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 11, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 12 to 90, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 91 to 98, inclusive, answered orally.

Employment Rights.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

99 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland has fewer public holidays than the majority of EU Member States; if he will introduce two additional public holidays to bring Ireland up to at least the EU average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8325/07]

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, which implemented EU Council Directive 93/104/EC, of 23 November 1993, concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time, provides for an entitlement to nine public holidays per annum.

Publication of data by the European Employment Observatory shows that there is a wide variation in the number of public holidays among EU Member States. The average public holiday entitlement in the EU at present is approximately 11 days per annum. Variations in the number of public holidays must be considered in the context of other factors which may bear on this matter including for example, the relationship with annual holiday entitlement, whether statutorily based or obtained by way of collective agreements. Some entitlements also stem from the legacy of historical and religious developments of specific and differing societies.

Were an increase in public holidays to be considered and I stress, no increase is, at this moment, being contemplated, it would be necessary to undertake detailed and substantial consideration of issues arising, including wide ranging consultations with Social Partners and other interested parties. Among the matters to be considered would be the impact of any such increase in public holidays on the competitiveness of firms, in particular, in relation to small and medium enterprises with smaller workforces, and in terms of output and the impact on employment.

Finally, I would point out that the matter of an increase in public holidays did not emerge as an issue for consideration during the detailed and substantive phases of negotiation of the recent Partnership Agreement — Towards 2016. However, there is nothing to prevent any party raising such matters for discussion in the context of any subsequent Agreement.

In the circumstances, I do not share the view that proposals of this kind should be considered without regard to the wider interests of workers and the enterprises in which they are employed. I suggest that Social Partnership provides the appropriate forum in which such matters can best be considered.

Community Employment Schemes.

David Stanton

Question:

100 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 384 of 5 December 2006, his plans to increase the number of community employment scheme places ring-fenced for the delivery of health services; if the number of places ring-fenced has remained constant since 2002/2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8575/07]

Community Employment is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary basis. Community Employment helps unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and by assisting them to enhance and develop both their technical and personal skills.

To this end and in order to support the delivery of essential services, the ring-fencing and prioritisation of places for health related services, including assistance for persons with disabilities, childcare and Drugs Task Force clients was introduced over the period 2002/2003. As a result, service provision levels by Community Employment participants within these sectors was and continues to be maintained at a constant level.

In November 2004, following a review of FAS Employment Schemes, it was announced that Community Employment places supporting the delivery of health services will continue to be ring-fenced.

The total number of places spread across the three ring-fenced sectors, namely Drugs, Childcare and Health, is approximately 6,000 which represents 27% of current places and there are no plans to increase this number.

Ministerial Staff.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

101 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff, being civil servants, who are assigned to the constituency office of Minister of State for Trade and Commerce, whether based at the Department’s offices or at a location in the Minister of State’s constituency; the salary cost of the constituency offices of the Minister of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8338/07]

There is one Civil Servant assigned to the constituency Office of the Minister of State for Trade and Commerce. She is based in Minister's Office, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. The officer concerned is a Clerical Officer. The Clerical Officer salary scale ranges from €22,766 to €36,913 per annum.

The total salary cost of the constituency office of the Minister of State for Trade and Commerce for 2006 was €179,054.62. This figure includes the salary cost of the following members of staff:

1 Civil Servant already mentioned;

1 Personnel Assistant (non-Civil Servant);

1 Personal Secretary (non-Civil Servant); and

2 Civilian Drivers (non-Civil Servants).

Trade Missions.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

102 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on plans for a trade mission to Kazakhstan in 2007; if it is intended that there will be a Ministerial delegation as part of this trade mission; the estimated cost of this trade mission; his goals and targets for the trade mission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8327/07]

As part of Enterprise Ireland's mission to grow global export sales, the Moscow office of that agency is running a Market Study Visit to Kazakhstan from 12th to 16th. March. The visit is part of a number of initiatives designed to introduce Enterprise Ireland client companies to one of the world's fastest growing economies (average GDP growth of 9% p.a. since 2001) and to tap the many market opportunities, in what is the world's ninth largest oil producer. The visit will also support the in-country activities of the growing number of Irish companies already active in the Kazakshstani market.

As the initiative is a Market Study Visit, and not a Trade Mission, there will be no Ministerial component to the visit. However, Mr. Justin Harman, the Ambassador of Ireland to the Republic of Kazakhstan, who is based in Moscow, will actively participate in the visit. There are currently seven Irish companies intending to travel. The range of activities include:- individual itineraries of buyer meetings for the companies; a dinner for participants and their clients; and a networking reception co-hosted with the Kazakhstan European Business Association, which, for the first time, will also mark Saint Patrick's Day in Kazakhstan. The latter event will also be used to promote Ireland into the wider Kazakhstani business community and several non-participating Enterprise Ireland clients will use the event for product and service marketing. Full logistical and on-the-ground support, including the provision of meeting space, is also being provided to participants during the course of the visit. The net cost of running the visit and associated events will be less than €10,000.

This visit is part of Enterprise Ireland's commitment to Irish companies seeking to access the Kazakhstani market. This process began with a seminar in Dublin in July 2006 on conducting business in Kazakhstan, an October 2006 Education Mission to that country and the development of the Russian language Enterprise Ireland website with a Kazakhstan domain. Last year's Education Mission to the country resulted in multiple contracts for the twelve visiting Irish colleges and will shortly see up to forty Kazakhstani scholarship students per annum coming to study third level courses in Ireland in colleges such as: the University of Limerick; Dublin Institute of Technology; Trinity College Dublin and Waterford Institute of Technology. This mission also resulted in the signing of a major contract for the supply of English language training to staff and pilots at Air Astana, Kazakhstan's national airline.

Enterprise Ireland's focus will be to assist client companies seeking to develop opportunities in the following sectors: oil and gas support services; building and construction services; telecommunications; banking and financial services; agricultural machinery; and consulting. In the context of the Market Study Visit, nearly all of the companies participating are coming to Kazakhstan for the first time; however Enterprise Ireland would be confident that their time spent in the country will result in real business for the participants and increased exports for Ireland. It is worth noting that several Irish companies already have a strong business presence in Kazakhstan. Three Irish players of note include one with significant oil sector support operations in Atyrau; another which is in the process of delivering a €5.5m oil platform support barge; and a company which provides significant training services in Almaty.

Employment Rights.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

103 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position of the investigation on the disclosure that Polish workers employed by a contractor at the ESB power station in Moneypoint were being paid well below the national minimum wage; the sanctions or penalties available against companies in such situations; the measures taken by his Department to date to ensure full compliance with all labour standards by all contractors, particularly those working for State companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8341/07]

Following the identification in early 2006 of anomalies in the employment contracts of some sub-contracted staff at the Moneypoint Environmental Retrofit Project (MERP) site, both the ESB and the Labour Inspectorate conducted investigations into the matter. As a result of these investigations a Memorandum of Understanding between the ESB, the contractor and sub-contractor was agreed in March 2006 providing, among other matters, for the payment of the appropriate industry rates and the associated arrears to the workers concerned. Contractor Auditing Services (CAS), who are retained by the ESB to monitor payment and employment conditions at the Moneypoint site, have confirmed that these rates continue to be applied to the relevant workers.

The ESB is satisfied that the monitoring of the conditions of employment for contracted and sub-contracted staff at the Moneypoint site is working effectively in terms of ensuring that workers are remunerated in accordance with the agreed industry standards and bringing immediate attention to, and taking prompt action to address, any discrepancies that arise. The Labour Inspectorate's role has been to ensure that statutory minimum rates of pay and other conditions of employment for the workers involved are adhered to, that any breaches of the legislation that arise are rectified and any arrears paid. Ultimately, the Labour Inspectorate may initiate proceedings against employers in relation to such breaches. Employees also have access to the Rights Commissioner Service or the Labour Court in this regard.

I share the Deputy's concern to ensure that Irish employment rights legislation is applied in full in so far as employees engaged on Public contracts are concerned. In this regard, assurances were sought in March last year from all State Agencies that the statutory terms applicable to all workers in Ireland, regardless of nationality, were being adhered to in relation to all public contracts involving the supply of labour.

The Deputy will also be aware that the National Partnership Agreement Towards 2016, provides for a number of measures designed to enhance employment rights compliance. The new National Employment Rights Authority has been established on an interim basis while work is progressing on new employment rights legislation. A reconfiguration of the Labour Inspectorate is planned which will see its resources almost treble together with a process of regionalisation being implemented. In tandem with these activities a major programme of ‘Education and Awareness' in respect of employment rights entitlements and obligations is to be researched and delivered.

The Government also signalled, in the context of the National Partnership talks, that the issue of better compliance with employment law was a high priority. This led, among other matters, to an agreement among the Social Partners on the importance of public procurement policy as a mechanism for contributing to the maintenance of employment standards and norms, including in respect of wage levels, while also ensuring competitive tendering and value for money in public expenditure. A number of specific measures were agreed in Towards 2016 in so far as supporting employment rights through public procurement is concerned.

I would urge those who may have information in relation to possible breaches of employment rights legislation to contact the Labour Inspectorate of the new National Employment Rights Authority.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

104 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the exploitation of vulnerable workers on board vessels sailing in Irish waters (details supplied); and his plans to prevent the further exploitation of workers on board all vessels that sail in Irish waters. [8551/07]

The merchant vessels referred to by the Deputy are not registered under the Irish flag. The wages and conditions of employment of workers on board those vessels are, therefore, governed by the flag State's legislation (in this case Jamaica) and neither I nor the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment have any responsibilities in these matters.

I understand that the vessels are subject to Port State Control (PSC) inspections in Ireland under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)/EU Directive 95/21/EC. PSC inspections, which are undertaken by Marine Surveyors of the Department of Transport, include, amongst other items, inspection of the vessels' living and working conditions as regulated under the current International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions and in this case ILO 147/ ILO 180, which Ireland has ratified.

At a national level Ireland has consistently supported the International Labour Organisation in its efforts to promote decent global labour standards for seafarers. A new consolidated Maritime Labour Convention was adopted in February 2006 at the 94th International Labour Conference in Geneva. Ireland was represented at the 94th Conference by a tripartite delegation consisting of government officials, nominees of the employers (IBEC) and of the workers (ICTU). The new Convention sets out clear principles and rights for seafarers. Ireland fully supports the new Convention and voted in favour of the proposal.

Economic Competitiveness.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

105 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he is satisfied that Irish export markets are sufficiently well placed to withstand competition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8534/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

369 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he is satisfied that Irish exports are likely to maintain a competitive edge on world markets; the issues he intends to address in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8903/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

370 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the expected or extent of growth of Irish exports over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8904/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105, 369 and 370 together.

While there has been some variation in our merchandise export performance during the course of this year, the latest expectations, based on figures from the CSO, are that the value of exports for 2006 will increase by 3% relative to 2005, when full year figures for last year are available later this month. This is a very creditable performance, against a background of a difficult global trading environment, and shows that Irish exports have remained competitive on world markets. Similar gains were made in the previous two years, with increases of 3% between 2003 and 2004 and also 3% between 2004 and 2005. In relation to services exports, where more detailed data is now available from the Central Statistics Office, the rate of growth is even more impressive, with these exports growing by 9% between 2004 and 2005, the latest year for which data is available.

Preliminary indications from Enterprise Ireland, the agency with responsibility for the development of manufacturing and internationally traded services companies, are that Irish companies have gained strong positions in international markets during 2006, which will result in the achievement of one billion euros in new export sales for the full year.

The Irish Government's policy has, for a number of years, been to fully exploit our membership of the European Union by diversifying into EU export markets, and also to focus on new opportunities in the US and further afield. From a position of 75% of Irish merchandise exports going to the UK in 1960, we have now reached a point where the EU now accounts for 64% of our exports, with only 17% of exports going to the UK. During 2006, the value of exports going to key markets such as the United States, Germany and Belgium showed solid growth.

Since the accession of the new EU Member States, new export opportunities have been developed and exports to these countries are increasing. For example, during 2006, exports to Poland increased in value terms by 36%, to the Czech Republic by 38%, to Slovakia by 28% and to Estonia by 60%. I have no doubt that in time, Irish exporters will establish a substantial presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

The second phase of the Asia Strategy, launched by An Taoiseach in 2005, prioritises eight countries in Asia and sets out targets for increasing our exports to that region up to 2009. Within the context of this Strategy, work is underway to ensure that agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland and organisations engaged in the education sector, will be combining closely to exploit and increase Irish exporting opportunities in this area over the lifetime of the Asia Strategy and beyond.

In addition, both myself, and my colleague, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, T.D., continue to be active in leading trade missions, in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland, to target markets abroad with a view to increasing our share of exports by Irish companies to these countries.

I am confident that the strategy of diversifying into export markets abroad, such as the wider EU, the US and Asia and the ongoing process of building on the higher value sectors of the economy, particularly in the knowledge-based areas, will ensure that Irish exporters will continue to rise to the challenges posed by the global trading environment and increase the value of their sales incrementally, for the future. It is difficult to make firm predictions for the next five years, given the many uncertainties that exist, but the indications are that we will continue to enjoy steady growth in our export trade and maintain a healthy trade surplus, as at present.

Export Data.

John Gormley

Question:

106 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the annual reports published pursuant to the Control of Exports Bill will provide details of the quantities of goods licensed for export, values of the exports and details of the actual end users. [8569/07]

John Gormley

Question:

168 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the annual reports published pursuant to the Control of Exports Bill will provide details of companies exporting dual use goods under open licences such as the community general export authorisation. [8570/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 168 together.

The Control of Exports Bill 2007, which I am pleased to inform the House has passed all stages in the Seanad, contains provision for the publication of an Annual Report to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. This is in line with a key recommendation of the Forfás review on export licensing and responds to calls for greater transparency in this area.

The Report will contain, inter alia, information on the aggregate actual value of goods exported under licence by category and country of destination. I am firmly of the opinion that this will present a far more accurate representation of trade in licensed products rather than relying on licensed values. These by their nature tend to be considerable overestimations of the volume of trade. The format proposed is similar to that of the EU's Annual Report on the operation of the Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, which reports on the export of military goods from EU Member States and to which Ireland contributes.

As regards information on individual exporters and end users, let me be clear that I do not consider it appropriate to provide such data. Not only would this measure be anti-business, in that it would provide commercially sensitive information to foreign competitors, but there are also international and security considerations. Ireland works closely with our EU partners and other like-minded countries in the International Export Control Regimes and we share information on end-users of concern on a confidential basis. Publication of information on individual exporters and end users could prejudice or impair the enforcement of, and compliance with, applicable Irish and European legislation.

Skills Development.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

107 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the proportion of the €2.8 billion allocated to skills development under the National Development Plan 2007 to 2013 that will be invested in training for people affected by industrial restructuring; and if he will outline a timeframe for the allocation of this funding. [8557/07]

The National Development Plan 2007 to 2013 contains a Human Capital Priority Chapter which sets out the broad priorities for investment in the development of Ireland's human resource capability over the period of the Plan.

Over €25 billion has been allocated to investment in the Human Capital Priority, of which over €7.7 billion will be invested in the Training and Skills Development Programme through the Upskilling the Workforce sub-Programme, and the Activation and Participation of Groups outside the Workforce sub-Programme.

I can assure the Deputy that FAS and the State development agencies currently engage proactively with workers facing industrial restructuring. In the event of any major closure, FÁS endeavours to engage immediately with the affected staff and makes the full range of its services available to equip redundant workers for new employment opportunities. Both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are constantly seeking new and expanded investment and employment opportunities and the City and County Enterprise Boards also have an important role to play in this regard.

I am confident that the strategies and policies being pursued by these agencies together with the Government's ongoing commitment to regional development, will continue to bring investment and job creation to those affected by industrial restructuring.

In this context, financial allocations for training people facing industrial restructuring are not specifically ring-fenced in the National Development Plan as such training and support will be provided as the need arises. I would also mention that the FAS One Step Up and Skillnets Programmes are placing a greater focus on the low skilled and this will also include many workers facing industrial restructuring.

Public Transport.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

108 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the policies in place in his Department to encourage the use of public transport by staff travelling to and from work; the policies in place to encourage staff to use public transport when travelling on Departmental business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8351/07]

The mode of transport which staff of my Department use in travelling to and from work is a matter of choice for each individual. However, my Department generally supports the use of public transport by staff. In this context, it operates a scheme which facilitates staff in obtaining annual bus and rail passes through salary reductions. A particular attraction of the scheme for staff is that it complies with Revenue guidelines for the exemption of payment of tax and PRSI on the salary foregone. A total of 216 staff are availing of the scheme in 2007.

Travel by staff on official business is governed by travel and subsistence regulations issued by the Department of Finance. The overriding principle in these regulations is that all official travel should be by the shortest practicable route and by the cheapest practicable mode of transport. As a general rule, officers are only authorised to use their own transport on official business where suitable public transport is not available, where public transport is available only at equal or greater expense, or where the use of public transport would result in the unnecessary loss of official time.

Given the nature of the work carried out by some areas of my Department, it is not always feasible for staff to use public transport. For example, Labour Inspectors and Prices Inspectors are often required to carry out site visits at locations or at times which make the use of public transport impractical. In such instances, the use of an official's private car is authorised. As far as possible, journeys of this nature are arranged to maximise the amount of business carried out in a particular geographical area.

Industrial Development.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

109 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action he will take to address low Kerry disposable incomes and high live register figures as per Central Statistics Office data released recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8573/07]

The CSO release on County Incomes and Regional GDP notes that county estimates should be treated with caution because the underlying data are not always sufficiently robust. Also while the Live Register provides data on a county basis it is not designed to measure unemployment. It includes part-time workers as well as seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseekers Allowance or Benefit.

Employment/unemployment is measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) which provides a breakdown of data on a regional basis only. The latest QNHS release (February 2007)) shows that unemployment in the South West Region (Cork and Kerry) in the period Sept-Nov 2006 was 3.6% compared to the figure for the State overall of 4.1%. Numbers in employment in the region for the same period stood at 301,500 an increase of 11,200 over the corresponding period in 2005.

The enterprise development agencies (Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Shannon Development) are committed to promoting Kerry as a location for investment, as well as supporting and developing businesses already present in the county. Full time permanent employment in enterprise agency assisted firms in Co. Kerry stands at 5,434 at end 2006.

IDA Ireland continues to work with its existing base of companies with a view to supporting such companies with potential expansions and the agency also targets potential new investment projects. IDA Ireland will continue to actively promote the region and the advantages of locating in Kerry, which include a young skilled population, the presence of the Institute of Technology in Tralee and the availability of first class business parks and a regional airport. IDA continues to market all available land and buildings in the county and has completed a €1m investment in site development works on its Business & Technology Park at Tiernaboul, Killarney, Co. Kerry. The site area totals 4.66 hectares. These works involved significant landscaping, access development and site clearance work, all of which has resulted in the upgrading of the overall appeal of the location.

IDA is also marketing Shannon Development's Kerry Technology Park (KTP) and buildings, which are adjacent to the Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT). This Park has 50 acres of enterprise space including fully-serviced industrial sites, a Business Incubation Centre and a range of quality manufacturing and office style accommodation. It has state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure and access to the facilities, services and resources of the Institute of Technology, Tralee. At year-end 2006 there were 16 companies operating from the Park, employing over 200 people.

Enterprise Ireland activity, in terms of job creation, is focused on the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies, the creation of new jobs by supporting entrepreneurs to set up High Potential Start-Up Companies and also through enhancing the innovation capability of Ireland at a national and regional level by supporting research in companies and third level institutions.

Shannon Development has entered into an ‘option-to-purchase' agreement with Shannon LNG in relation to 281 acres of the 600-acre Shannon Development owned land bank between Tarbert and Ballylongford, County Kerry. Under this agreement, it is proposed to build a €400 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal on the site. The Shannon LNG project has the potential to provide over 40% of Ireland gas requirements. The terminal could provide about 50 long-term permanent jobs, along with additional support jobs and around 350 construction jobs at its peak.

Ministerial Staff.

Seán Ryan

Question:

110 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cost of travel and maintenance expenses incurred individually in respect of each person by name in the employment of his ministerial office, including that of Ministers of State attached to his Department as either personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, and press communications adviser for the calendar year 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8339/07]

Details of travel and subsistence expenses incurred for the calendar year 2006 by persons employed in my ministerial office in the positions referred to by the Deputy are provided in Table 1 below.

Details of travel and subsistence expenses incurred for the calendar year 2006 by persons employed in the positions referred to by the Deputy in the offices of the Ministers of State attached to my Department are provided in Table 2 below.

Expenses are paid in accordance with travel and subsistence regulations published by the Department of Finance.

Table 1 — Details of travel and subsistence expenses incurred for the calendar year 2006 by persons employed in the office of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, or press communications adviser.

Name

Capacity

Travel expenses paid in 2006

Subsistence expenses paid in 2006

Total

Ms Deirdre Gillane

Policy Adviser

794.21

1,378.97

2,173.18

Mr. Christopher Mannion

Special Adviser

2,603.52

761.89

3,365.41

Ms Catriona Meehan

Press Adviser (employed to 3 Nov. 2006)

4,968.91

3,711.94

8,680.85

Table 2 — Details of travel and subsistence expenses incurred for the calendar year 2006 by persons employed in the offices of Ministers of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, or press communications adviser.

Name

Capacity

Travel expenses paid in 2006

Subsistence expenses paid in 2006

Total

Ms Michelle Scanlan

Personal Secretary, Office of the Minister for Labour Affairs

Nil

167.50

167.50

Job Creation.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

111 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the plans his Department has for increased employment in County Mayo; his views on whether that infrastructure needs urgent upgrading to ensure increased employment in the county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8576/07]

State support for enterprise and job creation is channelled through the industrial development agencies. While I may give general policy directives to the agencies under the Industrial Development Acts, I am precluded from giving directives regarding individual undertakings or from giving preference to one area over others.

I have been assured by the agencies under the remit of my Department that they are actively endeavouring to attract new investment, to encourage the start-up of new businesses, to grow existing businesses and to develop the labour market in County Mayo. A high quality urban environment with a critical mass in population, skills and world-class access infrastructure, are critical to prospective investors when they are deciding where to locate.

In this regard, County Mayo will benefit from the ongoing investment in transport, energy and utilities set out in the new National Development Plan. It is also vital that national investment is partnered with local vision and leadership and that private investment also plays a role.

IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are working closely with local authorities, utility providers and others to maximise the attractiveness of Mayo in terms of meeting the needs of potential investors. To enhance the attractiveness of the County for new and expansion projects IDA Ireland is developing world class business parks in Ballina, Castlebar and Westport. With regard to the Ballina site I was pleased to hear recently that significant progress has been made by Mayo County Council in securing unburdened title to this 10.29 hectares site on the Sligo Road.

Enterprise Ireland is focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs setting up new High Potential Start-Up Companies, the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies and in enhancing the innovation capability of Ireland at a national and regional level through support of research in companies and third level institutions. The overall aim of Enterprise Ireland's strategy is to transform Irish companies into market focused and innovation driven businesses and to increase their exports, sales and employment.

At the end of 2006, there were a total of 6,118 Enterprise Agency supported full time jobs in County Mayo. In addition, the Mayo County Enterprise Board (CEB) provides a source of support throughout Mayo for small businesses with 10 employees or fewer. During 2006 Mayo CEB approved a total of €620,000 to 30 projects and paid out in the region of €440,000 in grant assistance to 29 projects, which resulted in the creation of 110 net jobs in CEB assisted companies throughout the county.

Ministerial Staff.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

112 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff, being civil servants, who are assigned to his constituency office, whether based at his Department’s offices or at a location in his constituency; the salary cost of his constituency office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8337/07]

There are three Civil Servants assigned to my Constituency Office. They are all based in my Office at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. The officers concerned are all Clerical Officers. The Clerical Officer salary scale ranges from €22,766 to €36,913 per annum.

The total salary cost of my constituency office for 2006 was €165,180.91. This figure includes the salary cost of the following members of staff:

3 Civil Servants already mentioned;

1.1 Personnel Assistants (non-Civil Servants); and

1 Personal Secretary (non-Civil Servant).

Migrant Workers.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

113 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views, in view of the stark difference in the number of work permits issued to Romanian and Bulgarian nationals as against the number of PPS numbers issued to Romanian and Bulgarian nationals in 2007, on whether there is a significant problem of so-called false contracting being used to exploit such workers; the steps he is taking to ensure that workers are not exploited through incorrect use of contracts to avoid employers’ duties and responsibilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8328/07]

Nationals of Romania and Bulgaria may only come to Ireland to be employed by an employer if they are the subject of an employment permit application. For the first two months of this year, 11 new employment permits were issued in respect of Romanian nationals, and 2 new employment permits in respect of Bulgarian nationals.

I understand that the Department of Social and Family Affairs issued 4,877 PPS numbers up to 23rd February, 2007 to Romanian nationals and 199 to Bulgarian nationals.

Under EU rules nationals of Romania and Bulgaria may come to Ireland and set up a business here and be self-employed. However, the self-employment must be genuine.

A major package of measures has been agreed by the parties to Towards 2016, the new Social Partnership Agreement, to provide for enhanced public confidence in the system of compliance. New legislation will be published this year which will empower the Labour Inspectorate to join with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners to work together in Joint Investigation Units. Such units will have a particular focus on the employment status of workers. The National Employment Rights Authority, which has already been established on an interim basis, is currently meeting with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners with a view to the early establishment and operation of Joint Investigation Units within existing legal and administrative frameworks.

I am informed by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners that attention is paid by them to the matter of bogus self-employment in the course of their compliance activities and appropriate action taken. Complaints in relation to bogus self-employment should be referred to all or any of the following — the Labour Inspectorate of the National Employment Rights Authority, the Department of Social and Family Affairs or the Revenue Commissioners.

New legislation will be published this year that will provide for enhanced employment rights measures including the establishment of the National Employment Rights Authority. Providing for greater clarity in the application of employment rights legislation to employees and the self-employed will be considered in the context of drawing up that legislation.

The package of measures provided for under Towards 2016 will be supported by enhanced employment rights promotional and educational efforts. The Social Partners and other organisations such as the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners will be invited to bring their knowledge and networks to bear on the design and delivery of this education and awareness programme which, it is anticipated, will also address the issues associated with bogus self-employment.

Towards 2016 also includes a number of other specific commitments in relation to employment status and in relation to the "Hidden Economy". The Government and social partners have agreed under the Towards 2016 to review the application of the existing Code of Practice on employee status with a view to more effective implementation. My Department will be actively involved in that review. In addition, the Government and the social partners agreed under the Towards 2016 to continue and expand the Hidden Economy Working Group. The group, which comprises representatives of Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social and Family Affairs, ICTU, IBEC, SFA, CIF and, since the ratification of the Social Partnership Agreement, my own Department and the National Employment Rights Authority, has met on two occasions to date.

Employment Rights.

Jack Wall

Question:

114 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on recent reports of film production companies here paying employees below minimum wage rates; if he is taking steps to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5554/07]

The National Minimum Wage Act 2000 requires that an employer must pay the appropriate minimum hourly rate of pay. In this regard, the Deputy will be aware that under the provisions of the Act the statutory minimum rate of pay payable to an experienced adult worker was increased to €8.30 per hour with effect from 1 January, 2007. This rate will be further increased to €8.65 per hour with effect from 1 July, 2007.

In the past year the Labour Inspectorate undertook a number of targeted campaigns, including a campaign, which focused on National Minimum Wage compliance. I can assure the Deputy that the inspection of compliance with the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 and with other statutory instruments and agreements which provide for minimum rates of pay is a priority objective within the Labour Inspectorate.

The primary objective of the Labour Inspectorate in cases where breaches of employment rights legislation have been detected is to seek redress for the individual or individuals concerned in terms of ensuring immediate compliance and rectification of any such breaches and, where these breaches have resulted in a financial loss to workers, to effect payment of any arrears due. In this regard almost €1.5 million in arrears was recovered in 2006 from employers arising from National Minimum Wage and other statutory minimum wage inspections by the Labour Inspectorate. The Labour Inspectorate will also initiate prosecutions, where appropriate, in cases of failure to effect compliance or rectify breaches detected.

In relation to the film production sector, I understand that Deputy Ó Snodaigh, during the course of the recent debate on the Irish Film Board (Amendment) Bill, made a statement to the effect that a post production company in Dublin was paying employees less that the statutory minimum provided for under the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000. While no formal complaint has been received by the Labour Inspectorate, I have asked the Inspectorate to contact Deputy Ó Snodaigh with a view to seekingfurther information in relation to these allegations.

I urge anyone who has evidence of the mistreatment of workers to furnish all the relevant details and any related materials to the Inspectorate with a view to pursuing the matter.

The Deputy should be aware that Rights Commissioners of the Labour Relations Commission — a body independent of the Department — also investigate complaints of breaches of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000.

Departmental Bodies.

Phil Hogan

Question:

115 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will enhance the powers and remit of the Competition Authority. [8582/07]

The Competition Authority is the independent statutory agency responsible for the enforcement of competition law in the State. Its mandate and functions are set out in the Competition Act 2002, as amended.

The 2002 Act consolidated, reformed and modernised previous legislation relating to competition policy and merger control. In essence the Act:

increased the penalties for serious cartel activities, such as price fixing;

enhanced the independence of the Competition Authority; and

transferred responsibility for controlling mergers and acquisitions from the Minister to the Competition Authority with the exception of media mergers where the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment retains a residual function.

