I understand that Gardaí attached to the Community Policing Unit have a good relationship with the local community. I am further informed by the Garda authorities that current policing plans in the area are predicated on the prevention of anti-social and public order offences; the prevention of crime including crimes of violence against persons and property and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of quality of life of the residents. This strategy will continue to be central to the delivery of a policing service to the area.

Visa Applications.

Damien English

Question:

242 Mr. English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application by a person (details supplied) for a visa will be decided on; and the position regarding this file to date. [7224/07]

The position in relation to granting long-term residency is as follows — people who have been legally resident in the State for over five years on the basis of work permit/work authorisation/work visa conditions may apply to the Immigration Division of my Department for a five year residency extension. In that context they may also apply to be exempt from employment permit requirements. I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person in question does not yet meet the qualifying criteria for long term residency. Permission to remain in respect of the person concerned has not been renewed since 9th May 2006 and I understand the Immigration Division has been in contact with her regarding her immigration status.

Community Policing.

Enda Kenny

Question:

243 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the numbers of community Gardaí in an area (details supplied) in Dublin 20 in each of the years 2000 to 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7234/07]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of designated full-time community gardaí assigned at 31 December 2005 and 2006 was 453 and 497 respectively. The 2006 figure represents an increase of 44, or nearly 10%, in the number of gardaí assigned to community policing duties over the previous year's figure. Of course, all uniformed gardaí carry out community policing functions. The term community garda describes a member of the Garda Síochána working full-time in a specified area and assuming responsibilities and performing duties which relate to that area. It is designed to give neighbourhoods and communities a more personalised and comprehensive Garda service. By its nature, it is the cities and larger towns which benefit most from the adoption of Community Policing. Areas which have not had regular contact with the Garda Síochána get the opportunity to know and build up a relationship with a member of the force. A review of Community Policing in Ireland is being carried out and it is anticipated that the review will be completed in 2007. This review will take into account international best practice in this area. When completed, the finished review will inform a National Model of Community Policing, which is a Strategic Goal in the Garda Síochána's corporate strategy. I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the Palmerstown area of Dublin 20 is covered by Ronanstown and Clondalkin Garda stations. The personnel strength of the Community Policing Unit in the stations on 31 December 2000 to 2006 was as follows:

Year

Ronanstown

Clondalkin

2000

11

8

2001

9

9

2002

12

8

2003

13

10

2004

16

12

2005

13

16

2006

11

10

The Deputy should appreciate that, as with any large organisation, on any given day, personnel strengths of individual stations may fluctuate due, for example, to promotions, retirements and transfers. I have been further informed by the Garda authorities that four Community Gardaí have been assigned to the Palmerstown area in each of the years 2000 to 2006. I know that the Garda Commissioner will take full account of the needs of Community Policing in his allocation of the considerable increase under way in the strength of the Force. The attested strength has increased by well over 2,000 since June 1997 — which is more than 20% of an increase. There are now more than 14,000 attested members and recruits in training and this means that Community Policing and other operational areas in the force will continue to grow in strength.

Garda Deployment.

Enda Kenny

Question:

244 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Gardaí in attendance in District Courts in Dublin on a daily basis; the cost of same; if efficiencies will be introduced into the current system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7235/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that Gardaí attend the District Courts in Dublin as part of and in the course of their normal duties. It would be extremely difficult, and involve a disproportionate use of resources, to attempt to quantify the time spent by Gardaí in Court and the cost of same. I am further informed that the Garda authorities commenced a Court Presenter System as a pilot scheme in 1997. This System was designed to bring about greater efficiency in the deployment of garda resources by allowing Gardaí to give evidence by way of certificate of arrest, charge and caution with the purpose of relieving them of the obligation to attend court in person to give evidence orally. The Court Presenter System was extended to all Dublin District Courts in 1999. There are currently 14 Sergeants in the position of Court Presenter within the Dublin District Court Areas, as follows:

Station

Number

Bridewell

6 Sergeants

Kilmainham

1 Sergeant

Cloverhill

2 Sergeants

Tallaght

2 Sergeants

Swords

1 Sergeant

Dún Laoghaire

2 Sergeants

Questions Nos. 245 to 247, inclusive, answered with Question No. 217.

Legal Aid Service.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

248 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the solicitors remunerated under the criminal and civil legal aid schemes in 2006; and the amounts awarded in each case. [7252/07]

Separate arrangements exist in respect of Criminal and Civil Legal Aid. In so far as Civil Legal Aid is concerned, the position is that the Legal Aid Board provides legal advice and assistance, including Refugee Legal Services, mainly through the solicitors it employs on a full-time basis in its law centre network nationwide. In 2006, the total remuneration paid to these solicitors amounted to €8.24 million. In order to ensure that clients receive a timely service, the Board has also established panels of solicitors in private practice to complement the service provided by the law centres. These solicitors provide services in certain family law matters that come before the courts and also in appeals before the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The private solicitors remunerated by the Legal Aid Board in 2006 and the total amount paid in each case is set out in Appendix A. In certain instances these payments include financial provision for the employment of barristers where required by the solicitor in question. The total paid amounted to approximately €1.77 million. The amounts paid to solicitors in 2006 in respect of claims made on foot of legal aid certificates granted by the Courts under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 is provided in Appendix B. Information pertaining to the amounts paid to solicitors in respect of the non-statutory legal aid scheme (CAB) and the non-statutory Garda Station free legal advice scheme is not readily available and will be forwarded to the Deputy when compiled.

Appendix A

Name

Amount Paid

Comyn Kelleher Tobin & Company

86,685

James M Sweeney

85,912

James Watters & Company

82,377

Behan Barry Solicitors

72,377

Margaret Horan & Co

46,637

Lynch & Partners

44,128

Huggard Brennan & Murphy Solicitors

41,655

Maura Hurley

37,235

Gallagher Brennan Solicitors

35,647

Eugene G Smartt & Co

32,676

John A Sinnott & Co

32,575

Brendan P McCormack & Son

31,287

Norman Walsh Solicitor

26,674

Ceemex & Co Solicitors

25,038

Colm Burke & Co

21,775

Coghlan Kelly Solicitors

21,342

Carol A Hickey Solicitor

19,906

Doyle Fox & Associates

19,876

Fiona Forde

19,032

Michael J Needham

18,054

Sean Mulvihill & Co Solicitors

16,161

Carroll & Kelly Solicitors

15,623

Catherine M Collins & Company

15,186

David Powderly Solicitors

13,920

Karen McCarthy

13,539

Brendan Kelly

13,371

Tom Power

13,093

Agnes McKenzie

12,964

David Kent

12,337

Barry O’Meara & Son

12,261

Deirdre Keane

12,153

Paul Gormley

12,091

Colin Lynch

11,989

Patricia Holohan & Co

11,800

Niamh Cronin

11,060

Nuala Dockry

10,924

Augustus Cullen Law

10,740

Nicholas Hosey

10,391

Philomena Murnane

10,293

John Henchion & Co

9,680

Maureen Cronin

9,672

Tara Jawad-Sallar

9,654

Catherine McConville

9,654

Deirdre Cummins

9,322

Ian Kavanagh

9,102

Catherine Browne

9,059

Kenneth O’Sullivan

8,996

Finbarr Phelan Solicitor

8,993

Patrick Martin

8,823

Brian J Chesser & Co

8,736

Byron Wade

8,710

Colm O’Dwyer

8,645

Patrick Aherne

8,481

Kevin Tunney & Co

8,481

Larkin Tynan & Co

8,374

James V Healy

8,134

Burns Kelly Corrigan Solicitors

8,128

Paul Christopher

8,123

Brian Michael Cusack

7,999

Daly Lynch Crowe & Morris

7,999

Brian Leahy

7,949

James T Fahy

7,944

Stephen O’Donoghue

7,858

Mark Lord Solicitor

7,774

John Nolan & Company

7,774

Mary B McAuliffe

7,510

Deirdre O’Callaghan

7,479

Fleming O’Flaherty

7,421

S T Glazier & Co

7,362

Fergus O’Connor

7,316

Emma Donegan

7,139

Niamh Moriarty & Co

7,067

Francis B Taaffe & Co

6,960

Ted McCarthy & Co

6,923

O’Donnell Sweeney & Company

6,846

Leo Buckley

6,715

Michael B O’Donnell & Co

6,714

Elizabeth Skally

6,524

John A O’Leary & Co Solicitors

6,361

J G Skinner & Co

6,283

Kim Walley

6,240

Kieran Falvey

5,927

Louise Forrest

5,779

Peter Murray

5,519

Shane F McCarthy & Co

5,250

Patrick Duffy

5,193

Breen Geary McCarthy & Shee

4,947

F B Keating & Co

4,947

Siobhan Dunne

4,840

Michael Gillespie & Co

4,840

Shannons Solicitors

4,840

Gavin-Burke Solicitors

4,810

Martin Clarke

4,689

Doyle Flanagan Solicitors

4,594

Anthony Fay & Company

4,594

David McCoy

4,417

Paul Hughes

4,413

Padraic Lyons

4,413

Margaret O’Doherty

4,413

Virginia Cole McColgan

4,331

Roger Greene & Sons

4,182

John Cooke Solicitors

4,000

Hegarty & Co Solicitors

3,887

Hennessy Perrozzi Solicitors

3,887

Peter Leonard

3,875

Eilin O’Dea

3,786

Alice Dorris

3,539

Daly Derham & Co

3,534

Brian P Doyle & Co

3,534

Peter G Crean & Co

3,534

Doyle Solicitors

3,534

McKenna Murphy Solicitors

3,534

Fintan O’Reilly & Co

3,534

Aoife O’Leary

3,383

John F Fahy

3,306

Aine Ni Ghrainne

3,287

Patricia O’Sullivan Lacy

3,265

Eoin Lysaght & Company

3,181

Hugh J Campbell

3,180

Aine S Hogan Solicitor

3,180

Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh

2,944

Emmett J O’Brien

2,852

J J Fitzgerald & Co

2,827

Timothy J Hegarty & Son

2,827

Maguire McNiece & Co

2,827

Peter Nolan

2,759

John R Lynch & Co

2,758

Rosemary Hickey

2,736

Eoin Clifford

2,734

Mark O’Connell

2,486

Karl Finnegan

2,482

Vivian Lavan

2,482

Edward Leavy

2,482

Dearbhla Ni Ghriofa

2,482

Niall O’Driscoll

2,482

Catherine Dawson

2,476

Foley McNally Goldberg

2,474

E C Gearty & Co

2,474

Sandra Mahon Solicitor

2,474

PJ O’Driscoll & Sons

2,474

Quinn Dillon & Company

2,474

Ann-Marie Courell

2,467

Maria C Lane

2,291

Bridget Bermingham

2,207

Michael C O’Connor

2,207

Martine O’Connor

2,207

Jason Stewart

2,207

English Leahy Donovan & Co

2,123

Sinead Bradley & Company

2,120

Martin A Harvey & Co

2,120

Rita Martin & Co Solicitors

2,120

Fiona Kelly

2,120

Brid Minnagh & Associates

2,120

Antonia Boyle

2,052

Michael Devoy

2,052

Siobhan Phelan

1,934

Eithne Casey

1,931

Eilis Brennan

1,931

Elizabeth Buckley

1,931

Conor Power

1,931

Martin Crotty

1,824

Finbar O’Connor

1,824

Sarah Coleman

1,793

Lynch Bradley & Co

1,767

D M Burke & Co

1,767

Andrew D’Arcy & Co Solicitors

1,767

(Yvonne) Hennessy & Co Solicitors

1,767

Miriam McGillycuddy & Co

1,767

John O’Leary

1,767

Don Ryan & Co

1,767

Sara Phelan

1,691

Fiona Crawford

1,655

Edward Dwyer

1,655

Mary Feeney

1,655

Annette Kealy

1,655

Ruth Mylotte

1,655

Majella Twomey

1,655

Liam Dockery

1,596

Teresa Blake

1,564

J D Lucey & Co

1,414

Grainne Aylmer

1,413

Dairine Mac Fadden Solicitors

1,413

Catherine White

1,380

Sarah Fallon

1,379

Alan Buckley

1,368

Deirdre Creighton

1,368

Fiona Gallagher

1,368

Phelim Molony

1,368

James Canny Solicitor

1,312

Paul McLoughlin

1,140

Peter O’Brien

1,140

Pauline Kennedy Solicitor

1,121

Robert Beatty

1,103

Nicholas Donnelly

1,103

Elaine Fahey

1,103

Anthony Goodwin

1,103

Rebecca Graydon

1,103

Barbara McGrath

1,103

Conor O’Briain & Co

1,103

Jarlath Ryan

1,103

Donal T Ryan Solicitors

1,082

Dr Dan Crowle

1,060

Jeremiah M Cronin & Co

1,060

Fair & Murtagh

1,060

Hartnett Hayes Solicitors

1,060

Eamonn Hayes & Co

1,060

Hutchinson Davidson & Son

1,060

MacCarthy Baker & Co

1,060

Madden & Associates

1,060

O’Brien & O’Doherty

1,060

David J O’Meara & Son

1,060

James A Sheridan

1,060

John Shee & Co

1,060

Liam Bell

1,013

Sean (John) Rooney

1,008

Neasa Bird

912

David Brophy

912

Emma L Callanan

912

Sheena Greene

912

Nollaig Lane

912

Mark Lynam

912

Judith Maher

912

Garrett McCormack

912

Emmet M Nolan

912

Lynn O’Sullivan

912

Jennifer A Rafter

912

Seamus O Scott

912

Benen Fahy Associates

905

Mark Byrne

827

Dara Dowling

827

Gerard Meehan

827

Jadel Naidoo

827

Paul O’Shea

827

Michael Ryan

827

Gillian Reid

782

Maureen Harewood

782

David R Burke & Co

707

Casey & Co

707

Connolly Sullivan Solicitors

707

Thomas Coughlan & Co Solicitors

707

Patrick Duffy Solicitors

707

Farrell McDonnell Sweeney & Co

707

Gallagher McCartney Solicitors

707

Peter H Jones & Co

707

Joseph M Jordan & Company

707

Shane Kennedy & Co

707

Dolph McGrath

707

Brid Miller Solicitor

707

Eoin O’Connor & Company

707

O’Donovan Murphy & Partners

707

O’Donnell Breen-Walsh O’Donoghue

707

John J Quinn & Co

707

Quirke Solicitors

707

David Walsh & Co Solicitors

707

John Gerard Cullen Solicitors

647

Niall F Buckley

552

Mairead Carey

552

Terrence Coghlan

552

Aideen Collard

552

James Dwyer

552

Mervyn Hickey

552

Padraig Hughes

552

Melissa McSharry

552

John Morrissey

552

(Alison) Jane O’Neill

552

Christina Ryan

552

Jim Sharkey

552

Elizabeth Jane Walsh

552

Andrew Beck

552

Caroline Counihan

540

Sean Walsh

531

Joseph O’Sullivan

461

Mellissa English

460

Glen Gibbons

460

Stephen Boggs

456

Erika Bradley

456

James Burke

456

Daniel Coyle

456

Cathy Cruess Callaghan

456

Alison De Bruir

456

Aisiling Dillon

456

Brian Dunphy

456

Rory Hanniffy

456

Kerry Johnson

456

Nessa Kiernan

456

Fiona Kilgarriff

456

David Leonard

456

Maureen Lynam Jacobs

456

Rebecca MacCana

456

Leo Mulrooney

456

Conor O’Doherty

456

Sarah Osborne

456

Fiona Sage

456

Elaine Slattery

456

Ciaran Smith

456

Margaret J Walsh

456

D’Arcy & Co Solicitors

412

Matthew J Breslin

353

Patrick Buckley & Co Solicitors

353

Collins Solicitors

353

Richard Cooke & Co

353

Felton McKnight & Co

353

Flanagan & Co Solicitors

353

Adrian Greaney & Co

353

Hughes Kehoe & Co

353

Liam Keane & Co Solicitors

353

Kelly Caulfield Shaw

353

Joseph Lavan

353

Lees Solicitors

353

MacGrath & Co

353

Florence G McCarthy

353

Gerard L Mc Gowan

353

McGovern & Associates

353

John Nash Solicitor

353

Patricia O’Connor & Co

353

O’Leary Arnold & Company

353

Helen Salmon Solicitor

353

Wilkie & Flanagan Solicitors

353

Kelley Smith

276

William Fitzgerald

276

Kira Byrne

228

Kieran O’Callaghan

228

Caoilte O’Connor

115

Total Paid

1,770,008

Appendix B

Solicitors 2006

TOTAL (gross + VAT)

Staines Michael J.

1,543,839.15

Quinn John M.

1,211,921.59

Hanahoe Michael E.

975,367.64

Flynn Aine M.

848,710.88

Bambury Yvonne

772,139.73

Feaheny John E.

736,314.30

Sheehan Garrett

592,621.82

Buttimer Frank A.

580,644.61

Hannon Michael Philip

484,264.64

Kelleher Diarmuid F.

437,543.84

McCarthy Ted

427,901.14

Tunney Kevin

420,211.92

Malone Grainne M.

364,732.02

Hanahoe Terence

352,802.08

O’Higgins Cahir

351,722.01

Devane John D.

351,695.32

Kelleher Michael

336,313.64

O’Doherty John

330,470.33

Mcgeever Jenny

302,190.45

Lynam Ronald J.

289,905.54

Cuddigan Joseph S.

272,525.95

Fahy Declan

263,880.08

O’Rourke (Anthony P) Murrough

231,966.70

Margaret Mc Evilly

230,531.61

Daly Donal J.

219,901.05

Burke Edmund J.

212,177.14

MacGuill James

185,815.86

Boyce Conal M.