The Act was the culmination of a root and branch review of all aspects of competition law in the State which was undertaken by the Competition and Mergers Review Group. The Review Group, which reported in 2000, comprised eminent lawyers, economists and representatives from right across the economic spectrum, including the Social Partners.

The 2002 Act implemented many of the recommendations of the Review Group, and also anticipated developments at EU level. In particular it provided a framework for the application of Regulation 1 of 2003 in the State whereby the Authority was enabled to fully apply the European Community competition rules.

The 2002 Act became fully operational on 1 January 2003. Therefore, it is a recent statute and forms the basis for one of the most modern competition regimes in the world.

Nonetheless, during the course of 2007 my Department intends to commence a review of the operation of the Competition Act 2002. The need to make changes to the powers and functions of the Competition Authority will be considered when this review is completed.

Equality Issues.

Seán Ryan

Question:

116 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the provisions of employment law that discriminate against employees over 65 years of age; his plans to correct these anomalies; if primary or secondary legislation would be required for each of these anomalies to be corrected; his views on whether it is desirable to facilitate persons who wish to continue working past 65 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8349/07]

There is no age discrimination in employment rights legislation and there are no provisions in Employment or Equality law that impose a compulsory retirement age in relation to employment.

I would point out that the upper age limit of 66 years for bringing claims under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2005 was removed by the Equality Act 2004. The effect of this is that a person who is over the age of 66 when dismissed may take a case under the Unfair Dismissals Acts unless he/she has already reached the normal retirement age for that employment, if one exists.

The removal of the age cap of 66 for statutory redundancy is included in the recently published Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Bill 2007 which is designed to give effect to certain commitments arising from "Towards 2016".

The Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, administered by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, protect against discrimination on the ground of age and on other grounds, in relation to access to employment. However, the Acts also permit an employer to decide on a retirement age in a particular employment. The purpose of such provisions is to give flexibility to employers and employees, having due regard to the nature of the work being performed. Such retirement age limits are not in breach of the Employment Equality Acts or the Unfair Dismissal Acts.

Decisions in relation to retirement are influenced by a range of issues and the challenge is to give people the flexibility and choice to work past 65. Obstacles to people working at an older age include benefit and pension entitlements and this issue is being reviewed by the Department of Social and Family Affairs in consultation with the Pensions Board.

Under the terms of the Social Partnership agreement "Towards 2016", the Government is committed to the continued participation of older people in the labour market which will be encouraged and facilitated to meet the challenge of an ageing society.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

117 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff in his Department and its agencies currently based in offices rented by, rather than owned by, the State; the expenditure in rent for these offices; if it is intended that all these staff will be transferred to properties owned by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8330/07]

A total of 827 staff in my Department are located in offices rented by the Office of Public Works (OPW). The expenditure in rent is a matter for the OPW.

Following the completion of the Decentralisation Programme in 2009, the accommodation needs of the Department will be reviewed in conjunction with the OPW.

The position regarding the agencies is as follows:

Irish Auditing and Accounting Authority (IAASA) — 7 staff currently occupy premises leased by OPW. The rent is €119,163 p.a. There are no proposals to relocate the staff to other premises.

Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) — 85 staff currently occupy premises leased by OPW. There are no proposals to relocate the staff to other premises.

Shannon Free Airport Development Co. — 17 Staff are based in rented accommodation at a rent of €110,892 pa and 20 Tourist information staff in other premises at rent of €92,100 pa. There are no plans to relocate these staff.

County Enterprise Boards — 146 staff are based in offices rented by the State at a total rent of €700,000 pa. There are no plans to relocate these staff.

Enterprise Ireland — 3 of the 4 Enterprise Ireland premises are rented the staff allocation of these is 133, 49 and 45 at a total rent of €3.1m. All 4 locations are due to move to East Point in the near future. Rental costs for these premises is envisaged at €3.1 million approximately.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) — 39 staff of SFI are based in Wilton House and pay rent to Forfas who lease the building. The rent was €323,750 in 2006. There are no plans at present to relocate the staff of SFI.

National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) — 15 staff (from a total of 162) occupy short-term premises in Limerick. The monthly rent for these premises is €7,300. These staff are due to relocate to the permanent renovated offices on completion of construction work in May 2007.

Health and Safety Authority (HSA) — All 185 staff of the HSA operate from rented accommodation, 3 from the OPW (in Sligo, Waterford and Cork) and the remaining 6 from private landlords. The annual rent for these premises is as follows: Dublin — €780,197, Athlone — €15,300, Cahir — €26,318 (document storage, no staff), Galway — €24,139, Kilkenny — €77,138, Limerick — €430,872. There are no plans to relocate the staff of the HSA to State owned premises.

FÁS — The total amount of expenditure in rent on Offices rented by FÁS in 2006 was €8.9m. This is broadly made up of Head Office — €2.4m, Employment Service/Community Service Offices — €3.1m and Training Facilities — €3.4m. Figures in relation to the numbers of staff in the rented offices throughout the country are not readily available. These will be collated and forwarded to the Deputy.

The staff in Head Office are due to decentralise to Birr Co. Offaly in 2009. No decision has been made in relation to the funding of this office.

Forfas/IDA Ireland — The rent for space occupied by Forfas and IDA Ireland in Wilton Park House, Dublin is €2,030,000 and €2,126,000 respectively.

Departmental Appointments.

Willie Penrose

Question:

118 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason, as indicated in his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 198 of 31 January 2007, the remuneration of the State Chief Science Adviser is not publicly disclosed; if it is normal practice to keep the remuneration of public servants confidential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8335/07]

The salary scales for grades in the established public service are, of course, a matter of public information.

The post of Chief Scientific Adviser is not part of the established public service, it is a non-permanent, independent, advisory position, reporting to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on STI, with the appointment made on a contractual basis, in this case for five years.

However, having consulted with the Chief Scientific Adviser, I am now in a position to confirm that he is retained on an annual salary of €120,000 per annum.

Industrial Disputes.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

119 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of industrial disputes that resulted in strike action in 2006 that related directly to his Department or its agencies; the number of working days lost to strike action in his Department and its agencies in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8332/07]

There was no industrial action in my Department or its agencies except for that in FÁS.

A number of work stoppages were undertaken by SIPTU members in FÁS in relation to the inclusion of a relocation clause in promotion contracts in the context of the decentralisation of FÁS Head Office to Birr. These included two 2 hour stoppages, one 4 hour stoppage and one full day stoppage. The total number of working days lost was approximately 456.

Job Creation.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

120 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans for job creation in the south and south west following the recent high profile job losses at three companies; his views on the fact that high technology jobs are being lost in the region; the steps he is taking to ensure retention of high tech jobs in the region and the introduction of new high tech jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8357/07]

State support for enterprise and job creation is channelled through the industrial development agencies. IDA Ireland has responsibility for marketing Ireland and its regions to overseas investors and Enterprise Ireland is concentrating on developing the indigenous sector. While I may give general policy directives to the agencies under the Industrial Development Acts, I am precluded from giving directives regarding individual undertakings or from giving preference to one area over others.

IDA Ireland's strategy for the South West region is to progress the development of a knowledge economy. The Agency is actively promoting the city of Cork and the greater Cork region, including the town of Fermoy, to prospective investors across the full range of IDA targeted sectors. Targeted sectors include Pharmaceuticals, Medical Technologies, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Internationally Traded Services. To support and enhance this marketing campaign they are also working in partnership with Local Authorities, utility companies, third level institutes and other relevant infrastructure and service providers in the region to develop the necessary critical mass needed in terms of population, skills and infrastructure.

Job creation and job losses are a feature of economic development in all countries as various sectors expand and contract in response to market demand for goods and services, competitive forces, restructuring and technological change. The recent announcement of jobs losses in Cork, Fermoy and Youghal is very regrettable. Despite these losses, the region, and in particular the greater Cork area, is continuing to win new investment across a range of sectors. Employment in IDA supported companies in Cork has seen an increase of circa 11% since 2000, with 133 IDA assisted companies in County Cork employing in excess of 19,977 people.

Just last week, VMware, one of the US software industry's fastest growing companies, which established its EMEA Technical Support Centre in Ballincollig less than two years ago, announced a major expansion involving the creation of up to 369 additional jobs. In December 2006, Eli Lilly and Company, a global leader in biopharmaceuticals, announced plans to invest up to €400m in establishing a Biopharmaceuticals Manufacturing facility at its existing site in Kinsale involving the creation of up to 200 additional jobs. This will bring Eli Lilly's total employment level in Kinsale to 600.

In terms of job creation, Enterprise Ireland activity is focused on supporting entrepreneurs setting up new High Potential Start-Up Companies, the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies, and on enhancing the innovation capability of Ireland at a national and regional level through support for research in companies and third level institutions. The Agency provides a range of supports for high potential start up companies including, financial supports, business and marketing advice, mentoring, product development etc. as well as incubation space.

In this regard Enterprise Ireland is pleased to be associated with recent developments in Cork based companies such as 1.2 Travel.Com Ltd., Ecom Interaction Services Ltd., Freefoam Plastics Ltd., Qumas Ltd., Dairygold plc., and new companies such as Sensl Technologies Ltd., and MP Stor Ltd. In 2006, Enterprise Ireland approved over €18m and made payments of almost €9m to client companies in County Cork. This includes support for 14 HPSU (High Potential Start-Up) companies. The agency is currently actively engaged with 687 client companies in County Cork who, at the end of 2006, employ a total of 19,078 people.

I am satisfied that the policies being pursued by the agencies under the remit of my Department, together with the Government's commitment to regional development, as outlined in the new National Development Plan, will continue to bear fruit in terms of the creation of sustainable employment for the people of the South and South West generally.

Question No. 121 answered with QuestionNo. 96.

Work Life Balance Initiatives.

Liz McManus

Question:

122 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on activities organised or funded by his Department for work life balance day on 1 March 2007; the changes he has made to policy in relation to staff in his Department to improve work life balance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8326/07]

My Department fully supports work life balance initiatives and has been to the forefront in the Public Service in introducing and developing many of the work life balance schemes and initiatives that are currently available to staff in this Department.

In support of Work Life Balance Day 2007, the Work Options Unit in my Department, in association with the Health and Safety Unit, and the Employee Assistance Service, organised a number of talks throughout the Department on the following topics: Lifeskills for Work/Life Balance, and Nutrition. The talks took place in several locations in Dublin, and in Kilkenny on Thursday 1st March 2007. Staff were advised of and encouraged to attend these talks. Additional information regarding the Work Life Balance options available to them was also circulated to all staff.

Work life balance is an issue that affects all of us, and is not just an issue for people with young children. More and more, work-life balance options are becoming increasingly important for employees seeking to reconcile their various responsibilities outside the workplace with their work life. In recognition of the importance of assisting staff to achieve a better balance between their work and family lives, the Work Options Unit has been established in my Department for a number of years now. The Unit has direct responsibility for dealing with all work life balance initiatives and applications for the various leave schemes, listed below, that are currently available to staff members.

One of the most recent changes is that of Maternity Leave. From 1st March, an increase in entitlement means that Women can avail of 26 weeks paid Maternity Leave and 16 weeks unpaid Maternity Leave. Adoptive leave is also increased from 1st March, people who adopt can avail of 24 weeks paid Adoptive Leave and 16 weeks unpaid Adoptive Leave. This leave commences on the day of placement of the child with the adopting parent.

Relevant information concerning a range of work life initiatives is also available on the Department's Intranet. These include:

Adoptive Leave

Annual Leave

Bereavement Leave

Carer's Leave

Flexi Leave

Force Majeure Leave

Jury Service Leave

Marriage Leave

Maternity Leave

Parental Leave

Paternity Leave

Union Leave

Term Time Leave

8 weeks

10 weeks

13 weeks

Worksharing

Four Day Week

Three Day Week

Week On/Week Off

Split Week

Mornings Only

Afternoons Only

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Working Day

Three weeks on / One week off over a four week period

Health and Safety Regulations.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

123 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he is satisfied that current health and safety legislation is adequate in preventing deaths in the workplace; his plans to implement corporate manslaughter legislation as recommended by the Law Reform Commission. [8560/07]

I am confident that the current legislative base in regard to occupational safety and health sets a sound foundation for implementing occupational safety, health and welfare standards.

The Oireachtas enacted the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act in 2005. This Act updates and amends the provisions of previous legislation and is a result of a major review of occupational health and safety legislation. The Act provides a modern legal framework to guarantee best international practice in regard to health and safety in the Irish workplace. The primary focus in the Act is on prevention. It sets out responsibilities for employers and workers alike and it provides also for significant fines and penalties.

The administration and enforcement of occupational safety and health legislation, including the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and related Regulations, is a day to day matter for the Health and Safety Authority. In this regard, the Authority has a range of enforcement measures available to it, to use as it deems appropriate and necessary, in accordance with the provisions of the 2005 Act.

At the time of the drafting of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, the Attorney General was of the opinion that there were much broader issues than safety, health and welfare at work which needed to be considered in regard to the matter of corporate manslaughter. Legislating in the relatively confined area of occupational safety and health would have omitted other sectors where such an offence could be committed. Therefore it was decided that it was not appropriate to deal with the issue of corporate killing in legislation which was providing for the law and regulation of occupational safety, health and welfare.

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

Consideration of the Law Reform Commission's Report and recommendations are a matter for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in the context of his main responsibilities for the criminal law system.

Ministerial Staff.

Mary Upton

Question:

124 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff, being civil servants, who are assigned to the Minister of State for Labour Affairs constituency office, whether based at his Department’s offices or at a location in the Minister of State’s constituency; the salary cost of the constituency offices of the Minister of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8360/07]

At present there is a vacancy at Clerical Officer level in the Minister of State for Labour Affairs constituency office. The vacancy will be filled on 23rd March, 2007.

The post is based in Minister Tony Killeen's Office, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Davitt House, Adelaide Road, Dublin 2. The officer concerned is a Clerical Officer. The Clerical Officer salary scale ranges from €22,766 to €36,913 per annum.

The total salary cost of the constituency office of the Minister of State for Labour Affairs for 2006 was €180,051.73. This figure includes the salary cost of the following members of staff:

1 Civil Servant already mentioned;

1 Personnel Assistant (non-Civil Servant);

1 Personal Secretary (non-Civil Servant); and

2 Civilian Drivers (non-Civil Servants).

Pharmaceutical Industry.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

125 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made on the recruitment of a consultant to stem the loss of jobs from Ireland’s pharmaceutical industry; the further communication he has had with the IDA and Pfizer to save the 480 jobs at Pfizer. [8562/07]

I am aware that IDA Ireland has recently decided to conduct a study of the pharmaceutical sector. The purpose is to give an overview on process development both locally and internationally. The study should define what supports could be put in place by way of infrastructure or activities which would enable manufacturing operations to engage in process development activities and add value to their activities. I understand that the agency expects that the necessary Consultant will be appointed by 30 March, 2007.

The agency continues to work closely with the company in question to identify suitable players that may be interested in taking over the company's existing operations. While it is the company's intention to close certain facilities over the next two years, I am encouraged by its track record whereby it has successfully sold on similar plants worldwide in the past.

Overall, the pharmaceutical area continues to be very important for Ireland and there has been significant growth in recent years. I am confident that despite intense worldwide competition, Ireland will continue to win significant projects in this sector.

EU Directives.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

126 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of EU directives for which his Department has responsibility, remaining to be implemented; the directives that are overdue; the number of reasoned opinions received from the EU Commission since 2002 regarding delays or non-implementation of such directives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8342/07]

There are currently a total of seventeen Directives due to be transposed by my Department up to 2010. Four of these Directives are overdue and the following is the position with regard to implementation progress:

1. Directive 2004/22/EC of 31 March 2004 concerning harmonisation of measuring instruments

Transposition deadline: 30 April 2006.

Expected date of implementation: 16 March 2007.

2. Directive 2003/72/EC supplementing the Statute for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees

Transposition deadline: 18 August 2006.

Expected date of implementation: 30 March 2007.

3. Directive 2004/108/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to electromagnetic compatibility

Transposition deadline: 20 January 2007.

Expected date of implementation: 9 March 2007.

4. Directive 2004/109/EC on minimum transparency requirements for listed companies

Transposition deadline: 20 January 2007.

Expected date of implementation: 15 March 2007.

Another Six Directives are due for transposition during 2007 and seven further Directives are scheduled to be transposed in 2008 and subsequent years.

My Department has received 23 Reasoned Opinions from the European Commission related to overdue Directives since 2002. The outstanding issues concerning all but one of the Directives have been resolved satisfactorily. Proceedings are ongoing in the European Court of Justice in relation to a finding against Ireland for incorrect transposition of Directive 92/100/EC related to rental rights and lending rights in the field of intellectual property. Corrective measures are being taken in the context of draft legislation to introduce a public lending right. I intend to publish this Bill shortly.

Fair Trade Promotion.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

127 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps being taken to promote fair trade fortnight both within and outside his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8352/07]

My Department has only two small canteens and in the past year both canteens have introduced Fair Trade products. My Department encourages the use of Fair Trade products in these canteens and a large poster advertising Fair Trade products is on display for all staff to see.

As regards the agencies under the control of my Department, the Deputy may wish to know that last June my Department wrote to all of the agencies involved drawing attention to the importance of supporting Fair Trade products and asking, on my behalf, that consideration be given to the enhanced sale of Fair Trade products in the canteens, cafeterias or restaurants of those agencies. The replies received by my Department indicate support for this initiative and the majority of the agencies involved have indicated that they have introduced Fair Trade tea, coffee, sugar and other products for sale or were in the process of doing so. The recent media publicity associated with Fair Trade fortnight should ensure that Fair Trade products will be availed of in the canteens, cafeterias and restaurants of the agencies under the control of my Department and in the two small canteens of my Department.

Work Permits.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

128 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he is satisfied that current regulation of the work permits scheme is sufficiently robust to ensure against specious declarations of student and self-employment status; the monitoring mechanism of the same that is in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8572/07]

The Social Partnership Agreement "Towards 2016” contains a commitment under Section 24 (Economic Migration Policy) that the employment of non-EEA students should be the subject of an employment permit application. This is a complex area and my Department is currently consulting with stakeholders and the social partners regarding the procedures and format of this type of employment permit.

In the meantime, access of students to the labour market is dependent on their immigration status. Students granted permission to remain by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to pursue a full-time course of studies of at least one year's duration leading to a qualification recognised by the Department of Education and Science are permitted to enter casual employment only (defined as 20 hours part-time work per week or full-time during normal vacation periods). Access to employment is not permitted to other students.

A major package of measures has been agreed by the parties toTowards 2016, the new Social Partnership Agreement, to provide for enhanced public confidence in the system of compliance. New legislation will be published this year which will empower the Labour Inspectorate to join with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners to work together in Joint Investigation Units. Such units will have a particular focus on the employment status of workers. The National Employment Rights Authority, which has already been established on an interim basis, is currently meeting with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners with a view to the early establishment and operation of Joint Investigation Units within existing legal and administrative frameworks.

The Department of Social Welfare and the Revenue Commissioners will have details of the number of bogus self-contractors identified in the context of their specific responsibilities. Complaints in relation to bogus self-employment should be referred to all or any of the following — the Labour Inspectorate of the National Employment Rights Authority, the Department of Social and Family Affairs or the Revenue Commissioners.

In addition, the Revenue Commissioners, as part of its recently launched Construction Industry Project, will be reviewing the tax status of contractors and, in particular, whether individuals currently designated as self-employed should be regarded as employees and subject to PAYE and PRSI. Monitoring of Relevant Contract Tax 1 (RCT1) declarations will also be strengthened.

The legislation will also provide for enhanced employment rights measures including the establishment of the National Employment Rights Authority. Providing for greater clarity in the application of employment rights legislation to employees and the self-employed will be considered in the context of drawing up that legislation.

The package of measures provided for underTowards 2016 will be supported by enhanced employment rights promotional and educational efforts. The Social Partners and other organisations such as the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners will be invited to bring their knowledge and networks to bear on the design and delivery of this education and awareness programme which, it is anticipated, will also address the issues associated with bogus self-employment.

"Towards 2016” includes a number of other specific commitments in relation to employment status and in relation to the “Hidden Economy”. The Government and social partners have agreed under “Towards 2016” to review the existing Code of Practice on employee status with a view to more effective implementation. My Department will be actively involved in that review. In addition, the Government and the social partners agreed under “Towards 2016” to continue and expand the Hidden Economy Working Group. The group, which comprises representatives of Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social and Family Affairs, ICTU, IBEC, SFA, CIF and, since the ratification of the Social Partnership Agreement, my own Department and the National Employment Rights Authority, has met on two occasions to date.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

129 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of persons who undertook FÁS training courses in 2006; the percentage of those who were unemployed, who were in part time employment and who were employed full time; his plans for FÁS for 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8356/07]

A total of 69,000 persons commenced FÁS training courses in 2006 with roughly 35% of those attending training not in employment and 65% in employment. In addition, 176,000 persons attended Safe Pass and Construction Skills training and a further 9,000 persons attended Evening Courses. A training element was also included for 32,300 persons on Community Employment and Job Initiative schemes in 2006. Statistics in relation to those in part-time employment who are participating in training are not specifically identified.

Plans for FÁS in 2007 are to increase training numbers by roughly 5%. FÁS has been granted additional funding to meet demand for apprenticeship training and increase capacity for in-company training.

Overseas Trade Promotion.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

130 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on the activities to date of IDA Ireland’s China office; the number of joint Chinese Irish ventures facilitated or developed by this office; the cost to the State of this office in 2006; the budget of this office for 2007; if he will open further offices of State development agencies in China; if so, his plans in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8347/07]

The management and location of overseas offices of the development agencies is a day-to-day operational matter for the agencies and not a matter in which I have a function.

IDA Ireland is the statutory agency charged with the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) to this country. The agency established its first office in Shanghai, China during 2005. To date there have been a number of visits from Chinese delegations to Ireland and IDA Ireland are hopeful that these will result in a number of projects in the future. IDA Ireland operates in a very competitive environment for FDI and it would not be appropriate for me to release details of activities or costs relating solely to the Shanghai office. However, in 2006 an amount of slightly in excess €10m was spent by IDA Ireland as part of its marketing, promotions and advertising budget for all of its overseas offices including Shanghai. It is expected that a similar figure will be spent by the Agency in 2007. I understand from the Agency that, at present, it has no plans to open other offices in China.

Enterprise Ireland is the agency which, in overseas markets, is tasked with assisting Irish companies in their efforts to increase exports. It has four offices in China — Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. These offices are located in the industrialized and wealthy parts of China — those areas that offer the most potential for Irish exports. Enterprise Ireland does not envisage that other offices will be needed in China in the immediate future but the agency reviews the needs of client companies on an ongoing basis and will respond where necessary.

Enterprise Incentives.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

131 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the differences in incentives, financial or otherwise, available to foreign direct investors versus indigenous industry in this State. [8559/07]

State support specific to enterprise and job creation is channelled through the industrial development agencies. IDA Ireland has responsibility for marketing Ireland and its regions for overseas investment and Enterprise Ireland is concentrating on developing the indigenous sector. Shannon Development is responsible for regional economic development in the Mid West region whereas the County Enterprise Boards offer assistance to micro enterprises employing fewer than ten people.

The overall mix of incentives vary from fiscal policies, such as the 12.5% corporation tax rate that all companies can avail of to targeted supports or incentives that are designed to stimulate specific types of business activity. These incentives include funding for certain capital investment, job creation, R&D, training, marketing, and management development.

The focus of Enterprise Ireland supports, in collaboration with the CEBs, will be on measures to promote high potential start-up companies, increase productivity, develop management and international sales capabilities, facilitate access to equity and finance and to support entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise. IDA Ireland will concentrate on financial product and client service measures to support investments. The Agency also provides a range of property solutions for prospective investors and Enterprise Ireland clients.

Government supports to companies in Ireland must comply with the European State Aid Guidelines, which set out the type of companies and eligible activities that can be supported, as well as the maximum funding limits allowed.

The type and level of support companies receive is not determined by whether or not a company is Irish or foreign owned. In agreeing on incentives or supports to eligible companies the main factors that determine supports include:

The activities being undertaken by the company, with support limited to activities that are in line with European and national development objectives for example R & D, training, scaling or expansion of firms. Furthermore, all activities supported must be new or additional to what the company is currently doing;

The size of the company, with some supports available only to small and medium sized enterprises. This is due to the various market failures and barriers to development associated with SMEs. Examples of this include the Business Expansion Scheme, supports for trade fair participation etc.

The Region the company is based in or proposes to locate to, with the level of support higher for companies in the BMW region.

The return to the Economy on the Investment: All major projects supported by the agencies are subject to a detailed Cost-Benefit analysis. This analysis calculates the return to the State by calculating the impact of investments supported on employment taxes, corporation taxes, spend on goods and services in the economy etc.

Employment Rights.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

132 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will remove the exemption of sea-going vessels from the transfer of undertakings legislation which protects employee rights and conditions and ensures the new employer retains them. [8566/07]

The mandatory provisions of the Transfer of Undertakings Directive (Directive 2001/23/EC) were transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003.

Article 1(3) of the EU Directive provides that the Directive does not apply to seagoing vessels. However, Article 8 of the Directive permits individual Member States to introduce more favourable provisions than are contained in the Directive.

I am informed that the Department has not had any representations from the sectoral interests concerned in this area but would be happy to consider any issues raised in this context.

Questions arising in this area would, of course, also be appropriate for consideration in the context of the Review of the Transfer of Undertakings Directive which is currently being undertaken by the European Commission. Ireland has already indicated to the Commission that the question of the exclusion of seagoing vessels could usefully be considered in this context.

North-South Enterprise Policy.

Liz McManus

Question:

133 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress being made in negotiations with the British Government relating to a North-South enterprise policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8355/07]

The Good Friday Agreement set out a new vision for the island of Ireland. As both North and South face the common challenges and opportunities of a globalised marketplace and continuing the transition to a knowledge economy where science, technology and innovation are vital to economic success, it is appropriate that we should jointly address those challenges and opportunities where there is mutual benefit to be achieved. To be globally competitive we must exploit and realise the opportunities of all-island collaboration.

There is ongoing co-operation between my Department and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland on enterprise issues. Both Departments co-sponsor InterTradeIreland, the all-island trade and business development body established under the Good Friday Agreement. Since 1999, InterTradeIreland has shown the benefits of all-island business collaboration. It has promoted the development of the all-island economy to the mutual benefit of North and South and it is implementing significant initiatives to enhance the global competitiveness of the all-island economy.

My Department provided significant input to a ‘Comprehensive Study on the All-Island Economy', which was commissioned by the British-Irish InterGovernmental Conference to identify areas for enhanced North/South co-operation. This blueprint for all-island economic co-operation was completed towards the end of last year and sets out the economic rationale for North/South collaboration, as well as concrete proposals for economic initiatives. These initiatives include interventions to support research and development and the development of the knowledge economy; co-operation on trade and investment promotion; and enhanced co-operation in support of enterprise and business development.

The proposals to enhance co-operation are currently being implemented, in the areas of trade and investment promotion, including the opening up of trade missions, whether sponsored by Enterprise Ireland or Invest Northern Ireland, to companies across the island. The services of the overseas offices of Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland are being made available to companies from across the island. Furthermore, enhanced collaboration between IDA Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland is being taken forward with an initial focus on collaboration around the business-operating environment so as to enhance the attractiveness of the island for Foreign Direct Investment.

Recently the Chief Executives of the enterprise development agencies on the island of Ireland attended the first All-Island Business Networks Forum in Farmleigh on 30 January. The Forum highlighted the potential business and economic benefits of business networks and was organised as a result of collaboration between my Department, the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and the enterprise development agencies on the island of Ireland.

The new National Development Plan 2007-2013 sets out to give real meaning to the approach outlined in the ‘Comprehensive Study on the All-Island Economy'. The Irish Government has set out in the National Development Plan a detailed and specific agenda for progressing such co-operation. Our current hope and strong objective is to deliver these commitments in partnership with a new Northern Ireland Executive and under the auspices of the North/South Ministerial Council.

Departmental Bodies.

Phil Hogan

Question:

134 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will allocate additional staff to the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement. [8581/07]

Eight additional staff will be appointed to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) this year.

Consideration of any request for additional staffing has to take account of the overall demands for staffing both within the Department and its agencies and offices.

Consumer Protection.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

135 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will review the Casual Trading Act, 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7420/07]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

147 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will review the Casual Trading Act, 1995 to ensure that local authorities will prevent the sale of pirated videos in local authority run local markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7419/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 and 147 together.

The Casual Trading Act, 1995 regulates casual trading which is defined as "selling goods at a place (including a public road) to which the public have access as of right". The Act is operated by the 88 local authorities entitled to make bye laws under the Act. The sale of videos, DVDs and other similar products in a public place would be covered by the Act.

The Casual Trading Act 1995 was considered by the Competition Authority in 2002 and by the Consumer Strategy Group in 2005. One of the main conclusions of both bodies was that there was a need for uniformity of approach in applying casual trading regulations. The methodology suggested was the use of statutory guidelines by local authorities.

I have accepted this proposal and incorporated a provision in the Consumer Protection Bill, 2007 which will give the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the power to issue statutory guidelines to local authorities regarding their operation of the Act. Pending enactment of the Bill my Department, in July 2006, issued voluntary guidelines to assist local authorities in carrying out their responsibilities under the Act.

My Department was represented on the Interdepartmental Committee to Co-ordinate Measures to Tackle DVD Piracy, which has been meeting over recent months. It was established by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to ensure that the State's response to this form of crime was co-ordinated and effective across the board.

I understand that the report of the Committee is now being finalised by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and that the Tánaiste intends to publish its recommendations in early course. I will consider their implementation as appropriate.

Employment Rights Bodies.

Seán Crowe

Question:

136 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the additional resources he has secured for employment rights bodies; and the way and the dates which these additional resources will be allocated. [8554/07]

The Social Partnership Agreement "Towards 2016" provides among other matters for the setting up of an office of director of employment rights compliance with an increase from 31 to 90 in the number of Labour Inspectors and 25 support staff including a legal advisor and accountant. An additional 5 Rights Commissioners with 7 support staff were agreed for the Labour Relations Commission; an additional 5 support staff were agreed for the Labour Court; and an additional 8 support staff were agreed for the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Extra funding of a little over €10 million has been provided by the Exchequer in 2007 to cover the costs of increased staffing.

To date the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) has been set up on an interim basis. Mr Ger Deering, the former Taxi Regulator, has taken up position as Director of this body and he has been assigned some support staff to enable the body to commence operations. Competitions have been held for the positions of Legal Adviser and Accountant for NERA and these appointments will be made shortly.

Arrangements to increase the size of the Labour Inspectorate are in progress and it is hoped that assignments will commence in the second quarter of this year and that all assignments will be made by the end of the year.

The provision of further staff to other employment rights bodies will be done as soon as possible. It is not possible to give specific dates as the Government Decentralisation process and Public Appointments Service have a bearing on appointments.

Migrant Workers.

Damien English

Question:

137 Mr. English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to help improve and support the English language skills of immigrants here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8580/07]

Neither my Department nor its agencies have primary responsibility for the delivery of English language instruction.

However, as part of its responsibilities for training, FÁS is developing training materials to assist migrant workers who have language difficulties. This material will be in the form of two generic courses of ninety hours in duration, pitched at two levels. FÁS is also in the process of developing English Language Courses for three specific work disciplines (Construction, Security and Hospitality). FÁS is currently seeking FETAC validation for these courses, which when satisfactorily completed, will lead to a FETAC Special Purpose Award.

Through the FÁS ‘Skills for Work programme', which aims to provide for the basic education needs of workers in low skilled employment, a technical English programme (Steps to Safety) is provided in order to improve communication, especially regarding the safety of workers in the workplace.

Proposed Legislation.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

138 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when he will publish legislation which will make a repeat of what happened in the Irish Ferries’ redundancy deal illegal. [8565/07]

Seán Crowe

Question:

150 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the legislation he will publish other than the Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies) Bill 2007 during this Dáil session in order to strengthen the protection of workers; and the dates this legislation will be published. [8553/07]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

156 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the dates the Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies) Bill and the Employment Agency and Employment Business Regulation Bill will be published. [8558/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138, 150 and 156 together. .

The parties in the negotiations to T2016 recognised that the opening up of the Irish labour market arising from the decision to permit direct access by citizens of the new EU Member States has given rise to concerns about the possibility of the collective compulsory replacement of workers by lower paid workers from these States or elsewhere, either directly or through the use of other replacement workers within the jurisdiction.

Under Section 18 of the Agreement, there is provision for a Redundancy Panel, which can request the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment to refer certain compulsory collective redundancies to the Labour Court for an Opinion as to whether or not they are genuine redundancies. If they are not, the Minister can refuse to pay the statutory redundancy rebate to the employer, with the employees being entitled to take an Unfair Dismissals case, with enhanced compensation under an amendment to Unfair Dismissals legislation.

The text of the Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Bill 2007 has been finalised and it will be published as soon as possible.

As discussions with the social partners are not yet concluded it is unlikely that the Heads of an Employment Agency Regulation Bill can be considered by the Government before end-March. The Bill will then be drafted as quickly as possible.

Workplace Violence.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

139 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions study which found Irish employees report higher than average levels of physical violence in the workplace at a rate of 8% compared with the level of 5% across the EU; and his plans to rectify this problem. [8552/07]

I note the recent publication of the "Fourth European Working Conditions Survey" conducted by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

The survey, which was conducted in 2005 covering nearly 30,000 workers in 31 countries, shows that bullying or harassment, violence or the threat of violence, and various forms of discrimination all contribute to psychological ill-health and stress. Around 5% of workers across the EU reported having experienced some form of violence, bullying or harassment in the workplace in the previous 12 month period.

In general, exposure to violence and threats of violence was greater in northern Europe, with higher than average levels reported in the Netherlands (10%), France and the UK (both9%) and Ireland (8%).

Apart from the survey, I understand that 4% of accidents reported to the Health and Safety Authority in 2006 were triggered by ‘shock, fright, violence of others'. Such incidents consistently feature in the top five accident triggers.

The percentage of violent incidents is particularly high in some sectors, 17% of all accidents in the ‘Public Administration/Defence' and 16% in the ‘Health and Social Work' sectors respectively were triggered by ‘shock, fright, violence of others'. These sectors also reported the highest proportion of violent incidents in 2004 and 2005.

The incident type statistics are also relevant. Incidents categorised as ‘injured by person — violent' account for 4% of all reported accidents in 2006, with this figure rising to 22% of incidents in ‘Public Administration/Defence' and 12% in ‘Health and Social Work'. It is obvious from looking at these figures that violence to workers is a significant issue in the public sector.

The figures from both the European survey and the Health and Safety Authority certainly give cause for concern. It would appear that an issue needing attention is the general attitude to increasing workplace violence. Prevention is the best policy and there is a way of addressing the problem in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. If violence is a hazard in workplaces, employers are required to address how to deal with it and prepare a plan to implement any necessary preventive control measures when carrying out a risk assessment as part of the Safety Statement which is required by law.

I understand that the National Workplace Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which is currently being reviewed by the Health and Safety Authority will recommend a more proactive role by employers in minimising the risk of violence to employees. The Health and Safety Authority will also carry out inspections in relation to violence in the healthcare sector in 2007. Already, the Authority has published general guidance on the prevention of violence at work and specific guidance on the prevention of violence in healthcare as well as for the cash in transit industry.

Also, I wish to add that a survey completed in Ireland in 2001, updating of which is almost completed by the ESRI, revealed that 7% of workers experienced bullying in the previous 6 month period. The emerging comparator figure on the updated research carried out in late 2006 and early this year is 7.9%.

Finally, it must be remembered that violence to any person should not be tolerated, regardless of whether they are at work or not. It is a criminal matter and should be brought to the attention of An Garda Síochána.

Departmental Staff.

Joan Burton

Question:

140 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there has been a negative impact on the work of his Department or its agencies from the Government’s Public Service Staffing Reduction Programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8329/07]

Consideration of requests for additional staffing by Offices and Agencies of my Department fall to be considered in the context of overall Government policy on managing public sector numbers.

In the recent past I have approved over 270 additional staff for a number of Offices and Agencies including FAS, the National Employment Rights Agency, the Industrial Relation Bodies, the Health and Safety Authority, the Interim National Consumer Agency, the PIAB and the IAASA. In addition eight new staff will be appointed to the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement this year.

My Department will continue to address the staffing needs of its Offices and Agencies and will endeavour to meet their priority needs within the overall level of resources available. All Agencies and Offices will be required to maximize efficiency and productivity and to prioritise work within the resources available to them.

Willie Penrose

Question:

141 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff currently employed by each agency under the vote of his Department; the number of staff as of 31 December in each year from 2002 to 2006; the number of staff expected to retire during each of 2007, 2008 and 2009 and the number of these staff in each grade presently; the recruitment plans of each agency under his Department’s vote for 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8350/07]

The information requested by the Deputy is as follows.

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) (Incorporated Dec 2005) Staffing levels:

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

N/A

N/A

N/A

5

7

There are no expected retirements in 2007/2008 and 2009.

Recruitment Plan in 2007 includes 1 × Project Manager, 1 × IT & Facilities Manager, 2 × Administrative Executives and 4 × Clerical Support Officer.

Health & Safety Authority — Current Staff 185

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

158

158

158

164

185

Retirements — 2007, 1 × Programme Manager, 2008 — 1 × Inspector Grade 2, 2009 — nil.

Recruitment plans in 2007 include filling 12 posts for the REACH strategy in line with government approval and the filling of any vacancies as they arise.

Intertrade Ireland — (Co-Sponsored by DET&I in Northern Ireland) current staff — 42

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

34

40

38

39

40

No expected retirements in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Full staff complement in place — no further recruitment planned.

Enterprise Ireland — Current staff — 922

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

973

958.5

938

931

922

Retirements — 2007 — 7, 1 × Executive Director, 4 × SSO, 1 × Level E, 1 × Level D

2008 —7, 2 × Level F, 1 Senior Market advisor, 2 × SSO, 1 ×Level E, 1 × Level D

2009 — 11, 1 × SPSO, 1 × Level F, 5 × SSO, 2 × Level D, 1 × TA, 1 × Level B

Enterprise Ireland has recently completed a voluntary leaving programme under which 78 (FTE) staff will depart and only 33% of these posts will be filled.

County Enterprise Boards network — Current staff — 146

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

147

147

146

146

146

My Department does not retain information centrally on expected retirements within the CEB network. The CEB network operates an open recruitment process.

Science Foundation Ireland — current staff — 39

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

18

21

26

38

39

No staff are expected to retire in 2007, 2008 and 2009. 5 staff will be recruited in order to reach the authorised complement of 44.

Shannon Free Airport Development Co. — current staff — 140

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

188

174.5

174.5

157

147

It is not possible at this time to indicate the number of retirements between 2007-2009. SFADCo have no plans to recruit staff in 2007.

National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) — Current Staff — 162

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

162

150

155

152

171 (ic 9 temp taxi Insp)

Expected retirements, 2007 — 0, 2008 — 1 × Technician Grade 2, 2009 — 2 (1 × SSO, 1 × Technician Grade 2). NSAI plan to recruit 2 Senior Scientific Officers in 2007.

FÁS — Current Staff — 2,251

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2,347

2,387

2,305

2,297

2,241

Expected retirements

The numbers of staff in each grade expected to retire during 2007, 2008 and 2009 are:

Grade

2007

2008

2009

3

1

0

1

4

1

1

0

5

1

0

0

6

2

0

3

7

3

3

9

8

43

42

32

9

0

1

0

10

1

2

1

11A

1

0

1

11

5

5

5

13

2

5

4

Total

60

59

56

FÁS has received approval for the recruitment of an additional 54 staff to meet the increased demand for apprenticeship training. This approval is based on the requirement that FÁS will again progress towards the staff complement target of 2,241.

1. Forfás

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Forfás Core Staff Numbers

119

171

115

115

115

Contract Staff

11.5

12.5

11.5

10.5

10.5

(Staff are engaged on a contract basis, to work on specific projects funded by the DETE).

2. Retirements 2007-2009

Year

No. of Retirements

Grade

Total Staff on Grade

2007

1

Clerk/Secretary

6

2008

0

N/A

2009

0

N/A

Forfas recruitment plan for 2007 is to replace any staff members leaving either from internal or external sources.

IDA Ireland: No. of Staff

31.12.2002

31.12.2003

31.12.2004

31.12.2005

31.12.2006

295

292

287

280

275

No of Staff expected to Retire

2007

2008

2009

2

0

1

Level D & E

Level D

Recruitment Plans

The plans for 2007 are to retain the sanctioned numbers of 275 and fill vacancies appropriately to meet business need within IDA.

Energy Conservation.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

142 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the actions taken by his Department and its agencies to date to ensure maximum energy efficiency and minimum carbon footprint in their daily operations; the cost of these actions; the steps he will take in the remainder of the first half of 2007 toward the goal of reducing energy consumption in his Department and its agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8323/07]

To reduce energy consumption in the Department and to ensure maximum energy efficiency and the minimum carbon footprint in its daily operations, my Department through its Green Team, which was established some years ago, has over the past few years initiated the following actions:

Ensured that all lighting in the Department's eight buildings is switched off overnight;

Ensured that the Office of Public Works, which looks after the replacement of electric light bulbs in my Department's buildings, uses energy efficient bulbs and long life bulbs wherever possible when electric light bulbs are being replaced;

Ensured that the central heating arrangements for the Department's buildings are switched on and off to achieve optimum energy efficiency;

Ensured that the staff in the Department have been exhorted to:

1. switch off all their computer equipment (base units, monitors and peripheral devices) at the end of each working day;

2. switch off their PC monitors at lunch time and while attending meetings etc; and

3. ensure that the last person leaving each individual office switches off all electric lights, printers, photocopiers and heaters.

My Department also operates a Travel Pass Scheme for interested members of staff in order to encourage staff to use public transport in lieu of car transport. These initiatives have had no adverse cost implications for my Department and have resulted in energy cost savings, which would be impossible to quantify.

My Department will continue to monitor its own energy consumption and will, where practicable, continue to implement steps to ensure maximum energy efficiency and the minimum carbon footprint in the daily activities of the Department.

As regards the agencies of my Department, the Deputy will appreciate that ensuring maximum energy efficiency and minimum carbon footprint in their daily operations is an operational issue for the agencies concerned and the Deputy can rest assured that the agencies have taken similar actions to my Department over the past few years and will continue to do so.

Labour Inspectorate.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

143 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of labour inspectors currently employed by the Labour Inspectorate of his Department; the number of labour inspectors currently available for assignment on normal duties; the number of labour inspectors currently in training following recruitment; the status of the recruitment campaign to increase the labour inspectorate to 90 inspectors; if he expects all 59 additional labour inspectors to be employed by the second quarter of 2007, as indicated in his previous statements to the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8334/07]

As indicated in my replies to Parliamentary Questions Number 84 of 15 November 2006 and 146, 154 and 168 of 31 January, 2007, the number of Labour Inspectors will be progressively increased from 31 at present to 90 by end-2007 with the expectation that assignments will be made from the second quarter of 2007. The necessary arrangements and selection processes to meet this objective are being progressed at present. Intensive and detailed training will be delivered to new inspectors both on assignment and following initial work experience.

Towards 2016 provides for the regionalisation of the Labour Inspectorate. In this regard, my colleague, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, announced on 11th February this year that regional offices for the Labour Inspectorate would be established in Dublin, Carlow, Cork, Shannon and Sligo. These locations, and the numbers of labour inspectors and support staff to be assigned to each location, have been selected on the basis of, among other matters, population, labour force and the gateways designated under the National Spatial Strategy. The locations have regard also to facilitating future joint investigation unit operations with the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social and Family Affairs, as provided under Towards 2016.

Telecommunications Services.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

144 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether the service provided by broadband, cable television and telephone providers requires customer support as part of the package; if he receives reports from the National Consumer Agency regarding service from suppliers of these services; if he has considered seeking amendments to the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980, specifically in relation to the definition of service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5172/07]

The regulation of telecommunications, televisual and broadband service providers is one of the functions of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) established under the Communications Regulation Act 2002 (No. 20 of 2002). I understand that although ComReg regulates providers of electronic communications services and networks, including broadcasting transmission networks, it has no role in the regulation of the delivery of broadcasting services at retail level. While Cable and Satellite operators must be authorised by ComReg to operate in Ireland, the EU Regulatory Framework for electronic communications (transposed in 2003) specifically excluded the regulation of retail broadcasting services, as distinct from the distribution network.

The Communications Regulation Act 2002 is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. However, ComReg has statutory independence in the exercise of its functions.

Notwithstanding, the foregoing, I am aware that the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs has received a considerable number of complaints in relation to the quality of service provided by a number of operators in the telecommunications sector. In this regard, I am aware that both the ODCA and the NCA have been active in articulating customer concerns in the telecommunications area over the past twelve months. I am advised that the ODCA and the NCA have had a number of meetings with ComReg in relation to these concerns and that they both played an active role in a colloquium organised by ComReg in November 2006 with the telecommunications service providers in raising awareness of their responsibilities under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, the Distance Selling Regulations and the Doorstep Selling Regulations.

I am advised that the Director also held bilateral discussions with one leading telecommunications provider because of the number of complaints received by her office in relation to the level of service being provided to customers. Arising from those discussions, I understand that the provider concerned has put in place a number of measures, including increasing the staffing numbers in its customer help call centres, to address the difficulties being experienced by customers. The Director has informed me that her Office will continue to impress on telecommunications providers the need to ensure that customer support is an integral part of the service that they provide.

The Deputy may be aware that the Consumer Protection Bill, which is currently at Committee Stage in the Dail, will establish the National Consumer Agency on a statutory basis. The Agency will be empowered under the Bill to enter into formal agreements with regulatory bodies such as ComReg for the purpose of facilitating co-operation between the Agency and the regulatory body in the performance of their respective functions in so far as they relate to issues of consumer protection and welfare. This provision will allow the Agency to formally bring issues of consumer concern such as those raised in the Deputy's question to the attention of bodies such as ComReg.

The enactment of the Consumer Protection Bill will mark the first phase in a root and branch review of Ireland's consumer protection laws. The second phase of this review, which has already begun, will include a review of the law governing consumer contracts including, in particular, the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980. Issues relating to service, standards of service and customer redress in relation to instances of poor service will feature prominently in the review.

Personal Injuries Assessment Board.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

145 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the fact that almost 40% of assessments made by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board in the first two and a half years of its existence have been rejected by claimants, that the Board has referred almost one-third of applications to the courts, and that over 90 per cent of claimants still employ a solicitor to process their applications. [8568/07]

All personal injury claims, apart from medical negligence cases, must be referred to PIAB in the first instance. Certain cases do not come within the remit of PIAB i.e. where liability is disputed, and other categories of cases must be released by PIAB, for example, those cases where the injury is wholly psychological by nature. These cases are more appropriate to the court system. Many cases are settled following initial contact with PIAB and do not require to be progressed through the entire PIAB assessment process.

I am pleased to report that the PIAB has delivered on its commitments. In 2006 the PIAB made over 5,500 assessments. Since its establishment in mid-2004 the PIAB has made just under 8,000 assessments. Over 60% of these have been accepted to date. Claimants who have accepted their awards will have done so on average three times faster than under the old system but without the trauma of a potential court case looming. Furthermore, they received the same level of compensation as they would have received through the courts. A Cost Benefit Analysis of the PIAB that was published in January 2007 has confirmed that the PIAB awards the same amount but in a substantially quicker timeframe and for a much lower delivery cost. The reduction in the delivery costs has coincided with a reduction in insurance premiums in this country. CSO statistics show motor and home insurance costs have dropped to levels comparable with those which applied 7 and 4 years ago respectively.

While the PIAB has released almost one-third of applications, a significant proportion of these cases are settled and do not require a court hearing. I understand that the PIAB are consulting with the insurance industry in order to better understand these settlements. I am pleased to confirm however that data from the Courts Service show a huge drop in the number of cases entering litigation since PIAB was established. In 2004, some 15,000 High Court writs were issued compared to just 750 in 2005. In the Circuit Court, the 2004 level of approximately 20,000 Civil Bills issued dropped to approximately 3,000 in 2005.

While all relevant cases must be referred to the PIAB in the first instance claimants have a choice as to whether to avail of the services of a solicitor or to deal with the PIAB directly at a reduced cost. Currently over 90% of claimants avail of the services of a solicitor. Subsequent to the High Court judgement in the case of O'Brien v PIAB, the PIAB is precluded from directly contacting such claimants. I understand however, that PIAB, through its awareness and information campaigns, is seeking to ensure that accident victims can make informed choices.

Migrant Workers.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

146 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the fact that in the first six weeks of 2007, 17 of the 3,164 Romanians who entered Ireland and received personal public service numbers have applied for permission to work here; his further views on whether these figures are indicative of an emerging black economy; and the measure he will take to prevent same. [8561/07]

I note the figures given by the Deputy. It is too early yet to say whether or not they are indicative of a definite, sustained trend.

A major package of measures has been agreed by the parties to Towards 2016, the new Social Partnership Agreement, to provide for enhanced public confidence in the system of compliance. New legislation will be published this year which will empower the Labour Inspectorate to join with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners to work together in Joint Investigation Units. Such units will have a particular focus on the employment status of workers. The National Employment Rights Authority, which has already been established on an interim basis, is currently meeting with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners with a view to the early establishment and operation of Joint Investigation Units within existing legal and administrative frameworks.

I am informed by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners that attention is paid by them to the matter of bogus self-employment in the course of their compliance activities and appropriate action taken. Complaints in relation to bogus self-employment should be referred to all or any of the following — the Labour Inspectorate of the National Employment Rights Authority, the Department of Social and Family Affairs or the Revenue Commissioners.

New legislation will be published this year that will provide for enhanced employment rights measures including the establishment of the National Employment Rights Authority. Providing for greater clarity in the application of employment rights legislation to employees and the self-employed will be considered in the context of drawing up that legislation.

The package of measures provided for under Towards 2016 will be supported by enhanced employment rights promotional and educational efforts. The Social Partners and other organisations such as the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners will be invited to bring their knowledge and networks to bear on the design and delivery of this education and awareness programme which, it is anticipated, will also address the issues associated with bogus self-employment.

Towards 2016 also includes a number of other specific commitments in relation to employment status and in relation to the "Hidden Economy". The Government and social partners have agreed under the Towards 2016 to review the application of the existing Code of Practice on employee status with a view to more effective implementation. My Department will be actively involved in that review. In addition, the Government and the social partners agreed under the Towards 2016 to continue and expand the Hidden Economy Working Group. The group, which comprises representatives of the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Social and Family Affairs, ICTU, IBEC, SFA, CIF and, since the ratification of the Social Partnership Agreement, my own Department and the National Employment Rights Authority, has met on two occasions to date.

Question No. 147 answered with QuestionNo. 135.

Employee Rights Protection.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

148 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the exemption of doctors in training under Section 17 of the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003. [8571/07]

Denis Naughten

Question:

361 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will review the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003 in the context of contracts for doctors under Section 17 of the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8441/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 361 together.

I presume that the questions posed by the Deputies refer to junior doctors, also known as non-consultant hospital doctors. By virtue of not being excluded by the terms of Section 17 of the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003, junior doctors are covered by the provisions of the 2003 Act. The inclusion of junior doctors under the terms of the 2003 Act was viewed at the time of the enactment of the legislation as being positive in regard to employment practices because non-consultant hospital contracts meant that such doctors were already covered by employment law and by specific employment contracts.

In the circumstances, I do not propose to review the inclusion of junior doctors under the terms of the 2003 Act.

Ministerial Staff.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

149 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the name of the persons in respect of the category of Ministerial staff, including those attached to Ministers of State in his Department, not being civil servants but who are contracted by him as personal assistant, political adviser, programme manager, special adviser, policy adviser and press communications advisers; their function; if they are full-time or part-time employed; the terms of the contract; the level of remuneration, either by hour if part-time or as an annual salary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8336/07]

The table below sets out details in respect of my Private Office:

Name

Title

Function

Full-time / part-time

Terms of Contract

Remuneration (Per annum)

Deirdre Gillane

Policy Adviser

To provide advice and assistance to Minister.

Full-time

The appointment is strictly temporary and will terminate not later than the date on which I cease to hold office.

€80,408-€99,457

Jerry O’Connor

Press Adviser

To provide advice and assistance to Minister.

Full-time

As above

€80,408-€99,457

Margaret Kenneally

Personal Assistant

To perform general secretarial duties including duties relating to the handling of enquiries made to the offices.

0.5% worksharer

As above

€22,766-€33,913 (50% of full pay)

Melanie Hewitt

Personal Assistant

To perform general secretarial duties including duties relating to the handling of enquiries made to the offices.

0.6% worksharer

As above

€22,766-€36,913 (60% of full pay), plus weekly allowance of €70.68

Elizabeth O’Donoghue

Personal Secretary

As above

Full-time

As above

€28,523-€45,262 (plus weekly allowance of €70.68)

The table below sets out details in respect of Mr. Tony Killeen, Minister for Labour Affairs:

Name

Title

Function

Full-time / part-time

Terms of Contract

Remuneration (Per annum)

Pat Daly

Personal Assistant

Perform general secretarial duties including duties relating to the handling of inquiries made to the offices.

Full-time

The appointment is strictly temporary and will terminate not later than the date on which Minister Killeen ceases to hold office

€43,445-€55,147

Michelle Scanlan

Personal Secretary

As above

Full-time

As above

€22,766-€33,913

Thomas Kierce

Driver

As above

Week on/Week off basis

As above

€32,498

Tom Keating

Driver

As above

Week on/Week off basis

As above

€32,498

The table below sets out details in respect of Mr. Michael Ahern, T.D., Minister for Trade and Commerce:

Name

Title

Function

Full-time / part-time

Terms of Contract

Remuneration (Per annum)

Colm Leahy

Personal Assistant

Perform general secretarial duties including duties relating to the handling of inquiries made to the offices.

Full-time

The appointment is strictly temporary and will terminate not later than the date on which Minister Ahern ceases to hold office

€43,445-€55,147

Cora Power

Personal Secretary

As above

Full-time

As above

€28,523-€45,262

Finbarr Sutton

Driver

As above

Week on/Week off basis

As above

€32,498

Declan Hurley

Driver

As above

Week on/Week off basis

As above

€32,498

Question No. 150 answered with QuestionNo. 138.

Personal Injuries Assessment Board.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

151 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of cases currently before the Personal Injuries Assessment Board; the number of cases for which rulings have been given since its inception; the number of these cases that have been referred to the Courts for further action or appeal; the number of staff currently employed by the PIAB; the intended total number of staff to be employed by the PIAB; the date by which he expects the PIAB to be fully staffed; the date on which a review will be undertaken on staffing levels in the PIAB; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8340/07]

At the end of January 2007 there were 3,337 cases with the PIAB in the 90-day "consent to process" period, that is, the PIAB has received a claim, issued formal notice to the responding party and is awaiting consent to process from that party. There were a further 5,993 cases in the nine-month statutory assessment process where the responding party has indicated that liability is not contested and damages are being assessed. Approximately 8,000 awards have been made to date, 6,500 of these having been issued by the end of 2006. Of the awards issued, 4,212 have been accepted, 2,508 have been rejected and authorised to proceed to litigation, and responses are awaited on the balance.

Some of the rejected awards will have been resolved since PIAB involvement and others will proceed to the Courts. The PIAB would not be aware of the number of these cases which actually proceed to litigation, although it is believed that a significant proportion are settled outside of the courts once an authorisation issues from the PIAB.

The Board currently employs 75 staff members (up from 53 in May 2006) and is in the process of recruiting to bring numbers towards the staffing level of 85 agreed with my Department. There are no plans at this time to further review staffing levels in the PIAB.

Job Creation.

Jack Wall

Question:

152 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Interdepartmental Group on Donegal, which he launched on 26 July 2006; the principal steps that have been taken to date; the recommendations that have not been implemented; the reason these have not been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8346/07]

I published the Report of the Interdepartmental Group on Donegal on 26 July 2006. I established the Group at the request of the Government following a number of major job losses in the county in recent years. I asked the Interdepartmental Group to focus on the progress being made on infrastructural requirements to make Donegal a more attractive location for enterprise creation, particularly as it makes the transition from traditional to more modern and higher value-added industries.

The report showed that Donegal has no shortage of advantages and opportunities in so far as the promise of a brighter future for its inhabitants is concerned. There is a dynamic combination of State Development Agencies active in Donegal who are committed to enhancing the attractiveness of the County for business. These agencies have demonstrated the ability to provide a clear vision and focus for future economic development. IDA Ireland will pursue more knowledge-based greenfield FDI for Donegal and convince existing IDA clients to transform their current operations to higher value activities. Enterprise Ireland will encourage and assist more innovative, technology-led companies and promote a greater level of start-up activity. These actions are a recognition of the challenges facing traditional industry and both Agencies are responding, as is Údarás in the Gaeltacht. The County Enterprise Board will continue to provide existing and new supports to micro enterprises complementing the work of both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

The provision of much needed infrastructure has been highlighted as an obstacle to job creation in Donegal over a number of years. I was pleased to see that the Report identified a lot of good news in terms of developments underway or planned in the areas of roads, air, water supply and treatment, broadband, energy and education. These have been solidified and strengthened in the National Development Plan 2007-2013 just launched. Particular emphasis has also been placed in the NDP on North/South co-operation and developments which will be a direct benefit to Donegal. My Department is monitoring progress being made in Donegal and I have asked the State development agencies to advise me if any major difficulties arise in the context of improving the environment for job creation in the county.

I also believe that what has already been achieved, in terms of job creation in the last year, is largely as a result of the ongoing commitment to Donegal of the State development agencies, the infrastructural developments recently completed and the commitment to ongoing and planned developments. Recent major job announcements include Abbott, SITA, ZEUS, PowerBoard and AssetCo.

I can assure the Deputy that this Government and the State development agencies are fully committed to fostering the environment for job creation in Donegal.

Environmental Support Schemes.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

153 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the dedicated supports available to companies from Enterprise Ireland aimed at increasing awareness of, and promoting, eco efficiency in their operations; the number of companies to date that have taken advantage of these supports; the cost to the State of these supports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8324/07]

While this is an operational matter for Enterprise Ireland, I understand that Enterprise Ireland (EI) operates two direct financial support schemes that help Irish SMEs to increase awareness of and promote eco-efficiency in their operations. These are the Environmental Management System (EMS) Support Scheme and the Environmentally Superior Products (ESP) Support Scheme.

(1)The Environmental Management System (EMS) Support Scheme.

This Scheme provides 50% funding (up to a total of €12,700 from EI) to help companies to install an Environmental Management System (EMS) that complies with the ISO 14001 Standard. An EMS allows a company to proactively manage its environmental issues, including areas such as Waste Management, Energy Management, reduction in the use of Hazardous Chemicals, etc. An EMS can help a company to reduce costs on waste disposal and energy usage. It is also particularly valuable as a marketing tool as it allows the company to clearly demonstrate its "green" credentials to the marketplace.