167,122.06

O’Sullivan Emer

164,013.82

Christopher Lynch

161,551.33

Binchy Shalom

161,209.16

Bridget Forde Rouse

152,849.54

Mann Patrick P.

152,774.68

Connolly Peter

152,571.15

Farrelly Donal

149,691.50

Ryan Sarah

142,082.77

Eagar Robert J.

140,254.19

Donough Molloy

139,283.97

O Cearbhaill Sean

132,381.68

John P Gaffney

131,176.05

McLoughlin Brian

130,728.09

McGovern Gerard P.

129,818.96

O’Reilly Alice Mary

125,665.32

Robinson Dara

124,935.17

Godfrey Tara D.

122,386.63

Quinn Padraig C.

117,100.55

Geraghty Gearoid

116,605.93

Elder Shaun

114,745.26

Quinn John J.

106,507.66

McKenzie Brian

103,515.74

Newell Patrick

102,968.95

Chesser Brian J.

102,935.61

Lanigan Michael

102,290.27

Keane Liam

98,528.07

Cosgrove Martin

96,868.79

Maloney Brendan

96,695.47

Enright Patrick

96,610.20

Meagher Philip C.

96,241.86

Fleming Breda

95,508.27

O’Donovan Padraig

94,961.72

Tarrant David A.

91,866.47

John Hennessy

83,967.10

MacLynn Adrian

80,270.22

O’Connell Padraig J.

79,207.86

Jonathan Dunphy

78,772.62

Cooke John

78,073.57

Almond Catherine

76,723.38

Dorrian Frank

76,241.96

Mullan Peter

74,992.55

O’Connor Niall

74,948.68

Egan Caroline M. J. C.

73,412.20

Healy Denis B.

71,493.71

O’Neill Gregory F.

70,042.67

Traynor Olivia

69,728.90

Healy Barry

69,122.53

Gallagher Patrick

68,534.32

Byrne Paul

68,386.31

Dunne Eugene Pius

68,049.71

Quigley Mairead

66,342.71

Brennan Fiona

61,237.56

Fitzgibbon Anne

60,980.61

Gareth Noble

60,028.05

John Neville

59,430.48

Daly Patrick Joseph

58,856.05

Gearty Frank

58,649.84

O’Connor Charles J.

58,589.06

Grainne O’Neill

57,322.01

Acton Sean

57,188.56

Ramsay David

56,355.96

Finucane Michael

56,318.17

O’Kelly Eugene

55,960.93

Brennan Alison

55,644.06

MacGuill Conor

55,000.06

Louis Kiernan

54,896.70

Mccann Ciara

54,252.34

Joy John M.

51,880.11

Reilly Peter T.

51,349.01

Eamonn Hayes

50,829.43

John Hughes

50,805.13

Otubu Celia

50,013.36

Flanagan Peter

48,471.94

Fortune Garrett J.

47,171.00

Darcy Fiona

46,978.53

Pendred Anthony Conleth

46,914.78

Lawlor Martin G.

46,287.12

Cronin Finola

45,972.13

Hanahoe Anthony T.

45,650.07

O’Toole Patrick Noel

43,501.04

Hunt Harry P.

43,216.53

McGowan Donogh

42,901.83

Anne Marie O’Donnell

42,616.80

Moore Paul Anthony

41,818.03

O’Malley Anthony

41,466.17

Hughes Brian D.

41,269.53

Coughlan Thomas

40,804.62

Ryan Christopher

40,194.50

Flanagan Michelle

39,919.17

Crowley Aidan

39,745.39

Purcell John

38,891.12

Mullaney Mark

37,719.02

Marron Robert B.

37,228.45

Orange James G.

36,143.34

Connellan Paul

35,610.50

Brophy David M

35,084.06

Lavery Dermot

34,878.53

Goodwin Patrick

34,871.87

Halley Emmet

34,466.50

Waters David G.

33,337.63

Regan Miriam

33,107.86

Leahy Aidan

32,419.31

Watters James G.

32,314.45

Walsh Maurice

32,306.49

Kenneth Cunningham

31,668.04

Mcdarby Michael

31,338.38

Honan Thos Edward

31,305.64

Fahy Benen

30,992.55

Hennessy Raymond

30,348.68

Taaffe Francis B.

30,282.93

Darragh Hassett

30,121.31

Michael Moloney

29,644.75

Maguire Joseph F.

29,322.00

Molloy Sarah

29,249.04

Bradshaw William

28,902.74

King Niall P.

28,779.77

Fitzpatrick Josephine

28,690.62

Dillon Kieran

28,632.21

Kennedy Shane R.

28,303.76

Morrison Leo

28,002.09

Carmody Caitriona

27,829.36

Lyons Terence

27,348.02

Breen Declan

27,052.93

Mimnagh Brid

26,988.13

William Cahir

26,311.95

Eileen Whelan

26,296.01

Eugene G. Carey

24,979.27

Ní Mhuineachain M.

24,614.13

O’Dwyer Thomas

24,542.79

David F. Gibbons

24,349.92

McCormack Vincent

23,451.75

Henry Edmund G.

23,227.24

McDonnell Peter F.

23,191.19

Plunkett Taaffe

23,007.13

Boyle Emmet

22,672.22

Bermingham Matthew

21,960.66

Macklin Ciara

21,910.79

Diane Hallihan

21,502.53

O’Connor Eoin

21,460.27

Harte John B.

21,458.82

Pierse Catherine

21,409.97

Dolan Niall F.

20,797.98

Casey John P.

20,469.28

Sharkey Jacqueline A.

20,417.53

Crean Peter G.

20,096.64

Shanley Oliver

19,819.13

Kieran Conway

19,427.15

Goold Patrick G.

19,382.01

Peter O’ Flynn

19,197.51

Finnegan Raymond

19,127.78

Gannon Alan

18,838.55

Cullen Augustus

18,682.85

Joseph B Gordon

18,431.37

O’Sullivan Fionnuala

18,370.45

Quinn Cathal

18,216.57

Quinn Thomas

17,980.95

Burke David R.

17,791.62

Walsh Catriona

17,731.98

Catherine Ghent

17,675.75

Whittle Fachtna J.

17,469.82

Cooney Mark

17,105.02

O’Donnell Michael

16,738.86

Cussen Robert

16,701.13

Joseph Noonan

16,641.93

Arnold Mary

16,323.24

Walsh James

16,123.38

O’Regan Redmond

15,976.96

McCarthy Gerard

15,915.78

Don Ryan

15,849.79

Eamon Fleming

15,775.39

Kennedy Patrick

15,742.97

O’Shea Chris

15,695.82

McLynn Tony

15,671.17

Mccarthy Aeneas

15,574.42

Denis M. Molloy

15,385.50

Gordon Jnr. John J.

15,277.60

O’Cochlainn Barra

15,165.27

O’Shea David

14,869.60

O’Regan Claire

14,473.81

James Hanley

14,442.50

Holohan Patricia F.

13,950.20

Price Brian

13,925.16

Walsh Thomas J.

13,889.60

Hartnett Cormac

13,780.56

John Herbert

13,522.16

Sheridan Niall

13,505.09

Violet Behan

13,475.96

Lee Robert M.

13,454.42

O’Gorman Macarten

12,975.83

Duggan Declan H.

12,901.41

O’Sullivan Eugene F.

12,870.86

Cadell (Jnr.) Patrick J.

12,850.16

Kirwan Catherine

12,726.78

Fitzgerald John J.

12,662.83

Hickey Kevin

12,633.27

Madigan T. P. Kieran

12,535.38

Daragh Mccarthy

11,929.01

Murray Ken

11,876.66

Donnelly Brendan

11,793.55

Brenda Rushe

11,752.84

Kilrane Kevin P.

11,728.61

Murphy Sharon

11,649.68

Keane David A.

11,559.30

Colette Mccarthy

11,537.43

Maura Hurley

11,441.55

Brid Miller

11,305.67

Lyons Deirdre

10,975.83

Jones Gerard

10,923.18

Moriarty Niamh

10,817.40

Eric Furlong

10,546.97

John Burke O’Leary

10,479.08

Allen Nigel Desmond

10,467.56

O’Gorman Kieran

10,400.20

Clarke Philip A.

10,400.14

Ryan Michael J.

10,333.32

Johnson Keenan

9,795.84

O’Sullivan John Simon

9,776.03

Aherne Patrick

9,737.56

Catherine Staines

9,713.86

Loftus Peter

9,690.62

Ciara Farrell

9,655.70

Gallagher David

9,611.19

Kennedy Simon

9,463.48

O’Flaherty Brendan

9,457.24

Osborne David R.

9,423.46

McDwyer Denis F.

9,370.18

Casey Laura

9,357.96

Mulvey Matthew

9,228.66

Hutchinson Florence

8,923.89

McKeever Elizabeth A.

8,836.65

Jack Alexander Duncan

8,822.57

Rogers Patrick

8,796.44

Siobhan Dunne

8,764.44

O’Reilly Staunton Patricia

8,735.33

Groarke Lorna

8,705.29

Durcan Patrick J. M.

8,654.21

Mullen Fergus

8,507.93

James Thompson

8,500.32

Hussey John

8,334.61

Kilrane Mel C.

8,296.46

Dorrian Patricia A.

8,139.56

Mcneice Patrick

8,069.77

John Gerard Cullen

8,066.25

Naughton Peter

7,968.65

Florence Murphy

7,948.57

Harlow Conleth G.

7,855.98

McDermott Patrick

7,854.28

English Philip A.

7,847.48

Purcell Frank

7,762.82

Walsh David

7,753.46

Mahon Sean A.

7,624.75

Teahan Jason

7,611.00

Patrick A Dorrian

7,567.93

Ferris Elizabeth

7,552.62

Barry Creed

7,531.47

Doyle Gerard

7,519.15

Cummings Timothy

7,485.34

Joanne Kangley

7,398.80

Veronica Kelleher

7,363.43

O’Carroll Martin

7,334.18

Cahill Sean

7,322.85

O’Brien Brian

7,272.22

O’Callaghan Declan

7,244.25

O’Sullivan Anne

7,238.13

McDarby Cathy

7,223.59

Shaw Matthew J.

7,156.77

Morahan John V

7,151.03

Eamonn Moloney

7,120.44

O’Reilly Fintan

7,076.16

Loughnane William

7,040.81

Collins Michael W.

7,038.54

Liston Nuala

7,004.57

Rody Corrigan

6,837.41

Carter Michael

6,814.76

Anthony Harris

6,728.39

Flynn John Gerard

6,642.31

Condon Michael

6,638.35

Finlay Martina A.

6,632.41

Kingston Garrett F.

6,526.91

Ciaran F. MacLochainn

6,514.53

Breen Michael J.

6,438.97

Kearney Matthew

6,427.35

Cooke Richard

6,417.46

Oonagh Moylan

6,366.58

Lavery Naill

6,356.60

O’Connor Pat F.

6,332.68

Canny John Anthony

6,312.85

Mcginley Roger

6,263.96

Michael Mooney

6,190.70

Coleman John P.

6,184.81

Corbett James

6,177.62

David O’Mahony

6,174.30

Patrick McGonagle

6,148.70

Timmins Edward

6,142.31

Patricia Cronin

6,134.67

Peter Boyle

6,119.89

Larkin Denis J.

6,044.42

Irwin Brendan

5,976.08

Andrew D’Arcy

5,948.84

Nash John

5,756.68

Walsh Elizabeth

5,714.11

Gerard McCullagh & Co

5,711.06

Neil Twomey

5,690.02

David Beggan

5,594.78

Coonan Robert F.

5,567.71

Sheridan James

5,460.21

Murray John J.

5,443.03

Buggy Michael J. P.

5,353.50

O’Keeffe Ciaran

5,344.95

Browne Audrey

5,341.04

Fitzpatrick Michael

5,315.41

Rice John J.

5,295.62

Hegarty David

5,290.03

Quirk Michael J.

5,266.58

Madden Thomas K.

5,253.56

Mallon Seamus

5,211.60

White Philip B.

5,200.37

Healy Jeremiah F.

5,175.88

Gunn Seamus M.

5,127.71

Michael Canavan

5,100.51

Brabazon Thomas J.

5,085.74

William Leahy

4,955.95

O’Reilly Patrick

4,951.63

Carolan Paul G.

4,934.14

Duffy Patrick

4,921.11

Macklin Patrick J.

4,829.35

Smyth Paul

4,814.00

Colm O Cochlain

4,783.25

Shiel Michael

4,781.02

Paul Cunningham

4,772.75

Adrian Lennon

4,770.69

Thomas W. Enright

4,696.35

O’Neill Dermot

4,665.18

Cunningham Michael

4,637.08

Henchion John

4,603.10

Michael Devlin

4,585.94

Smartt Eugene G.

4,583.40

Moran Ailish

4,543.45

Ryan Kieran A.

4,523.53

Donnelly Ann-Marie

4,519.51

Murphy Eugene

4,518.66

Branigan Leo F. D.

4,510.41

Ní Cheallaigh Fiona

4,508.77

Thomas Gibbons

4,500.16

Kennedy Sonja

4,495.63

Aine Kilfeather

4,494.34

Williams Gearoid

4,492.93

O’Carroll Cian

4,467.00

Mernagh John A.

4,404.88

Berkery Colm

4,385.26

Dempsey Angela

4,378.79

Creed Mary

4,345.10

Hickey Dermot J.

4,334.50

Deirdre Cooper

4,281.46

Bernadette Owens

4,270.78

Kelly Noel

4,229.45

Flynn Peter

4,185.42

O’Shea Diarmuid

4,172.25

Martin Rita

4,155.47

Tunney Seamus

4,150.34

Conor Ruane

4,140.16

Mannix Joseph B.

4,066.67

Christopher Horrigan

4,054.39

James M. Lucey

4,031.79

Eleanor Cleary

4,024.93

Sonya Lanigan

4,021.26

Morgan James (Brian)

3,989.59

Branigan Patrick

3,961.82

Hennessy Yvonne C.

3,916.21

Dara Callaghan

3,872.07

O’Dwyer Evan

3,869.47

Burke A. Derek

3,857.90

Patrick Joseph Duffy

3,838.03

Hanley Gerard A.

3,818.35

Cleary Donagh

3,790.16

Eva Lalor

3,766.72

Sweeney James M.

3,690.13

Hegarty Walter

3,615.49

Waters John J.

3,598.21

Ward Mary T.

3,564.17

Kennedy Ronan

3,510.28

John O’Leary

3,507.62

Judith Foley

3,504.68

Greg Nolan

3,482.32

Heffernan Francis A.

3,447.69

Corry Micheal G.

3,425.31

O’Hanrahan T. Noel

3,391.23

Walsh Annie R.

3,379.69

McMullin Orla

3,366.55

Daly Patrick J.

3,285.83

Suzanne Dunphy

3,273.36

Phelan Finbarr A.

3,244.35

Dolan Anne

3,240.86

Mary O’Shea

3,236.20

Gilmartin Brian

3,211.05

Maloney Jacqueline

3,198.83

Sadleir Justin

3,150.67

Terence F Casey

3,140.16

Coyle Peter

3,097.85

McCarthy Patrick

3,086.48

Broderick Noreen

3,069.10

Kiely Tim

3,054.03

Burke Patrick A.

3,038.59

Adams Brian P

3,016.53

Wilkie Alan

3,005.62

Moore Paul

2,968.87

Campbell Hugh J.

2,932.74

Tracey Paul

2,927.37

Kenny Peter

2,924.97

Hogan Aine

2,913.04

Powderly David

2,894.66

Buckley Leo J.

2,731.41

Mccarthy Shane

2,709.42

Brian Sherry

2,608.60

Helen Hennessy

2,606.87

Hilary Cahalan

2,576.43

Sheehan Patrick

2,568.27

Harte Stanley

2,548.92

Hyland Pauric

2,506.05

Tansey Damien M. P.

2,496.28

McDonnell Richard E.

2,492.40

O’Sullivan Oliver

2,468.00

Ferry Padraic C.

2,437.03

Coyne Dermot

2,430.85

Paul O Mahony

2,407.67

Colman Sherry

2,398.26

Michael Cooney

2,382.42

Gillespie Michael

2,380.29

Kelly Redmond E.

2,358.24

O’Gorman Noel

2,347.47

O’Reilly Gerard

2,322.02

Patrick Feeney

2,298.16

McGlynn John B.

2,294.11

Dobson Rachel

2,278.15

Murphy Michele G. M.

2,272.51

Carl Haughton

2,271.49

Brady Pauline E.

2,261.26

Ó Catháin Diarmuid

2,246.36

O’Meara Brian

2,246.24

Murray Eamonn

2,246.24

Hegarty Michael

2,246.24

Nevin Gerard

2,240.16

Prior John

2,198.62

Cody James Justin

2,193.24

William A Stokes

2,177.34

Ryan Valerie

2,159.63

Margaret O’Sullivan

2,119.99

Hugh O’Donnell

2,094.14

King Edward

2,081.93

McGrath Elizabeth

2,065.33

Ezeani Matthew Emenka

2,043.20

Gerard Dunne

2,042.40

Groarke Patrick J. P.

2,039.34

Moran Patrick T.

2,029.49

Roe Seamus

2,021.99

Paul Madden

1,976.03

Collins Peter

1,972.51

Holden Niamh

1,935.58

Kelly Fergal T.

1,931.29

Costello Sean

1,911.47

Deacy Cathal

1,905.29

O’Brien Michael

1,905.29

Hipwell Denis G.

1,900.51

Gallagher Eunan

1,877.65

Nash James Martin

1,817.32

Mitchell William Alan J.