The EMS Support Scheme has been in operation since late 1998 and since then 105 Irish SMEs have been approved for funding. The total funds approved in that time have been €775,123. The actual drawdown of funds in that period has been €441,512.

(2)The Environmentally Superior Products (ESP) Support Scheme.

This Scheme provides 50% funding (up to a total of €31,750 from EI) to help companies to develop an Environmentally Superior Product (ESP). An ESP is an industrial product which has significant environmental benefits over a conventional product, for example, an electrical product designed to use the minimum amount of power, have no hazardous chemicals involved in either its manufacture or working life, be easy to disassemble at the end of life to facilitate recycling, etc.

The ESP Support Scheme has been running since 1999 and has supported 40 Irish SMEs to date with total approvals over the life of the scheme to date being €1m. Associated costs of the scheme are approx. €15k per annum covering mainly staff costs.

As well as the two "hard" financial support schemes above, EI provides a range of "soft" supports:

(a) The Envirocentre website; www.envirocentre.ie — this website provides up to date information on a range of environmental issues relevant to industry.

(b) Regional Industrial Environmental Fora. These are regional seminars that cover relevant environmental issues for the SME sector, e.g. the new REACH Regulation.

(c) Technical advice to Irish SMEs from a range of in-house experts in various environmental fields.

National Employment Rights Authority.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

154 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on progress made in the establishment of the office of the director of employment rights compliance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8331/07]

The Government is committed to delivering the key package of measures agreed under the Employment Rights and Compliance Chapter of Towards 2016 and in this regard substantial progress has already been made. The Office of the Director of Employment Rights Compliance now to be known as the National Employment Rights Authority has been established on an interim basis. The Director of NERA has been appointed and has taken up duty on 12 February 2007. The Director will be supported in his role by a management team and I am informed that most of the team members are already in place. The remaining management and administrative staff are being transferred to NERA on the basis of agreed decentralization arrangements.

The new regional structure and the new locations of the Labour Inspectorate, now operating under the direction of NERA, have been announced and the resources necessary for the increase in the number of Labour Inspectors have been approved. The necessary arrangements and selection processes for Inspectorate recruitment are being progressed with a view to all assignments being made by end of 2007.

Work on the preparation of the necessary legislation to give effect to the comprehensive package of measures concerning employment rights is being progressed as a matter of urgency. Preparation of the Employment Law Compliance Bill is well advanced and the Minister is committed to publish the Bill in 2007.

Departmental Staff.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

155 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff employed by his Department; the number of staff as of 31 December in each year from 2002 to 2006; the number of staff expected to retire during each of 2007, 2008 and 2009 and the number of these staff in each grade presently; his Department’s recruitment plans for 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8344/07]

The tables below set out details in respect of staff numbers in my Department and include numbers and grades of staff that are expected to retire during 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Staff numbers

31/12/2002

31/12/2003

31/12/2004

31/12/2005

31/12/2006

01/03/2007

1081.5

1023.32

1029.82

965.35

965.96

972.26

Retirements (compulsory)

Year

Number

2007

12

Grades involved: 6 Higher Executive Officers; 1 Executive Officer; 2 Clerical Officers; 1 Services Officer; 2 Cleaners.

2008

11

Grades involved: 2 Principal Officers; 2 Assistant Principal Officers; 2 Higher Executive Officers; 4 Clerical Officers; 1 Supervisor of Cleaners.

2009

8

1 Assistant Principal; 1 Executive Officer; 1 Staff Officer; 4 Clerical Officers; 1 Member of the Labour Court

The Department's recruitment plan for 2007 is to ensure that it recruits sufficient staff to meet its sanctioned staffing level. This recruitment will be carried out with assistance from the Public Appointment Service and also by means of internal civil service transfers including the decentralisation process.

Question No. 156 answered with QuestionNo. 138.

Enterprise Regulation.

Shane McEntee

Question:

157 Mr. McEntee asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to reduce the regulatory burden on small and medium enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8579/07]

International benchmarking reports suggest that the regulatory burden in Ireland is relatively light. The IMD (International Institute for Management Development) World Competitiveness Yearbook 2006 ranks Ireland 8th out of 61 countries surveyed for the extent to which bureaucracy does not hinder business activity. The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2006-07 ranks Ireland 17th out of 125 countries surveyed for having a low burden of government regulation.

While it appears, therefore, that Ireland enjoys a relatively favourable position, it remains important that every effort be made to maintain and improve this position, that the concerns of business are addressed on an ongoing basis, and that the work currently being done by our European neighbours does not see Ireland falling behind in competitiveness.

Towards that end, I established the Business Regulation Forum (BRF) in November 2005 to advise me on any changes necessary to ensure that existing or proposed regulations impacting on business meet the criteria set out in the White Paper "Regulating Better".

During 2006 the Forum collected evidence of the burden of regulation on business in Ireland. The BRF invited submissions from interested parties and received forty responses. The Forum liaised with international experts who have been active in seeking to reduce the burden on business. Six case studies were completed, looking at the day-to-day regulations that businesses face. In addition, a pilot study was carried out on ways of reducing the administrative cost to business of two specific regulations. The Forum has also reviewed the work on regulation by the Small Business Forum. I expect to receive a report from the Business Regulation Forum shortly.

In addition to the work of the Business Regulation Forum, and specifically relating to the small business sector, I recently enacted legislation to raise the audit exemption thresholds applying to small companies in respect of turnover and balance sheet to €7.3m and €3.65m. respectively. (The previous thresholds were €1.5m and €1.9m.) This will remove the compulsory annual audit costs from the very large number of companies qualifying from the enhanced exemption level.

The Minister for Finance announced a package of measures in Budget 2007 aimed at:

Reducing the Administrative Burden on Small Businesses in relation to the payment of Corporation Tax, Preliminary Tax and the requirement for a Tax Clearance Certificate, by increasing the current thresholds which trigger such requirements. In addition, the Revenue Commissioners have been asked to explore further opportunities to reduce the tax compliance burden on all firms, large and small.

Increasing the VAT Cash Accounting and VAT Registration Turnover Thresholds from 1 March 2007 to simplify administration and reduce working capital requirements on small businesses.

Finally, the Company Law Review Group (CLRG) has finalised its work on the preparation of the General Scheme of the Companies Consolidation and Reform Bill and I understand that it expects to report on its findings shortly. The CLRG's proposals will bring the existing 13 Companies Acts into one and will make it easier for firms and practitioners to understand and comply with the law relating to the incorporation and operation of companies in Ireland.

Redundancy Payments.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

158 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding the dispute between Greencore and its former employees, who are still to receive their redundancy payments; his views on whether Greencore should be using the compensation it received from the State to redevelop the site at Mallow before they have paid their workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8348/07]

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

The Court issued two clarifications in May and a third in October 2006, but these failed to achieve a resolution to the dispute. Both sides returned to the Court on 19 February 2007 for informal talks. The Labour Court continues to have informal discussions with the parties.

To date Greencore has not received any payment under the EU scheme of aid for the restructuring of the sugar industry. In July 2006, the company submitted an aid application to the Department of Agriculture, which, in accordance with the EU regulations, included a social plan detailing the actions planned by the company in particular with respect to re-training, redeployment and early retirement of the workforce. The company indicated that the proposed redundancy payments were in accordance with the ruling of the Labour Court. The aid application was approved in September 2006 subject to the outcome of the Judicial Review proceedings instituted by Greencore in respect of the Government decisions relating to the allocation of the aid. In view of this legal action, which is due to come to trial on 1 May 2007, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further. Under the EU regulations, the first instalment of aid would fall to be paid in June 2007.

Company Law Enforcement.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

159 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of investigations by the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the Employment Appeals Tribunal and other agencies under the aegis of his Department into the liquidation of a company (details supplied) and subsequent creation of another company; if the situation has been resolved to his satisfaction; his views on whether new legislation will be required to prevent this situation recurring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8333/07]

I would refer the Deputy to her previous Question on the same matters, which I answered on 31 January 2007 (Ref. No. 2529/07). The current position in relation to the matters concerned is still as described in my reply to that Question.

Lisbon Agenda.

Richard Bruton

Question:

160 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress his Department has made in implementing the Lisbon Agenda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8578/07]

The European Commission published its Annual Progress Report for 2006 on implementation of the renewed Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs on 12 December 2006. The overall assessment of Ireland's performance is that we are making very good progress in the implementation of our National Reform Programme (NRP), including the priority areas arising from the 2006 Spring European Council. The underpinning role of the social partnership process and the range of commitments agreed under Towards 2016 is also acknowledged.

The Commission again places Ireland in the first tier of Member States with the strongest record and progress in pursuit of the Lisbon goals. Ireland ranks amongst a handful of countries which has received no specific recommendations.

As far as my own Department is concerned, in terms of rankings, Ireland scores very highly in terms of best enterprise environment due to the ease of starting a business, good access to capital and relatively low levels of administrative "red tape".

Furthermore, the Commission identified key strengths of our National Reform Programme as:

Recently adopted Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy 2007-2013 and the substantial increase of public investment in R&D;

Recognition of the need to prioritise public investment in infrastructure and other growth-promoting expenditure; and

Measures to address early school leaving and enhance skills, such as the commitment to develop a long-term national skills strategy.

In addition to the various measures outlined in the NRP progress report, submitted in October 2006, many of the initiatives and changes outlined in Budget 2007 are entirely consistent with our overall strategy to stimulate and sustain economic growth and employment. The recently published National Development Plan 2007-2013 further demonstrates a level of investment and a range of measures across the policy spectrum which reinforce this strategy. Building on these developments, we would expect to record strong progress in continuing to meet the Lisbon objectives.

The Commission's Annual Progress Report will now form a key input to the Spring European Council meeting on 8th March 2007.

Economic Performance.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

161 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the concerns of local community groups in respect of the factors that have led to the south east region falling behind in terms of its economic performance relative to the national trends. [8584/07]

The latest Quarterly National Household Survey figures published by the Central Statistics Office which are for the fourth quarter of 2006 show that the number of people in employment in the south east region increased by 12% to 219,100 over the two-year period since the fourth quarter of 2004. Furthermore, the number of unemployed people in the region has fallen over the same period but, while the rate of unemployment is down from 5.6% to 4.8%, it is still above the national average.

While there have been job losses in the traditional sectors, there has been significant growth in other areas such as pharmaceuticals, medical technologies, financial services and software. The State Training agency FÁS is committed to the development of the labour force skills in the region. In 2006, the agency invested almost €100 million in the region.

The economic development of the region is being advanced by IDA Ireland primarily through the gateway of Waterford City. The agency's strategy is to progress the development of a knowledge-based economy so that the region can compete for foreign direct investment. The agency continues to work with existing clients to broaden their mandate in Ireland. The success of this overall strategy is reflected in projects by Genzyme, Abbott Vascular, Cordis Corporation, Bisys Hedge Funds Services, Servier and Merck Sharp & Dohme which have located in the region.

Enterprise Ireland has forged strong links with the Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow Institute of Technology, and has funded business incubation centres at the Institutes. The agency has also funded the establishment of 17 Community Enterprise Centres in the region since the first CEC Scheme in 1989, and since 2002, the agency has supported 24 new high potential start-up companies. A number of indigenous companies have embarked on significant research and development activities demonstrating a move toward higher-value activities. In addition, the Waterford Institute of Technology's Telecoms Software and Systems Group has recently received research and development support through Science Foundation Ireland.

In the context of balanced regional development, the State Development agencies will continue to pursue innovative initiatives, in cooperation with other local bodies, to further develop the region for industrial development and job creation.

Employment Rights Protection.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

162 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the practice of false contracting being used across a wide range of industries in order that employers can avoid many of their duties towards employees; if he will engage in a public information campaign to highlight the legal situation surrounding false contracting and the methods available for reporting same; the number of false contracting cases identified in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8359/07]

Irish employment rights law makes a distinction between a contract of service, which applies to an employer-employee relationship, and a contract for service, which applies in the case of an independent sub-contractor. In effect, employment rights legislation does not apply to independent sub-contractors with the exception of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989 and the Equality Act, 1998.

In most cases it will be clear whether an individual is employed or self-employed. Where there is doubt in relation to the employment status of an individual the relevant Departments and Agencies will have regard to the Code of Practice for Determining Employment or Self-Employment Status of Individuals. This Code was drawn up and agreed in 2001 by the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social and Family Affairs, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Irish Business and Employers Federation.

A number of criteria are set out in that Code for determining whether an individual is an employee or self-employed. These include whether the person is under the control or direction of another person, owns his/her own business, supplies labour only, receives a fixed wage, is exposed to financial risk, assumes responsibility for investment and management, supplies materials for the job, can sub-contract the work, works set hours or a given number of hours per week/month, etc.

A major package of measures has been agreed by the parties to Towards 2016, the new Social Partnership Agreement, to provide for enhanced public confidence in the system of compliance. New legislation will be published this year to provide for enhanced employment rights measures including the establishment of the National Employment Rights Authority. Providing for greater clarity in the application of employment rights legislation to employees will be considered in the context of drawing up that legislation.

Legislation, which will empower the Labour Inspectorate to join with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners to work together in Joint Investigation Units, has been recently published. Such units will have a particular focus on the employment status of workers. The National Employment Rights Authority, which has already been established on an interim basis, is currently meeting with the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners with a view to the early establishment and operation of Joint Investigation Units, once the legislation has been enacted.

The package of measures provided for under Towards 2016 will be supported by enhanced employment rights promotional and educational efforts. The Social partners and other organisations such as the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners will be invited to bring their knowledge and networks to bear on the design and delivery of this education and awareness programme which, it is anticipated, will also address the issues associated with bogus self-employment.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Revenue Commissioners will have details of the number of bogus self-contractors identified in 2006 in the context of their specific responsibilities. The Labour Inspectorate encountered a claim in 2006 by an employer that workers were engaged on a sub-contract basis and was not, therefore, subject to employment rights legislation. In this case the Scope Section of the Department of Social and Family Affairs, following consideration of all the relevant facts, decided that the workers involved were employees. This decision facilitated an Employment Appeals Tribunal award in favour of a number of former workers in that enterprise.

Irish Language.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

163 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cost to his Department of implementing the Official Languages Act 2003; the number of documents that were published in both languages in 2006; the number of documents that were published in only one language; the number of documents that were published in both languages, but where the version in the second language was published more than two weeks after the version in the first language was published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8358/07]

The cost of implementing the Official Languages Act 2003 for my Department and its Offices was €156,667 to the end of 2006 for translation and website development.

In 2006 the number of documents published by my Department and its Offices was 26. Of these 14 were published in one language only (English). The number of documents published in both Irish and English was 12 and of these 2 were published more than two weeks after the English version.

My Department is fully committed to the implementation of the Official Languages Act 2003. It is already fulfilling many of the requirements of the 2003 Act, although the Department has not yet been formally notified by the Department of the Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to draw up a Statutory Scheme outlining the Department's plans for compliance with the Act.

Community Employment Schemes.

David Stanton

Question:

164 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to further develop the community employment scheme, in particular to enhancing employment levels of the over 55’s; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8574/07]

Community Employment is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work and training and development opportunities within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.

To cater for older workers in particular, in November 2004, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment revised the three year participation limit to allow those of 55 years of age and over to avail of a six year period on Community Employment. This measure was introduced in recognition of the fact that older participants may find it more difficult to progress into the open labour market.

Currently, there are over 6,000 people over 55 years of age Community Employment Schemes. This represents 29% of those on Community Employment, a figure which has increased from 25% at year end 2005.

In terms of the overall development of Community Employment, as part of its continuous improvement processes, FAS has introduced a new Individual Learner Plan approach to the Community Employment programme. This approach aimed at systematically supporting the progression of programme participants is currently being rolled out nationwide.

In addition, FAS has developed three FETAC Major Awards, two at level 3 and one at level 4, designed to meet the training needs of learners participating on Community Services programmes. The flexible format of the awards will allow for the construction of a programme of learning, specifically designed to address the learning needs of the individual learner.

Foreign Direct Investment.

Ivor Callely

Question:

165 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the recent contacts with representatives in the Eastern Bloc to promote Ireland as a suitable destination for investment; the level of interest and potential identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8126/07]

IDA Ireland is the statutory agency charged with the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) to this country.

Through its range of overseas offices, IDA Ireland continually markets this country to potential foreign investors. In Europe, the main focus of IDA's marketing is in the three largest economies, Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

The majority of countries in Eastern Europe are in the early stages of their economic development and therefore do not represent appropriate targets for foreign direct investment for the Ireland of today. Indeed for certain activities some locations in Eastern Europe are in fact competitor locations for Ireland and the work of the IDA.

Public Procurement Policy.

Joe Costello

Question:

166 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the motion recently passed by Dublin City Council regarding fair wages; his views on the matter; if he will introduce a similar scheme in relation to contracts and tenders issued from his Department or its agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8345/07]

The national social partnership agreement, Towards 2016, recognises the role that public procurement can play in the maintenance of employment standards and norms, including in respect of wage levels, while also ensuring competitive tendering and value for money in public expenditure. In this regard the agreement contains a number of provisions supporting employment standards through public procurement.

In the first half of 2007 the National Public Procurement Policy Unit of the Department of Finance will commence consolidating and updating existing public procurement guidelines on supplies and service contracts. It will consult with the Social Partners about strengthening the existing guideline provisions on the need to comply with legal requirements in regard to pay and employment conditions. New standard contracts on construction projects contain strengthened provisions on the requirement for contractors to observe statutory agreements on pay and employment conditions when performing public contracts.

With regard to the National Minimum Wage, under the Social Partnership Agreement Towards 2016, ICTU and IBEC agreed that the minimum wage should be adjusted with effect from 1 January, 2007. However, as the social partners themselves were unable to reach agreement on a new rate as foreseen in the agreement, ICTU asked the Labour Court to consider the issue and to make a recommendation on a new rate.

The Labour Court considered the matter, consulted with both employer and employee representative bodies and recommended increases to the National Minimum Wage. I accepted the Labour Court recommendations and the minimum hourly rate of pay was increased to €8.30 with effect from 1 January 2007 with a further increase to €8.65 taking effect from 1 July 2007.

I am happy that, when taken in aggregate, these increases provide for a significant improvement in the earnings of workers on the minimum wage. Our rate compares extremely favourably with the minimum wage rates in other EU member states.

Official Travel.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

167 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the international flights taken by his Departmental staff on Department business during 2006; the number of flights to each destination; the number of domestic flights taken during 2006; the origin and destinations involved; the cost of flights; the flights that were taken on Government aircraft and those taken on normal scheduled airlines; if the carbon impact of these flights is taken into account during planning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8353/07]

Table 1 below provides details of international fights taken by staff of my Department on official business during 2006 and includes the number of flights to each destination and the cost involved. All of the flights listed in Table 1 were on normal scheduled flights.

The cost of many international flights taken by my Department's staff is recoupable in whole or in part from organisations such as the European Commission. Of the total cost of €309,184.39 for flights in Table 1, approximately €124,800 is recoupable.

Details of domestic flights taken by officials of my Department in 2006 are provided in Table 2. All of the flights listed in Table 2 were on normal scheduled flights.

Table 3 provides details of flights which staff of my Department made on Government aircraft in 2006. In all such cases, the staff in question travelled with me or with a Minister of State at my Department.

Although no formal accounting is currently carried out by my Department on the carbon impact of flights, any such impact must be balanced against the considerable benefits accruing to Ireland from business transacted on those journeys in terms of promoting trade, attracting inward investment and influencing international policy.

Table 1 — Details of international fights taken by staff of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on official business during 2006

Destination

No. of Flights

Cost

Alicante

13

2,997.65

Amman

1

882.00

Amsterdam

18

5,253.73

Athens

2

904.39

Beijing

7

14,586.47

Berlin

9

1,787.51

Birmingham

2

229.62

Bilbao

1

284.34

Boston (Logan)

1

469.62

Brussels

547

140,846.65

Bucharest

1

407.64

Cardiff

1

96.44

Chicago

2

5,839.36

Cologne

1

463.42

Copenhagen

3

968.05

Edinburgh

1

148.43

Frankfurt

8

1,939.36

Geneva

45

14,389.88

Gibraltar

2

548.50

Gothenburg

1

641.04

Graz

6

2,342.59

Helsinki

12

6,549.87

Hong Kong

1

5,233.70

Jeddah

2

2,391.72

Joensuu (Finland)

1

229.48

Jyvaskyla (Finland)

2

2,550.35

Klagenfurt (Austria)

2

1,024.34

Leeds/Bradford

1

133.25

Lisbon

4

1,121.74

Ljubljana

5

2,773.20

London

41

11,556.48

Luxembourg

17

7,035.44

Maastricht

2

403.26

Marrakesh

1

1,500.13

Mexico

4

1,761.81

Milan

1

76.44

Moscow

4

4,808.32

Munich

19

6,319.01

New York

7

5,698.28

Oslo

11

5,188.19

Oulu (Finland)

1

770.70

Paphos (Cyprus)

1

967.84

Paris

39

11,314.65

Pisa

1

44.08

Prague

9

2,605.44

Reykjavik

2

1,370.67

Rome Ciampino

1

155.43

Salzburg

1

871.69

Singapore

2

2,608.53

Stockholm

1

423.33

Strasbourg

3

1,453.25

Sydney

1

1,057.51

Tallinn

2

629.36

Tokyo

2

5,342.75

Toronto

3

6,341.12

Turin

4

1,354.60

Turku (Finland)

1

716.63

Venice

4

693.98

Vienna

27

6,594.36

Warsaw

5

1,486.77

Totals

919

309,184.39

Notes to Table 1

(a)The majority of flights listed in Table 1 originated in Dublin. However, because different stages of a journey to/from a destination are sometimes booked separately to achieve the best value for money, the figures for the number of flights to some destinations listed in Table 1 may include both the outward and return legs of a journey.

(b)Approximately €124,800 of the total cost of flights in Table 1 is recoupable.

Table 2 — Details of domestic fights taken by staff of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on official business during 2006

Origin

Destination

No. of Flights

Cost

Dublin

Cork

5

383.14

Dublin

Derry

8

996.99

Kerry

Dublin

1

80.29

Totals

14

1,460.42

Table 3 — Details of fights by staff of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on Government aircraft in the course of official business during 2006.

Origin

Destination

No. of flights

Baldonnell

Austria

2

Baldonnell

Brussels

7

Baldonnell

Derry

2

Baldonnell

Geneva

1

Baldonnell

Istanbul

1

Baldonnell

Kerry

1

Baldonnell

Northolt

2

Baldonnell

Shannon

1

Baldonnell

Shannon/Galway

1

Baldonnell

Sligo

1

Baldonnell

Ukraine

1

Baldonnell

Zurich

1

Belfast

Baldonnell

1

Sligo

Cork/Baldonnell

1

Total

23

Note: The cost of the use of Government aircraft is a matter for the Department of Defence.

Question No. 168 answered with QuestionNo. 106.

Multinational Corporations.

Joe Higgins

Question:

169 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Taoiseach the amount of money repatriated by multinational corporations in each year from 2000 inclusive. [8890/07]

In accordance with international statistical standards, all profits of multinational corporations are attributed to their owners when they are earned.

The estimated profits earned by multinational corporations in the State and attributable to their foreign owners were published under the label Direct Investment Income on Equity in the CSO Balance of International Payments release published quarterly. These amounts include actual repatriations such as dividends and branch profit remittances as well as earnings which were reinvested in the Irish operations.

The figures for direct investment income on equity for the years 2000-2005 are shown in Table 1. The 2006 figure should be available at the end of March this year.

Table 2 shows the annual amounts repatriated by way of dividend payments and branch profit remittances over the same period.

Table 1: Direct investment income on equity

Year

Amount (€million)

2000

22,298

2001

25,407

2002

29,533

2003

29,132

2004

30,214

2005

30,466

Table 2: Dividend payments and branch profit remittances

Year

Amount (€million)

2000

11,736

2001

15,037

2002

14,948

2003

13,238

2004

20,925

2005

25,713

Regulatory Reform.

Finian McGrath

Question:

170 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission in relation to wardship particularly in relation to vulnerable adults and children; and when it will be implemented. [8448/07]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 223 of 13th February 2007. The position remains that my Department is examining the recommendations contained in the Report of the Law Reform Commission on Vulnerable Adults and the Law, in consultation with other Departments, the Attorney General, the Courts Service, and other interests with a view to their implementation as soon as possible.

The Report of the Law Reform Commission does not deal with wardship in the case of children. Consideration of this matter will form part of the examination that is under way in my Department.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

171 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will ensure that public service providers are accessible to deaf people through sign language interpreting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8653/07]

Section 28 (1)(a) of the Disability Act 2005 provides that each public body is required to ensure, as far as practicable, that information which is orally provided to the public is provided in an accessible format, where so requested by persons with hearing impairments.

In July of last year I launched a Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information provided by Public Bodies (S.I. No. 163 of 2006), which is an important element of the implementation of the National Disability Strategy initiated by the Government in 2004. Just as the aim of the Strategy is to underpin the participation of people with disabilities in Irish society by building on existing policy and legislation, this code enhances disability policy by assisting public bodies to make services and information accessible to people with disabilities.

The National Disability Authority (NDA) prepared this code, at my request, to guide public bodies in relation to compliance with regard to sections 26 (Access to services provided by a public body), 27 (Access to services supplied to a public body) and 28 (Access to information) of the Act. The code provides practical guidance and examples of approaches and methods that could be employed to ensure that services by public bodies are accessible to people with disabilities where practicable and appropriate. It suggests that one of the ways that public bodies could make information more accessible to persons with hearing impairments is to provide sign language interpreters.

The NDA provides support and assistance to public bodies in making their information and services accessible to people with disabilities. In addition, the National Disability Authority Act, 1999 provides for a monitoring role for the Authority, in relation to the implementation of codes of practice, such as this code, developed by the Authority and approved by me.

Citizenship Applications.

Willie Penrose

Question:

172 Mr. Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will confirm having received an application for citizenship from a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath in 2000; the reason same has not been finalised to date; if he will further confirm having received an application for a family reunification visa from the person; if he will take steps to have both applications expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8247/07]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in December 2003. Officials in the Citizenship Section of my Department inform me that processing of this application has commenced and that the case file will be presented to me for my decision in the near future.

The person in question made a Family Reunification application in respect of his wife in January 2006. The application was forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. This investigation is completed and the Commissioner has forwarded a report to my Department.

This application will be considered by my Department and a decision will issue in due course.

Road Traffic Offences.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

173 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons who drive HGVs who have been detected, charged and convicted, respectively, for breaching tachograph regulations, speeding and driving in the passing lane in each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8250/07]

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.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

174 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the high percentage of motorists who are detected for penalty points, but who evade conviction; the measures he will introduce to overcome this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8397/07]

Legislation providing for the issue of fixed charge notices requires that motorists detected for committing offences be issued with a fixed charge notice. The legislation also provides that the paying of the fixed charge is a discretionary option which rests with the recipient of the fixed charge notice. Prosecutions for such offences can only be initiated where the recipient of the notice does not pay the fixed charge within the stipulated statutory period of 56 days from the date of the notice.

It is important to note that, with regard to conviction rates, the Courts are independent in their function, subject only to the Constitution and the Law, and it would therefore, be inappropriate for me to comment on their decisions.

Asylum Applications.

Finian McGrath

Question:

175 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will assist a person (details supplied) in County Galway. [8405/07]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 229 of Tuesday, 21st November, 2006, 613 of Thursday, 6th July, 2006, 582 & 599 of Tuesday, 4th July, 2006, 200 of Thursday, 29th June, 2006, 193 of Thursday, 18th May, 2006, and 325 of Tuesday, 9th May, 2006, and the written replies to those Questions.

The person concerned arrived in the State on 5 November, 2003 and was given permission to remain until 16 November, 2003. She has remained in the State with her children, without permission, since this date. On 28 February, 2006, the person concerned consented in writing to the making of a deportation order in respect of her and her children. On 9 June, 2006 I signed consent deportation orders in respect of the person concerned and her three children, however, these have since expired and are no longer enforceable.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, she was informed by letter dated 23 November, 2006, that the Minister proposed to make deportation orders in respect of her and her children. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she and her children should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State; leaving the State before orders are made or consenting to the making of deportation orders.

This person's case file, including all representations submitted, will be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (Prohibition of Refoulement). The person concerned is not entitled to take up gainful employment in the State as she has not been granted permission to remain in the State. I expect the file to be passed to me for decision in due course.

Visa Applications.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

176 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of a visa application for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 20. [8406/07]

The Immigration Division of my Department have been in touch with the person in question requesting further documentation. On receipt of same the application will be further processed.

Residency Permits.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

177 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application for long term residency for a person (details supplied); and when a decision can be expected. [8407/07]

As outlined in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 212 on the 12th December 2006, 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.

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 July 2006. I understand that applications received in May 2006 are currently being dealt with.

Sexual Offences.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

178 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons on the sex offenders register as on the latest date for which figures are available. [8408/07]

The Sex Offenders Act, 2001 sets out notification requirements under Part 2 of the Act. An Garda Síochána has responsibility for enforcement of the Act. I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 3 March, 2007 there are 1,110 persons subject to the requirements of Part 2 of the Sex Offenders Act, 2001.

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders.