1,815.79

Barry Sheehan

1,802.12

Derham Paul

1,801.92

Gabrielle Dalton

1,769.24

Darcy Paul

1,732.43

Lavan Joseph

1,730.54

Osborne Cyril Michael

1,730.30

Karen O’Brien

1,691.79

John Galvin

1,687.43

Leahy Brian

1,686.74

Murphy Fionnuala

1,686.74

Catherine O Mahony

1,679.97

Casey Patrick B.

1,671.14

McGrath Daniel G.

1,651.47

Coonan Charles E.

1,650.44

John Kenneally

1,650.09

Gallagher Michael Eamonn

1,646.11

Thomas J Brooks

1,645.60

Jolley William

1,645.60

Tuohy John J.

1,637.06

Murphy Timothy A.

1,620.28

Conor Brady

1,613.73

Cussen John

1,580.36

Ryan William

1,577.70

David A Browne

1,572.53

Walsh Norman

1,571.50

Dermot Scanlon

1,571.44

Maher Daniel (Donal)

1,561.43

Donnelly Andrew J

1,544.61

Toolan Gabriel

1,530.66

Carol A Hickey Solicitor

1,530.64

Conaghan Geraldine

1,513.16

John Salley

1,503.89

Gilmartin Charles

1,494.62

Donoghue Marie

1,490.79

James Seymour

1,471.87

Kinsella Fergus

1,455.65

Burke Padraig

1,440.28

O’Reilly Brendan P. G.

1,439.26

Ó Murch Pól

1,412.80

Eirinn McKiernan

1,407.27

Garahy John

1,394.91

Myles Staunton

1,394.00

Patrick O’Connor

1,380.57

Conor Heaney

1,371.20

Dillon-Leech John

1,360.00

Quigley Peter

1,323.17

Nevan O’Shaughnessy

1,306.16

Kiersey Gillian

1,304.96

Hally James J.

1,297.58

Joyce Emer

1,292.09

Foley John G.

1,288.35

Kevin O’Donovan

1,283.30

Mannion James

1,279.83

Thomas Walsh

1,253.12

Glynn James D.

1,239.42

Horgan Virgil

1,238.76

Michael J Cullen

1,231.06

Conway O’Hara

1,228.20

Callan Christopher J.

1,219.74

Gilvarry Myles D.

1,219.57

Dempsey Dermot M.

1,194.21

Faughnan James

1,193.41

Browne Fiona

1,188.22

Patrick Martin

1,180.60

Hickey Anne

1,175.67

Clabby Karen

1,171.82

Dolan Cathleen

1,170.88

McDermott Dermot G.

1,160.81

Martin Kevin

1,139.43

Brian O’Sullivan

1,139.10

O’Dowd Michael

1,137.67

David McCoy

1,109.40

Ryall Gearoid T.

1,092.33

Daniel Shields

1,083.91

O’Sullivan Teresa

1,077.09

Larney Brendan

1,044.32

Claire Naughton

1,044.07

Fiona Redmond

1,039.98

Behane Sinead

1,039.78

Murphy James A.

1,018.00

Stamp Thomas J.

1,016.79

Michael Joyce

1,000.78

Grace Laurence

991.40

Quinn Noel A.

983.21

Michael A. O Brien

978.62

Crowley Donal

968.41

Gillespie Francis R.

951.51

Wynne Paul

946.59

Tiernan Thomas E.

887.32

Higgins Matthew

875.76

Jordan Joseph M.

865.65

Hackett William

860.37

Hoare Helen M.

852.50

Walsh Robert

809.36

Keyes Joseph

805.90

Carroll John

801.14

Foley Padraig

795.04

James Murphy

791.43

Thomas Sheridan

784.87

O’Donoghue Thomas

770.18

Matthews Gary

769.46

Kelly Dermot

769.07

Edna English

741.73

Padraic Kelly

723.62

Mullaney Michael

718.55

Neville Veronica

714.26

Kelly Paul V.

710.17

Paul Boyce

698.55

Mcnelis Neil

698.22

Kelly Joseph P.

683.37

Shinnick Michael J.

659.72

Daly John F.

645.78

Hyland Brendan

643.90

Curran Joseph

642.82

Patrick Sweeney

634.38

Horgan Anne L.

622.19

McGovern Niamh

621.83

Fahy John

615.66

Patricia Beston

613.00

O’Dwyer John T. D.

610.99

Ann Marie Sheridan

606.65

Kevin Brophy

605.00

Fiona Hunt

542.86

Andrew Donnelly

540.73

Audrey Barrett

540.73

Don O’Connor

519.38

Ryan Oliver

501.09

Eoin Brosnan

492.15

Paul Ebrill

485.42

Cleary Kieran W.

469.05

Twomey Brendan Joseph

465.88

Barry M. O’Meara

445.19

Hurley Patrick

435.02

Coomey Anthony

434.27

Vincent Coakley

428.65

Lawlor Ciaran

425.43

MacCormack Paul F.

422.25

Margaret Collins

419.87

Stack Catherine

416.40

Barry Anthony

415.57

Kelly Douglas

403.40

Andrew B. Jordan

403.22

Anne Lordan

371.55

O’Connor Jeremiah

370.16

Jarleth McInerney

364.31

Canny James K.

364.31

Molloy (O’Shea) Mary

362.50

Peter Shee

361.01

Marianne Dee

359.51

Foley Oliver

358.21

McMyler Patrick

357.13

McIntyre Patrick

357.13

Niall Lucey

353.99

O’Carroll Derry

352.91

Paul Cagney

308.52

Daniel Cronin

307.07

Brady Helena M.

304.15

Anna Cogan

301.08

Gerard Rouley

301.08

Maeve Breen

297.22

Caulfield Joseph

297.22

Foley Charles J.

297.22

Joyce Richard

297.22

Eamon Creed

289.98

O’Connor Karl

289.98

Donohoe Joseph

289.98

Breslin Matthew J.

289.98

Kelly John

289.98

Samantha Geraghty

289.98

Grainne Aylmer

281.47

Donal Keating

272.36

Conlon Nora

265.87

Brannigan Finian L.

265.87

Dennison Senior James J.

265.87

O’Rourke Colm

265.87

O’Briain Conor

260.30

Kevin J Brooks

259.69

Francis Kelleher

259.69

Niall O’Neill

259.69

Ryan Michael P.

259.69

Pendred Aideen

256.16

Corcoran Gerard

256.16

Siobhan Mac Niallas

256.16

Graham Hyde Solr

245.64

Mary McAveety Solr

245.64

Timothy Mark Cronin

239.65

Mr. Sean Foy

137.83

Teevan Diarmuid

132.13

Denis Lenihan

118.08

Miley Mary

108.16

Diarmuid P Barry

100.00

Anne Marie Hourihane

73.20

O’Driscoll Edward

69.84

Nigel Broderick

3.53

Total

24,802,438.15

Visa Applications.

Dan Neville

Question:

249 Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedure for admission and exit to and from the State by aircraft personnel in the course of their work. [7267/07]

Airline personnel and crew are permitted to enter the State for the purpose of their employment, but they must present to an Immigration Officer for permission to enter the State and satisfy that officer of the bona fides of their visit and their employment, in accordance with section 4 of the Immigration Act 2004. They must be in possession of a passport or other equivalent document of identity recognised by the Government. Visa required Nationals entering the State in the course of their employment as airline crew do not require visas, as long as they satisfy the Immigration Officer that the purpose of their visit is solely for and only as long as necessitated by the requirements of their employment. Nationals who are required to be in possession of a transit-visa prior to entering the State must be in possession of a valid transit-visa in the course of their employment as airline crew.

Citizenship Applications.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

250 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for citizenship by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [7275/07]

I am advised by officials in the Citizenship section of my Department that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy.

Departmental Correspondence.

John Curran

Question:

251 Mr. Curran asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has re-examined a claim made by a person (details supplied) in County Dublin, denying his Department’s finding that the person’s passport is a forged document. [7281/07]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the Garda National Immigration Bureau will be in touch with the legal representatives of the person concerned very shortly in relation to this matter.

Citizenship Applications.

Tom Hayes

Question:

252 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary who has applied for citizenship. [7282/07]

An application for naturalisation from the person in question was received in the Citizenship section of my Department on 16 October, 2006. Applications received in the second half of 2004 are currently being processed and there are approximately 10,000 applications awaiting processing before that of the applicant. Such applications are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest method. The case was recently submitted to me for a decision as to whether it might be expedited. However, as no reason has been put forward by the Deputy which would justify the application being dealt with ahead of other applicants, I have decided that it should be processed in the normal manner.

Community Policing.

Finian McGrath

Question:

253 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will ensure that more community Gardaí are on the beat in the Fairview and Marino, Dublin 3 area; and if the local neighbourhood watch team will be given the maximum support. [7310/07]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of designated full-time Community Gardaí assigned at 31 December, 2005 and 2006 was 453 and 497 respectively. The 2006 figure represents an increase of 44, or nearly 10%, in the number of Gardaí assigned to community policing duties over the previous year's figure. Of course, all uniformed Gardaí carry out community policing functions. The term Community Garda describes a member of An Garda Síochána working full-time in a specified area and assuming responsibilities and performing duties which relate to that area. It is designed to give local neighbourhoods and communities a more personalised and comprehensive Garda service. By its nature, it is the cities and larger towns which benefit most from the adoption of Community Policing. Areas which have not had regular contact with An Garda Síochána get the opportunity to know and build up a relationship with a member of the force.

A review of Community Policing in Ireland is being carried out and it is anticipated that the review will be completed in 2007. This review will take into account international best practice in this area. When completed, the finished review will inform a National Model of Community Policing, which is a Strategic Goal in An Garda Síochána's Corporate Strategy. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the areas referred to in the Deputy's question are in the Clontarf sub-district and that there are six Gardaí from the Community Policing Unit assigned to these areas where they offer assistance and crime prevention advice on matters reported to them. The community Gardaí involved have a good working relationship with the residents. The residents and local Neighbourhood Watch Committee will continue to receive regular attention and support from the Gardaí at Clontarf. I know that the Garda Commissioner will take full account of the needs of Community Policing in his allocation of the very considerable increase currently under way in the strength of the Force. The attested strength has increased by well over 2,000 since June 1997 — which is more than 20% of an increase. There are now more than 14,000 attested members and recruits in training and this means that Community Policing and other operational areas in the force will continue to grow in strength.

Garda Stations.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

254 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the policing policy at Irish West Airport, Knock; his views on whether a permanent Garda station is necessary at this airport due to the increase in passenger numbers and the increase in routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6763/07]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, that the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 13,000 following the attestation of 299 new members on Thursday, 16 November, 2006. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 as at 30 June 1997 and represents an increase of 2,298 (or 21.5%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training as at the 31 December 2006 was 14,068. Furthermore, I should say that in December, 2006 as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of 275 new recruits per quarter into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006 and a 96% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that it would not be the optimum use of Garda resources to provide a full-time Immigration Unit at Knock (Ireland West) Airport. This is based on an analysis of the volume of passengers travelling through the Airport. I have also been informed by the Garda authorities that the Knock (Ireland West) Airport is policed by personnel from the Swinford District and this factor is taken into account when allocating resources to the Swinford District. Furthermore, the Garda authorities consider that the opening of a Garda Station at Knock (Ireland West) Airport would necessitate the employment of additional personnel on indoor administrative duties who may be more effectively employed on outdoor policing duties. I should also say that the Mayo Division's resources are further augmented by a number of National Units such as the Garda National Drugs Unit, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), other specialised units and the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), all of which have had increased resources to provide a comprehensive policing service to the public. Garda management state that the next allocation of Probationer Gardaí will take place on 14 March 2007. The needs of the Mayo Garda Division, which includes the Swinford Garda District, will be fully considered in this allocation, within the overall context of the needs of Garda Divisions throughout the country.

Requests for Clemency.

Michael Lowry

Question:

255 Mr. Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a final reply will issue to this Deputy in response to correspondence regarding a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if he will favourably consider the appeal in question in view of the reasons outlined in previous correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7351/07]

No petition or application to open a petition is currently on hand for consideration by me in respect of the person referred to by the Deputy. I have arranged to forward to the Deputy the appropriate application form which should be completed and returned to my office by the person concerned. I should, however, bring to the Deputy's attention the fact that the 1995 High Court Judgement on petitions stated that the power of clemency which I may exercise must be used sparingly and only in special and exceptional circumstances.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Michael Lowry

Question:

256 Mr. Lowry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the criteria for assessing a community closed circuit television application; when he expects to confirm the 2007 grant recipients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7352/07]

As the Deputy is aware I launched the Community Based CCTV Scheme in June 2005 in response to the demonstrated demand from local communities across Ireland for the provision of CCTV systems. This Scheme is designed to provide financial assistance to qualifying local organisations towards meeting the capital costs associated with the establishment of local community CCTV systems. The scheme operates at two levels: Stage 1 for pre-development proposals and Stage 2 for fully developed proposals. The requirements under Stage 1 are less onerous than those for Stage 2. Pobal has been engaged to administer the Scheme on behalf of my Department. Details of the assessment criteria are set out in the Community Based CCTV Scheme Guidelines for the Application and Appraisals Process which can be found on both the Pobal website, www.pobal.ie, and on my Department’s website, www.justice.ie.

Interest in the first round of the scheme was high with a total of 13 successful groups approved to receive Stage 2 grants totalling €1 million to be matched, in RAPID areas, by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Payment of these grants to the successful applicants is underway and progressing well. In addition, a total of 24 successful groups received Stage 1 grants totalling €115,665 during 2006. Pobal invited all groups who received Stage 1 grants to submit Stage 2 proposals and grants to successful applicants (subject to the Garda Commissioner's authorisation under section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005) are expected to be announced by the end of March 2007. In addition, a new round of funding under the Community Based CCTV Scheme (both stage 1 and stage 2) was advertised on 1st December, 2006 with a closing date of 28th February, 2007. As the closing date for receipt of applications has not yet been reached, the total number of applications that will be received is not yet known. Accordingly, it is not possible at this stage to predict when grant announcements will be made but I can assure the Deputy there will be no undue delay in the evaluation and approval process.

Stardust Tragedy.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

257 Mr. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if and when he will appoint a commission of investigation into the terrible fire disaster at the Stardust Nightclub, Artane, Dublin 5 on St. Valentine’s Day 1981; and if he will make an urgent statement as to his intentions on this matter. [7369/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Victims Committee has been advised that an external and independent examination of its submission is to be carried out by an eminent legal person. The arrangements for this examination are the subject of ongoing communication and will hopefully be agreed in the short term.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

258 Mr. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on a programme of providing current funding to closed circuit television schemes in view of the fact that the ongoing cost of monitoring cameras and alerting Gardaí is a key reason in deterring vulnerable estates and communities from applying for his CCTV installation programme which mainly covers capital costs. [7370/07]

I launched the Community based CCTV Scheme in June 2005, in response to the demonstrated demand from local communities across Ireland for the provision of CCTV systems. This Scheme provides financial assistance to qualifying local organisations towards meeting the capital costs associated with the establishment of local community CCTV systems. The scheme operates at two levels: Stage 1 for pre-development proposals and Stage 2 for fully developed proposals. The requirements under Stage 1 are less onerous than those for Stage 2. Pobal have been engaged to administer the Scheme on behalf of my Department. Interest in the first round of the scheme was high with a total of 13 successful groups approved to receive Stage 2 grants totalling €1 million to be matched, in RAPID areas, by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Payment of these grants to the successful applicants is underway and progressing well. In addition, a total of 24 successful groups received Stage 1 grants totalling €115,665 during 2006.

Pobal invited all groups who received Stage 1 grants to submit Stage 2 proposals by 31st January 2007 and 20 groups submitted proposals. They are being evaluated by Pobal. Grants for successful applicants (subject to the Garda Commissioner's authorisation under section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005) are expected to be announced by the end of March 2007. In addition, a new round of funding under the Community Based CCTV Scheme was advertised on 1st December 2006 with a closing date for applications of 28th February 2007. As outlined above, there is considerable interest and response to the scheme as it stands and funding is provided on the basis that appropriate arrangements are in place for the ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the schemes. That said, I am open to consider the matter when the scheme next falls to be reviewed.

Garda Deployment.

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

259 Mr. O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide additional resources to An Garda Síochána to allow special attention to be given to an area (details supplied) in Dublin 24 where the local community has concerns regarding crime, vandalism, anti-social behaviour and bad parking; if he will take action on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7371/07]

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda authorities. I will be in contact with the Deputy when this information is to hand.

Irish Prison Service.

Joe Costello

Question:

260 Mr. Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of institutional facilities belonging to his Department or funded or part-funded by his Department in the Dublin central constituency area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7378/07]

I understand that the Deputy is primarily interested in information concerning institutional facilities with a residential component. Accordingly, I can inform him that there are four institutions under the administration of the Irish Prison Service in the constituency area in question. These are:-

Mountjoy Prison — (Male and Female Prison) — North Circular Road, Dublin 7.

St. Patrick's Institution — North Circular Road, Dublin 7.

Training Unit — Glengarriff Parade, Dublin 7.

Arbour Hill Prison — Arbour Hill, Dublin 7.

In addition, my Department provides funding to a range of voluntary bodies which provide services to offenders in local communities. There are twelve such community based projects located in the Dublin Central Constituency area, one of which has a residential component as follows:

Tús Nua, 136 North Circular Road, Dublin 7

Tús Nua, managed by DePaul Trust, provides residential accommodation and support for female ex-offenders on probation type supervision in the community or on discharge from custody.

I can also inform the Deputy that the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform through the Reception and Integration Agency has responsibility for the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers while their applications for asylum are being processed. The details of these centres within the Dublin Central Constituency will be forwarded directly to the Deputy.

Court Procedures.

Joe Costello

Question:

261 Mr. Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of unexecuted bench warrants issued in each of the past four years nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7381/07]

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being researched. I will contact the Deputy again when the information is to hand.

Prison Accommodation.

Joe Costello

Question:

262 Mr. Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the purpose of the present construction works in Arbour Hill Prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7382/07]

There are no construction works under way at Arbour Hill Prison at present. A number of minor works are, however, being carried out on a site adjacent to the prison, which was recently transferred from the Department of Defence to the Irish Prison Service. These works include necessary items arising in the context of Health and Safety and security, as well as the provision of some temporary staff car parking facilities.

Asylum Support Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

263 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if permission can or will be given persons (details supplied) in County Cork to transfer to a self catering unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7515/07]

The Reception and Integration Agency is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers through the Government policy of direct provision and dispersal. Through direct provision, asylum seekers are provided with full board accommodation and ancillary services. The accommodation centre at Kinsale Road also provides Community Welfare Services, medical supports and VEC training on-site for residents.

In addition to direct provision accommodation, the Agency operates a very limited number of self-catering accommodation centres in certain parts of the country. There are no centres of this type in Cork City. This accommodation is reserved for special needs and extreme medical cases in the main.

The Agency received a request from the persons referred to in the details supplied for a move to self-catering accommodation dated 18th December, 2006. As the request was made on medical grounds, the Agency referred the details of the request to a Medical Referee for recommendation. The view of the Medical Referee in this case was that there was no clear indication to support a change to self catering accommodation.

Garda Strength.

Eoin Ryan

Question:

264 Mr. Eoin Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Gardaí stationed in the areas of Tallaght, Rathfarnham and Terenure, each year, from 1997 to date in 2007. [7545/07]

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 13,000 following the attestation of 299 new members on Thursday, 16 November, 2006. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,298 (or 21.5%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength (all ranks), of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training as at the 31 December 2006 was 14,068. Furthermore, I should say that in December, 2006 as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of approximately 1,100 new recruits per annum into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006 and a 96% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed by the Garda authorities that the number of Gardaí stationed in Tallaght, Rathfarnham and Terenure Garda Stations on 31 December, 1997 to 2006 and on 31 January, 2007 was as set out in the following table:

Tallaght

Rathfarnham

Terenure

31/12/97

133

63

49

31/12/98

139

57

46

31/12/99

142

63

60

31/12/00

159

63

67

31/12/01

159

67

66

31/12/02

159

74

84

31/12/03

166

71

87

31/12/04

173

76

91

31/12/05

167

70

97

31/12/06

178

72

98

31/01/07

177

72

101

Increase since 31/12/97

44 (or 33%)

9 (or 14%)

52 (or 106%)

I should add that it is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends and other operational policing needs. 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.

Crime Levels.

Eoin Ryan

Question:

265 Mr. Eoin Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the rates of reported crime, the rates of prosecution of reported crime and the rates of conviction in the areas of Tallaght, Rathfarnham and Terenure, each year, from 1997 to date in 2007. [7546/07]

Headline crime statistics for the Garda Division of Dublin South, which includes the Garda stations of Tallaght, Rathfarnham and Terenure, are contained in the relevant Garda Annual Reports, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library.

Following the submission to me in 2004 of a report and recommendations by an expert group on crime statistics, I decided that the compilation and publication of crime statistics should be taken over by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, from the Garda Síochána. The Garda Síochána Act, 2005 consequently makes provision for this and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. Following the setting up of the necessary technical systems and auditing of the data from which the statistics are compiled, I am pleased to note that the CSO is now compiling and publishing criminal statistics and has published provisional headline crime statistics for the third and fourth quarters of 2006. In addition, it has compiled and published a series of quarterly and annual statistics for the period starting with the first quarter of 2003. I understand that the CSO are examining how the crime statistics published might be expanded and made more comprehensive. I have requested the CSO to provide the information sought by the Deputy directly to him.

Residency Permits.

Pat Breen

Question:

266 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application for a residency visa for a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7566/07]

The position in relation to granting long term residency is as follows: Persons who have been legally resident in the State for over five years on the basis of work permit/work authorisation/work visa conditions may apply to the Immigration Division of my Department for a five year residency extension. In that context they may also apply to be exempt from employment permit requirements.

The dependants of the aforementioned, who have been legally resident in the State for over five years may also apply for long term residency. This particular long term permission does not grant an exemption from employment permit requirements to any such dependants.

Time spent in the State on student conditions cannot be counted towards long term residency. While applications for long term residency are under consideration, the person concerned should ensure that their permission to remain in the State is kept up to date.

An application for long term residence from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in June 2006. I understand that applications received in May 2006 are currently being dealt with.

Citizenship Applications.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

267 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on a post-nuptial citizenship application by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [7568/07]

Officials in the Citizenship section of my Department recently wrote to the solicitors representing the person concerned to request observations on a number of issues relevant to his claim for post-nuptial citizenship. Once such observations are to hand, I will be in a position to make a decision on the matter. The Deputy will be notified of the outcome.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Paul McGrath

Question:

268 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the funding allocated to the closed circuit television scheme in Mullingar in each of the past three years; if this project has gone to tender; the timescale to have CCTV operational in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7581/07]

I am committed to the expansion of the CCTV programme and contracts have recently been signed by the Garda authorities for the installation of CCTV systems in Ballyfermot, Clondalkin and Tullamore. These three towns were chosen as representative of the average size of a Garda Síochána CCTV system, containing a good cross-section of the type of urban area in which Garda CCTV is typically deployed.

I recently announced that it is planned for tenders to issue very shortly for a further 14 centres and Mullingar is included in this announcement. Other centres (in alphabetical order) are Athlone, Carlow, Castlebar, Clonmel, Drogheda, Dungarvan, Ennis, Kilkenny, Kinsale, Portlaoise, Sligo, Tallaght, and Waterford.

A request for tender (RFT) will issue to the marketplace very shortly for the installation of the systems with Mullingar included in this tender. Depending on the tender responses received it is anticipated that the system will be installed in 2007. Until the responses are received from the market, it is not possible to indicate the cost for each location. However, I can say that over €7.5m has been provided in the Garda Vote for 2007 for these projects.

Paul McGrath

Question:

269 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the funding allocated to the closed circuit television scheme in Tullamore in each of the past three years; if this project has gone to tender; the timescale to have CCTV operational in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7582/07]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that following issue of tenders for the supply and installation of a Garda Town Centre CCTV System in Tullamore in October, 2006, a contract for the installation, operational/technical training and maintenance of the system has been awarded to BT Communications. The contract was signed by the Garda Authorities on 1st February 2007 and a 3 month installation timeframe is envisaged. An amount in the order of €340,000 (ex VAT) has been set aside in the 2007 Garda Budget for this scheme.

Paul McGrath

Question:

270 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the funding allocated to the closed circuit television scheme in Longford in each of the past three years; if this project has gone to tender; the timescale to have CCTV operational in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7583/07]

I am advised by the Garda authorities that they have no record of a formal application for a Garda CCTV system in Longford. All applications for Garda CCTV systems must be prepared in co-operation and with support of local Garda District and Divisional Officers. Such applications are then be submitted by the Divisional Officer to the Garda Advisory Committee for consideration and evaluation on the basis of Garda operational needs.

I understand, however, that there are a number of CCTV cameras in operation on Main Street, Longford which were funded and installed by local business people and are operated voluntarily. Neither the Garda authorities nor my Department have any involvement with this CCTV system.

I am further informed that an application for grant-aid funding under my Department's Community Based CCTV Scheme was received from Longford Town Council. This Scheme is administered by Pobal on behalf of my Department. I understand that following a thorough assessment of their application, Longford Town Council's application for funding was deemed not to reach the qualifying standard for grant funding. I am further advised that Pobal provided feedback on applications directly to all unsuccessful applicants under the Scheme, including Longford Town Council.

I announced a new round of funding under the Community Based CCTV Scheme on 1 December 2006. Notices have been published in the national and Sunday newspapers bringing the Scheme to the attention of the public. The closing date for applications has been set at 28 February 2007.

The application documentation for the Scheme has been revised to be more user-friendly and also take account of the requirements of section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. All application documentation is published on the websites of both Pobal and my Department.

Citizenship Applications.

Enda Kenny

Question:

271 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in respect of a person (details supplied) who has applied for naturalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7584/07]

An application for residency in the State on the basis of marriage to an Irish national was received from the person in question in January 2006. Applications of this kind, in fairness to all other such applicants, are dealt with in strict chronological order and currently take approximately twelve months to process. It should be noted that marriage to an Irish national does not confer an automatic right of residence in the State.

The application is currently being processed. A decision on his residency status will be made after full consideration of all circumstances particular to this case.

Residency Permits.

Tom Hayes

Question:

272 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary who has applied for long-term residency. [7585/07]

The position in relation to granting long term residency is as follows: Persons who have been legally resident in the State for over five years on the basis of work permit/work authorisation/work visa conditions may apply to the Immigration Division of my Department for a five year residency extension. In that context they may also apply to be exempt from employment permit requirements.

The dependants of the aforementioned, who have been legally resident in the State for over five years may also apply for long term residency. This particular long term permission does not grant an exemption from employment permit requirements to any such dependants.

Time spent in the State on student conditions cannot be counted towards long term residency. While applications for long term residency are under consideration, the person concerned should ensure that their permission to remain in the State is kept up to date.

An application for long term residency from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in July 2006. I understand that applications received in May 2006 are currently being dealt with.

Work Permits.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

273 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of work permits issued to EEA nationals proposing to operate a business here to date in 2007; the number of same that were renewals and the number that were new permits with a breakdown by economic sector of the permits granted. [7586/07]

There is no requirement on EEA nationals to obtain the permission of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in order to operate a business in the State. Accordingly the statistical information sought by the Deputy is not in existence.

Citizens of member states of the EEA — other than European Union (EU) citizens — are subject to the European Communities (Aliens) Regulations 1977 (S.I. No. 393 of 1977) and the European Communities (Right of Residence for Non-Economically Active Persons) Regulations 1997 (S.I. No. 57 of 1997). EU citizens are subject to the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) (No. 2) Regulations 2006.

Crime Levels.

Richard Bruton

Question:

274 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the headline offences recorded and detected in 2006 under each of the ten groupings used for classification in each of the 18 Garda districts within the Dublin metropolitan area. [7631/07]

Richard Bruton

Question:

275 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the headline offences recorded and detected in 2006 under each of the ten groupings used for classification nationally. [7632/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 274 and 275 together.

Following the submission to me in 2004 of a report and recommendations by an expert group on crime statistics, I decided that the compilation and publication of crime statistics should be taken over by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, from the Garda Síochána. The Garda Síochána Act, 2005 consequently makes provision for this and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. Following the setting up of the necessary technical systems and auditing of the data from which the statistics are compiled, I am pleased to note that the CSO is now compiling and publishing criminal statistics and has published provisional headline crime statistics for the third and fourth quarters of 2006. In addition, it has compiled and published a series of quarterly and annual statistics for the period starting with the first quarter of 2003. I understand that the CSO are examining how the crime statistics published might be expanded and made more comprehensive. I have requested the CSO to provide the information sought by the Deputy directly to him.

Garda Strength.

Richard Bruton

Question:

276 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Garda strength in each of the 18 Garda districts within the Dublin metropolitan area and the specialist units of the DMA as of 31 December 2005 and 31 December 2006. [7633/07]

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda authorities. I will be in contact with the Deputy when this information is to hand.

Garda Investigations.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

277 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 201, the progress made in the Garda investigation to which he made reference in his reply at that time; the precise role which the Director of Public Prosecutions has in this case in view of the fact that this has been queried; the present position of this case and his views on same following further correspondence pertinent to the case which has been received since his reply to that question; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7634/07]

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 201 of 14 February, 2007. The position remains unchanged.

Correspondence recently received from the legal representative of the person in question does not materially alter this position.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Tony Gregory

Question:

278 Mr. Gregory asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received an application from areas (details supplied) for a pilot closed circuit television project; and when the funding will be made available in order that the project may proceed. [7639/07]

As the Deputy is aware I launched the Community Based CCTV Scheme in June 2005 in response to the demonstrated demand from local communities across Ireland for the provision of CCTV systems. This Scheme is designed to provide financial assistance to qualifying local organisations towards meeting the capital costs associated with the establishment of local community CCTV systems. The scheme operates at two levels: Stage 1 for pre-development proposals and Stage 2 for fully developed proposals. Pobal have been engaged to administer the Scheme on behalf of my Department.

Interest in the first Round of the Scheme, which concluded in September 2005, was quite high. 24 successful groups received Stage 1 grants totalling €115,665 during 2006 including the areas referred to the Deputy as follows:

Dublin 7 CCTV Action Group (including Mountpelier);

North West Inner City RAPID AIT Sub-Group; and

North East Inner City RAPID AIT.

Following an assessment of all applications received by Pobal grants for successful applicants (subject to the Garda Commissioner's authorisation under section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005) are expected to be announced by the end of March 2007.

Pobal further state that while Dublin 7 CCTV Action Group (including Mountpelier) did not apply for Stage 2 funding in this round, they intend to prepare a new application under Stage 2 of the next round, which was advertised on 1st December, 2006 with a closing date of 28th February, 2007.

Road Traffic Accidents.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

279 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of fatalities on Irish roads from 7 am to 12 noon in 2005 and 2006, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7646/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following table shows the number of persons killed on Irish roads between 7am and 12 noon in 2005 and 2006.

Year

Fatalities

2006

74

2005

71

Garda Stations.

John McGuinness

Question:

280 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Garda station at Inistioge, County Kilkenny, is to be refurbished and provided with better public lighting; if the Gardaí have requested such work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7659/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that maintenance works to the external lighting at the entrances to Inistioge Garda Station were carried out in April 2006.

Garda authorities inform me that no further application in respect of the external lighting has been received by the Garda Accommodation manager in respect of Inistioge since that time. However, any further requests for maintenance to the station will be dealt with under the Garda maintenance programme. The provision of public lighting in the area around the station is a matter for the local authority.

Road Traffic Accidents.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

281 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of forensic teams available currently to investigate road accidents; his plans to increase this department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7670/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently 25 Garda forensic collision investigators trained in An Garda Síochána. A further 12 members commenced training on 19 February, 2007. It is planned that, on completion of the training courses in 2007, there will be trained forensic collision investigators attached to each Garda Division in the country.

I am further informed that the District Officer has overall responsibility for the investigation of fatal traffic collisions within his or her District and s/he has access to all necessary resources, including a forensic collision investigation capability, within An Garda Síochána to investigate such collisions.

Decentralisation Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

282 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will detail, providing in each case the full postal address, of each section of his Department, each State, semi-State body and agency under the aegis of his Department, which has moved or is due to move from Dublin under the Government’s decentralisation programme; the number of staff based there prior to decentralisation; the number of staff that will be based there post decentralisation; and in respect of each building, the intended use it will be put to once decentralisation is complete. [7757/07]

My Department's decentralisation programme runs from 2004 to 2009 and involves the transfer of around 900 posts from twelve agencies and units under the aegis of my Department to seven locations around the country.

Any decisions on the disposal or use of Dublin office space, post decentralisation, will be taken in consultation with the Office of Public Works. Those decisions will depend on a range of factors including the requirements of my Department at the time and the specific circumstances associated with each building such as its location, quality and design, tenure, office area and whether it is leasehold or freehold. Accordingly, it is not possible, at this stage of the programme, to be precise as to how these buildings will be used. The particular details of the decentralising offices requested by the Deputy are set out below.

Thurles — Sections of Garda Headquarters (114 posts), Phoenix Park and Capel Street, Dublin 1.

Portarlington — Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (22 posts), Irish Life Centre, Dublin 1 and Equality Tribunal (32 posts), 3 Clonmel Street, Dublin 2.

Roscrea — Equality Authority (54 posts), 2 Clonmel Street, Dublin 2 and Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission* (23 posts).

Longford — Irish Prison Service (141 posts), S.I.A.C. Building, Monastery Road, Clondalkin, Dublin.

Roscommon — Property Registration Authority (230 posts), Chancery Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7.

Navan — Garda Civilian HR Division*(36 posts), Office of the Director of Probation Service (20 posts), Smithfield Chambers, Smithfield, Dublin 7, National Property Services Regulatory Authority* (6 posts) and Coroners Agency* (40 posts).

Tipperary — Sections of Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (186 posts), Burgh Quay, Dublin 1.

*Newly established agencies where there is no Dublin based office to be vacated.

Garda Vetting Services.

Beverley Flynn

Question:

283 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason An Garda Síochána provided information under a request for Garda clearance that related to a caution that a person (details supplied) received when they were 16 years old. [7793/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the disclosure made by the Garda Cental Vetting Unit (GCVU) in this case was not a vetting disclosure but, rather, a disclosure pursuant to Section 4 of the Data Protection Act 1988, as amended. The two kinds of disclosure are qualitatively different and are intended for quite distinct purposes.

A vetting service is provided by the GCVU to selected registered recruiting organisations in respect of persons who would have substantial, unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults as a means of safeguarding these vulnerable client groups. In general, such vetting allows for the disclosure of information relating to criminal convictions and criminal prosecutions, successful or unsuccessful, only and not Garda cautions.

In contrast, under data protection legislation, a person may apply for a copy of personal data maintained on the Garda Criminal Records Database for his/her personal use only. Such a disclosure states, inter alia, that the document does not constitute a Garda ‘clearance'. In general, such personal data would include information relating to criminal convictions and Garda cautions. This reflects the purpose of data protection legislation, which is not a means of vetting but, rather, is designed to protect individuals with regard to the automatic processing of their personal data.

Tax Code.