John Curran

Question:

179 Mr. Curran asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of ASBOs served in the Lucan and Clondalkin Garda districts since ASBOs were made law; the detail of the crimes committed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8429/07]

I commenced Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 regarding civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by an adult on 1 January, 2007. A person behaves in an anti-social manner if the person causes or, in the circumstances, is likely to cause, to one or more persons who are not of the same household as the person (a) harassment, (b) significant or persistent alarm, distress, fear or intimidation, or (c) significant or persistent impairment of their use or enjoyment of their property.

The application by the Garda Síochána to the Courts for an order under the Act comes at the end of a process.The first step in the procedure set out in the Act is that a member of the Garda Síochána issues a behaviour warning to a person who has behaved in an anti-social manner. The behaviour warning will warn the person that failure to comply with this demand may result in an application to the courts for a civil order or that issuing of a subsequent behaviour order might also result in an application to the courts for a civil order.

If a behaviour warning or a series of warnings does not result in the person changing his or her behaviour, the Garda Síochána may apply to the District Court for a civil order to prohibit the person from doing anything specified in the order. Only a senior member of the Garda can make the court application, which means an officer not below the rank of superintendent. An order will remain in force for a period specified in the order, which cannot be longer than two years. If no period is specified, an order will remain in force for two years. The penalties for breach of an order will be a fine not exceeding €3,000 or a maximum of six months imprisonment or both.

I commenced the provisions of Part 13 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 relating to anti-social behaviour by children on 1 March 2007. These provisions set out on incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by children from a warning from a member of An Garda Síochána to a good behaviour contract to referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme to the making of a behaviour order by the Children Court. Behaviour Orders are applied for by a member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of Superintendent.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are to date no behaviour warnings recorded for the Garda Districts of Lucan and Clondalkin.

Garda Operations.

John Curran

Question:

180 Mr. Curran asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount of overtime worked by gardaí in the Lucan and Clondalkin Garda districts under Operation Anvil for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8430/07]

Operation Anvil commenced in the Garda Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) on 17 May, 2005. It is an intelligence led policing initiative, the focus of which is the targeting of active criminals and their associates involved in serious crime by preventing and disrupting their criminal activity through extensive additional overt patrolling and static check points by uniform, mobile and foot patrols, supported by armed plain clothes patrols. The Operation remains in place and is on-going in the DMR.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the amount of overtime worked by Gardaí in the Lucan and Clondalkin Garda Districts for the years 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 under Operation Anvil are as set out in the table hereunder:

Year

Clondalkin

Lucan

2005 (from May)

9,018 hrs

12,842 hrs

2006

13,100 hrs

18,058 hrs

2007 (to date)

7,405 hrs

10,705 hrs

Garda Recruitment.

Fiona O'Malley

Question:

181 Ms F. O’Malley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on changing the entry requirements for an Garda Síochána in relation to a second language to facilitate people with dyslexia. [8435/07]

The Appointment Regulations for the Garda Síochána, including educational requirements, are kept under continuing review. The requirement to have a qualification in two languages, one of which must be Irish or English, was put in place in 2005 as part of a process to considerably widen eligibility for entry to the Garda Síochána. The experience of these recent changes will be carefully monitored, and issues of the kind raised by the Deputy will be considered in that context.

Garda Stations.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

182 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will confirm that the new Garda station on Pottery Road, Dún Laoghaire replacing the existing Garda station at Kill-o-the-Grange will not affect the existing Garda station at Cabinteely. [8452/07]

A decision was taken in 2001 to amalgamate the Garda Stations at Kill O'Grange and Cabinteely and a site has been acquired at Rochestown Avenue by the Office of Public Works to facilitate this development. I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question Number 18593/06 of 17th May, 2006 which sets out the position.

Garda Deployment.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

183 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the average number of Garda foot patrols in each Garda district per month. [8496/07]

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 1100 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.

An Garda Síochána is committed to delivering a highly visible, high quality, community focused policing service to the public throughout the State. An Garda Síochána deploy a variety of operational strategies in delivering this service. The strategies vary from place to place and from time to time on the basis of an analysis of the prevailing demands. Personnel are deployed in uniform or plain clothes, on foot, mobile, cycle, mounted, marine or aerial patrols. Matters such as patrol purpose, size and nature of patrol area, time, conditions, etc, are all factors that are considered when deciding on the appropriate strategies.

Arising from the number and range of variables which can apply at any time, it is not possible to quantify an average number of foot patrols per District per month.

Community Policing is a central feature of current policing policy and members of Community policing units are encouraged to engage with the local communities where they are assigned. Current policing policy is predicated on the prevention of 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 is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of a quality policing service. As additional resources become available more patrols by uniform and plain-clothes personnel will be part of future policing strategies.

Garda Strength.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

184 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the strength of the Garda force in Counties Laois and Offaly broken down by rank; the number of Garda Reserves in both Counties Laois and Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8497/07]

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 1100 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 personnel strength (all ranks) of the Laois/Offaly Garda Division on 31 December, 1997 and 1 March, 2007 was 274 and 291 respectively. This represents an increase of 17 (or 6.2%) in the number of personnel allocated since 31 December, 1997. The breakdown by rank of the Laois/Offaly Division on 1 March, 2007 was as set out in the table hereunder:

C/Supt.

Supt.

Insp.

Sergt.

Garda

1

4

4

45

237

The Divisional boundaries do not correlate with the County boundaries. There are currently no Garda Reserve members deployed in the Laois/Offaly Division.

National Women’s Strategy.

Billy Timmins

Question:

185 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the situation with respect to the National Women’s Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8517/07]

I expect that the National Women's Strategy 2007-2016 will be published very shortly. The preparation of the strategy has involved a significant amount of research and consultation across all Government Departments and in consultation with the social partners in order to produce a comprehensive strategy that will resonate with all the women of Ireland. I believe that the strategy, when published, will provide a solid framework for the achievement of true gender equality in Ireland.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

186 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8536/07]

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. However, I understand that the person in question applied for long term residency in June 2006. I have been informed that applications received in May 2006 are currently being examined.

Tom Hayes

Question:

187 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an English citizen is entitled to apply for dual citizenship to enable them to vote in all elections here. [8548/07]

It is open to any non-national to apply for a certificate of naturalisation if he or she satisfies the statutory criteria set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended. The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation if he is satisfied that certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. Those conditions include having a period of residence in the State and being of good character. Further information and the necessary application forms for naturalisation may be obtained from my Department's website (www.justice.ie) or by telephoning the Citizenship Section helpline on Tuesdays or Thursdays between 10:00am to 12:30pm at Lo-call 1890 551 500 or (01) 6167700.

I should point out that British citizens already have certain voting rights in the State. However, all matters pertaining to the entitlement to vote and the electoral system are the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Further information regarding voting entitlements can be obtained by telephoning that Department on 01-8882421 or consulting their website at www.environ.ie.

Departmental Funding.

David Stanton

Question:

188 Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the funding that his Department made available to an organisation (details supplied) each year from 2000 to date in 2007; the amount returned unspent in each of these years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8597/07]

My Department has made the following funding available to the organisation in question for the period 2000 to 2007:

Year

Total Funding

2000

1,269,738.08

2001

1,310,799.96

2002

1,233,711.58

2003

1,224,575.60

2004

1,401,724.50

2005

1,386,366.36

2006

1,384,423.72

2007

297,622.00 (spent to date)

I can inform the Deputy that none of the above funding has been returned unspent.

Equality Issues.

David Stanton

Question:

189 Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the opinion of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (details supplied); the submission which was made by the State in this matter; the implications for the State if the European Court of Justice follows the opinion of the Advocate General; the actions he will take on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8609/07]

In the case in question, the European Court of Justice has been asked by the Spanish Courts to rule whether European law (specifically Article 13 of the EC Treaty and Article 2(1) of Council Directive 2000/78/EC) which prohibits discrimination on the ground of age, precludes national laws allowing for the setting of compulsory retirement ages in collective agreements and, that being so, whether it also requires a national court to set aside such provisions in national law. I can confirm that the State has made an intervention to the Court in this case, to the effect that European law does not preclude national provisions laying down retirement ages. Moreover, the State contends that national courts do not have the option of disapplying national laws where they may be found to be contrary to the Directive in question as it cannot have direct effect.

While in his recently published opinion, the Advocate General reaches broadly the same conclusions, this opinion of itself does not have legal effect. No decision has yet been made by the European Court of Justice in the case. In the event that the Court concurs with the opinion of the Advocate General, the judgment will have no implications for the State.

Garda Resources.

Niall Blaney

Question:

190 Mr. Blaney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Garda resources available in Donegal at this time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8654/07]

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 1100 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 personnel strength of each Garda District in the Donegal Division on 5th March, 2007 was as set out in the table hereunder:

District

05/03/2007

Letterkenny

172

Buncrana

90

Milford

48

Glenties

46

Ballyshannon

93

Total

449

Resources are further augmented by a number of Garda 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.

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.

Human Rights Issues.

Richard Bruton

Question:

191 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to introduce legislation to combat human trafficking and to ratify United Nations Protocols and European Conventions in this area. [8680/07]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

209 Mr. Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when, as the sole EU Justice Minister without anti-trafficking legislation in place, he will bring forward legislation criminalising the trafficking of human beings for the purposes of labour or sexual exploitation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8788/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 191 and 209 together.

I recently announced my intention to ask the Government to sign the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. I also stated that it is intended, as part of the new Immigration policy framework to provide a clear policy statement setting out how these cases will be managed once it is established that trafficking has taken place. I would reiterate, however, that the lack of a specific legislative provision on the victims of trafficking has in no way reduced Ireland's commitment to dealing with cases sympathetically as they arise.

As I informed the House on 31 January the Government approved the drafting of the Criminal Law (Trafficking in Persons and Sexual Offences) Bill 2006 last July. It is at present being drafted in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. The Bill is criminal law legislation which will implement the criminal law aspects of EU, UN and Council of Europe instruments on trafficking by creating offences of recruiting, transporting, transferring to another person, harbouring or knowingly arranging or facilitating—

(a) the entry into, travel within or departure from, the State of a person, or

(b) the provision of accommodation or employment in the State for that person, for the purpose of that person's exploitation. The term "exploitation" in the Bill is defined as meaning sexual or labour exploitation or the removal of a person's organs for the purpose of transplanting into another person. A copy of the draft Bill as approved by Government is available on my Department's website.

Garda Strength.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

192 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number and rank of Gardaí located in Enfield Station; the number of additional personnel that have been deployed to the station within the past year; if his attention has been drawn to the level of new housing development in the area; the rate of vehicle theft and house break-ins in 2005 and 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8710/07]

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 available.

Port Status.

Joan Burton

Question:

193 Ms Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to private airports here; the private airports that have port of entry status; the proposals he has to grant port of entry status to private airports without such status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8721/07]

Joan Burton

Question:

194 Ms Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the application for port of entry status in relation to Weston Airport, a private airport in west Dublin; when the port of entry status will be granted; the financial implications there are in respect of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8722/07]

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

Section 6 of the Immigration Act 2004 provides, inter alia, that a non-national (other than a seaman) coming by sea or air from outside the State shall not, without the consent of the Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform, land elsewhere than at an approved port. A non-national who lands in the State in contravention of this provision shall be deemed to be refused permission and shall be guilty of an offence. The most recent list of approved ports is set out in the Immigration Act 2004 (Approved Ports) Regulations 2004. These are:

Carrickfinn Airport

Galway

Cobh

Galway Airport

Connaught Airport

Greencastle

Cork

Moville

Cork Airport

Rosslare Harbour

Dublin

Shannon Airport

Dublin Airport

Sligo Airport

Dún Laoghaire

Waterford

Farranfore Airport

Waterford Regional Airport

There is no distinction in Immigration legislation between privately and publicly owned ports nor between airports and seaports. Apart from the general application of the criminal law and its enforcement by an Garda Síochána and such general legal provisions applicable to an airport in the same way as to any other location, my role as regards the operation of such ports is in relation to immigration matters only. I have no function as regards the general operation of an airport, including its licensing or the approval of traffic volumes or air safety. Such matters are appropriate to the Department of Transport and the Irish Aviation Authority. There is also a central role for local authorities in respect of planning.

Applications for approved port status in respect of private or publicly owned airports will be considered in the context of overall government policy in the airport sector and generally will fall to be considered once these policy aspects in regard to any particularly area have been determined. I have an application at present in respect of Weston Aerodrome and this will be dealt with when appropriate within the policy framework I have outlined.

Garda Equipment.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

195 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Garda stations that are equipped to record interviews and interrogations with suspects; and the Garda stations that are not so equipped. [8724/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are 147 locations equipped to record interviews with suspects. Details are set-out in the table beneath.

It was never the intention that all Garda stations would be equipped to carry out audio/video recording of interviews. Indeed, most Garda stations are not used for detention and interviews. Rather the intention was that a sufficient number of interview rooms in Garda stations across the country be equipped to provide a broad nationwide coverage. Where a Garda station is not equipped with an audio/video system, a person to be interviewed in accordance with the Regulations will be taken to the nearest Garda station with such equipment.

With regard to future and additional requirements I am advised by the Garda authorities that tenders for the provision of additional equipment are currently being evaluated.

Division

Station

Division

Station

DMR NC

Store St.

Carlow/Kildare

Carlow

Bridewell

Athy

Mountjoy

Naas

Fitzgibbon Street

Kildare

DMR N

Clontarf

Newbridge

Coolock

Celbridge

Santry

Baltinglass

Raheny

Cavan/Monaghan

Monaghan

Swords

Cavan

Ballymun

Carrickmacross

Malahide

Castleblaney

Whitehall

Bailieboro

Howth

Ballyconnell

DMR SC

Pearse St.

Clare

Ennis

Kevin St.

Shannon

Donnybrook

Ennistymon

Harcourt Square

Killaloe

Harcourt Terrace

Kilrush

Kilmainham

Cork City

Anglesea St

DMR South

Crumlin

Bridewell

Tallaght

Mayfield

Rathfarnham

Watercourse

Terenure

Gurranabraher

Sundrive Rd

Togher

Rathmines

Carrigaline

DMR East

Dún Laoghaire

Cork West

Bandon

Shankill

Castletownbere

Blackrock

Kanturk

Dundrum

Macroom

Bray

Clonakilty

DMR West

Blanchardstown

Bantry

Finglas

Cork North

Fermoy

Cabra

Mtchelstown

Lucan

Mallow

Ballyfermot

Charleville

Clondalkin

Midleton

Ronanstown

Cobh

Donegal

Letterkenny

Mayo

Castlebar

Lifford

Belmullet

Milford

Swinford

Burnfoot

Westport

Balyshannon

Ballina

Buncrana

Claremorris

Glenties

Roscommon/Galway

Roscommon

Galway West

Mill St

Ballinasloe

Salthill

Tuam

Gort

Boyle

Loughrea

Castlerea

Clifden

Sligo

Sligo

Kerry

Tralee

Manorhamilton

Killarney

Carrick-on-Shannon

Listowel

Ballymote

Caherciveen

Tipperary

Thurles

Killorglin

Clonmel

Laois/Offaly

Tullamore

Cahir

Portlaoise

Nenagh

Abbeyleix

Templemore

Birr

Tipperary

Limerick

Henry St.

Garda College

Mayorstone

Waterford/Kilkenny

Waterford

Roxboro

Kilkenny

Askeaton

Kilmacthomas

Bruff

Dungarvan

Newcastlewest

Tramore

Longford/Westmeath

Mullingar

Castlecomer

Longford

Thomastown

Athlone

Wexford

Enniscorthy

Granard

Arklow

Louth/Meath

Drogheda

Gorey

Kells

Wexford

Navan

Wicklow

Trim

New Ross

Balbriggan

Ashbourne

Dundalk

Garda Training.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

196 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the annual budget allocated for ongoing professional development of attested Gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8731/07]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the annual cost of running the Garda College, which is responsible for the ongoing professional development of attested Gardaí, is approximately €33m. It is not possible to identify the element of the overall running cost which is specific to internal professional development programmes. A separate training budget is also available on an annual basis for external training requirements and programmes. The 2007 Garda training budget for external training requirements and programmes is €3.3m.

Prisoner Releases.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

197 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide the information requested in Parliamentary Question No. 144 of 8 February 2007 regarding the number of prisoners from Cork Prison, prior to reaching their release date and taking into account their remission, who were let out on early release in 2006. [8743/07]

I wish to inform the Deputy that a reply to his original question was issued from my office on 1 March, 2007.

Garda Stations.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

198 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide the information requested in Parliamentary Question No. 444 of 31 January 2007 in relation to the station party at Castletownbere Garda Station. [8744/07]

I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 444 which was put down by the Deputy for answer on Wednesday, 31 January, 2007. As the Deputy will be aware, the information required to enable me to respond fully to his question was not available at the time.

I am informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of Castletownbere Garda station, which is part of the Cork West Division, as at 29 January 2007 was 2 (all ranks). In addition, I am informed that an additional Garda shall be assigned permanently to Adrigole Garda Station, which also polices the Beara area, this month. I am further informed that the personnel strength (all ranks) of the Cork West Division on 31 December, 1997 and 2006 was 223 and 264, respectively. This represents an increase of 41 (or 18%) in the number of Garda personnel allocated to the Division during that period. In addition, the Cork West Division's resources are further augmented by a number of Garda 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.

The Deputy should appreciate that, as with any large organisation, on any given day, personnel strengths of individual stations and units may fluctuate due, for example, to promotions, retirements and transfers. I should also add that Garda management state that it is the role of the Divisional Officer to allocate personnel within his/ her Division based on an assessment of the Policing needs of his/ her area of responsibility at any given time. 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 Strength.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

199 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide the information requested in Parliamentary Question No. 456 of 31 January 2007 regarding the number of additional Gardaí appointed to each of the stations in Cork West division between the years 2001 and 2006; the opening hours of each of these stations; the numbers of Gardaí in each station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8745/07]

I refer the Deputy to my letter to him, dated 27th February, 2007 in this regard. The information sought is contained therein.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

200 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide the information requested in Parliamentary Question No. 447 of 31 January 2007 regarding the number of Gardaí in Lusk and Rush Garda Stations; if there are plans to increase the allocation of Gardaí in both these stations; if the part time station in Lusk is to be amalgamated with its counterpart in Rush; and if it is proposed to increase the allocation of Gardaí to Balbriggan Station. [8746/07]

I refer the Deputy to my letter to him, dated 27th February, 2007 in this regard. The information sought is contained therein.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

201 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide the information requested in Parliamentary Question No. 448 of 31 January 2007 regarding the number of juvenile liaison officers on 1 January in each of the years 2003 to 2007. [8747/07]

I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 448 which was put down by the Deputy for answer on Wednesday, 31 January, 2007. As the Deputy will be aware, the information required to enable me to respond fully to the question was not available at the time. However, 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 have been further informed that the number of Juvenile Liaison Officers (all ranks) in An Garda Síochána on 31 December, 2002-2006, inclusively, was as set out in the table hereunder.

Year

Total

31/12/2002

93

31/12/2003

94

31/12/2004

95

31/12/2005

95

31/12/2006

93

The Deputy should appreciate that, as with any large organisation, on any given day, personnel strengths of individual stations and units may fluctuate due, for example, to promotions, retirements and transfers. I am further informed that, in addition to the personnel set out above, the National Juvenile Office has a staff of 1 Superintendent (the Director of the Diversion Programme), 1 Inspector and 3 Sergeants.

The Garda authorities state that there are currently two positions vacant for Juvenile Liaison Officers. Both vacancies are located in the Dublin Metropolitan Region North Division. One vacancy arises from the retirement of a Juvenile Liaison Officer and the other is due to the transfer of the incumbent to another Division. Garda management further state that the advertising of these positions will take place shortly and it is envisaged that these vacancies will be filled in the coming weeks.

Garda Communications.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

202 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will provide the information requested in Parliamentary Question No. 451 of 31 January 2007 questioning if the availability of wired broadband is necessary for the installation of the PULSE system in Garda stations. [8748/07]

I refer the Deputy to my letter to him of 1 March 2007, issued as a follow up to Question No. 451, which sets out the information sought by the Deputy.

Sexual Offences.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

203 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the cutting short of a prisoner’s sentence on grounds of good behaviour can be justified in the case of a convicted sex offender who has failed, during their prison term, to engage in counselling aimed at addressing the behaviour which led to their conviction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8776/07]

The granting of remission to sentenced prisoners is a feature of prison systems internationally and a remission system has been in operation in this country, under statute, for more than fifty years. The current provision relating to remission is Rule 38 (1) of the Rules for the Government of Prisons, 1947, which states that:—

A convicted prisoner sentenced to imprisonment, whether by one sentence or cumulative sentences, for a period exceeding one calendar month, shall be eligible, by industry and good conduct, to earn a remission of a portion of his imprisonment, not exceeding one-fourth of the whole sentence, provided that the remission so granted does not result in the prisoner being discharged before he has served one month.

Under the statutory Rules, forfeiture of remission may only be imposed by the Prison Governor for a breach of prison discipline. The punishment allowed for any such one breach, in terms of forfeiture of remission, may not exceed fourteen days. The Rules do not provide for differing applications of remission based solely on the nature of the offending behaviour which led to conviction and imprisonment.

Prisoner Releases.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

204 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the range of post prison release procedures, regulations and safeguards that are in place to monitor and curtail the ability to re-offend among convicted sex offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8777/07]

Catherine Murphy

Question:

207 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if counselling or other behavioural reform therapies are offered to sex offenders during the term of their imprisonment and following their release; if such offenders can be compelled to avail of such services either during imprisonment or following release; the efforts made during the imprisonment of such prisoners to address, particularly in the case of those convicted of abusing a minor; the pattern of behaviour which led to their conviction; if he has satisfied himself that sufficient resources are available for such behavioural therapy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8780/07]

Catherine Murphy

Question:

208 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he is satisfied that adequate measures, regulations and resources are in place to monitor convicted sex offenders after their release; if he is satisfied with the status quo concerning the manner in which sex offenders are treated subsequent to their release from prison; his views on whether there is enough safeguards in place to prevent re-offending among convicted sex offenders, particularly in the case of offenders who have been convicted of charges relating to minors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8781/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 204, 207 and 208 together.

The Sex Offenders Act, 2001 which commenced on 27 September 2001 sets out the notification obligations on persons convicted of a range of sexual offences against both children and adults. A convicted sex offender must notify his/her name(s), date of birth and current home address to the Garda Síochána within seven days of the conviction for the sexual offence concerned or, where the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, from the date of full release from prison.

Thereafter, the offender must notify the Gardaí of any change of name or address within seven days of that change. Notification of any address where the offender spends either as much as seven days or two or more periods amounting to seven days in any twelve month period must also be given to the Gardaí. The provisions of the Act extend to any sex offenders entering this jurisdiction from abroad who have an obligation to register in their own countries or who have been convicted abroad of an offence comparable to one covered by the Act.

Additional measures contained in the Sex Offenders Act, 2001 makes it mandatory for a convicted sex offender to inform their employer or future employer of their conviction if their job entails having unsupervised access to children. The Act also allows for a Chief Superintendent of An Garda Síochána to request the Court to make a Sex Offender Order, whereby a sex offender can be prohibited from behaving in a particular way, where such behaviour is perceived by the Court as having a potential danger to the welfare of children. It should be noted that Garda clearance is now required for potential employees in a number of occupations which entail access to, or authority over children.

If the court imposed an order for post-release supervision, Part 5 of the 2001 Act obliges the convicted person to undergo supervision by the Probation Service for a specified period and to comply with such conditions that are specified therein. Offenders who are subject to a post release supervision Order are managed on a one-to-one basis by a Probation Officer. Should a sex offender fail to comply with obligations as outlined in the Act, the offender is guilty of an offence and subject to a fine and / or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.

I can advise the Deputy that my Department through the Probation Service provides funding to a community based sex offender programme specifically for convicted sex offenders who abuse children. I can further advise that the Probation Service has two officers directly involved in the delivery of adolescent sex offender programmes in both North and South Dublin. In addition, the Service is involved in the management and organisation of a community based adolescent sex offender programme based in the west of Ireland.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that in advance of release, there are three forms of direct therapeutic intervention available to prisoners serving sentences for sexual offences which assist in their personal rehabilitation and relapse prevention. These are:- individual counselling from the Irish Prison Service's Psychology Service and from the Probation Service; the Sex Offender Programme which has been in operation since 1994; and one-to-one interventions by visiting psychiatrists who provide support to prisoners. I am advised that therapeutic intervention by its very nature is of minimal value to a non-voluntary participant.

Before an offender is released from prison, the Prison Service must inform him/her that they are subject to the notification requirement of the Act. Ten days before the date of release, the Prison Service must inform the Garda Síochána that s/he is being released.

There is a system in place whereby Child Care Managers in the Health Service Executive are informed, by the Senior Probation Officer, of the impending release of sex offenders from prisons irrespective of whether the offence is against a child or adult. The Child Care Manager is provided with the date of release, details of the offence committed and address of the offender following release. A ‘Protocol for the sharing of information on the management of sex offenders between the Probation Service and the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI)' was signed by the Heads of both Organisations in March, 2006. That protocol established mutual arrangements for the management of sex offenders, subject to supervision by the respective Services. This protocol facilitates best practice and effective case management of sex offenders between jurisdictions by enabling exchange of relevant information on a structured and agreed basis. In addition, I also wish to advise the Deputy that on 27 November, 2006 I signed a Memorandum of Understanding on information sharing arrangements between Ireland and the UK relating to sex offenders.

The MOU was negotiated between my Department and the Home Office, with input from the Northern Ireland Office. It relates to information about persons travelling between Ireland and the UK and who are subject to sex offender notification requirements in their own jurisdiction. This covers sex offenders travelling between any of the legal jurisdictions in these islands. The rationale for the Memorandum is that such information will be shared between police forces for the purposes of protecting the public from the risks presented by sex offenders — whether paedophile or otherwise — and investigating serious sexual offences. The transmission of any information necessary to achieve these purposes is covered.

As a result of the MOU, the exchange of such information between the Garda Síochána and British police forces, which of course has already been taking place for some time, is now being put on a formal footing. The information will now be shared as a matter of course. This Memorandum of Understanding is another example of the close relationship between Ireland and the UK and in particular between the two parts of this island. It is also the most recent example of the benefits which accrue to both sides through cooperation and coordination in the areas of criminal justice and law enforcement. As the MOU provides, its use and effectiveness will be kept under review, and I am confident that full use will be made of its potential by the police forces of all our jurisdictions.

A Registered Sex Offender Advisory Group has been established consisting of representatives of An Garda Síochána, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Northern Ireland Office. As part of its work, this Group evaluates the potential for sharing information, examining the registration criteria in both jurisdictions for sex offenders and identifying areas for further co-operation. The provisions of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 are kept under constant review by my Department with a view to ensuring the Act is operating in an efficient and effective manner.

Sex Offenders.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

205 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if all convicted sex offenders are automatically placed on the Sex Offenders Register; if not, how it is determined if such an offender will be placed on this register; the action that is taken to monitor offenders who have not been placed on this register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8778/07]

Catherine Murphy

Question:

206 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Gardaí in the area where a convicted sex offender intends to reside subsequent to release are notified in advance of release; the obligations placed on the Garda Síochána; the resources or authority provided for them to monitor such offenders; if the Gardaí are obliged to engage with any State agency, body, organisation, or person to ensure that offenders are not provided with opportunities to re-offend, particularly in the case of those convicted of abusing a minor; the details of the third parties ; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8779/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 205 and 206 together.

The Sex Offenders Act which commenced on 27 September 2001 sets out the obligations on persons convicted of a range of sexual offences against both children and adults. Section 3 of the Act provides that each of the offences referred to in the Schedule to the Act shall, subject to subsections (2) and (3), be a sexual offence for the purposes of the Act. The list in the Schedule is comprehensive, with the emphasis on those offences which are most applicable to the protection of children against sexual abuse. Section 7 provides how the notification requirements set out in the Act will apply to all persons convicted of a qualifying sexual offence.

A convicted sex offender must notify his/her name(s), date of birth and current home address to the Garda Síochána within seven days of the conviction for the sexual offence concerned or, where the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, from the date of full release from prison. Thereafter, the offender must notify the Gardaí of any change of name or address within seven days of that change. Notification of any address where the offender spends either as much as seven days or two or more periods amounting to seven days in any twelve month period must also be given to the Gardaí.

If the offender intends to leave the State for a period of seven days or more s/he must inform the Gardaí of this fact and the address at which s/he intends to stay and also notify the Gardaí of his/her return. If s/he did not intend to stay away for more than seven days but did, s/he must inform the Gardaí within a further seven days. The provisions of the Act extend to any sex offenders entering this jurisdiction from abroad who have an obligation to register in their own countries or who have been convicted abroad of an offence comparable to one covered by the Act.

Part 4 of the Act provides that it is an offence for convicted sex offenders to apply for, or to accept, work or to offer services, a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of unsupervised access to, or contact with, children or mentally impaired persons, without informing the employer or organisation of his/her conviction for a qualifying sexual offence. It is an offence to fail to comply with the notification requirements. The penalty is imprisonment for up to 12 months or a fine of €1,900 or both. The courts can also sentence an offender who has been found guilty of an offence under the schedule of offences in the Act to a period of statutory supervision under the Probation and Welfare Service on their release from prison.

Before an offender is released from prison, the Prison Service must inform him/her that they are subject to the notification requirement of the Act. Ten days before the date of release, the Prison Service must inform the Garda Síochána that s/he is being released. The Garda Síochána has in place a system for the monitoring of persons subject to these requirements. The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit monitor and manage the notification provisions. The information on persons who are subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act, 2001 is maintained at a central location.