Willie Penrose

Question:

284 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if there are proposals to improve commercial tax rates on tractors which are hired for work on motorways; if these tractors are compelled to utilise white diesel, despite the fact that these vehicles are primarily utilised on agricultural holdings, and are only utilised on an occasional basis to carry out works on the motorways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7357/07]

The Revenue Commissioners inform me that the use of ‘reduced rate' marked gas oil as fuel for an agricultural tractor (a mechanically propelled vehicle which is designed or constructed primarily for agricultural purposes) is permitted under Mineral Oil Tax law, regardless of the purpose for which that tractor is being used. In addition, the Vehicle Registration Tax for agricultural tractors is €50.

Joan Burton

Question:

285 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Finance the situation regarding VAT on the employment fees of artists from outside Ireland; the applicable VAT rate; the rate that would apply in an equivalent situation where an Irish artist is hired; if there are proposals to change the current VAT rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7124/07]

The position is that a resident artist, whose income exceeds the VAT registration threshold for small businesses, in this case €35,000, must register and account for VAT on their income. A resident artist whose income is below the registration threshold is outside the scope of VAT. The VAT Directive precludes the granting of such a threshold to non-resident taxable persons and consequently it is not possible to apply such a threshold to a non-resident artist. The VAT rate applicable to both resident and non-resident artists is the standard rate of 21%. It is not possible under EU law to zero rate or to apply a reduced rate to such services.

I would add that the VAT Act lists a range of activities that are exempt from VAT. Included in this list is the promotion of and admissions to live theatrical or musical performances. This very broad exemption applies to both commercial and non-profit making organisations. In effect this means that the promoter realises the full value of the admission fee as no VAT is applied to admission fees. In this regard, the current exemption is already very generous covering a broad range of activities accessible to the wider public and it applies equally to commercial and non-profit organisations. In contrast, I understand that most, other Member States charge VAT on admission fees.

Disabled Drivers.

Jack Wall

Question:

286 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application for the special VAT dispensation on the purchase of a car by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7132/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners, that based on the information supplied, they have been unable to trace any claim by the named person under the Disabled Drivers and the Disabled Passengers (Tax Concession) Regulations, 1994.

The disability criteria for eligibility for the tax concessions under this scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. To get the Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be severely and permanently disabled and satisfy one of the following conditions:

(a) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

(b) be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

(c) be without both hands or without both arms;

(d) be without one or both legs;

(e) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

(f) have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

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

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

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

In respect of the long-term recommendations, including the qualifying disability criteria, given the scale and scope of the scheme, further changes can only be made after careful consideration. For this reason, the Government decided that the Minister for Finance would consider the recommendations contained in the Report of the Interdepartmental Review Group in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to the existing and prospective cost of the scheme. This consideration is undertaken on a regular basis.

Flood Relief.

Michael Ring

Question:

287 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance if he will instruct the Office of Public Works to investigate a landslide (details supplied) which occurred in County Mayo; if this area has been made safe as there are concerns locally that the area is a danger if the weather gets bad and additional landslides could occur onto the public road; if he will request that OPW officials investigate this matter; and if there is funding that can be put in place to try and resolve this problem. [7136/07]

The Office of Public Works has no statutory or functional responsibility in relation to this matter.

In the case of a previous landslide at Pullathomas, North Mayo, in September 2003, the OPW, in response to a request from Mayo County Council, provided machinery (a couple of excavators) and personnel to assist the County Council in the initial clean-up of mud and debris. In carrying out such works, OPW was acting solely as an agent of the County Council.

Tax Code.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

288 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Finance the tax incentives that exist to support the development of a school of music; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7170/07]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that there are no specific tax incentives available for the development of schools of music. However, if a school of music is being run as a business and generating taxable income, the general position under tax law is that expenses that are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business are deductible in arriving at taxable profits. Relief is also available for capital expenditure incurred on items regarded as plant and machinery that are used for the purposes of the business.

Tax relief, in the form of capital allowances, was previously available for expenditure incurred on the construction and equipping of buildings used for the purposes of third level education. It was, therefore, open to a third level educational institution with a music department or school of music to avail of this scheme. In line with property incentives generally, the scheme which provided relief to investors in third level educational facilities, is now being phased out and will finally end on 31 July 2008. However, for new projects it has already come to an end and the July 2008 deadline applies only to pipeline projects meeting a number of transitional conditions.

In addition, Section 848A (Part 2 of Schedule 26A) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for tax relief on donations to approved bodies which have been granted approval for education in the arts. Relief from either income tax or corporation tax applies where an individual or company make a donation of money, of at least €250 in a tax year, to an "approved body" for the purpose of assisting that body to promote the advancement in the State of an "approved subject". Subject to certain conditions there is no upper limit on the amount that can be donated.

An "approved body" is a body approved the Minister for Finance for the purposes of the section, which is essentially a third level college, university or other body concerned solely with the advancement in the State, on a national or regional basis, of one or more specified "approved subjects" and cannot distribute its profits or assets to its members.

The "approved subjects" are actually listed in the legislation but can and have been added to by the Minister for Finance. The list of approved subjects appearing in the legislation is as follows:

(a) the practice of architecture,

(b) the practice of art and design,

(c) the practice of music and musical composition,

(d) the practice of theatre arts,

(e) the practice of film arts, or

(f) any other subject approved of the purposes of this section by the Minister for Finance.

Disabled Drivers.

John Deasy

Question:

289 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Finance the improvements that have been made to the disabled drivers scheme following the report of the interdepartmental review group in 2004 with particular reference to the required medical criteria; the number of amputees that have applied for the scheme; the number of these that have been refused access; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7210/07]

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

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

In respect of the long-term recommendations, including the qualifying disability criteria, given the scale and scope of the scheme, further changes can only be made after careful consideration. For this reason, the Government decided that the Minister for Finance would consider the recommendations contained in the Report of the Interdepartmental Review Group in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to the existing and prospective cost of the scheme. This consideration is undertaken on a regular basis.

The disability criteria for eligibility for the tax concessions under this scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. To get the Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be severely and permanently disabled and satisfy one of the following conditions:

(a) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

(b) be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

(c) be without both hands or without both arms;

(d) be without one or both legs;

(e) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

(f) have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

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

Consequently, my Department is not in a position to outline the number of amputees that have applied for the scheme, such information falls under the remit of the HSE. However, the Revenue Commissioners have informed me that there are some 800 amputees currently on the scheme.

Tax Yield.

Fiona O'Malley

Question:

290 Ms F. O’Malley asked the Minister for Finance the figure for income generated from the 21% VAT rate on condoms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7261/07]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information to be furnished by taxable persons on VAT returns does not require the yield from particular commodities to be identified. Consequently, the information requested is not available.

The standard VAT rate of 21% applies to condoms. Under EU VAT law, with which Irish law must comply, it is not possible to introduce new zero rates of VAT, as we can only retain the zero rating that was in existence on 1 January 1991. Therefore it would not be possible to apply the zero rate of VAT to condoms.

Member States are however permitted to apply the reduced VAT rate to goods or services listed in Annex III of the EU VAT Directive. In Ireland the reduced VAT rate is 13.5%. Certain pharmaceutical products including condoms are included in Annex III. It would therefore be possible to apply the reduced rate of VAT to condoms.

In any event, if there was a reduction in the rate of VAT applying to condoms, I am not convinced, given the mark ups in the sector, that any rate reduction would necessarily be fully reflected in retail prices for condoms.

Flood Relief.

Phil Hogan

Question:

291 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Finance when fencing will be erected at Dukesmeadows and Bishopsmeadows, Kilkenny City arising from the flood relief scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7315/07]

The programme for the installation of boundary fencing at Bishopsmeadows is already well advanced and should be completed in the near future. Erection of the fencing at Dukesmeadows is expected to commence around Easter 2007.

Tax Yield.

Seamus Healy

Question:

292 Mr. Healy asked the Minister for Finance the amount of the Exchequer current account surplus per each of the years 1998 to 2006 inclusive; and the current account surplus in general Government balance basis for each of the years 1998 to 2006 inclusive. [7319/07]

The following table below provides the details requested by the Deputy.

Year

Current Surplus (Exchequer)

% GNP

Current Surplus GGB basis

% GDP

€m

%

€m

%

1998

2,649

3.9

2,911

3.7

1999

4,345

5.6

5,546

6.1

2000

6,967

7.8

7,301

7.0

2001

4,727

4.8

4,953

4.2

2002

5,399

5.1

3,493

2.7

2003

4,410

3.8

4,209

3.0

2004

5,619

4.5

5,828

3.9

2005

6,353

4.7

4,940

3.1

2006

9,151

6.1

7,586

4.3

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Question:

293 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance further to his recent decision to increase the thresholds at which VAT returns must be made, if he has used up his full discretion under EU rules to increase these thresholds; his views on the contention that Irish thresholds are lower than would apply to a trader based in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7363/07]

The VAT Directive permits the value of the VAT registration thresholds, if desired, to be maintained in line with inflation. If the current thresholds were increased in line with inflation, they would rise to around €36,900 for services and €73,800 for goods.

However, I should point out that I have significantly increased the VAT registration thresholds over the last two budgets. In last year's budget the VAT registration thresholds were increased from €25,500 to €27,500 for services and from €51,000 to €55,000 for goods. In this year's budget these threshold were increased further to €35,000 in the case of services and €70,000 in the case of goods. Taken together these increases have raised the VAT registration thresholds by some 37% over the last two years. Furthermore, these increases are in line with the recommendation contained in the Small Business Forum report published last year.

In relation to the level of thresholds operated here versus or European counterparts, It should be recognised that Ireland operates the third highest registration threshold for goods and the second highest threshold for services in the EU. Indeed, some Member States do not operate any VAT registration threshold, requiring all businesses to register.

Finally, registration thresholds reduce the administrative burden on both small businesses often at the developmental stage and on the Revenue authorities. However, registration thresholds are not intended as a means of keeping small businesses permanently outside the VAT system. Therefore in setting registration thresholds levels, the objective is to strike an appropriate balance between the desirability of reducing the administrative burden on small businesses and the Revenue authorities and the need to avoid undermining tax compliance or causing competitive distortions relative to registered firms.

Flood Relief.

Dan Neville

Question:

294 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Finance if he will reconsider a decision in connection with the Office of Public Works having a policy whereby flood relief is not provided wholly for agricultural purposes only; and if he will re-examine its policy in view of the needs of farmers who have difficulties in relation to flooding; and if he will examine a request from a farmer (details supplied) in County Limerick where the OPW have stated they do not intend to carry out any works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7511/07]

I recently announced that the Commissioners of Public Works would work with Local Authorities to try to address flooding that has resulted in damage to homes or other premises, including farming enterprises, subject to certain criteria. Any approach for flood mitigation works that would meet these criteria will be considered.

In the specific case referred to by the Deputy, the relevant channel has been maintained to its design level by the Commissioners. However, it has been found that some land flooding has persisted. The Commissioners will therefore carry out works to the channel this year to address this problem, provided any necessary consents can be obtained from other landowners and subject to there being no unacceptable environmental impacts.

Tax Collection.

Michael Ring

Question:

295 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance when original invoices submitted as part of claims for VAT refunds by an unregistered farmer will be returned to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if this matter will be expedited as the invoices are needed for a grant application and the Revenue Commissioners have been informed of the urgency in this case. [7617/07]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the claims for repayment of VAT referred to were paid to the farmer in question in January and May 2006. The farmer subsequently requested that two invoices, which he had submitted in support of the claims, be returned to him for use in connection with a grant application to the Department of Agriculture and Food. One of these invoices has since been returned by the Revenue Commissioners, but unfortunately it has not been possible to locate the other invoice, despite an extensive search. However, the Revenue Commissioners have been in touch with the Department of Agriculture and Food on the matter and I understand that the grant application will be processed taking account of the invoice in question.

Freedom of Information.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

296 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if the Voluntary Health Insurance company is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1997; if not, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7628/07]

As a commercial semi-state body, the Voluntary Health Insurance Board is not subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Acts. FOI has not been extended to commercial semi-state bodies for reasons associated with the need for such bodies to compete commercially.

Decentralisation Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

297 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if he will detail, providing in each case the full postal address, of each section of his Department, each State, semi-State body and agency under the aegis of his Department, which has moved or is due to move from Dublin under the Government’s decentralisation programme; the number of staff based there prior to decentralisation; the number of staff that will be based there post decentralisation; and in respect of each building, the intended use it will be put to once decentralisation is complete. [7754/07]

The tables following set out, in each case prior to decentralisation, the sections of my Department that have decentralised to Tullamore or are about to decentralise to Kildare, the number of staff in these sections prior to decentralisation and the full postal address of that Section prior to decentralisation. My Department was in each case a part occupier of these buildings. Details are also provided in relation to bodies under the aegis of my department that are decentralising.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) manage the portfolio of accommodation for Government Departments and Offices in Dublin on an ongoing basis having regards to the accommodation needs of Departments. While accommodation already vacated by my Department in Setanta House and Frederick Buildings has already been reassigned to other areas of the civil service. I am informed by the Office of Public Works that definitive decisions in relation to other accommodation will be made in light of timing, size and sequencing of accommodation becoming available, the tenure under which the accommodation is held, market conditions at the time and the remaining need for accommodation in Dublin. Definitive decisions have, therefore, not been made as to the future use of buildings vacated as a result of decentralisation.

Department of Finance

Section

Number of Staff based in the building who have decentralised or will be decentralising

Full Postal Address

Civil Service Training and Development Unit (includes — Training and Development, Gaeleagras and the Language Training Unit)

26

3rd & 4th Floors, Lansdowne House, Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4

Organisation Development Unit

11

8th Floor, Lansdowne House, Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4

Finance Directorate (includes — Accounts, Salaries, Exchequer, Business Admin Unit and PMG Banking)

53

2nd Floor, Setanta Centre, Nassau Street, Dublin 2

PMG Pensions

17

4th Floor, Frederick Building, Sth. Frederick St.

Finance Unit

4

2nd Floor, South Block, Government Buildings, Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2

ERDF Financial Control Unit

9

1st Floor, 13-15 Hatch Street

Central Expenditure Evaluation Unit/IT Support

11

3rd Floor, Frederick Buildings, South Frederick Street, Dublin 2

CSD Support

3

Rm 0.8, North Block, Government Buildings, Dublin 2

ICT (Includes — Common Systems and IT Policy)

33

7th & 8th Floor, Lansdowne House, Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4

I am informed by the agencies under the aegis of my Department that the position is as set out in the following tables.

The table below sets out, in each case prior to decentralisation, the sections of Revenue that are scheduled to decentralise to Newcastle West, Kilrush, Listowel, Navan, Athy and Kildare. It is not envisaged that the sections decentralising will retain accommodation in Dublin after decentralisation.

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

Section

Number of Staff based in the building who have decentralised or will be decentralising

Full Postal Address

Collector General’s Division

82

Apollo House, Tara Street, Dublin 2

Collector General’s Division

68

Castle House, Sth. Gt. Georges Street, Dublin 2

Meath Revenue District

50

Grattan House, Lr. Mount Street, Dublin 2

Meath Revenue District

50

Ashtowngate, Navan Road, Dublin 15

Kildare Revenue District

56

Plaza Complex, Belgard Road, Tallaght,Dublin 24

Kildare Revenue District

57

Grattan House, Lr. Mount Street, Dublin 2

Operations Policy and Evaluation Division

137

Ardilaun House, St. Stephen’s Green West, Dublin 2

Information, Communications Technology ande-Business Division

200

Castle House, Wicklow House, Sth. Gt. George’s Street, Dublin 2

Information, Communications Technology ande-Business Division

140

Revenue Computer Centre, St John’s Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Information, Communications Technology ande-Business Division

40

Trident House, Blackrock, Co. Dublin

The table below sets out, in each case prior to decentralisation, the sections of OPW that are scheduled to decentralise to Claremorris, Kanturk and Trim. It is not envisaged that the sections decentralising will retain accommodation in Dublin after decentralisation.

Office of Public Works

Section

Number of Staff based in the building who have decentralised or will be decentralising

Full Postal Address

Office of the Minister of State OPW MAC Corporate Services Property Management Services Project Management Services Property Maintenance Services Architectural Services Engineering Services Government Supplies Agency Heritage Services Health & Safety Unit Facilities Management Valuation Services

438

Head Office, 51 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2

Heritage Services

8

7 Ely Place, Dublin 2

Heritage Services

19

Dún Scéine, Harcourt Lane, Dublin 2

Management Accounting & Quantity Surveying Unit

15

4/5 Harcourt Road, Dublin 2

Arterial Drainage Design Section Hydrology & Hydrometric Section Structural Engineering Section

38

17/19 Hatch Street, Dublin 2

Furniture Branch, GSA Warehousing

35

Mountshannon Road, Rialto, Dublin 8

Central Engineering Workshop

30

Jamestown Road, Inchicore, Dublin 8

The table below sets out the sections of the Public Appointments Service that are scheduled to decentralise to Youghal. PAS is a part occupier of Chapter House however 49 staff of the Office will continue to be located in Chapter House post decentralisation.

Public Appointments Service (PAS)

Section

Number of Staff based in the building who have decentralised or will be decentralising

Full Postal Address

Recruitment & Selection, HR Finance Unit, Business Support

100

Chapter House, 26-30 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1

The table below sets out the sections of the Valuation Office that are scheduled to decentralise to Youghal. The Valuation Office is a part occupier of the Irish Life Centre; however, 50 staff of the Office will remain in Dublin post decentralisation.

Valuation Office

Section

Number of Staff based in the building who have decentralised or will be decentralising

Full Postal Address

Headquarter Staff

100

Block 2, Irish Life Centre, Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1

The table below sets out the sections of Ordnance Survey Ireland that are scheduled to decentralise to Waterford. Ordnance Survey Ireland are the sole occupier of the building in the Phoenix Park and it is envisaged that no staff of OSI will remain in the building post decentralisation.

Ordnance Survey Ireland

Section

Number of Staff based in the building who have decentralised or will be decentralising

Full Postal Address

Headquarter Staff

200

Phoenix Park, Dublin 8

Site Acquisitions.

Michael Noonan

Question:

298 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in County Limerick are seeking to acquire ground for facilities for the school and that part of this ground is owned by the Department of Defence and part by Limerick City Council; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the Department of Defence are willing to transfer the land in question to the school authorities but that the Office of Public Works are not proceeding with the purchase of the other portion from the city council; if he will ensure that negotiations commence between the OPW and Limerick City Council in order that the land can be sold by the city council for the benefit of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7794/07]

The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland act as agents for the Department of Education & Science in the acquisition of sites for schools. The Commissioners are currently awaiting instructions from the Department regarding the proposed purchase of land from Limerick City Council for the Model School.

Child Care Services.

Enda Kenny

Question:

299 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children if advanced notice is given when child care facilities are being inspected; if so, the reason for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7372/07]

The Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 1996 and (Amendment) Regulations 1997 give effect to Part VII of the Child Care Act 1991 and provide for notification to, and inspection by the Health Service Executive of pre-school services. The Regulations apply to pre-schools, playgroups, day nurseries, crèches, childminders looking after more than three children and other similar services which cater for children under six years of age. The Health Service Executive has statutory responsibility for the implementation of these Regulations.

Judgments as to whether a pre-school service is in compliance with the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 1996 and (Amendment) Regulations 1997 are made on inspection by the pre-school services inspection teams of the Health Service Executive. This responsibility will continue to lie with the Health Service Executive on the introduction of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006 on 3 September 2007. 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.

Health Services.

Eoin Ryan

Question:

300 Mr. Eoin Ryan asked the Minister for Health and Children the levels of funding made available for drug treatment in the Dublin south west parts of Dublin 6W, 24 and 12, each year from 1997 to date in 2007. [7530/07]

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.

Community Drugs Schemes.

Marian Harkin

Question:

301 Ms Harkin asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to restore the right of pharmacists to be able to engage in collective bargaining on fees for the delivery of the community drugs schemes on behalf of the State; if the same legal advice will apply to the negotiation of fees with other contractors, such as general practitioners, dentists and optometrists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7806/07]

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

357 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding negotiations between the Health Service Executive and the Irish Pharmaceutical Union in relation to fees for the delivery of the community drugs schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7792/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 301 and 357 together.

In 2005, a process was begun to examine all aspects of the drugs supply chain with a view to achieving greater value for money in the pricing and supply of drugs and medicines to the health services and the GMS and community drugs schemes, consistent with patient safety and continuity of supply. This process was agreed by the Cabinet Committee on Health. A joint HSE/Department of Health and Children negotiating team was put in place to advance this process.

In mid-2006, the negotiating team reached agreement with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) and the Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in Ireland (APMI). Discussions then began with the wholesaler representative body, the Pharmaceutical Distributors' Federation (PDF), as part of the agreed process on supply to community pharmacies and the health services. However, PDF advised the State that a legal issue precluded it from negotiating a new margin for distribution to community pharmacies. The negotiating team then obtained legal advice, which subsequent legal advice to the Department confirmed, that this issue also had implications for negotiations with community pharmacists.

The legal advice to the Minister and the HSE indicates that:

Section 4(1) of the Competition Act, 2002 prohibits all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which have as their object or effect the restriction or distortion of competition, including agreements to fix prices, unless the agreement, decision or concerted practice meets certain conditions. Those conditions are not met in this case.

Wholesalers and pharmacy contractors are undertakings. PDF and the IPU are associations of undertakings under Section 4(1) of the Act.

The coming together of wholesalers under PDF or pharmacy contractors under the IPU to negotiate prices would be a breach of Section 4(1).

Entering into an agreement, making a decision or being involved in a concerted practice in contravention of Section 4(1) is a criminal offence and would expose those parties, their directors, managers and officers to the risk of criminal prosecution.

In light of the above, it is not possible for the HSE to engage in negotiations with PDF or the IPU in relation to fees or margins. The HSE has written to all community pharmacy contractors, setting out the position in relation to these issues in detail. The negotiation team has been examining how best to address this issue for pharmacy contractor services. To this end, the team engaged with the IPU to clarify the legal position and the situation in relation to contract negotiations. The team has now discussed with the IPU proposals to examine ways of carrying out a contract review that would comply fully with competition law.

It is necessary also to ensure that any future contractual arrangements entered into by the HSE for the provision of primary care services, and the process by which they are arrived at, comply with the terms of the Competition Act 2002. In this context, further legal advice is being sought in relation to the permissibility of negotiating contractual fee arrangements with organisations representing other self-employed health professionals. My Department and the HSE will consider this advice, when received, in order to determine the most appropriate way in which to advance the putting in place of contractual arrangements which facilitate the delivery of modern, high-quality and accountable primary care services.

With regard to IPU representation of pharmacists, both my Department and the HSE recognise the IPU as the collective representative body for its members. There is, and will continue to be, ongoing dialogue with the IPU, within the constraints of the legal advice provided. I wish to see that dialogue continuing in a constructive manner.

Health Service Staff.

Paddy McHugh

Question:

302 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the measures to be put in place by the Health Service Executive to accommodate people who had given up employment to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology at NUIG with the promised financial support of the HSE, who have withdrawn that support due to accreditation difficulties which have existed for the past three years during which time the HSE continued to fund participants; the way the HSE will compensate the people who gave up positions with the expressed support of the HSE who subsequently withdrew that support leaving the people without jobs or a course; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7154/07]

Over 120,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government's ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant increases in the number of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals employed in the public health services. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the health care needs of the population into the future.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of the Actual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Seán Crowe

Question:

303 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; the average time it takes for a child to get access to a speech and language therapist; if she has satisfied herself with this average length of time; and if she has proposals to reduce this waiting list which is unacceptable for many concerned parents. [7155/07]

Arising from the recommendations of the Bacon Report, which was published in 2001, additional courses in speech and language therapy and occupational therapy were established in UCC, NUIG and UL. These courses provided a further 75 places in each discipline. Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Services Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In this regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public.

As the Deputy may be aware, a sum of €75m for revenue purposes was provided to the Health Service Executive for Disability Services in the 2007 Budget. This sum incorporates the 2007 element of the Government's multi-annual investment programme for the National Disability Strategy. This Strategy is committed to enhancing the level and range of multi-disciplinary support services to adults and children with an intellectual, physical and sensory disability and those with autism.

As the balance of the Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004, my Department 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.

Pat Carey

Question:

304 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the assistance her Department can give to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7164/07]

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

Vaccination Programme.

Richard Bruton

Question:

305 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received reports on the shortage of BCG vaccine; if she has systems within her Department that keep track of stocks of vaccine whose administration is time sensitive; and her views on whether it is acceptable that her Department takes no responsibility for oversight of system breakdowns such as this. [7193/07]

I am aware of the recent temporary shortage of BCG vaccine and I understand that the Health Service Executive has dealt with the matter. The manufacture and storage of vaccines is dependent on critical biological components and processes which may be subject to disruption at several points along the production, storage and delivery chains, therefore, stocks may be compromised for a variety of reasons. Stock management of vaccines requires particular attention. In recognition of this, a National Vaccine Stock Management Committee was established several years ago and this function is now managed by the Health Service Executive.

Cancer Screening Programme.

John Deasy

Question:

306 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive have a service agreement for public patients with the Whitfield Clinic when providing mammograms; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7211/07]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the matter raised.

Hospital Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

307 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 has to wait until July 2007 for an eye operation; and if she will make this a priority case. [7219/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. 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.

Health Services.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

308 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to provide locum cover to general practitioners working on Ireland’s off-shore islands; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7226/07]

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 operational responsibility for the selection and recruitment of general practitioners and locum cover to general practitioners, to provide services under the General Medical Services Scheme. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Enda Kenny

Question:

309 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has satisfied herself that the provision of methadone in drug treatment centres is a suitable and safe treatment to drug addiction; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7231/07]

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.

Enda Kenny

Question:

310 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to develop residential drug treatment centres, including detox and counselling services, in the Dublin area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7232/07]

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.

Medical Cards.

Enda Kenny

Question:

311 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Dublin has been refused a medical card in view of their serious physical disability; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7233/07]

Medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services. In 2005 the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who do not qualify for a medical card would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP.

Since the beginning of 2005 substantial changes have been made to the way in which people's eligibility for a medical card is assessed and these apply equally to the assessment process for a GP visit card. The income guidelines have been increased by a cumulative 29% and in addition allowance is now made for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of mortgage/rent, child care and travel to work costs. In June 2006 I agreed a further adjustment to the income guidelines for GP visit cards. These are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards.

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for these benefits, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

National Drugs Strategy.

Tony Gregory

Question:

312 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Health and Children the membership of the working group set up to examine the links between drug and alcohol policies; and if she will appoint a representative from the community and voluntary sector to the group in view of the fact that it was that sector that called for the establishment of the group. [7251/07]

The membership of the working group referred to in the question is drawn from my Department, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Department of Education and Science, the Health Service Executive and the National Drugs Strategy Team.

As the Deputy is aware, the National Drugs Strategy Team is an inter-agency group which includes representation from the community & voluntary sector. My Department asked the Team to nominate a member to the Working Group given the Team's responsibility under the National Drugs Strategy to ensure effective co-ordination between Government Departments, relevant State Agencies and the community and voluntary sector. It is open to the Team to nominate a representative from the community & voluntary sector to the Working Group.

Health Repayment Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

313 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if people who have been in full time residential care for many years are eligible to make a claim or have a claim made on their behalf to the health repayment scheme (details supplied). [7278/07]

The health repayment scheme is administered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in conjunction with the appointed Scheme Administrator KPMG/McCann Fitzgerald an provide a legal framework to repay recoverable health charges. Recoverable health charges are charges which were imposed on persons with full eligibility under the Health (Charges for In-patient Services) Regulations 1976 as amended in 1987 or charges for in-patient services only, raised under the Institutional Assistance Regulations 1954 as amended in 1965. Eligibility for repayment under the health repayment scheme is predicated on whether a patient had a recoverable health charge imposed on them in the first instance and this information relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive.

My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

314 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to end the unequal treatment of children attending private primary school in respect of dental and optical treatment in view of the fact that in many cases children are in such schools because no national school places are available locally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7279/07]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

346 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children if children who attend private schools at primary level are not entitled to free dental care, regardless of family income; the reason for this rule; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this can create hardship for families of limited means who may, for particular reasons, have to send a child to a private school; if she will review this rule; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7645/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 314 and 346 together.

The statutory position governing the eligibility of pupils attending national primary schools to health examinations including dental and ophthalmic examinations, under the Health Service Executive (HSE) service is Section 66 of the Health Act, 1970. In the case of dental services the Health (Amendment) Act 1994 and the Health (Dental Services for Children) Regulations, 2000 (S.I. No. 248 of 2000) also applies. Section 66 (3) of the Health Act, 1970 states that ‘When the governing body of a school which is not a national school so requests, a health board may at its discretion by order apply this section to the school'.

The Irish Medicines Board (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2006, contains provision for the amendment of Section 66 of the Health Act, 1970 to provide for a health examination and treatment service for pupils attending any primary school. The Irish Medicines Board (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2006, also contains provision for the amendment of the Health (Amendment) Act, 1994 to provide dental health services to children attending any primary school. My officials are currently in discussion with the Health Service Executive with a view to ensuring an early commencement of the relevant sections of the Act.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Enda Kenny

Question:

315 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children when the BreastCheck programme will be available in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7283/07]

I am committed to ensuring that the BreastCheck service is rolled out to the remaining regions in the country as quickly as possible. I have allocated additional revenue funding of €8 million for this year to meet the additional costs involved. I have approved an additional 69 posts for roll-out. BreastCheck appointed the Clinical Directors for the South and West last November and has recently appointed three Consultant Radiologists, two Consultant Surgeons and two Consultant Histopathologists, all with a special interest in breast disease. The recruitment of Radiographers and other staff is underway.

I have also made available an additional €26.7m capital funding for the construction of two new clinical units and the provision of five additional mobile units and state of the art digital equipment. The first round of screening will commence in the West in the Spring which will take around 27 months to complete. The BreastCheck Programme is designed to offer repeat screening within an interval of 21-27 months.

In relation to the roll out to specific counties, my Department has requested the Director of the Programme to respond directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Executive.

Enda Kenny

Question:

316 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will lay a copy of the management structure of the Health Service Executive together with contact personnel and their particular responsibilities in the library of Dáil Éireann; if she is satisfied with the level of clarity regarding responsibilities within the HSE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7284/07]

Under the Health Act, 2004 there is a requirement for a number of documents in relation to the Health Service Executive to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. These include the National Service Plan and the Annual Report but does not include the management structure and contact details of personnel. However, I would direct the deputy to the home page of the Health Service Executive's website from which a booklet entitled "An Introduction to the Health Service Executive" can be downloaded. This booklet outlines the structure and purpose of the HSE and gives contact details for key staff nationwide.

Dan Neville

Question:

317 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children when an appointment and consultation with the pain relief section of the Mid West Health Service Executive will take place for a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [7309/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular question raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this case investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Dan Neville

Question:

318 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the procedure for bringing all residents of nursing homes who are in receipt of nursing home subvention to the new rate of €300 p.a.; and if she will confirm that all who presently have a nursing home payment will receive this rate. [7318/07]

From 1st January 2007 there are no longer three separate rates for subvention. Persons who apply may receive any amount up to a maximum of €300 per week. The payment of subvention is subject to means-testing. In addition, the HSE may pay an enhanced subvention to people who cannot afford to meet the cost of care. An extra €30 million has been provided in 2007 for this purpose.

The HSE has recently finalised National Guidelines for the Standardised Implementation of the Nursing Home Subvention Scheme. These were circulated to all Local Health Office subvention officers at the end of January, and are available on the HSE's website. Under the guidelines, the assessment of means will now be carried out using a national standard financial assessment method. The Guidelines also detail a number of improvements to the subvention scheme and in light of these improvements the HSE will re-assess those in receipt of a nursing home subvention.

The HSE will write to all those currently in receipt of a nursing home subvention. Residents in private nursing homes, who are not presently in receipt of a subvention, may also apply to the HSE for an assessment. It is estimated that as many as 1,800 people who did not previously qualify for a subvention may now be eligible for a payment.

Vaccination Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

319 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a full explanation as to the reason stocks of BCG vaccination were almost exhausted in recent weeks resulting in the cancellation of vaccination appointments; and the steps that are being taken to ensure a repeat is avoided. [7327/07]

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

Health Services.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

320 Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the implementation of the National Action Plan for Dementia; the success that has been achieved to date in this area; the level of dedicated funding that is available to progress the provisions of the plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7328/07]

The Action Plan for Dementia, published in 1999, outlines the complexity and range of issues involved in the effective management of dementia. The plan emphasises the need for the development of co-ordinated, multi-layered and well-resourced services, which are responsive to the individual needs of people with dementia and of those who care for them. The Action Plan describes a model of best practice for the provision and planning of dementia care in Ireland. The recommendations in the plan include increased funding, changes to service delivery mechanisms, expanded Old Age Psychiatry services, increased support for family carers and provision of day care and respite services.

Since the report was published, community supports have been enhanced over the years and increased levels of funding have been made available to develop a wide range of community based services, including community nursing, paramedical services, home help services, and support to family carers.

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. In 2006 a total of 2,000 additional Home Care packages were provided at a full year cost of €55m and a similar increase in the number of packages is being provided in 2007, benefitting some 4,000 people. An extra €18m was provided in Budget 2007 to fund the cost of some 780,000 additional Home Help this year. This brings the total funding allocated to the Home Help service to approximately €171 million per annum. An additional €3.5m was also allocated to provide an additional 1,100 places in Day/Respite care.

In terms of dementia specific services, new day care centres and residential units have been designed and developed in partnership with the Alzheimer's Society. Home care services have also been specifically developed to meet the needs of persons with Alzheimer's and their carers. The additional funding provided under Home Care Packages and the Home Help Scheme will further enhance the supports available to families caring for people with dementia at home.

In August 2006 the Alzheimer Society of Ireland published "Perceptions of Stigma in Dementia: An Exploratory Study" in conjunction with the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College, Dublin. The HSE has advised that it will work closely with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, as is the case at present, in examining the various recommendations of this report.

Health Service Staff.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

321 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of social workers for the elderly employed on a full time basis in County Mayo; her views on whether there is an urgent need to employ sufficient personnel; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6709/07]

Over 120,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government's ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant increases in the numbers of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals employed in the public health services. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the health care needs of the population into the future.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. 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 Services.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

322 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for a kidney scan following a recent lengthy hospital stay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6710/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular question raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this case investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Screening Programmes.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

323 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reconsider her stance in relation to the testing for B Strep infection of pregnant woman in view of the amount of women who are being told while in labour that they suffer from this infection and the risk this is putting them and their babies in; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6779/07]

Formal screening for B streptococcus is not carried out at present but the issue is being kept under review.

Departmental Expenditure.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

324 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the gross health spend for each of the years 1997 to 2006; and the gross allocation for 2007. [7350/07]

The Table below provides the information as requested. Vote 40 in respect of the Health Service Executive (HSE) was established in January, 2005. The figures in the accompanying table show the combined votes, both Current and Capital, of the Department of Health and Children and HSE for the years since that date.