There are nominated Garda Inspectors in each Garda Division who are notified by the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit when a sex offender, who is subject to the requirements of the Act, is resident in their Division. These inspectors are responsible as police officers for the monitoring of such offenders. In this respect, the Garda Síochána liaise with other relevant State agencies.

On 27 November, 2006 I signed a Memorandum of Understanding on information sharing arrangements between Ireland and the UK relating to sex offenders.

The MOU was negotiated between my Department and the Home Office, with input from the Northern Ireland Office. It relates to information about persons travelling between Ireland and the UK and who are subject to sex offender notification requirements in their own jurisdiction. This covers sex offenders travelling between any of the legal jurisdictions in these islands. The rationale for the Memorandum is that such information will be shared between police forces for the purposes of protecting the public from the risks presented by sex offenders — whether paedophile or otherwise — and investigating serious sexual offences. The transmission of any information necessary to achieve these purposes is covered.

As a result of the MOU, the exchange of such information between the Garda Síochána and British police forces, which of course has already been taking place for some time, is now being put on a formal footing. As the MOU provides, its use and effectiveness will be kept under review, and I am confident that full use will be made of its potential by the police forces of all our jurisdictions.

A Registered Sex Offender Advisory Group has been established consisting of representatives of An Garda Síochána, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Northern Ireland Office. As part of its work, this Group evaluates the potential for sharing information, examining the registration criteria in both jurisdictions for sex offenders and identifying areas for further co-operation. In exceptional circumstances, such as where the Garda authorities are aware of an immediate or serious threat from a particular individual subject to the reporting requirements of the Act, they may decide to disclose the name of that individual to persons on a strict need to know basis.

The provisions of the Act are kept under constant review by my Department with a view to ensuring the Act is operating in an efficient and effective manner. It is my intention that the Criminal Law (Trafficking in Persons and Sexual Offences) Bill, which is currently being drafted, will contain provision to strengthen the monitoring of registered sex offenders.

Questions Nos. 207 and 208 answered with Question No. 204.
Question No. 209 answered with Question 191.

Garda Investigations.

Tony Gregory

Question:

210 Mr. Gregory asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will request a report from the Garda authorities on the issues raised in the correspondence (details supplied); and the action the Garda Síochána are taking to give protection to the residents concerned to curtail the intimidation, malicious damage and anti-social behaviour; the reason this policing issue is unresolved; and the reason Gardaí referred residents to this Deputy on a policing issue. [8789/07]

I have requested a Garda report in relation to this matter and I will contact the Deputy again when the report is to hand.

Garda Strength.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

211 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the cutback in Garda coverage in the Ballydesmond Knocknagree area. [8790/07]

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 1100 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 personnel strength (all ranks) of Ballydesmond Garda Station on 31 January, 2007 was 1. The personnel strength (all ranks) of Knocknagree Garda Station on 31 January, 2007 was 1. Ballydesmond Garda Station and Knocknagree Garda Station form part of the Kanturk District in the Cork West Division. The personnel strength of the Kanturk District on 31 January, 2007 was 42 (all ranks). Ballydesmond Garda Station is open to the public from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, Monday to Saturday, subject to the rostered tour of duty of the member attached to Ballydesmond Garda Station. Knocknagree Garda Station is open to the public from 3pm to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, subject to the rostered tour of duty of the member attached to Knocknagree Garda Station. Outside of these hours, the call diversion system is in operation and linked to the District Headquarters at Kanturk Garda Station.

Local Garda Management report that there has been no reduction in Garda coverage and policing of the Ballydesmond/Knocknagree area. Alternative arrangements have been put in place in relation to the use of a Garda Patrol car in the District to ensure improved visibility and enhance law enforcement capability in the area. 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.

The situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next become available the needs of the Ballydesmond and Knocknagree areas will be fully considered within the overall context of the needs of Garda stations throughout the country.

Interception Orders.

Paul McGrath

Question:

212 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of telecommunications interception orders which he signed each year since taking office. [8858/07]

Paul McGrath

Question:

213 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of telecommunications interception orders presently approved by his Department. [8859/07]

Paul McGrath

Question:

214 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the categories of persons for whom telecommunications interception orders are presently in place. [8860/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212 to 214, inclusive, together.

Lawful interception is governed by the provisions of the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act 1993. Section 2 of that Act states that an authorisation to intercept may be granted only for the purpose of the investigation of serious crime or in the interests of the security of the State. It is not the practice and it would be contrary to the public interest to reveal either the categories of person to whom authorisations to intercept relate and the number of such authorisations.

Asylum Applications.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

215 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a person (details supplied) in County Limerick needs to apply for an extension of their permission to remain here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8869/07]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 20 November, 2000 and applied for asylum. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

In accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, she was informed by letter dated 31 October, 2003, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State; leaving the State before the deportation order was made or consenting to the making of the deportation order.

Representations were received on her behalf. On 20 February, 2006 as an exceptional measure, she was granted humanitarian leave to remain for one year.

On 11 January, 2007 the person concerned submitted documentation to my Department. This application is receiving consideration and I expect a decision to issue to the individual concerned shortly.

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders.

Billy Timmins

Question:

216 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of ASBOs administered to the end of February 2007; the location where these were implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8947/07]

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

Prison Staff.

Sean Fleming

Question:

217 Mr. Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the employment and social insurance details regarding a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will confirm that they were established from the date of their entry on 14 November 1970. [8948/07]

I have been informed by the Irish Prison Service that the person referred to joined in a temporary unestablished position on 14 November, 1970 and became an established Officer on 5 December, 1970. He paid a modified rate of PRSI (Rate B) and retired on 26 October, 2001.

Commemorative Events.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

218 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance if there are plans by the Government at present to mint a commemorative €2 coin in 2007 and in future years like many other EU Member States; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8303/07]

Later this month, in common with the other Euro Member States, the Central Bank will on my behalf issue a €2 commemorative coin to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. There are no further plans to issue €2 commemorative coins at present.

The Deputy may also be aware that last month, on my behalf, the Central Bank, in cooperation with the Croatian National Bank and the Croatian Monetary Institute, issued a €15 Silver Proof Coin to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the original design of the ‘Girl with Harp' gifted to the Irish State by the Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic in 1927. Later this year the Central Bank will participate with other European mints in the Europa Coin Programme, which will have the general theme of "European Achievements". For the programme the Bank will issue a €10 Silver Proof Coin and a €20 Gold Proof Coin celebrating European Celtic Culture, specifically the Irish influence in Europe during the Celtic era. In 2006 Ireland also participated in the Europa Coin Programme with a €10 Silver Proof Coin and a €20 Gold Proof Coin to mark the centenary of the birth of Samuel Beckett.

Garda Stations.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

219 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to the new Garda station on Pottery Road, Dún Laoghaire to replace the existing Garda station at Kill-o-the-Grange;. [8452/07]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

226 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance when building work will commence on the new Garda station on Pottery Road, Dún Laoghaire to replace the existing Garda station at Kill-o-the-Grange; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8451/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 219 and 226 together.

The Part 9 planning procedure is still in progress. It is hoped to complete the Part 9 process in the near future and to invite tenders later this year.

Tourism Promotion.

Willie Penrose

Question:

220 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if in the context of his recent announcement for the promotion of tourism activities by way of tax incentives on the River Shannon, he will take steps to consider the area, on the lake shore at Inny Bay, down as far as Lanesboro, which has been omitted from the proposal; if in this context he will ensure that same is included in the proposal for the Shannon area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8244/07]

The areas to be included in the proposed Mid-Shannon Tourism Infrastructure Investment Scheme are outlined in Schedule 8B which is attached to Section 28 of the Finance Bill 2007. The area referred to by the Deputy is not within the area covered by the proposed scheme. It is not intended to extend the proposed scheme.

However, I would like to point out to the Deputy that the area he is referring to has, since 1998, benefited from the Rural Renewal Scheme which was much more extensive and generous than the current proposed Mid-Shannon Scheme. Following a major review of various property and area based tax incentive schemes I announced in Budget 2006 that various reliefs had either achieved the objectives set out for them or were no longer considered to be cost effective in terms of the objectives set out for them and were therefore being terminated subject to certain transitional provisions. The Rural Renewal scheme was included among these.

Tax Code.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

221 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if a person who has had medical treatment abroad, in a non-EU country can claim tax relief on the medical costs incurred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8268/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, under Section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, tax relief is allowable on health expenses incurred outside of the State on the same basis as health expenses incurred within the State, provided that:

(i) the medical practitioner is entitled, under the laws of the country in which the care is provided, to practise medicine or dentistry there; and/or

(ii) the hospital or nursing home is approved of for the purposes of tax relief under the heading of health expenses by the Minister for Finance after consultation with the Minister for Health and Children.

Where qualifying health care is, in relation to a specific health expense, obtainable only outside the State, reasonable expenses of travelling and accommodation for the patient may be allowed. In such a case, the expenses of one person accompanying the patient may also be allowed where the condition of the patient requires it. Where the patient is a child, the expenses of one parent may generally be allowed and, exceptionally, of both parents where it is clear that both have to be in attendance.

Relief cannot be claimed for any expenditure that has been or will be reimbursed by a medical insurer or where a compensation payment is, or will be, made in respect of the expenditure. In addition, health expenses relief is generally provided by way of repayment of tax paid and only to the extent that tax has been paid. Where a person has paid for qualifying health expenses but has not paid tax in a year, it is not possible to provide relief under the scheme to him or her. For claims for the tax year 2006 and previous tax years back to 2003, the first €125 of any medical expenses incurred in the tax year is borne by the taxpayer. In the case of an individual claiming relief in respect of two or more persons, the taxpayer must bear the first €250 him/herself.

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind, the Revenue Commissioners, on receipt of relevant details, are prepared to examine such case and give a view of the tax relief that may be available in that case.

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

222 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Cork who has been set up in farming since 2000 and who proposes to buy land, is entitled to stamp duty relief on this transaction. [8293/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that from the information provided it is not clear whether exemption from stamp duty under the young trained farmer scheme applies. For further information please contact: Cork Stamp Duty Office, South West Region, Government Buildings, Sullivan's Quay, Cork, phone: 021-4325000.

Registration of Title.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

223 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the Office of Public Works to complete the transfer of title for the proposed site for a school (details supplied) in County Meath in view of the ongoing pressure on primary school places in east Meath. [8378/07]

The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland act as agents for the Department of Education and Science in the acquisitions of sites for primary schools. In the case in question agreement has been reached subject to contract to acquire a site at Mornington, Co. Meath. A query has been raised on the title of the property and this has been referred for Counsel's Opinion. This Opinion is expected in two weeks. Pending receipt of this Opinion it is not possible to say when or if the purchase of the proposed site can be finalised.

Tax Code.

Jack Wall

Question:

224 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding tax returns made by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare or by a company; the years concerned; the amount paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8393/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer is registered only as a PAYE employee. His records show that he was an employee of six companies/persons at different times between 4th December 1998 and 25th October 2002. There is no record of any employment since that date.

There is no record of the taxpayer being registered for income tax as a self employed person and therefore no income tax returns are recorded as having been received.

I am further advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no registration or record for the company named and that they can find no entry for this company with the Companies Registration Office.

If the taxpayer has any further queries he should contact Mr. Sean McDonnell, Kildare Revenue District, Grattan House, Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2. Telephone 01-6474770.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

225 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance the reason the child dependance allowance portions of social welfare payments are assessable for income tax, particularly in view of the fact that maintenance payments for child dependants are not liable for tax; if he will remove CDAs from tax liability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8416/07]

A child dependant allowance can arise from a number of sources such as social welfare legislation, employments and occupational pension schemes.

As regards the child dependant allowance payable by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the 1998 Supreme Court case of Ó Síocháinv. Neenan held, on interpretation of the relevant social welfare legislation, that the widow’s pension, including the child dependant element, is the beneficial entitlement of the widow. The reason, therefore, that the child dependant allowances are taxable is that they form part of payments to parents that are treated as income for tax purposes.

However, by virtue of specific statutory tax exemption, the child dependant allowance paid to individuals in receipt of either unemployment benefit or disability benefit is not taxable. A further statutory tax exemption relieves Child Benefit from tax.

In relation to the income tax treatment of maintenance payments in respect of children it is the case that they are not taxable in the hands of the children or the receiving spouse. However, in the case of both legally enforced and voluntary maintenance payments in respect of children, the position is that the payments are treated the same way as if the taxpayer was providing for the child out of his or her after-tax income. This is in line with the tax treatment of all other parents, where the cost of maintaining their children is not tax deductible.

I do not propose to make any changes to these arrangements.

Question No. 226 answered with QuestionNo. 219.

Flood Relief.

Michael Ring

Question:

227 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works has undertaken a hydrological analysis of any alterations to the flood plains in an area (details supplied) of County Mayo. [8593/07]

Michael Ring

Question:

228 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works have taken action in relation to a development (details supplied) bordering a river in County Mayo; and the position in this matter. [8594/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 227 and 228 together.

No hydrological studies have been carried out by the Office of Public Works on the River Deel to date.

However, a number of measures have been identified that will help to reduce the flood risk in Crossmolina. Mayo County Council intend to carry out these works over the coming months. A joint study is being considered to determine the feasibility of a Flood Relief Scheme for Crossmolina.

In relation to the development on the River Deel, the position is as notified to the House in my response of 13th December, 2006 (Question No. 139) namely that planning and development control is a matter for the appropriate planning authorities, in this case Mayo County Council, and not for the Office of Public Works.

Heritage Sites.

Seamus Healy

Question:

229 Mr. Healy asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that the Swiss Cottage, Cahir, County Tipperary opens as scheduled on 8 March 2007 and continues to remain open as usual for the remainder of the season; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8627/07]

Public access to the Swiss cottage is by way of a bridge across the River Suir. In recent times the condition of this bridge has, on visual inspection, given cause for concern. In late 2006 a consultant engineer was appointed by the Office of Public Works to carry out an assessment of the bridge and to make recommendations as to its structural condition and the level of work required. Early in this assessment process the engineer reported that the bridge was in dangerous condition and recommended that access to it be limited pending his full inspection and report.

When received at the beginning of 2007 the engineer's full report underlined the dangerous condition of the bridge, highlighted the ongoing erosion of its structural members, and recommended repair as a matter of urgency. Based on these recommendations the Office of Public Works acted swiftly to request the preparation of the necessary tender documents for the repair of the bridge. These documents are scheduled to be complete by the week commencing 12 March, 2007. At that point tenders will be invited immediately with a view to the necessary repair work being commenced at the earliest possible date.

The first step in the works programme will involve the removal of the deck of the bridge which is in an unstable condition. With the necessity to remove the deck the closure of the bridge is absolutely essential. For both practical operational reasons and for health and safety, the removal of the deck must take place when the river is at its lowest. Unfortunately this period happens to coincide with when the site is normally open to the public as part of the Heritage Sites of Ireland programme operated by the Office of Public Works.

In this context an alternative access to allow the Cottage to remain open was examined. The only alternative access on the cottage side of the river is a private road which is in poor condition. While the Office of Public Works have a right of way over this road for works purposes this does not extend to public access.

This roadway is not suitable for cars and there are no parking facilities in the area close to the Cottage. In addition this roadway would also provide the only access to the site for emergency services should they be required. The advice available suggests this roadway would not be suitable for an ambulance. The question of providing an alternative temporary bridge was also considered but given the extent of the work required on either side of the river bank in repairing the existing bridge, it is felt that this option is not feasible from a health and safety perspective.

I am very hopeful that all of the necessary work to repair the bridge at the Swiss Cottage can be completed during the course of 2007. It is unfortunate that such a magnificent site will not be available to the public this year but the dangerous condition of the only public access to the site means that there is no other choice but to close it to the public. I should say that the period of its closure will be used by the Office of Public Works to bring forward its plans to re-thatch the building, work originally pencilled in for 2008, thereby minimising further possible disruption in the future.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

230 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the grants or financial incentives available from his Department for adapting diesel cars in order that they can use biofuels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8660/07]

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are no grants or financial incentives available for adapting diesel cars in order that they can use biofuels.

As the Deputy will be aware, I introduced a provision in the Finance Act of 2006 which enables the Revenue Commissioners to grant a 50% vehicle registration tax (VRT) relief on the registration of flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in the State. The purpose of this scheme is to encourage the development of new technology that is used in the manufacture of vehicles that use engines and fuel systems that are capable of running on E85-bioethanol (a combination of ethanol and petrol) which benefits the environment by producing lower pollutant emissions than conventional vehicles fuelled exclusively by petrol or diesel.

This measure complements the significant excise relief scheme for Biofuels also provided for in Finance Act 2006.

The Scheme will:

provide for excise relief on up to 163 million litres of biofuels per annum;

cost over €200m over 5 years;

result in CO2 savings of over 250,000 tonnes per annum;

contribute towards meeting a target of 5.75% transport fuel market penetration by biofuels by 2009;

help reduce our dependency on conventional fossil fuels, and

stimulate activity in the agricultural sector.

Tax Code.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

231 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the criteria involved when two farmers are making a direct swap of land and where no money is being exchanged; if there are tax implications involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8791/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a direct swap of land, in the circumstances outlined, may have implications for taxation under three separate taxheads; namely capital gains tax, capital acquisitions tax and stamp duty. I will look at each in turn.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

The exchange of land is a chargeable occasion for both parties involved. The disposal proceeds are taken as the market value, at the date of exchange, of the lands disposed of. The CGT payable is calculated by reference to the difference between the disposal proceeds and the cost of the land exchanged after allowable adjustments for inflation and the costs of acquisition and disposal. The first €1,270 of an individual's annual gains is exempt. The balance is chargeable at 20%.

Relief from CGT is available where an individual, aged 55 years or over, disposes of all or part of his/her "qualifying assets". For the purposes of this relief "qualifying assets" include lands which have been owned by the individual for a period of not less than 10 years ending on the date of the disposal and have been used by the individual for the purposes of farming throughout the 10-year period ending with the disposal. The relief applies to considerations up to the value of €750,000 but where land is disposed of to a child, there is no limit to the relief.

Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT)

Whether gift tax arises when two farmers make a direct swap of land and where no money is exchanged depends on the circumstances. Gift tax would not arise where the lands being swapped are of equal value. If the lands were not, however, of equal value, gift tax would arise on the difference in value. The person swapping the more valuable land (the disponer) would be treated as making a gift of the difference in the values. The beneficiary of the gift would be entitled to their tax-free CAT Group threshold, which depends on their relationship to the disponer, when calculating any gift tax liability. The indexed group thresholds applying to a gift or inheritance for 2007 are set out in the following table.

Group

Relationship to Disponer

Group Threshold 2007

A

Son/Daughter

496,824

B

Parent/Brother/Sister/Niece/Nephew/Grandchild

49,682

C

Relations other than Group A or B

24,841

Any other gifts/inheritance that might have been received within the same group by an individual since 5 December 1991 are also taken into account when applying the thresholds for the purposes of calculating CAT. If the total value of all inheritances and gifts received since this date is above the relevant threshold, then a 20% CAT will apply on the difference.

Stamp Duty

In the case of an exchange of lands, stamp duty is payable on the basis of the value of the lands being exchanged. There is a relief from stamp duty in section 81B of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999 for an exchange of farm land between two farmers for the purposes of consolidating each farmer's holding. The section provides that stamp duty will not be charged on an exchange of land where the lands exchanged are of equal value. In a case where the lands exchanged are not of equal value, stamp duty will be charged on the amount of the difference in the values of the land concerned.

The main conditions which must be satisfied before the relief will be granted are that there must be a valid consolidation certificate issued by Teagasc in existence at the date of the exchange of the lands and that the farmers involved in the exchange of the lands must spend not less than 50% of their normal working time farming and must farm the lands exchanged for a period of at least 5 years from the date of the exchange. A clawback of the relief arises where the land or part of the land included in the exchange is disposed of or partly disposed of before the end of the 5 year holding period.

The relief under section 81B is due to expire on 30 June 2007. However, the Finance Bill 2007, as passed in Committee, contains a new section 81C to be inserted in the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999 which will, if enacted, allow a farmer to claim relief where the farmer sells land and purchases land in order to consolidate that farmer's holding and both the sale and purchase occur within 18 months of each other. The relief will apply provided Teagasc has issued the farmer with a consolidation certificate in respect of the sale and purchase. Under the proposed new section 81C, each farmer involved in a direct swap of lands as outlined by the Deputy, would be entitled to claim the relief on the land transferred to him or her where, as a result of the transfer, the farmer's holding has been consolidated and a consolidation certificate has been issued by Teagasc in respect of the transfer. For the relief to apply, similar conditions in relation to the farming of the lands transferred and the retention of such lands, as referred to above in relation to section 81B, must be satisfied. I would point out that the introduction of the new stamp duty relief for farm consolidation is dependent on EU State aid approval.

Tax Collection.

Joe Higgins

Question:

232 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance the corporation tax paid by multinational corporations in this State in each year since 2000 inclusive. [8891/07]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that statistics on the amount of corporation tax paid by multinational corporations are not separately available.

However, data can be derived from corporation tax returns on the percentage of corporation tax attributable to companies taxed wholly or partly at the reduced rate of 10 per cent, and including the tax of IFSC companies at both the 10 per cent rate and the standard rate of 12½% which came into effect on 1 January 2003. Many of these companies could be classed as multinational corporations. This information, in respect of accounting periods ending between 1 April, 1999 and 31 December, 2004, the latest available, is as set out in the following table.

Year Ended

Percentage of total Corporation Tax yield from companies qualifying for the 10% rate

Estimated Corporation Tax yield from companies qualifying for the 10% rate

€m

31 March 2000

57

2,185

31 March 2001

61

2,716

31 December 2001

61

2,521

31 December 2002

62

2,580

31 December 2003

58

2,496

31 December 2004

50

2,194

These figures relate to the total tax liability of companies which qualify for the reduced rate of 10 per cent on some or all of their profits.

Departmental Properties.

Seamus Kirk

Question:

233 Mr. Kirk asked the Minister for Finance the future plans for lands purchased some years ago for a customs station at Carrickcarnon, Ravensdale, Dundalk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8892/07]

A large portion of this land is currently being used for the construction of the A1-N1 Newry to Dundalk Motorway Scheme. Following the completion of this project the future use of the remaining lands will be considered.

Medical Cards.

Liz McManus

Question:

234 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the entitlements for dental treatment that a person who has leukaemia and has a medical card qualifies for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8309/07]

A range of dental services for adult medical card holders are available under the Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS) from participating dentists holding contracts with the Health Service Executive (HSE). The treatments provided include examinations, scaling and polishing, fillings, extractions, dentures, x-rays and certain root canal treatment. In relation to this entitlement under the DTSS there is no charge to the medical card holder.

Child Care Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

235 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the annual running cost of the high scope and incredible years programmes respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8727/07]

The implementation of the High/Scope and Incredible Years Programmes is not part of the remit of my Department and consequently is not funded on an annual basis by the Office of the Minister for Children (OMC). However, High/Scope Ireland is represented on the National Childcare Co-ordinating Committee (NCCC) which, inter alia, is tasked with the development of a co-ordinated national approach to childcare provision and is under the auspices of the OMC. The teaching/care methods and approaches used in each childcare service is determined by the individual childcare provider.

High/Scope Ireland works as an advocate for children and families in both the North and South of Ireland through the dissemination of the High/Scope approach to education and human development. Over the lifetime of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (EOCP) 2000-2006, funding was allocated to some childcare facilities where the High/Scope approach is used. In addition, a once off allocation of almost €178,000 was awarded in March 2001, to High/Scope in staffing grant assistance, under the EOCP 2000-2006, to facilitate High/Scope training for childcare providers.

The Incredible Years Programme is a universal parent, teacher and child education programme designed to prevent and treat emotional and behavioural difficulties in children aged 3-10 years. I understand that Clondalkin Area Partnership launched the Incredible Years Programme on a pilot basis in March 2003 and that since then, the Programme has been replicated by Galway City Partnership. The Health Service Executive (HSE) provided supports for the implementation of the Programme in the Partnership areas and I am also informed that Atlantic Philanthropies provided funding towards this Programme. Regarding the HSE supports provided towards the Incredible Years Programme, I have asked the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the HSE, to provide the details of these supports directly to the Deputy.

Sexual Assault Treatment Services.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

236 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the way she will distribute the €2.4 million announced in Budget 2007 for sexual assault units; the mechanism available to rape crisis centres that provide support to victims of sexual assault who attend these units to apply for such funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8861/07]

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.

The Deputy should be aware that my Department has allocated €1.5million in 2007 to implement the recommendations of the report "Sexual Assault Treatment Services: A National Review". The full year costs of implementing this report is estimated at €2.5 million and this sum will be provided in 2008. As stated above the other issues raised in your question will be answered directly by the HSE.

Child Care Services.

Seán Crowe

Question:

237 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to Pobal’s recent directive regarding different charges in community creches; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7779/07]

As the deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), which are being implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children.

Under the EOCP support is provided towards the staffing costs of employing childcare workers in community based childcare facilities in disadvantaged areas, ensuring that less advantaged parents in those areas have access to quality childcare in order to facilitate access to education, training and employment opportunities. Staffing grants under the EOCP have been extended to 31 December 2007 for all groups who are meeting the terms of their existing staffing grant contracts. A new programme of staffing grants under the NCIP is expected to be announced in 2007 and will be informed by the outcome of a Value for Money Review of the EOCP which is currently in progress. The Review is expected to be completed in the first half of 2007 following which the procedures and criteria governing the new grant scheme will be made available both generally and to existing staffing grant recipients.

Under the EOCP staffing grant programme, it is a condition of funding that groups approved funding must develop a fee structure to provide a range of fees to reflect the varied incomes of parents accessing the service and this condition is included in the terms of the contracts issued to grant recipients by Pobal, which is engaged to administer the grants on behalf of my Office. I understand from enquiries I have made that Pobal has issued no general directive to groups recently regarding fee structures. It is the case however that individual groups may have received reminders from Pobal from time to time regarding the need to meet contractual obligations or to provide updates regarding the development of an appropriate fee structure.

Mental Health Services.

Willie Penrose

Question:

238 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children if people who have been in long stay mental health treatment units have been requested, to pay in a retrospective fashion charges, which have been imposed on them since July 2005; if she will take steps to only enforce same from a current date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8260/07]

The Health (Amendment) Act 2005 and the Health (Charges for In-Patient Services) Regulations 2005 enabled the HSE to recommence the raising of charges for long stay in-patient services with effect from the 14th July 2005.

I understand from enquiries which have been made of the HSE that they established an Expert Group to develop a set of national guidelines to deal with the provisions of the legislation.

The Guidelines Expert Group's terms of reference were as follows:

Phase 1: to develop guidelines within a two week period, sufficient to meet the immediate requirements of the delivery system in implementing the regulations from the 14th of July 2005. These initial guidelines will support the establishment of a standardised approach across the delivery system in the assessment of charges to apply in each individual case.

Phase 2: to develop a more comprehensive set of guidelines in line with best practice, having considered legal opinion and its implications in relation to complex cases. Provision will also need to be made for appeals.

Phase 1 of the Group's work was completed on target by the 28th July 2005 and the guidelines issued to the system on the 2nd August 2005.

Phase 2 which was completed in June 2006, developed new National Guidelines which addressed the complex areas of community residences and related issues.

The guidelines which were developed, support a standardised approach to the implementation of Health (Charges for In-Patient) Regulations 2005 and take account of the persons residing in community residences. The system was instructed to implement the guidelines with effect from 1st August 2006 with retrospection back to 14th July 2005 where charges had not been raised while awaiting the guidelines. Clients in community residences were informed in July 2005 that they may be liable for charges under the new regulations.

In regard to retrospection, charges were to be raised with effect from the 1st August 2006 based on the financial assessment for each of the clients. Arrears of charges due from 14th July 2005 were to be calculated and advised to the client. The clients were to be given the following options:

1. Pay the arrears in full or in instalments

2. Deduct the arrears from any moneys due under the repayment scheme where applicable.

A Working Group on Rents and Charges in HSE Mental Health Services was established in December 2006. The purpose of this Working Group is to develop and recommend a process for the collection of rents and charges in accordance with the statutory provisions outlined in Section 43 (2) (a) of the Health Act 1970 was amended by the Health (Amendment) Act 2005, Health (Charges for In-Patient Services) Regulations 2005 S.I No 276 of 2005 specific to mental health services, that safeguards both the individual and the staff member and complies with financial probity and HSE governance requirements.

A specific recommendation has been made by the group:

Individuals who were in receipt of in-patient services (those persons with an intellectual, physical or mental disability, residing in community type residences where nursing or mental disability, residing in community type residence where nursing or medical care is provided) outlined in Section 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 above, from the commencement date of 14th July 2005 and any residents admitted after this date should immediately be assessed for charges (this is for instances where this has not already occurred due to lack of clarity on assessment procedures). This assessment should be backdated to 14th July 2005 as residents were made aware of their potential liability for charges at the time.

In cases where the residents do not have the ability to pay these charges in a lump sum, arrangements should be put in place whereby the amount due can be reclaimed by instalments at a nominal amount per week or deducted from monies claimed under the Repayment Scheme. Where payment is being made in instalments, the nominated officer should ensure that the additional amount agreed to on a weekly basis does not result in the resident being left a personal allowance of under €35/€55 per week.

To date the National Rents & Charges has met on four occasions and I understand a draft report with specific recommendations will be presented in the near future.

Health Services.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

239 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will carry out an investigation into all aspects of the care of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8269/07]

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 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.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

240 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is common practice for homeless patients with tuberculosis to be released from hospital after having a number of clear tests, despite the fact that due to the erratic sleeping arrangements of the patients, there is no guarantee that the required medication will be taken and no way to ensure against relapse or danger to public health. [8281/07]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

242 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the rise of tuberculosis in recent months, there has been an assessment or review carried out of the decision by the health authorities to close infectious disease hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8283/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 242 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.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

241 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8282/07]

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.

Question No. 242 answered with QuestionNo. 240.

Tom McEllistrim

Question:

243 Mr. McEllistrim asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on providing medical card holders who need a hearing aid, a grant towards the purchase of a digital hearing aid, via the private route. [8288/07]

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.

Pat Breen

Question:

244 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated with a replacement of a prosthesis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8294/07]

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

Accident and Emergency Services.

Liz McManus

Question:

245 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients who attended the accident and emergency department in James Connolly Hospital in 2005 and in 2006; the number who were non-Irish nationals; the interpretation facilities in place for them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8295/07]

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 address 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.

Cystic Fibrosis Services.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

246 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money allocated in the Estimates for 2006 for the creation of new medical posts for the treatment of cystic fibrosis; the amount of money that was spent and left unspent during 2006; the reason for the failure to spend the money allocated; the steps being taken to fill these badly needed positions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8308/07]

I have identified the enhancement of services for people with cystic fibrosis as a key priority in 2006 and again in 2007. Development funding of €4.78 million was provided to the Health Service Executive in 2006 to facilitate the recruitment of additional medical, nursing and allied health professional staff to improve services for cystic fibrosis patients. Additional funding of €2 million has been allocated this year to build on the investment provided in 2006.

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 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.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

247 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when chiropody services from the Health Service Executive will be provided again to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [8313/07]

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

My Department is currently preparing legislation to clarify and update existing legislation on eligibility for health and personal social services. The Bill will define specific health and personal services more clearly; define who should be eligible for what services; set out clear criteria for eligibility; establish when and in what circumstances charges may be made and provide for an appeals framework.

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for Primary Care services, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Paul McGrath

Question:

248 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the capital expenditure budget for the current phase of development for Tullamore Hospital; when the hospital will be opening its new facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8317/07]

The Government's sustained high level of investment in healthcare has enabled the completion and commissioning of numerous new facilities in both the acute and the non-acute sectors. This year, overall capital funding of €546 million has been provided to the Health Service Executive.

The HSE has responsibility for the planning and management of capital projects in the health sector, including the development referred to in the Deputy's question. 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.

Paul McGrath

Question:

249 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the services planned for the ground floor of Tullamore Hospital in view of the demolition works; if there has been a change of services planned for this area; the additional cost associated with these specific works; if planning permission is required and obtained for these specific works; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8318/07]

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.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Paul McGrath

Question:

250 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the capital expenditure on the Midlands Regional Hospital at Tullamore for each of the past 10 years; and if she will compare this expenditure to the capital expenditure on the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar and the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise. [8319/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for capital expenditure for the hospitals in question, including funding previously undertaken by the Midland Health Board. 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.

Care of the Elderly.

Pat Breen

Question:

251 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if funding will be provided to extend hours at a centre (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8376/07]

The development of Services for Older People is a priority for the Government. This is reflected in the funding committed to services for older people in Budgets 2006 and 2007. Last year, the Government funded the largest ever expansion in services for older people with a full year cost of €150m. This year a full year package of €255m has been allocated for services for older people. This gives a total of over €400m added to services for older people over two years.

Government policy in relation to older people is to support people to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible and, where this is not possible, to support access to quality long-term residential care. This policy approach is renewed and developed in the latest partnership agreement, Towards 2016.

Among the areas where funding has been provided are day care and respite care which are an integral part of delivering a comprehensive community service for older people. Day care and respite care offer respite for family members and/or carers and provide social stimulation in a safe environment for older people with mild forms of dementia. The provision of an additional €9 million in 2006 allowed for 1,325 additional places per week in these centres together with additional programmes for specific needs such as activity therapy. It also means that many day care centres can increase the number of days per week they open. Additional funding of €3.5 million provided in Budget 2007 will cater for a further 1,100 day places per week in day care centres.

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 Service Executive Report.

Enda Kenny

Question:

252 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children when a report, commissioned by the Health Service Executive in November 2006 regarding the area surrounding a facility (details supplied) in County Laois will be completed, if not done so already; if a comprehensive public health impact assessment will be conducted in the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8379/07]

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. The Deputy refers to a report commissioned by the Health Service Executive and therefore the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issues raised. 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.

Willie Penrose

Question:

253 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to have a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath admitted to one of the major hospitals to have an angiogram carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8395/07]

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 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.

Adoption Services.

Liz McManus

Question:

254 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans, in view of the fact that couples who wish to adopt children in this country and who live in the Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare areas have to wait 22 months before they are even called to start the process due to the shortage of social workers whereas in Galway this is not the case, she has the to rectify this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8396/07]

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 inter-country 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 inter-country adoption services.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Question:

255 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if assistance will be given to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 on their release from Beaumont Hospital; if a long term care plan will be put in place to cater for their special needs; if they will be assisted with their housing needs; and if she will work with Dublin City Council on this matter. [8402/07]

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.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Liz McManus

Question:

256 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason, in view of the fact that under the National Treatment Purchase Fund patients are having procedures and operations carried out in other jurisdictions where the hospital here state their system for reprogramming of a certain procedure is totally different and in this case will need after care for up to 10 years after the operation has been carried out on a person (details supplied) in County Dublin, the NTPF only cover one year when this after care needs to be done by the doctor who performed this operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8410/07]

As the Deputy's question relates to the operation of the National Treatment Purchase Fund, my Department has asked the Chief Executive of the Fund to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to the information requested.

Hospital Report.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

257 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will publish the final report of the Coombe Women’s Hospital Study of Alcohol, Smoking and Illicit Drug Use, 1988 to 2005. [8424/07]

The Coombe Women's Hospital Study of Alcohol, Smoking and Illicit Drug Use, 1988 to 2005 was published on Friday 2nd March. A copy of the Study will be provided separately to the Deputy.

Accident and Emergency Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

258 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the concerns of a group (details supplied) regarding the limitation of visiting hours in some of the State’s accident and emergency departments, including the risks to patients of being left alone while overstretched staff are attempting to cope with the numbers of patients; if she will examine the nurse patient ratio in accident and emergencies departments for the safety of the patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8425/07]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

315 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to regulate visiting times in accident and emergency departments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8786/07]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

316 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will have the nurse patient ratio checked and addressed in relation to accident and emergency departments in the interests of patient safety; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8787/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 258, 315 and 316 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 address the particular issues raised by the Deputies. 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 Deputies.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

John Curran

Question:

259 Mr. Curran asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people in Clondalkin and Lucan who have benefited from the National Treatment Purchase Fund for the year 2006 and to date in 2007. [8431/07]

As the Deputy's question relates to the operation of the National Treatment Purchase Fund, my Department has asked the Chief Executive of the Fund to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to the information requested.

Medical Cards.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

260 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason persons (details supplied) in County Wexford were refused a medical card or general practitioner card; the amount in excess of the guidelines they were; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8432/07]

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.

Medical Practitioners Bill.

Finian McGrath

Question:

261 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will pay more attention to the views of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association in relation to their concerns regarding the Medical Practitioners Bill particularly in relation to the make-up of the new medical council, freedom of information matters and the new powers of the Minister. [8433/07]

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association was one of 58 stakeholders to make a submission on the draft Heads of the Medical Practitioners Bill. In addition, both I and officials of my Department have met with the IHCA during the preparation of the Bill. The Bill now before the Oireachtas reflects my consideration of the views expressed by all who made submissions.

Finian McGrath

Question:

262 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if another EU country has the same number of doctors and lay members on their medical council; and the reasoning behind changing this present make up. [8434/07]

As I mentioned in my closing statement at the Second Stage Debate in the Dáil on the Medical Practitioners Bill on 23rd February, the Medical Council is a public body established by statute. It must inspire public confidence and this is greatest where there is a lay majority. It is a question of reassuring patients and the public that the body that oversees the regulation of doctors is, above all else, concerned with the public interest and is not involved in the regulation of the profession by the profession.

Systems of medical regulation are administered in differing ways throughout the EU. In some Member States, regulation is undertaken in different regions by different authorities. In others, professional bodies hold some responsibility and in others still, Government Ministries are responsible. Member States differ in the way they undertake registration and fitness to practise functions. In some, the fitness to practise, or disciplinary function is undertaken by a completely separate authority to that which registers doctors.

It is therefore not possible to directly compare all EU Member States, as many do not have a Medical Council which undertakes a similar role to the functions assigned to the Medical Council in Ireland.

The UK's General Medical Council is the authority which is most easily comparable to our own Medical Council. At the present time, it has 40% lay representation on its Council. However, I referred in my closing statement to a White Paper which was published last week in the United Kingdom by the Secretary of State for Health and the Chief Medical Officer. The White Paper is entitled "Trust Assurance and Safety — The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century" and sets out the Government's plans to reform professional regulation. The White Paper proposes that councils that regulate health professionals should have, as a minimum, parity of membership between lay and professional members, to ensure that purely professional concerns are not thought to dominate their work. It further states that the UK Government is convinced that all councils should be constituted to ensure that professionals do not form a majority.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Pat Breen

Question:

263 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare was refused the special ceiling hoist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8442/07]

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.

David Stanton

Question:

264 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 294 of 20 February 2007, the breakdown of the 52,962 surgical procedures arranged by the National Treatment Purchase Fund to the end of 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8443/07]

As the Deputy's question relates to the operation of the National Treatment Purchase Fund, my Department has asked the Chief Executive of the Fund to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to the information requested.

Medical Cards.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

265 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children if a general practitioner can refuse to sign a medical or GP card application for a patient who wishes to apply; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8446/07]

Under the Health Act, 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for ensuring that arrangements are in place to ensure appropriate service delivery for General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme (medical card and GP visit card) patients.

A person does not need to obtain a general practitioner's signature in order to apply for a medical card or GP visit card. I understand that, where a patient is not successful in locating a GP who is in a position to accept additional patients on his/her GMS panel, the HSE will arrange to assign the patient to a GP in the area who holds a contract with the HSE. Such assignments are reviewed by the HSE after a six-month period, where the GP so requests.

Health Service Staff.

Paul McGrath

Question:

266 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of new positions for speech and language therapists that have been created in each of the past five years, in each of the Health Service Executive areas; the number of speech and language therapists who are now employed by the HSE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8456/07]

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.

Health Services.

Paul McGrath

Question:

267 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children on the waiting lists for speech and language therapy in each of the Health Service Executive areas; the average waiting times for speech and language therapy in each of the HSE areas; her plans to alleviate the waiting lists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8457/07]

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 Admissions.

Dan Neville

Question:

268 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients who were re-admitted to hospital within one week of discharge in 2006. [8462/07]

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

Medical Cards.

Dan Neville

Question:

269 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people covered by a full medical card cover B, doctor only medical card covering County Limerick. [8463/07]

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 assessment guidelines for GP visit cards and 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 arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Mental Health Services.

Dan Neville

Question:

270 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the level of capital funding for the mental health services in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Limerick and the Mid Western Regional Hospital, Limerick. [8464/07]

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 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.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

271 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the proposed new Dingle Community Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8466/07]

The Government's sustained high level of investment in health care has enabled the completion and commissioning of numerous new facilities in both the acute and the non-acute sectors. This year, the sum available for expenditure in health under the Health Service Executive's capital plan is €559.5 million and over the period of the NDP the figure is €4.9 billion.

The HSE has responsibility for the planning and management of capital projects in the health sector, including the development referred to in the Deputy's question. The Department of Health and Children received the Health Service Executive's Capital Plan for 2007 on 17 January 2007. The Plan is presently being evaluated with a view to its approval by my Department and the Department of Finance. The Health Service Executive will announce details of the approved capital programme following this process.

EU Directives.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

272 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to implement the European Working Time Directive for Doctors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8467/07]

The European Working Time Directive (EWTD) was transposed into Irish law on 1st August 2004. It specifies that non-consultant hospital doctors' (NCHDs') working hours should be reduced to a maximum of, on average, 48 hours per week from 2009. In addition there are also provisions for minimum daily and weekly rest periods and for compensatory rest periods.

In order to achieve compliance with the Directive the Task Force on Medical Staffing made a series of important recommendations including the changes required in NCHD work patterns; the need for a significant increase in the number of consultants; the need for a revised contract for medical consultants; reform of medical education and training; and the reorganisation of acute hospital services.

Health Service employers have established a number of pilot groups — local implementation groups (LIGs) — throughout the country. These groups include representatives from management, medical grades, nursing grades, the social care professions and the training bodies. These pilot groups will examine local issues and develop plans for EWTD compliance.

A National EWTD Implementation Group (NIG), chaired by Dr. Cillian Twomey, has been established to give guidance to the LIGs. A Nursing and Midwifery Expert Group has also been established to interface with the NIG on the implications for nurses of any changes proposed.

The LIGs have presented proposals to the NIG on options for the reduction of NCHD hours. So far 16 pilots have begun and a further 3 have been formally approved. When the work of these pilot sites is complete, by the end of this year, the outcomes will be evaluated by the NIG with a view to the broader application of similar arrangements.

Hospital Services.

Beverley Flynn

Question:

273 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Minister for Health and Children the average cost per day and the average length of bed-day stays for patients admitted to hospitals with CAD, COPD and CHF. [8468/07]

Beverley Flynn

Question:

274 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Minister for Health and Children if a comparison is available between Ireland and the UK, France and Germany for the average length of bed-day stays for patients admitted to hospital with CAD, COPD and CHF. [8469/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 273 and 274 together.

The requested data on average length of stay in hospital are provided in the table below using the categories as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Average Length of Stay in Days for Patients Admitted to Hospital with Selected Conditions, 2004

Condition

Ireland

UK

France

Germany*

COPD & Bronchiectasis

9.6

9.3

9.2

11.1

Heart Failure

12.3

13.7

10.2

13.1

CAD (Ischaemic Heart Disease):

Angina Pectoris

4.2

4.9

4.5

6.2

Acute Myocardial Infarction

11.2

9.8

6.9

10.0

Other Ischaemic Heart Disease

7.7

6.6

4.7

6.7

*Figures refer to 2003.

Source: OECD Health Data 2006.

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

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

275 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be provided with speech therapy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8474/07]

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.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

276 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients occupying beds in general hospitals for in excess of three calendar months; the daily cost of these hospital beds; and the way she will address and resolve this issue. [8475/07]

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

Palliative Care Services.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

277 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans, in order to reduce inappropriate accident and emergency admissions and to ensure that a patients dignity is upheld in the last few hours of their life, to increase palliative care beds or services in the Health Service Executive north east; and the location where she will locate theses beds and services. [8476/07]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that an additional €5 million has been provided for palliative care nationally in 2007. The Health Service Executive will work with the newly established Development Committees in each HSE region to determine priorities and allocations throughout the country.

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 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.

Nursing Home Services.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

278 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans, in view of the fact that private nursing homes provide 96% of beds in north Dublin, for highly dependent patients whose nursing care needs are beyond the scope of the private nursing homes sector and often remain in acute hospital beds for prolonged periods of time. [8477/07]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

279 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost to patients or their families of the discharge initiative beds; the duration of payment for each discharge initiative bed; if patients are means tested prior to discharge to the discharge initiative bed; her views on whether the discharge initiative scheme in itself is contributory to long term care and discharge problems at Beaumont Hospital. [8478/07]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

281 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans, in view of the fact that one in six beds at Beaumont Hospital is occupied by patients waiting for long-term care or discharge, for this group of patients; if she will introduce a sixth discharge initiative, following the previous five discharge initiatives between August 2005 and December 2006; if this represents value for money; and her views on whether this is the long term solution for patients in Beaumont Hospital awaiting long term care or discharge. [8480/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 278, 279 and 281 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.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

280 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to provide a day hospital and multi-disciplinary team at Beaumont Hospital which would prevent nursing home patients going through accident and emergency thereby allowing these patients maintain their maximum level of independence and dignity. [8479/07]

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.

Question No. 281 answered with QuestionNo. 278.

Hospital Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

282 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children when the final transfer of medical and support facilities from St Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar, Dublin 6, to St James’ Hospital, Dublin 8, will be completed; the use she intends for the site after the existing medical facilities have been transferred; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8488/07]

It is my objective and that of the Health Service Executive (HSE) to see the earliest delivery of the Government's National Plan for Radiation Oncology. I am determined that the HSE will deliver on this Plan in 2011 as originally scheduled. In December last year I met with the Chairman and Chief Executive of the HSE and discussed the timelines for the delivery of the Plan. The HSE and my Department are considering options to speed up the pace of delivery. This is a challenging timetable and I will provide the HSE with the necessary support and approvals to deliver on it.

As regards the future use of the site and facilities at St. Luke's Hospital, my objective is to ensure that these resources are utilised in the best interest of the health services. I will discuss this issue in due course with the HSE and the Hospital Board.

Hospital Report.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

283 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received an annual report from the board of St Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar, Dublin 6, for the years 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006; if these reports are available to the public; if so, the locations where members of the public can view them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8489/07]

St. Luke's Hospital provides reports of its activity, staffing and finances to the Health Service Executive on a monthly basis. Relevant details are available directly from the Hospital. The Board is preparing a report of activity for 2003 to 2006 which will be submitted to me shortly.

Ambulance Service.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

284 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Health and Children the way a private ambulance company can obtain a registration form for a private ambulance service from VHI taking into account that the company in question have made contact with VHI on numerous occasions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8491/07]

As Minister for Health and Children, I do not have any statutory or administrative role in commercial arrangements between the VHI and their suppliers when such arrangements comply with the provisions of the Health Insurance Acts and related regulations.

However, my Department having had enquiries made of the VHI has been informed that the company carried out a selection process in Autumn 2005 for inclusion in its Directory of Private Ambulance Providers. This Directory is valid until 30th June 2007 and was closed to new applicants following its publication on 1st January 2006. In addition to the above, Private Ambulance Companies who have made enquiries since the publication of the current Directory have been advised that they will be invited to apply for inclusion on the 2007-2008 VHI health care Private Ambulance Directory. This Directory will take effect from 1st July 2007. The VHI will be writing to all known private ambulance providers and placing an advertisement in the National Press outlining the process.

Health Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

285 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children waiting for hearing tests broken down on a county basis. [8492/07]

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.

Medical Cards.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

286 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of general practitioners only cards allocated on a county basis at the latest date for which figures are available. [8493/07]

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 assessment guidelines for GP visit cards and 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 arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Charges.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

287 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is a record in her Department to show if the Health Service Executive drew allowance from the Department of Social and Family Affairs for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [8507/07]

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.

Bullying in the Workplace.

Liz McManus

Question:

288 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children when the enquiry into the complaint of bullying by a person (details supplied) in County Dublin at their place of work will be held; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8511/07]

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

Ambulance Service.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

289 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive to Parliamentary Question No. 801 of 31 January 2007. [8521/07]

The Health Service Executive has advised that a reply issued to the Deputy on 27th February 2007.

Primary Care Strategy.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

290 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive to Parliamentary Question No. 877 of 31 January 2007. [8522/07]

The development of Primary Care services as referred to by the Deputy in his Parliamentary Question of 31st January 2007, is a matter for the Health Service Executive. Accordingly, my Department asked the Executive to reply directly to the Deputy. I understand from the Executive that a reply has now issued.

Mental Health Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

291 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive to Parliamentary Question No. 878 of 31 January 2007. [8523/07]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

292 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive to Parliamentary Question No. 879 of 31 January 2007. [8524/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 291 and 292 together.

I understand from the Health Service Executive that a response in relation to these Parliamentary Questions will issue in the near future.

Medical Cards.

Joe Costello

Question:

293 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason disposable stomach bags for cancer patients are not covered by the medical card; her views on the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8530/07]

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

Departmental Funding.

Joe Costello

Question:

294 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications for capital funding to purchase properties for institutions providing residential care; the number that were approved; the number refused; the criteria for giving approval to a particular applicant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8544/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for capital funding in relation to the applications referred to in the Deputy's question. 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.

Youth Services.

David Stanton

Question:

295 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 162 of 20 February 2007, the exact amount that is being made available from within the vote of the Minister of Children to support the implementation of the establishment of youth cafes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8596/07]

The amount to be made available in the vote of my Office in 2007 to support the implementation of the National Recreation Policy for Young People is yet to be finalised.

Individual Government Departments, as key funding and delivery bodies at national and local level, will continue to retain responsibility for the implementation of actions and measures that fall within the remit of their operational responsibilities. The Deputy might note that, as indicated in my reply to Question No. 162 dated 20 February 2007, the available resources to support individual actions by the relevant Government Departments and Agencies will be made available upon the publication of the policy.

Hospital Hygiene.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

296 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the standard of hygiene in Kerry General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8608/07]

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

297 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the health and safety in Kerry General Hospital to see if the hygiene meets the national standard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8628/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 296 and 297 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 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.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

298 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients awaiting inpatient treatment and outpatient appointments at Tallaght Hospital; the number of patients waiting for procedures listed by speciality; and the number in each case waiting over six months and over 12 months. [8629/07]

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 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.

Food Supplements.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

299 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Government’s attention has been drawn to the potential damage that the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s proposed nutrient levels in the response from Ireland in relation to the discussion paper on the setting of maximum and minimum amounts for vitamins and minerals in foodstuffs under the EU Food Supplements Directive could do to the Irish natural products industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8677/07]

In August and September 2006 the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) undertook a public consultation on the DG Sanco discussion paper on the setting of maximum amounts for vitamins and minerals in foodstuffs. An Irish response which took account of stakeholder comments and of scientific input from the FSAI was forwarded to DG Sanco in November 2006.

The FSAI input, in summary, advised the following positions which are included within the Irish response:

setting maximum levels for as many vitamins and minerals as possible to enable protection of consumers against unknown effects of excessive consumption of nutrients — particularly among those who may be exposed to excessive intake levels over a long period of time.

setting maximum limits at relatively high values where evidence of safe use exists: however, it was stressed that such evidence should be based on the highest level of scientific evidence. Furthermore, this evidence should take account of sub-groups of the population who may be more vulnerable to adverse effects of over-consumption e.g. pregnant women and children.

maximum levels, in the case of food supplements, should be set at the optimal intake levels based on Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) or Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI covering 97% of the population).

The FSAI advised there is no benefit in exceeding the optimal intake of nutrients: however, as mentioned above, there may be risk associated with long-term excessive intakes of some nutrients. The FSAI has since reiterated this advice based on a report published in last month's issue of the Journal of the Medical Association where higher mortality rates were found in individuals consuming high intakes of antioxidant nutrients provided as supplements. The doses of nutrients individuals were exposed to in this study were all above the levels commonly found in a balanced diet.

It will be appreciated that the Irish position was developed having regard to the need to ensure a high level of consumer protection — which is my priority and which is the basis of current food legislation.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

300 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department will engage in direct dialogue with the Irish Association of Health Food stores on the maximum and minimum amounts for vitamins and minerals in foodstuffs under the EU Food Supplements Directive. [8678/07]

Medical Cards.

Finian McGrath

Question:

301 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 does not lose their medical card; and if she will give them the maximum support on their concerns. [8679/07]

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, childcare 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.

Health Services.

Jack Wall

Question:

302 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will receive orthodontic treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8707/07]

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.

Drugs Payment Scheme.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

303 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reasons quinine tablets are not listed as one of the drugs free to medical card holders; the frequency with which this list is reviewed; the last time this drug was considered for inclusion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8708/07]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

304 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the retail pricing of drugs is regulated; if her attention has been drawn to the very wide range in the costs for some medication among different pharmacy outlets (details supplied); and the action she has taken to curb the price of drugs. [8709/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 303 and 304 together.

There is a common list of reimbursable medicines for the General Medical Services and Drug Payment schemes. This list is reviewed and amended monthly, as new products become available and deletions are notified. For an item to be reimbursed, it must comply with published criteria, including authorisation status as appropriate, price and, in certain cases, the intended use of the product. In addition, the product should ordinarily be supplied to the public only by medical prescription and should not be advertised or promoted to the public. Products are considered for reimbursement on application by a supplier.

Quinine is not currently reimbursable through the state schemes. Any application by a supplier to have Quinine included on the common list will be considered in the usual way.

The retail price of products approved for reimbursement under the community drugs schemes comprises the ingredient cost of the medicine, the retail mark-up on the ingredient cost (normally 50%), a standard dispensing fee and VAT where applicable. My Department has no function in relation to pricing in private dispensing, which is a matter for the pharmacy concerned.

People who experience undue financial hardship in obtaining any particular product should contact the local area office of the Health Service Executive.

Health Repayment Scheme.

Bernard Allen

Question:

305 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the application made for a refund under the nursing home fees repayment scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Cork, who applied in 2005 and has received no payment to date. [8723/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy 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.

Child Care Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

306 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of new childcare places created as part of the National Childcare Strategy 2006; the amount spent on the creation of new childcare places under this scheme in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8732/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), which are being implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children. The NCIP is an essential part of the broader National Childcare Strategy 2006-2010, also under my remit, which aims to further develop the childcare infrastructure to meet the needs of children and their parents for quality early childhood care. Other measures under the Strategy include improved Maternity and Adoptive Leave, the new Early Childcare Supplement and a new programme of educational opportunities for children and adults in areas of disadvantage.

Under the NCIP, some €575 million has been allocated over 5 years, with a target to create 50,000 additional childcare places and with a greater focus on pre-school places for 3 to 4 year olds and school age childcare. Applications under the NCIP began being processed in April 2006. To date, 1190 places have been created under the programme and €2.7m has been reported as drawn down by grant recipients.

While the present programme's predecessor, the EOCP, is no longer accepting new applications, funding allocated to the creation of childcare facilities under the EOCP continues to be drawn down. At end of December 2006, some 34,000 childcare places had been created under the EOCP and an additional 25,000 existing places were funded. On the basis of approvals made under the Programme, it is estimated that a further 6,000 places will be created by the Programme, making the final total for new places created some 40,000.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

307 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of childcare places created in disadvantaged areas as part of the National Childcare Strategy in 2006; the moneys allocated to the creation of new childcare places in disadvantaged areas under this scheme in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8733/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), which are being implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children. The NCIP is an essential part of the broader National Childcare Strategy 2006-2010, also under my remit, which aims to further develop the childcare infrastructure to meet the needs of children and their parents for quality early childhood care. Other measures under the Strategy include improved Maternity and Adoptive Leave, the new Early Childcare Supplement and a new programme of educational opportunities for children and adults in areas of disadvantage.

Under the NCIP, some €575 million has been allocated over 5 years, with a target to create 50,000 additional childcare places and with a greater focus on pre-school places for 3 to 4 year olds and school age childcare. Applications under the NCIP began being processed in April 2006. In relation to disadvantaged areas, 100 new childcare places have been created in CLÁR areas and 374 new childcare have been created in RAPID areas, representing almost 40% of all places created under the new Programme to date. The information sought by the Deputy concerning the allocation of NCIP funds to RAPID and CLÁR areas is currently being compiled and will be conveyed to the Deputy in due course.

While the present programme's predecessor, the EOCP, is no longer accepting new applications, the funding committed to date under the EOCP includes the provision of almost €108.2 million towards childcare services operating in RAPID/ CLÁR areas specially designated for urban/rural regeneration. In excess of 20% of beneficiaries under the Programme are now from designated RAPID and approximately 11% are from CLAR designated areas. A total of 9,552 new childcare places, of which 3,549 are full time and 6,003 are part time, were created in RAPID/CLAR designated areas to end June 2006. In addition 164 new facilities were built and 531 facilities upgraded in designated areas over the same period. There are 1,163 childcare staff receiving support, of which 492 are full time and 671 are part time, under the Programme in services located RAPID/ CLÁR designated areas.

Mental Health Services.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

308 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will implement the recommendations of A Vision for Change, the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8736/07]

The Government is committed to the full implementation of "A Vision for Change" and has accepted the Report as the basis for the future development of our mental health services.

In March 2006, I appointed an independent monitoring group to monitor progress on the implementation of the recommendations of "A Vision for Change". The group will monitor and assess progress on the implementation of all the recommendations including those which fall under the responsibility of the HSE, government departments and other relevant agencies. The Group is to submit its first annual report before mid 2007.

Implementation of the individual recommendations of "A Vision for Change" is a matter primarily for the HSE. The HSE established an implementation group in July 2006 to ensure that mental health services develop in a synchronised and consistent manner across the country and to guide and resource service managers and clinicians in making the recommendations in "A Vision for Change" a reality. Both of these groups will play an important role in ensuring that the recommendations are implemented in a co-ordinated and timely manner.

I have been informed by the HSE that they plan to publish a Progress Report and outline the proposed implementation programme over the life of "A Vision for Change" in the near future.

In 2006, a sum of €26.2 million was provided for the development of our mental health services in line with "A Vision for Change". A further sum of €25 million has been allocated for 2007. Developments in 2007 will include eight new child and adolescent mental health teams, up to 36 new in-patient beds for children and adolescents, specialist mental health services for older people, the homeless, persons with an intellectual disability and persons with an eating disorder, suicide prevention initiatives including a national positive mental health awareness programme and enhanced services and additional places at the Central Mental Hospital.