Year

D/H&C/HSE Votes 39 & 40

€000

1997

3,636,742

1998

4,124,555

1999

4,831,140

2000

5,656,038

2001

7,077,260

2002

8,353,211

2003

9,302,314

2004

10,559,066

2005

11,872,218

2006

12,702,962

The Revised Estimated Volume for 2007 provides €14,475.9 million for Votes 39 and 40. Vote 41 in respect of the Office of the Minister for Children was established in April 2006 and outturn for that year was €353.8 million. The estimate as published in the Revised Estimate Volume for 2007 is 560.8 million.

Health Services.

Michael Lowry

Question:

325 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Health and Children is she will provide funding for the retention of a personal assistant for a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7355/07]

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

Health Service Review.

Michael Lowry

Question:

326 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Health and Children her view on correspondence (details supplied); if she will investigate the concerns raised; if she has a proposed solution to the concerns; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7356/07]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) established an Orthodontic Review Group in 2006. The Group was broadly representative of the orthodontic profession and also included representation from the HSE, my Department and the dental schools. The terms of reference for the group were:

to review the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee Reports;

to examine the recommendations within the operational remit of the HSE and to establish their status;

to conduct an analysis of the HSE's existing orthodontic delivery structure and capacity. Based on that analysis, to make recommendations in that regard;

the recommendations thus made to be costed and a time-frame for their implementation proposed.

The Review Group has finalised its report and it has been approved by the HSE Management Team. I have recently received a copy of the report and am considering its recommendations.

Health Services.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

327 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will increase funding to Headway Ireland to address the serious problems encountered by people with acquired brain injury; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7360/07]

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

Animal Welfare.

Mary Upton

Question:

328 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she is taking to ensure that the housing and care of animals and invertebrates used in scientific procedures conforms with the highest evidence based animal welfare standards; the number of inspection visits of establishments which use animals and invertebrates in scientific procedures that have been carried out with a view to ascertaining the degree of conformance with the relevant legislation of such establishments during each of the past five years by or on behalf of her Department. [7512/07]

The use of live animals in scientific research and other experimental activity is strictly controlled in accordance with the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, as amended by the European Communities (Amendment of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876) Regulations 2002 and 2005. These regulations transpose EU Directives on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes and ensure that Ireland is in line with international best practice.

Under the Act, experiments on live animals can only be performed by persons licensed by the Authority (Minister for Health and Children) and in premises registered for that purpose. Each licence applicant must satisfy the Authority that they have the appropriate education and training (including instruction in a relevant scientific discipline) for the task, are competent to perform the task in accordance with the conditions specified in the licence and have the appropriate competence to handle and take care of the experimental animals specified in the application.

Section 5 of the Act deals with the general requirements for the care and accommodation of experimental animals and provides, inter alia, that: all experimental animals shall be provided with housing, an environment, at least some freedom of movement, food water and care that are appropriate to their health and well being; any restriction on the extent to which an experimental animal can satisfy its physiological and ethological needs shall be limited to the absolute minimum; the environmental conditions in which experimental animals are bred, kept or housed shall be checked daily; the well-being and state of health of experimental animals shall be observed by a veterinary surgeon or other suitably qualified person in order to prevent pain or avoidable suffering, distress or lasting harm; and arrangements shall be made to ensure that any defect or suffering discovered is eliminated as quickly as possible.

Inspections of registered user establishments are carried out in accordance with Section 10 of the Act. The Act provides for all registered establishments to be visited from time to time by inspectors for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of the Act. Veterinary staff of the Department of Agriculture and Food act as inspectors. Officials of my Department do not carry out these inspections. It is a function of the inspector to report to the Authority any case of non-compliance with the provisions of the Act and no such report has been received in the period referred to by the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

329 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if the plan which the Government has approved for a new national children’s hospital will include a specialist ward for the care of sick children who also suffer from some form of disability; and if not, her views on commissioning an expert assessment of the case for such a ward. [7513/07]

The next stage of the process in developing the new National Paediatric Hospital involves the preparation of a high level framework brief for the new hospital. The brief is being developed for the Joint Transition Group by Rawlinson Kelly & Whittlestone Ltd (RKW), an established UK-based health care planning company. RKW will be advising on a range of issues which will help to inform the design of the new hospital. They will be advising, for example, on the preferred model of care, on the core services to be delivered at the new hospital, and on the additional range of services to be provided outside of the main hospital. RKW have also been requested to advise, as a priority, on the range of services which should be provided outside of the main hospital through the urgent / ambulatory care service, taking account of international best practice in the planning of children's hospital services. The framework brief will also inform decisions in relation to the size and type of accommodation to be provided at the new hospital, for both patients and their parents or guardians.

RKW will be consulting widely in the course of its work, and the input of stakeholders will be of benefit in ensuring the delivery of our shared objective of providing a world-class hospital for the children of this country, including those children who have special needs.

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

330 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow who is waiting for an appointment with the occupational therapist; if this can be arranged as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7522/07]

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

Hospital Services.

Damien English

Question:

331 Mr. English asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money spent on cleaning services for hospitals (details supplied) in the north east area for the years 2002 to 2006; if she will provide the information in tabular readable form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7526/07]

Damien English

Question:

338 Mr. English asked the Minister for Health and Children the breakdown between the costs of outside contractors and in-house cleaning services for hospitals (details supplied) in the north east area for the years 2002 to 2006; if she will provide the information in tabular readable form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7558/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 331 and 338 together.

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issues raised by the Deputy. 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.

Liz McManus

Question:

332 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a dexa scanner worth €120,000, donated to Sligo General Hospital by the Irish Osteoporosis Society in April 2005, has been left unused since that time, reportedly due to a dispute over who should operate it; the steps being taken to ensure that the machine will be brought into use in view of the role it could play in reducing pain and suffering among patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7527/07]

The Health Service Executive has advised that the Dexa Scanner was purchased by a charitable foundation and presented to the hospital. Some issues have arisen regarding the preferred usage of the machine, whether it is to be predominately for research or for frontline clinical work. The HSE is considering a number of options and is confident that a satisfactory outcome will be reached shortly.

Health Services.

Tom McEllistrim

Question:

333 Mr. McEllistrim asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a child (details supplied) in County Kerry has been waiting since June 2002 to have orthodontic treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7528/07]

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

Hospital Staffing.

Eoin Ryan

Question:

334 Mr. Eoin Ryan asked the Minister for Health and Children the staffing levels of Tallaght Hospital, each year, from 1997 to date in 2007. [7543/07]

Over 120,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government's ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant increases in the number of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals employed in the public health services. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the healthcare needs of the population into the future.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of the Actual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Eoin Ryan

Question:

335 Mr. Eoin Ryan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients treated in Tallaght Hospital, each year, from 1997 to date in 2007. [7544/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. 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.

Health Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

336 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children when orthodontic treatment will be made available to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [7553/07]

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

Adoption Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

337 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there is such a delay in the inter country adoption process as it is currently at 30 months on average and in some cases it is 36 months. [7557/07]

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 (HSE) under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

The Government did allocate €1 million to the HSE in additional ongoing funding commencing in 2005 to assist in tackling intercountry adoption waiting times. I understand that this additional funding is being used to pilot measures which will, for example, allow for more flexible working arrangements within the HSE with a view to addressing waiting times. The registered Adoption Society, PACT, has also received significant additional funding to allow them to expand their intercountry adoption services.

Question No. 338 answered with QuestionNo. 331.

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Question:

339 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to develop palliative care beds in County Roscommon; the provision for such beds in the capital programme; if previous commitments have been given to the hospice movement on the development of such facilities; the timetable for delivery on such commitments; when all existing palliative care beds in the county will be made available for use by patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7565/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. 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.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

340 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the services provided for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 with a disability; and if she will put in a long-term care plan with plans for future housing and accommodation. [7579/07]

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

Joe Costello

Question:

341 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of chiropodists in the Dublin area; the distribution of same; the average visiting time for patient treatment; the training requirements for chiropodists; the institutions which provide that training; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7580/07]

Over 120,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government's ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant increases in the numbers of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals employed in the public health services. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the healthcare needs of the population into the future.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. 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.

At present there is no school of podiatry in Ireland, however, in its "Healthcare Skills Monitoring Report" (2005) FÁS provided a quantitative analysis of demand and supply in 21 health care occupations including chiropody/podiatry. The report highlighted podiatry as among those professions where current and future supply shortages should be addressed and recommended that a school of podiatry providing 20 to 30 places be established.

Both myself and my colleague the Minister of Education and Science agree that the establishment of a school of podiatry should be prioritised and meetings are continuing at an official level between my Department, the Department of Education and Science, the Higher Education Authority and the Health Service Executive to progress the matter. Responsibility for its establishment will be a matter, in the final instance, for the Department of Education and Science.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

342 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be assisted by the Health Service Executive in getting a new doctor under the GMS scheme particularly in view of their age and medical condition. [7618/07]

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 operational responsibility for the selection and recruitment of general practitioners to provide services under the General Medical Services Scheme. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Joe Costello

Question:

343 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to patients who had already sold their homes to pay for nursing home care when the nursing home provision became effective; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7629/07]

I assume the Deputy is referring to A Fair Deal — the Nursing Home Care Support Scheme which is due to come into force on 1st January 2008.

My Department is in consultation with stakeholders in relation to the detail of the scheme, including the assessment of means and the treatment of assets. The issue the Deputy raises is one such situation which has been brought to my attention and is being considered at present.

In the meantime, the subventions payable to persons in private nursing homes have been substantially increased from 1st January 2007. The HSE estimates that approximately 1,800 additional persons will qualify for a subvention for the first time, as a result of changes introduced this year. It is open to persons in the circumstances outlined by the Deputy to apply for a subvention.

VHI Staffing.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

344 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people employed by the Voluntary Health Insurance company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7630/07]

I am informed that the VHI currently employ 971 people, which translates to 894 WTEs.

Ambulance Service.

Liz McManus

Question:

345 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive ambulance service is restricted to a petrol station in Shankill for diesel in view of the fact that this station closes at 10.30 pm until 7.00 am; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7644/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. 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.

Question No. 346 answered with QuestionNo. 314.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Jack Wall

Question:

347 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her views in regard to a submission (details supplied); the position of the application for treatment; if in view of the delays that the persons are encountering in obtaining an appointment the persons can now seek an appointment through the National Treatment Purchase Fund; if there is any other means of obtaining the necessary treatment that the child needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7648/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. 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.

Patients waiting more than three months on a surgical waiting list may qualify for treatment under the National Treatment Purchase Fund. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on her behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to this case.

Grant Payments.

Jack Wall

Question:

348 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to previous parliamentary questions, the position of an application for a group (details supplied) for funding to ensure the proper provision of the services for persons who suffer from physical, sexual and mental torture; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7649/07]

The Deputy's question relates to the funding, 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.

However, I am in a position to inform the Deputy that in relation to Women's Aid specifically, this organisation is grant aided to the amount of €636,240 per annum by the HSE. The HSE recently agreed to increase this funding by €69,700 per annum to support the expansion of their national helpline and I understand a payment for this amount was issued in the week ended 21st January, 2007.

Jack Wall

Question:

349 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an appeal by persons (details supplied) in County Kildare in regard to domiciliary care allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7650/07]

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

John McGuinness

Question:

350 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny can be referred to the National Treatment Purchase Fund as they have been waiting for a year for an appointment; and if she will expedite the matter. [7651/07]

The management of out-patient waiting lists is a matter for the Health Service Executive and the individual hospitals concerned. However, in 2005, at my request, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) set up a number of out-patient pilot projects. The pilot programme operated successfully and 4,500 out-patients were seen in that year. In 2006, a further 6,250 patients were provided with out-patient appointments. The NTPF expects to increase the number by over 50% to 9,500 in 2007.

Patients waiting more than three months on an out-patient waiting list may qualify for treatment under the National Treatment Purchase Fund. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on her behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to this case.

Health Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

351 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny has not received an appointment at the County Clinic, Kilkenny to be assessed for hearing aids in view of the fact that their general practitioner referred them over six months ago and their case is deemed urgent; if she will comment on the waiting lists and timeframe involved for such appointments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7652/07]

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

John McGuinness

Question:

352 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in arranging a hearing assessment at Kilkenny County Clinic for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny who was referred by their general practitioner as an urgent case over two years ago; if in view of the age and poor hearing of the person she will insist on an immediate appointment. [7653/07]

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

Hospital Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

353 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in providing a bed at St. James Hospital, Dublin for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [7654/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. 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.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

John McGuinness

Question:

354 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an appointment at Waterford Regional Hospital for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny who is a public patient waiting for an assessment and whose general practitioner has deemed their case to be urgent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7655/07]

The management of out-patient waiting lists is a matter for the Health Service Executive and the individual hospitals concerned. However, in 2005, at my request, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) set up a number of out-patient pilot projects. The pilot programme operated successfully and 4,500 out-patients were seen in that year. In 2006, a further 6,250 patients were provided with out-patient appointments. The NTPF expects to increase the number by over 50% to 9,500 in 2007.

Patients waiting more than three months on an out-patient waiting list may qualify for treatment under the National Treatment Purchase Fund. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on her behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to this case.

Hospital Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

355 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated with surgery; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7676/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular question raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this case investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Decentralisation Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

356 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will detail, providing in each case the full postal address, of each section of her Department, each State, semi-State body and agency under the aegis of her Department, which has moved or is due to move from Dublin under the Government’s decentralisation programme; the number of staff based there prior to decentralisation; the number of staff that will be based there post decentralisation; and in respect of each building, the intended use it will be put to once decentralisation is complete. [7756/07]

My Department is not one of the Departments earmarked for decentralisation under the current Civil Service Decentralisation Programme. The General Register Office, currently located at Government Offices, Convent Road, Roscommon is the only section of my Department located outside of Dublin following an earlier decentralisation programme.

Question No. 357 answered with QuestionNo. 301.

Fishing Fleet Protection.

John Perry

Question:

358 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the steps that will be taken with regard to the fleet decommissioning of €66 million promised in the Government’s National Seafood Strategy, in the coming months to put in place this decommissioning programme; the approximate time frame for the implementation of this programme; when fishermen can expect to be able to apply for the scheme, be declared eligible, decommission their fleets, and be given payment; the person who will be in charge of administering this programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7129/07]

As the Deputy is aware the strategic report on the seafood sector, Steering a New Course, was launched by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, on January 28 th 2007. The next round of decommissioning forms a very important element of the strategy. The next stage in the process is the establishment of the Seafood Strategy Implementation Group, which will be tasked with developing and overseeing a detailed implementation plan. I have issued invitations to the various stakeholder representative groups for nominees for this Implementation Group. I would wish to have the Group in place and active by late March 2007 at the latest.

As the Deputy knows, Dr. Noel Cawley has accepted our invitation to become the independent chairman of the Seafood Strategy Implementation Group.

As I have stated the next round of decommissioning will be very high on the Group's agenda and will receive its full attention once it is sitting.

Fishing Industry Development.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

359 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the timescale and process to take place in the development of the implementation plan for the Foyle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7147/07]

I am advised that a final draft of the Implementation Plan for the Introduction of a new Aquaculture Regulatory System in the Foyle and Carlingford Areas has been agreed by the two sponsor Departments, the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in the South and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland in consultation with the Loughs Agency.

Once the Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries Bill has been enacted and other required measures, such as surveys and environmental studies of Lough Foyle, have been carried out, the Agency will be in a position to implement the new aquaculture regulatory system for the Foyle Area.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

360 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the negotiations his Department have had in the consultation of Statutory Instrument 163 of 1975; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7148/07]

The Statutory Instrument to which the Deputy refers is a Northern Ireland Order made in 1975 that defines the sea boundary of the Derry Area.

As the Deputy is aware, the Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries Bill is currently progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas. The definition of the Foyle Area was not included in the Bill on foot of detailed discussions between officials and legal advisors, North and South. It was agreed with the Attorney General that new primary legislation would be brought forward as soon as practicable to address the definition issue.

Fishing Industry.

John Perry

Question:

361 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the landing figures for oysters and mussels in Moville and Greencastle, County Donegal for the years 1995 to 2006 inclusive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7150/07]

The collection and reporting of data in relation to sea fisheries and food safety is a matter in the first instance for the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, as provided for in Section 43 (1) (g) of the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006.

The Authority is independent in the exercise of its functions, and accordingly, any such questions should be referred to the Authority in the first instance.

Aquaculture Licences.

John Perry

Question:

362 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his Department ever issued aquaculture licences of any size in Lough Foyle; when these licences were issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7151/07]

Section 2 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997 specifies that "This Act shall not apply to or in relation to the Moville Area, within the meaning of the Foyle Fisheries Act 1952". The Moville Area referred to is in respect of Lough Foyle.

Accordingly, no aquaculture licences under the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997, have been issued by the Department in respect of Lough Foyle.

Telecommunications Services.

John Deasy

Question:

363 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the provisions available for rural communities to avail of broadband services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7208/07]

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

The role of Government is to implement regulatory and infrastructure policies to facilitate the provision of affordable, high quality telecommunications services, by competing private sector service providers.

It has been clear for some time that the private sector has failed to invest at the level necessary to keep pace with the demand for broadband. Direct funding has already been provided under the National Development Plan 2000-2006 for the provision of backbone infrastructure and to upgrade local access infrastructure.

The Government has also taken the initiative to address market failure through investment in the construction of the high speed, open-access Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), while also grant aiding rural broadband projects under the Group Broadband Scheme (GBS).

However, despite Government and private investment in broadband there are parts of the country where the private sector is unable to justify the commercial provision of broadband connectivity. It is planned to address the question of availability of broadband to the remaining 10-15 per cent via a new scheme which, when it is fully rolled out, will ensure that all reasonable requests for broadband from houses and premises in unserved areas are met. A Steering Group comprising representatives of my Department and ComReg is currently considering all elements of the proposed scheme and work on the design of an appropriate tender is under way.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

364 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when Ballymoe, County Galway is expected to be serviced by broadband; if his attention has been drawn to the disadvantage of the village due to the fact that it does not have broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7312/07]

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

The facilitation of broadband coverage across the entire country continues to be a key priority. I am aware that, despite Government and private investment in broadband, there are areas of the country where the private sector is unable to justify the commercial provision of broadband connectivity. Accordingly, I have announced a new scheme, which will aim to provide a broadband service to these areas. This scheme will be confined to areas of the country that are not yet served by any broadband service provider, currently thought to be 10-15% of the population. This scheme will, when it is fully rolled out, ensure that all reasonable requests for broadband from houses and premises in these unserved areas are met.

A Steering Group comprising officials from my Department and ComReg is currently considering all elements of the proposed scheme and work on the design of an appropriate tender is under way.

Fisheries Protection.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

365 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his views on the future of the snap net fishery on the River Suir; the proposals that have been made to fishermen on that river; and the way the introduction of single stock management will impact on the livelihood of fishing communities along the River Suir. [7364/07]

The Standing Scientific Committee of the National Salmon Commission has advised that stocks of salmon in the River Suir are below its conservation limit. For this reason, the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme (No. 2) Regulations 2006 do not identify a surplus of fish available for harvest in 2007.

During 2007 fish stock assessment studies will be undertaken in order to forecast the position for 2008 and beyond. I am aware that the Southern Regional Fisheries Board has received a proposal from snap net fishermen representatives to participate in scientific research efforts and this offer is being considered at the moment.

The Regional Fisheries Board and the Marine Institute will monitor the stocks in developing a management plan for the River Suir with a view to identifying the extent of the recovery, if any, arising from the cessation of the mixed stock commercial fishery and any stock rehabilitation works undertaken.

In the future event that stocks recover in each of the rivers of the Waterford Estuary, and it is established from the results of the Genetic Stock Identification Project that significant numbers of fish destined for other rivers are not intercepted within the rivers and estuary, it should be possible to exploit the identified surplus by all methods (including snap-nets) but within the constraints permitted by the Habitats Directive as transposed by the European Communities (National Habitats) Regulations 1997 (S.I. No. 94 of 1997).

The Government has put in place a Hardship Fund for those affected by the compulsory cessation of indiscriminate mixed stock salmon fishing at sea. This will be available to snap net fishermen on the River Suir who held a licence for the 2006 season. Details of the scheme are being finalised at present and will be advertised in the national press in the near future.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

366 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the progress made by his Department to resolve problems caused by outfall pipes installed by South Tipperary County Council for fisheries along the River Suir near Carrick-on-Suir; and if a satisfactory conclusion was reached on the matter in discussions between his Department and South Tipperary County Council. [7365/07]

Following representations made by snap-net fishermen, who operate on the River Suir, regarding the positioning of outfall diffusers on the river and their possible effects on fishing, my predecessor, Minister of State Gallagher, met representatives of the fishermen on 3 June 2005. The concerns expressed related to the diffusers, which were installed by South Tipperary Council as part of the Carrick-on-Suir Sewerage Scheme. However, the Department's Engineering Division, having assessed the situation, found the effects on fishing of the wastewater treatment outfall diffusers to be localised and minor.

Post Office Network.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

367 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will provide an updated report to Dáil Éireann on negotiations between the Irish Postmasters Union, An Post and his Department; and his hopes for any resulting agreement on the post office network which may emerge. [7366/07]

Neither I nor my Department are involved in discussions with the Irish Postmasters Union and An Post regarding the post office network. I understand however, that negotiations between An Post and the Irish Postmasters Union are at an advanced stage.

Joe Costello

Question:

368 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of sub post offices which have been closed down in each of the past five years; the number in Dublin which have closed down in each of the past five years; the number in Dublin central constituency which have closed down in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7377/07]

Post office closures are a matter for the board and management of An Post and I have no statutory function in the matter. However, An Post has been asked to supply the information requested, which will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Decentralisation Programme.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

369 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of staff from BIM who have volunteered for decentralisation to Clonakilty; the stage the building negotiations for BIM in Clonakilty are at; if he will proceed to acquire property in the absence of any expressed desire by staff to leave Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7625/07]

The Government's Decentralisation Programme involves the relocation of the both the Seafood and Coastal Zone elements of my Department involving 91 posts and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), involving 95 posts to Clonakilty. The intention is to co-locate the Department and BIM in separate buildings in a campus style development in the town. To this end a 3.5 acre (approximately) site has been acquired to house both the Department's functions and those of BIM. Design and layout of accommodation have been agreed with both the Department and BIM and a planning application has been lodged and considered by the Local Authority. I understand from the Office of Public Works that additional information sought by the local authority was submitted last month and that the planning process is continuing.

The latest information from the Public Appointments Service (PAS) is that the demand for posts in Clonakilty substantially exceeds the number of posts available in my Department in that location. In addition, staff surveys in BIM indicate that at least 16 staff may be willing to relocate.

Telecommunications Services.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

370 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his views on complaints made by SMEs on the costs of connecting to the MANS network and if his Department has held recent talks with a company (details supplied) in relation to such costs or on measures to improve usage of the current MANS network. [7668/07]

Phase I of the Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) programme is complete and responsibility for all 27 MANs built under Phase I has been transferred to the Management Services Entity (MSE). Under the terms of the Concession Agreement, the MSE is responsible for the management, maintenance, marketing and operation of the MANs on behalf of the State. The issue of connection to the MANs is primarily, as an operational issue, a matter for the MSE. My officials meet with the MSE on a regular basis to discuss various issues relevant to the Concession Agreement and the MANs programme.

Decentralisation Programme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

371 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will detail, providing in each case the full postal address, of each section of his Department, each State, semi-State body and agency under the aegis of his Department, which has moved or is due to move from Dublin under the Government’s decentralisation programme; the number of staff based there prior to decentralisation; the number of staff that will be based there post decentralisation; and in respect of each building, the intended use it will be put to once decentralisation is complete. [7748/07]

The Government's Decentralisation Programme involves the relocation of the Departments HQ to Cavan involving 378 posts and the Seafood and Coastal Zone elements to Clonakilty involving 91 posts. The programme also includes the decentralisation of Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) with 95 posts to Clonakilty, the Central Fisheries Board (CFB) with 62 Posts to Carrick-on-Shannon and Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) with 47 posts to Dundalk.

The entire Dublin-based Department, which is due for decentralisation, has been based in three locations, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2, 29-31 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2 and Tom Johnson House, Haddington Road, Dublin 4. BIM is based at Crofton Road, Dún Laoghaire Co. Dublin. The CFB at Swords Business Campus, Co. Dublin and SEI in Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

The acquisition of suitable properties to facilitate proposed decentralisation moves is a matter for the Office of Public Works OPW), as is any future use of Dublin buildings post-decentralisation. I can inform the House that to date my Department's interactions with OPW on the acquisition of properties are well progressed. A 10.5-acre site has been acquired in Cavan Town to accommodate the Headquarters functions and my Department is working with OPW towards the lodging of a planning application ahead of the Decentralisation Implementation Group timeframe for relocation of late 2009. In the meantime I opened offices last year for a significant advance party in Cavan Town. There are currently 28 staff working in the Town covering Corporate Services, Domestic Policy Co-ordination, EU Co-ordination, North-South Co-ordination, Freedom Of Information Services as well as several important financial management functions. Plans to increase numbers in Cavan in 2007 are well advanced.

In relation to Clonakilty a 3.5 acre (approx.) site has been acquired to house both the Departments functions and those of BIM. A planning application has been lodged and considered by the Local Authority. I understand from OPW that additional information sought by the Local Authority was submitted last month and that the planning process is continuing.

There are 50 staff delivering a range of Seafood and Coastal Zone services currently operating out of interim accommodation in the town since June 2006. We are committed to having a full complement of DCMNR staff in interim accommodation in the town by June this year. In addition, the establishment of the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) in January will result in an increase in staff numbers to be relocated to Clonakilty and plans to house the SFPA in interim accommodation in the town by June 2007 are well advanced. It is anticipated that some 135 posts will be decentralised to Clonakilty by June 2007 rather than the Departmental 91 first mooted. This is in addition to the 95 BIM posts.

As the Deputy will be aware in relation to the CFB, following a major review of the inland fisheries sector, the Government is acting to establish a single National Inland Fisheries Authority (NIFA) from both the Central and Regional Fisheries Boards.

The creation of NIFA is a significant undertaking and efforts have been focussed on the legislative structure to underpin NIFA and consideration of the administrative structure of the new body.

As regards SEI, both my Department and the Agency are liaising closely with OPW in relation to a permanent site within the Energy Zone described in SEI's 2020 policy. So far no SEI, BIM or CFB staff have relocated to Dundalk, Clonakilty or Carrick-on-Shannon, respectively.

Telecommunications Services.

Joe Walsh

Question:

372 Mr. Walsh asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his plans to roll-out the MANS programme to Clonakilty, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7761/07]

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter in the first instance for the private sector companies operating in a fully liberalised market, regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), the independent regulator. However, it has been clear for some time that the sector has failed to invest at the level necessary to keep pace with the demand for broadband. My Department's regional broadband programme is addressing the infrastructure deficit by building high-speed open access broadband networks, in association with the local and regional authorities, in the major towns and cities. These Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) will allow the private sector to offer world-class broadband services at competitive costs. The networks offer towns opportunities to attract inward investment in advanced technology and knowledge based enterprises.

Twenty-seven MANs have been completed under Phase One and are currently being managed by ENet, the Management Services Entity. The second phase of the MANs programme included a number of towns with populations greater than 1,500 that were not being offered a broadband option by the private sector. Although Clonakilty is not part of the current rollout it may be included in further phases subject to the necessary approvals and Exchequer funding being made available.

Paul McGrath

Question:

373 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the situation pertaining to group broadband schemes for areas (details supplied) in County Westmeath; the grant schemes in place for these groups; when these schemes will be approved; if these schemes are on approved waiting lists; when are they expected to be connected to broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7782/07]

Paul McGrath

Question:

374 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the situation pertaining to group broadband schemes for areas (details supplied) in County Westmeath; the grant schemes in place for these groups; when these schemes will be approved; if these schemes are on approved waiting lists; when are they expected to be connected to broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7783/07]

Paul McGrath

Question:

375 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the situation pertaining to group broadband schemes for areas (details supplied) in County Westmeath; the grant schemes in place for these groups; when these schemes will be approved; if these schemes are on approved waiting lists; when are they expected to be connected to broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7784/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 373 to 375, inclusive, together.

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

In relation to Castletown Geoghegan, Multyfarnham and Milltownpass, Co. Westmeath, no applications have been received for grant funding under the Group Broadband Scheme (GBS). However, I am aware of the importance of the roll out of broadband in rural areas and smaller communities. It is my intention to expedite the rollout of broadband coverage as quickly as possible. The GBS will now be superseded by the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) which, when it is fully rolled out, will ensure that all reasonable requests for broadband from houses and premises in unsecured rural areas are met.

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

Overseas Development Aid.

Jack Wall

Question:

376 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if there are support mechanisms for persons (details supplied) travelling with voluntary groups to assist under developed nations in building, refurbishment or assisting with the provision of health care and educational facilities in such countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7290/07]

Jack Wall

Question:

379 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if there is a mechanism or grant scheme available from his Department, to assist persons or groups who travel to undeveloped countries to assist such voluntary groups with providing health and educational facilities in such countries, with the cost of immunisation injections and so on towards volunteers health care (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7289/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 376 and 379 together.

The Irish Aid programme, administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs, provides significant funding annually — over €100m in 2007 — to Irish non-governmental organisations to assist them in carrying out their development work. Such funding may include provision for healthcare costs for volunteer development workers arising from their travel. Any Irish registered charity or non-governmental organisation may apply for project funding under two schemes administered by Irish Aid, namely, the Civil Society Fund and the Micro Projects Scheme.

The project funding available under both of these schemes can support reasonable health costs associated with volunteers' development work. This support is normally requested as an integral part of the personnel costs associated with the implementation of a particular project. I have arranged for details of the relevant Civil Society funding schemes to be forwarded to the Deputy.

Human Rights Issues.

Finian McGrath

Question:

377 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the US Government is dictating Irish foreign policy towards Cuba; and if the US embassy in Dublin had a role in his refusing to meet a person (details supplied) who exposed American aggression towards the Cuban people. [7220/07]

I entirely reject the premise underlying the Deputy's question. As I have informed him in response to his previous Parliamentary Questions on Cuba, the European Union's Common Position on Cuba, negotiated during our 1996 EU Presidency, is at the core of Ireland's policy. The overriding objective of Ireland and our EU partners in our relations with Cuba is to encourage — and not to enforce by external coercion — a process of transition to pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The European Union believes that critical engagement with the Cuban Government, alongside dialogue with wider Cuban civil society, is the most effective way to promote peaceful change in Cuba.

The validity of the 1996 Common Position was most recently reaffirmed by the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 12 June 2006. The European Union has emphasised its willingness to cooperate with Cuba on the basis of a dialogue with the Cuban Government and Cuban civil society, as soon as the Cuban Government shows the political will to engage in a dialogue aiming at tangible results, especially in the field of human rights and political freedom, the restriction of which remains a matter of deep concern. In this regard, I would again urge the Cuban Government to release all prisoners of conscience and to respect internationally acknowledged principles and practices, including in respect of judicial process.

I would also recall that Ireland, along with our EU partners, again voted on 8 November, 2006 in the United Nations General Assembly in favour of the annual Cuban-tabled resolution related to ending the US economic embargo, since it is our view that the embargo seriously hampers the economic development of Cuba and negatively affects its entire people. The EU rejects unilateral measures against Cuba which are contrary to commonly accepted rules of international trade.

The US Embassy in Dublin has not communicated with me or my Department on the visit of the named individual. I determine my own diary.

Fiona O'Malley

Question:

378 Ms F. O’Malley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding matters in Darfur; and the pressure he is bringing to bear on UN intervention in the crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7260/07]

The security situation in Darfur remains very unstable and worrying. Ceasefire violations by all parties, including banditry, inter-tribal conflicts and the bombing of civilian sites by the Sudanese airforce are undermining efforts to revitalise the peace process and have dire humanitarian consequences. The Government is making use of all avenues, bilaterally, through the EU and through the UN, to focus urgent international attention on the crisis in Darfur and work towards a resolution, and will continue to do so. During my visit to the Middle East this month I took the opportunity, while in Cairo, to discuss the situation in Darfur with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Aboul Gheit, and the Arab League Secretary-General, Amr Mussa, in an effort to revive momentum towards a resolution. I know the Oireachtas is also deeply concerned about this situation, as reflected in the all-party motion which was passed on 28 November 2006.

The UN and the African Union are coordinating international efforts to revitalise the May 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement and strengthen peacekeeping. The two organisations' Special Envoys for Darfur, Mr Jan Eliasson and Dr Salim Salim, are actively trying to get negotiations under way between the parties to this Agreement and non-signatory rebel groups. The international community must present a united front in demanding that the Sudanese Government and the rebel groups negotiate without preconditions. The EU, for its part, has implemented a comprehensive arms embargo against Sudan since 1994, and also applies individual sanctions against four individuals designated by the Security Council under Resolution 1591(2005).

I spoke on 24 January with the UN Special Envoy on Darfur, Mr. Jan Eliasson, about the situation in Darfur, and assured him of Ireland's support for his efforts and those of his UN colleagues, in terms of peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and work to revitalise the peace process. The UN's involvement is crucial to improving the situation on the ground in Darfur.

The African Union's ceasefire observation mission in Darfur (AMIS) is being strengthened in a phased manner with UN support, aiming towards deployment of a strong AU-UN hybrid force later this year. Already some 100 UN military, police and civilian personnel are in place, under the first phase of UN support. In December 2006 President Bashir of Sudan gave his approval in principle to this phased approach to strengthening AMIS. However, regrettably, he has not as yet specifically endorsed the deployment of the AU-UN hybrid force which is intended to be the third and final phase of the process. On 22 January and on 12 February, EU Foreign Ministers expressed their The African Union's ceasefire observation mission in Darfur (AMIS) is being strengthened in a phased manner with UN support, aiming towards deployment of a strong AU-UN hybrid force later this year. Already some 100 UN military, police and civilian personnel are in place, under the first phase of UN support. In December 2006 President Bashir of Sudan gave his approval in principle to this phased approach to strengthening AMIS. However, regrettably, he has not as yet specifically endorsed the deployment of the AU-UN hybrid force which is intended to be the third and final phase of the process. On 22 January and on 12 February, EU Foreign Ministers expressed their readiness to consider further measures, notably in the UN framework, against any party which obstructs implementation of the phased approach to strengthening AMIS and to establishing the AU-UN hybrid force.

The work of the UN Human Rights Council High-Level Assessment Mission to Darfur, which took up its task on 9 February, is of great importance in giving the international community a true picture of the impact of the conflict in Darfur on people's lives. It is worrying that all members of the mission were not given visas, and the Mission has thus been able to visit Sudan.

Since 2004, Ireland has provided over €16 million in emergency aid to Darfur, including €3 million for AMIS. A further €2.1 million in humanitarian support has been approved to date in 2007, and further financial support for AMIS is being considered. Three members of the Permanent Defence Forces serve in support of AMIS.

I will continue to avail of every possible opportunity to emphasise the urgent need for unhindered provision of humanitarian support to all those in need in Darfur, and the speedy deployment of a well- resourced peacekeeping operation under UN auspices with a strong mandate for protecting civilians. The present situation is simply unacceptable and