Suicide Prevention.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

309 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will implement the recommendations of Reach Out, The National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention 2005 to 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8737/07]

Paudge Connolly

Question:

311 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will allocate a minimum sum of €10 million for each of the next five years specifically for identified measures to reduce the incidence of suicide; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8740/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 309 and 311 together.

"Reach Out" — a National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention 2005-2014 was launched in September 2005. Four levels of action comprise the main body of the Strategy i.e. — general population approach; targeted approach; responding to suicide; and information research.

There are just over 90 action points in Reach Out, and they are divided into 3 phases for implementation. Phase 1 covers 30 actions which are to be implemented over the next 3 years.

Following the launch of the Strategy, the Health Service Executive (HSE) established the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) to oversee the implementation of the Strategy and to coordinate suicide prevention activities across the State, consult widely in relation to the planning of future initiatives and ensure best practice in suicide prevention.

In 2006, an additional €1.2 million was allocated to the Health Service Executive specifically for suicide prevention initiatives and research. A further €1.85 million was allocated in 2007 to develop and implement national training programmes and to complete the availability of self harm services through A&E Departments. The funding will also be used to implement a national positive mental health awareness programme through the National Office for Suicide Prevention.

Overall spending on mental health services in 2006 amounted to €984m. This included an additional €26.2 million development funding which was allocated to the HSE for the further development of our mental health services in line with "A Vision for Change", the report of the expert group on mental health policy. A further sum of €25 million has been allocated in 2007 to continue this development.

The future funding for suicide prevention initiatives will be considered in the context of the estimates process in 2008 and beyond.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

310 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will establish a system for comprehensive, accurate and up to date data on suicide here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8739/07]

Data on suicides is collected through both the Coroners Service and through the Gardai (Form 104) and published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The data is forwarded to the CSO once the Coroner's verdict has been determined. Data on age, gender, method of suicide etc. is collected and available for publication.

Form 104 contains more personal information such as marital and employment status, evidence of alcohol/drug dependency, other contributory factors. Analysis of Form 104 is currently underway and a report on this work will be available in the coming months, which will assess the information and value of using Form 104.

Reach Out — The National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention (Action 25.2) identified the need to ‘Establish a national confidential inquiry into deaths from unnatural causes, including suicide'.

I have been informed that the Health Service Executive's National Office for Suicide Prevention has commissioned a scoping study for this system based on international best practice.

Both pieces of research will provide indications and proposals about how such a confidential inquiry system might be established in Ireland.

Question No. 311 answered with QuestionNo. 309.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

312 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide clear and transparent annual reports on progress on the implementation of the reports (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8741/07]

The independent monitoring group, which I established in March 2006 to monitor progress on the implementation of the recommendations of "A Vision for Change", the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, is to submit its first report by mid 2007. In addition, I have been informed that the Health Service Executive plan to publish a progress report and outline the proposed implementation programme over the life of "A Vision for Change" in the near future.

In relation to the reports on Suicide Prevention Initiatives, the first annual report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention, outlining suicide prevention activities in 2005 was published in September 2006. This annual report meets the requirement of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2001 which requires a report on activities in the area of suicide prevention to be presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas each year.

Hospital Staff.

Willie Penrose

Question:

313 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to ensure that a consultant physician will be appointed to the Regional Hospital Mullingar in order to bring the complement of physicians up to the original number of three; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this position has not been filled for the past year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8742/07]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Jack Wall

Question:

314 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her views in regard to documentation (details supplied) in relation to acquired brain injury; the assistance, resources or facilities that are available from her Department to the persons to deal with their major problems; the proposals she has to address this health issue; the meetings she has had with the Health Services Executive to deal with this very important matter; the results of the meetings; the meetings she has had with the Department of Education and Science in relation to the matter; the results of such a meeting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8785/07]

My Department has considered various representations made by non-governmental agencies and individuals who have an interest in the area. The outcomes of such representations assist in policy development in this regard.

My Department is currently examining the development of a rehabilitation action plan for people with disabilities including those with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).

In the last two years the Health Service Executive (HSE), and the voluntary sector funded by the HSE, have undertaken specific actions in regard to service provision for people with ABI, such as the expansion of neurological services and the planned development of the rehabilitation capacity in the National Rehabilitation Hospital and Merlin Park Hospital. The issue of ABI, and service planning and provision for people with ABI has been, and continues to be a matter for discussion and examination between my Department and the HSE.

The Department of Health and Children and the Department of Education have regular discussions on a range of issues, including service provision for people with disabilities. Most recently these discussions have focused on the implementation of Part II of the Disability Act 2005 and the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act, 2004.

Elements 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. 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.

Questions Nos. 315 and 316 answered with Question No. 258.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Pat Breen

Question:

317 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application for subvention will be processed for a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8864/07]

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.

Hospital Services.

Pat Breen

Question:

318 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated with a bed in the National Rehabilitation Hospital. [8865/07]

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.

Pat Breen

Question:

319 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated with a bed in the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8866/07]

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.

Pat Breen

Question:

320 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated with an occupational therapist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8867/07]

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 Repayment Scheme.

Willie Penrose

Question:

321 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the precise number of medical card holders who stayed in private nursing homes, who are now suing the State to recover the aforesaid fees due to the failure of the State to provide them with a long stay bed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8868/07]

There are currently 219 court cases pending in relation to private nursing homes. It is not Departmental policy to comment further on court cases while they are pending.

Hospital Accommodation.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

322 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on a situation (details supplied) in County Mayo; if she will address the urgent need for 40 more medical beds at Mayo General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8893/07]

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

Medicinal Products.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

323 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on recent medical concerns regarding the use of drug coated stents in the treatment of blocked arteries; the number of Irish patients who have undergone the procedure that is now the focus of these concerns; the measures taken to alert these patients to the potential hazards that are emerging regarding this treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8895/07]

I am aware of the ongoing debate regarding the risks and benefits associated with the use of drug coated stents in treating blocked arteries. These are potentially life saving devices but, as with all implantable devices, they carry a degree of risk. The assessment of the risk against the benefits is made by the clinician or consultant responsible for the particular patient.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of medicinal products and medical devices in Ireland. The IMB, in consultation with its European counterparts, has continuously monitored the safety of these products. At present, the European competent authorities are satisfied that the products are safe provided they are used correctly, in accordance with the manufacturers instructions and in line with the medical condition of the patient.

The number of Irish patients who have undergone the procedure is not available and information given to patients on risks associated with the use of stents is a matter for their medical practitioner or consultant.

The IMB and its European counterparts will continue to monitor the safety of drug coated stents licensed for use in Ireland; it will evaluate all new scientific data that emerge and will take any regulatory action necessary.

Infectious Diseases.

Joe Higgins

Question:

324 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist the spouse of a deceased person (details supplied) to establish if an Anti-D injection administered to them on 10 February 1972 came from a batch contaminated with Hepatitis C. [8896/07]

The former Blood Transfusion Service Board (BTSB) manufactured a total of 190,709 doses of Anti-D Immunoglobulin in Ireland from February 1971 to February 1994. The vast majority of these doses had no risk of Hepatitis C infection.

Infection did occur in batches manufactured during the years 1977 and 1978, and a further, smaller outbreak occurred between 1991 and 1994.

The person may wish to contact the Recipient Tracing Unit in the Irish Blood Transfusion Service for confirmation of this information. (Recipient Tracing Unit, National Blood Centre, IBTS, James St., Dublin 8, telephone 01 — 4322800).

Services for People with Disabilities.

Willie Penrose

Question:

325 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department will pay for speech therapy and occupational therapy for a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath, which has been set up to cater for autistic children, which is having significant success and, in the absence of funding from her Department, has to continue to raise €130,000 per annum to continue the excellent work they are doing. [8949/07]

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.

Willie Penrose

Question:

326 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to have a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath immediately admitted to the dialysis unit at Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore; if she will ensure that this person will receive their treatment at the Tullamore Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8950/07]

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.

Building Regulations.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

327 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the budget allocated to Sustainable Energy Ireland for the training of building energy rating assessors; the number of training places available in the further education sector for building energy rating assessors; the number of registered building energy rating assessors currently working here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8671/07]

Sustainable Energy Ireland's responsibilities with respect to training was to review the possible approaches to training, to advise the Energy Performance Buildings Directive Implementation Group on these approaches and, following consideration by the Implementation Group, to produce a training specification for Building Energy Rating (BER) training. There was no specific training budget required.

A specification entitled "Assessor Training Programmes for: Building Energy Rating (BER) of New Dwellings" was published by SEI in October 2006. This document is downloadable from www.sei.ie/epbd (training link).

BER training may be provided by any training provider that successfully meets all elements of the BER training specification which includes the requirement that BER training programmes must be validated by a national accreditation body e.g. Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) or Higher Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC).

To date the following three training providers have developed training programmes that meet this training specification. These are:

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT)

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT).

All three providers are now in a position to offer validated training programmes. The details of each programme including start dates and prequalification requirements can be accessed from SEI's website. An estimate of the number of training places available is given in the table below.

Training Provider

Number of Courses Organised in 2007

Approx. Number of Training Places

CIT

4

80

DIT

2

40

GMIT

5

100

There has been has been a lot of interest in these training programmes and most of the scheduled programmes are fully booked. However, training providers are planning to organise more training programmes to meet additional demand. A number of other training providers are also in the process of developing programmes to meet the training specification.

GMIT was the first training provider to provide BER training and they ran 3 programmes in December 2006. 62 people successfully completed this training and they will eligible to apply for registration as BER Assessors, provided they meet all other terms and conditions of registration. Contact details for these trained persons are posted on www.sei.ie/epbd (BER assessors).

BER Certificates must only be generated for dwellings that are being offered for sale or rent, where planning permission for that dwelling was applied for on or after 1 January 2007. Given the normal planning and construction timescales it is expected that demand for BERs for new homes will begin to grow from about mid 2007 and that the initial volume of work to be carried out by registered BER assessors will be minimal in the first half of 2007.

Television Licences.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

328 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the fact that full year, full cost radio/television licences must be obtained in respect of caravans and holiday homes even where such premises are used for only a number of weeks in the year; his views on arranging such licensing where appropriate on a part year basis at pro rata cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8261/07]

There are no immediate plans to change the TV licensing regime as it currently relates to holiday or mobile homes. However, I have submitted proposals for new broadcasting legislation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources for the purposes of holding a public consultation on the proposals under the eConsultation initiative.

I propose to introduce a Broadcasting Bill into the Houses of the Oireachtas in 2007 in the light of the outcome of the consultation process.

Bainistíocht Chomhshaoil.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

329 D’fhiafraigh Mr. M. Higgins den Aire Cumarsáide, Mara agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha an eiseoidh sé nó an eiseoidh a chomhghleacaithe na ceadúnais atá riachtanach chun go dtógfaidh siad mar chúram orthu féin an dá thrá ar an Spidéal, Trá na mBan agus Trá na Céibhe Nua, a ghlanadh. [8286/07]

Cuimsíonn an Cladach an limistéar ó mharc lánmhara amach go dtí 12 muirmhíle. I gcoitinne, tá cead Aire na Mara riachtanach le haghaidh aon ghníomhaíochta ar an gcladach. Tá sé de chumhacht, ámh, ag Údaráis Áitiúla, faoi fhorálacha reachtaíochta éagsúla, bruscar a smachtú ina limistéir fheidhmiúla. San áireamh tá an chumhacht chun fodhlíthe a rith maidir le bruscar. Sa chomhthéacs seo, de réir shainmhíniú mhír 37 (7) den Acht um Rialtas Áitiúil 1994, cuimsíonn limistéar fheidhmiúil Údaráis Áitiúil an cladach agus uiscí an chósta teorantach le limistéar feidhmiúil Údaráis Áitiúil.

Dá réir sin, ba chóir fiosruithe maidir le bruscar a thógáil ó thrá nó ó thránna a dhíriú chuig an Údarás Áitiúil ar an gcéad dul síos.

Fishing Industry Development.

Michael Ring

Question:

330 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he is trying to remove the livelihood of fishermen without compensating them (details supplied). [8311/07]

Recognising the implications of alignment with the scientific advice for the commercial salmon fishing sector in 2007 and beyond, the Government has established a fund to address any financial hardship that may be experienced by the sector.

I published details of the Salmon Hardship Scheme last week, which is intended to provide a measure of relief to each individual licence holder in line with the level of hardship likely to be experienced.

Michael Ring

Question:

331 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the reason he has shortened the length of time in which fishermen are allowed to fish (details supplied). [8312/07]

The Salmon and Trout Conservation By-Law which is renewed on an annual basis prescribes the opening and closing dates for commercial salmon and trout fishing. The time periods in which draft net fishermen are allowed to fish are set out in that By-Law and have remained unchanged since 1999.

Fisheries Protection.

Joan Burton

Question:

332 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the situation in relation to the Bass (restrictions on sale) Order and Bass Fishing Conservation By-Law; if his attention has been drawn to the advice from the Fisheries Science Service of The Marine Institute that the regulation should remain and be enforced; if there are plans to renew this order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8426/07]

There are three measures in place at present to protect sea bass:

1. The Bass (Conservation of Stocks) Regulations 2006, which replaced the 1990 Bass (Conservation of Stocks) Order, and which prohibit the commercial fishing of sea bass by Irish sea fishing boats;

2. The Bass (Restriction on Sale) Order, which prohibits the sale or offer for sale of bass (other than bass which has been imported into the State) from 1st day of July of each year to 30th day of June the next year;

3. The Bass Fishing Conservation By Law, which imposes a bag limit on anglers — currently two bass in any one period of twenty four hours, and provides for a ban on angling for bass during the spawning season, usually 15th May to 15th June each year.

The domestic conservation measures for sea bass are kept under review on an annual basis, in light of scientific assessments of the state of sea bass stocks by the Central Fisheries Board and the Marine Institute, as well as assessments of the impact of commercial fishing effort on sea bass stocks by other Member States.

Before the expiry of the current provisions I will be seeking the relevant advice on the current state of the Bass stock and I will make a decision on the matter on the basis of that advice.

Telecommunications Services.

Jackie Healy-Rae

Question:

333 Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when broadband will be available to customers in rural areas of County Kerry served by exchanges which are not broadband capable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8602/07]

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. I have no function in the matter of the enabling of exchanges owned by private companies.

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 including the towns of Castleisland, Dingle, Kenmare, Killarney, Listowel and Tralee in Kerry.

Furthermore, 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 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.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

334 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the grants or financial incentives available from his Department for adapting diesel cars in order that they can use biofuels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8662/07]

Grants for the conversion of diesel engine vehicles to use Pure Plant Oil (PPO) are made available by my Department, through Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). Grants of up to 45% of the cost (excl. VAT) of engine conversion are available. The support has been targeted at the four companies who were granted excise relief under the PPO category in the Pilot Biofuels Mineral Oil Tax Relief Scheme which was launched in 2005.

Electricity Generation.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

335 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the projected cost of the 500MW east-west interconnector provided for in the National Development Plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8663/07]

In July 2006 the Government made a decision approving plans for the construction of a single 500 megawatt electricity interconnector between Ireland and Great Britain. On foot of the Government decision, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has been requested to proceed with a competition to select a developer to secure the design and construction of this interconnector by 2012 at the latest. The delivery of the project effectively and to the most aggressive timetable achievable, will be key considerations, together with price.

Current cost estimates for the construction of the interconnector and the associated reinforcements of the land system are tentative both in terms of the associated incremental reinforcement works to the grids on both sides of the Irish Sea as well as those exclusively related to the interconnector. It will be only at or near the contract procurement stage that more concrete cost figures will emerge both in relation to capital costs and subsequent operational costs. Providing cost estimates at this stage would be premature as this could prejudice the competitive process.

Energy Conservation.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

336 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the average energy saving achieved per house in the warmer homes scheme since 2001; if his Department has a minimum standard of energy efficiency which must be achieved to be eligible for funding under the warmer homes scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8664/07]

The Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS) is administered by Sustainable Energy Ireland, and comprises the part funding of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to install energy efficiency measures in low income households. The subject homes are identified by CBOs, often in consultation with other community welfare agencies.

A typical house in receipt of energy efficiency measures under the Warmer Homes Scheme might be experiencing heat losses in one or more of the following areas:

Roof: up to 20% of heat lost from a home is lost through the roof.

Walls: as much as 25% of the heat lost from a house can be lost through the walls.

Draughts: badly fitting windows and external doors can account for more than one-sixth of heat loss.

Possible remedies to the above heat losses are provided by the CBOs through the installation of substantial measures including attic insulation, cavity wall insulation (in some areas, and where technically appropriate) and draught proofing of external windows and doors. The CBOs also implement lesser measures including the provision CFL bulbs and lagging jackets to each home addressed.

The measures are installed based on the particular needs and construction of the individual house. A typical house in receipt of these measures is estimated to experience a energy savings of approximately 20% in energy costs. Houses that receive all measures will experience substantially higher energy savings of approximately 40%.

SEI is currently involved in a project with a range of Government Departments and agencies, investigating the impact of energy efficiency improvements in low income households from the perspective of health, comfort, cost, environment and quality of life.

There is no minimum standard of energy efficiency which must be achieved to be eligible for funding under the Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS). Funding is provided to the CBOs and the work undertaken based on their technical assessment of the needs of the individual house. Measures are installed based on the particular needs and construction of the individual house.

Electricity Generation.

Richard Bruton

Question:

337 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the reason for the delay in proceeding with the electricity interconnector which could help raise the use of reusable sources in Irish generation and access to cheaper electricity purchases. [8703/07]

The recently published Energy Policy Green Paper "Towards a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland" underlines the Government's commitment to deliver enhanced interconnection on the island of Ireland as well as with Britain, as a priority. This is also the way forward envisaged at European level.

Since the Government decision of July 2006, which approved plans for the construction of a single 500 megawatt electricity interconnector between Ireland and Great Britain, work on the project has been progressing steadily. On foot of the Government decision, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has been requested to proceed with a competition to select a developer to secure the design and construction of this interconnector by 2012 at the latest.

The CER has also been requested to arrange for EirGrid and ESB to expedite the technical work of route selection and necessary grid reinforcement works. The Government decision provides that the interconnector when completed will, as a key strategic asset, remain in public ownership and will be owned by EirGrid.

While work is advancing rapidly on the route selection and technical specification of the interconnector, the CER is also finalising the competition structure, working on the associated competition documentation and related contractual arrangements with the aim of going to market as soon as possible.

To underpin the development process, new arrangements have been put in place in respect of the construction and operation of future interconnectors in the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006. The Act provides that the CER may, with Ministerial consent, secure the construction of an interconnector by one or more means, including by competitive tender. Such consent will be contingent on final Government approval.

In addition to this East/West interconnector, the Government, working together with the Northern Ireland authorities, will continue to progress electricity interconnection initiatives in the context of the All-Island Energy Market. In this regard, the two transmission system operators, Northern Ireland Electricity and EirGrid, are planning a second North-South electricity interconnector which will more than double the existing cross-border electricity transfer capacity to over 600MW with an expected completion date of 2012 at the latest.

While it is too early to say precisely when these projects will be completed, the CER and EirGrid are committed to providing the new interconnections by the timeline the Government has set. In this regard, the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure Act) 2006, which provides for a streamlined planning process for strategic infrastructure developments, includes special provisions designed to expedite the planning process for electricity interconnector projects.

Salmon Hardship Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

338 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if the compensation scheme for net fishermen will include those who have worked as drift-net fishermen as their only source of livelihood for decades but who were not licence holders themselves but were working for licence-holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8783/07]

I published details of the Salmon Hardship Scheme last week, which is intended to provide a measure of relief to each individual in line with the level of hardship likely to be experienced based on the recent catch history of the individual licence holder. Payments from the hardship fund can only be made to licence holders. The scheme is available to all those who held a commercial salmon licence in 2006. The arrangements under which nominees may have fished on behalf of licence holders in the past are personal to those concerned and cannot be accommodated.

Details of the scheme are available from BIM and the Regional Fisheries Boards who are jointly administering the scheme.

Mobile Telephony.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

339 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his plans to introduce legislation in relation to controlling premium rate text messages on mobile phones in the absence of the issue being tackled by the service providers who are themselves major financial beneficiaries; if he is monitoring the level of complaints made to Regtel, the consumers association, the service providers and others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8863/07]

I have no plans to introduce legislation for the regulation of the content of mobile phone products and services.

The Office of the Regulator of Premium Rate Telecoms Services, RegTel, which is a self-regulatory industry body, already exists to authorise and supervise the content and promotion of premium rate telecommunications services within the Irish market. Self-regulation by the industry is preferable to statutory intervention.

RegTel does not report to me as Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

The area of consumer protection within which RegTel operates falls mainly under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs. In addition, the Data Protection Commissioner has strong investigatory and prosecution powers with regard to unsolicited electronic communications.

Telecommunications Services.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

340 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if he will introduce measures to strengthen the representation of consumers in the regulation of the telecoms sector; if he has met ComReg or key telecom operators on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8897/07]

As the Deputy is aware, the area of consumer protection falls within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs.

The Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg, is charged with the investigation of complaints from consumers in relation to the supply of and access to electronic communications networks, electronic communications services and associated facilities, and has as one of its objectives, the promotion of the interests of users within the European Communities. ComReg is independent in the exercise of its functions.

The Deputy will be aware that the Communications Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2007 which is currently before this House, will strengthen ComReg's enforcement powers so that it can better achieve one of its primary functions, which is the promotion of competition. A competitive electronic communications market offers benefits to consumers in terms of attractive and transparent pricing, a wide range of choice in terms of services and suppliers and high quality services and products.

Emigrant Support Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

341 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in relation to undocumented Irish people living in America; the meetings planned in this regard during his forthcoming visit for St. Patrick’s Day; the US politicians he will be meeting during his visit; if this issue will be discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8601/07]

Michael Ring

Question:

343 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in relation to undocumented Irish people living in America; the discussions that have taken place in this regard recently between the Government and United States politicians; the meetings planned in this regard during forthcoming visits by Irish officials for St. Patrick’s Day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8595/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 341 and 343 together.

The high priority that the Government attaches to the welfare of the undocumented Irish is underlined in all of our dealings with key political leaders in the United States. Our Ambassador in Washington is extremely active, on an ongoing basis, in highlighting our concerns, as are officials of our Consulates across the United States. We, of course, maintain very close contact with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, which we are very happy to support financially.

The present position is that Senator Kennedy and Senator McCain are expected to publish a new bill very shortly. This will revise and update their previous bill which lapsed with the end of the old Congress at the start of 2007 and, if enacted, would enable the vast majority of undocumented Irish to regularise their status. While the tabling of proposals will represent a most welcome development, securing majority support on this sensitive issue in both Houses of Congress remains a formidable challenge.

The coming St. Patrick's Day period will provide the Taoiseach and myself with a particularly valuable and timely opportunity to convey again our strong views to key players in the Administration and on Capitol Hill, including President Bush. Our efforts in this regard will have the highest priority during our visit.

I look forward to a further intensification of the Government's efforts on behalf of the undocumented in the critical period ahead.

Departmental Investigations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

342 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will investigate a complaint (details supplied) against the French authorities; and if he will raise this as a matter of priority. [8276/07]

I wish to advise the Deputy that neither the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, nor the Irish Embassy in Paris, was contacted about this incident by the person mentioned by him.

I note that the individual concerned has brought the matter to the attention of the French Embassy in Dublin. I understand that the French Embassy is having the complaint investigated, and will issue a reply in the matter in due course.

I can assure the Deputy that, should the person mentioned now request our assistance, the Department would of course pursue this matter on his behalf through our Embassy in Paris.

Question No. 343 answered with QuestionNo. 341.

Broadcasting Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

344 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he received a feasibility plan for a UN world television channel network, Eirde, and proposals to locate the project in Dublin; the situation regarding same; if his Department has responded to the proposer of the film; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8775/07]

In 2003 and again in February 2005 my Department helped to facilitate a meeting between the UN Department of Public Information (UNDPI) and individuals interested in developing a television channel for Europe, based on content related to the United Nations. My Department had no direct role in this proposal. The purpose of these meetings was to secure high level access in the UN system for the promoters of the project, and to address issues relating to the negative response of UNDPI to a feasibility study undertaken by the promoters.

Subsequently, in May 2005, our Permanent Representative to the United Nations was advised by the promoters of the initiative that issues relating to the establishment of the channel were still unresolved. We have had no further contact from the promoters, or from UNDPI.

Sports Capital Programme.

John Perry

Question:

345 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when the examination and certification will be given to a sports complex (details supplied) to allow them to draw down funding under the sports capital programme 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8757/07]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 389 of February 27th 2007.

The organisation in question have, in line with my Department's requirements in this regard under the guidelines, terms and conditions of the sports capital programme, submitted invoices in respect of works completed to my Department's technical advisers, the Office of Public Works (OPW), for examination and certification.

The OPW has now informed my department that it is has requested further information from the organisation's technical supervisor, which is required to certify the Invoices submitted. Upon receiving this certification and confirmation that tax clearance details of the organisation and the contractors working on the project are in order, my Department will be in a position to pay the eligible grant monies at the earliest possible date.

Film Industry Development.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

346 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the low level of activity currently taking place in the Irish film industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8760/07]

I wish to refer the Deputy to my previous replies of 26 October and 30 November 2006, and 15th February 2007, on this matter.

Sports Capital Programme.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

347 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the consideration being given to a National Lottery application (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8414/07]

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

Applications for funding under the 2007 programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on October 15th and 16th last. The closing date for receipt of applications was November 24th 2006. All applications received before the deadline, including the one in question, are currently being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

348 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the criteria involved for a Gaelic Athletic Association club to draw down grant aid from the Irish Sports Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8782/07]

The Irish Sports Council (ISC) was established as a statutory body in July 1999 with responsibility for the promotion and development of sport, increasing participation at all levels and raising standards. The Sports Council allocates funding to recognised National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport, including the GAA, on an annual basis, for a variety of purposes and based on a number of criteria and conditions.

Details of allocations made by the Irish Sports Council under its various programmes are available on the Irish Sports Council's website at www.irishsportscouncil.ie.

The Deputy will be aware that funding is provided to individual sports clubs towards the provision of sports facilities and equipment under the annual sports capital programme, administered by my Department.

Work Permits.

Eamon Ryan

Question:

349 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of work permits issued to non-EEA nationals proposing to operate a business in the State to date in 2007; the number of same that were renewals; the number that were new permits with a breakdown by economic sector of the permits granted. [8711/07]

I understand that non-EEA individuals proposing to operate a business in the State must obtain "Business Permission" from the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform.

Grocery Industry.

Ivor Callely

Question:

350 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if Irish food suppliers and distributors have benefited from multinational chain store operators that have opened outlets here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8298/07]

I understand that the current estimate of Irish retail grocery sales held by multinational retailers is approximately 31.5%. These retailers provide opportunities for Irish producers to supply not just Irish stores but also their overseas outlets. This, of course, contributes to the growth of Irish food and drink exports.

The largest foreign retail operator in Ireland contributes significantly to the Irish economy and to Irish food producers with its annual purchases. This operator purchases approximately €1.5 billion worth of goods from Irish companies each year.

Overall, the Irish retail grocery sector is worth over €7.5 billion and is growing at a rate of 5% each year. The trend for Irish food processors is positive particularly as more recent chain store entrants to the Irish market are now increasing their take up of Irish produced foodstuffs.

Job Creation.

Ivor Callely

Question:

351 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the cities and counties where employment and job opportunities have been created over the past 10 years; the cites and counties and the number of jobs that have been created; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8299/07]

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey is the indicator used to record jobs gained in Enterprise Agency assisted companies (Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Shannon Development) in any one year. The survey collates data on employment at county level. The following tabular statements show the number of new full time jobs created in Enterprise Agency assisted companies over the period 1997 to 2006. This data indicate that almost 295,000 new permanent full time jobs were created over the period. In addition over the same period the 35 County Enterprise Boards have assisted in the creation of 23,560 new jobs throughout the country.

Jobs in client firms of the enterprise support agencies, however, is just one component of national employment. Latest data from the Central Statistics Office (Quarterly National Household Survey) show that in the period between Quarter 2 1998 and Quarter 2 2006 employment across the economy expanded from 1.494 million to 2.017 million — an increase of 523,000.

One of my Department's main tasks is to ensure that Ireland remains an attractive place to do business, and to support the development of economic competencies higher up the value chain. In that regard, we continue to work to maintain and enhance our framework competitive conditions, including our general taxation package which incentivises both the wealth creating business community and those in, and preparing to enter the labour force. We are also working to promote new areas of competitive advantage, by for example developing our R&D base through the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation.

The enterprise agencies also aim to support sustainable, high value added enterprise in Ireland through the provision of mentoring and developmental supports, the enhancement of management capabilities and critical workforce skills in client companies, support for the creation and implementation of strategies for market entry, development and growth, and strong supports for innovation and for research and development. Furthermore, we are continuing to pursue policies to promote lifelong learning and up-skilling to improve labour market flexibility and, where necessary, ensure that appropriate training supports are provided for workers in sectors that are no longer competitive, and who may need to find alternative employment.

Number of Permanent Full Time Jobs created by the Enterprise Development Agencies (Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Shannon Development) 1997-2006

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Total

South East

Carlow

235

461

287

162

217

188

183

196

205

251

2,385

Kilkenny

247

274

317

320

337

638

302

260

256

276

3,227

Tipp SR

192

349

641

562

593

334

196

247

295

362

3,771

Waterford

1,057

1,145

794

619

914

995

970

584

514

1,070

8,662

Wexford

502

415

422

552

449

588

657

511

484

339

4,919

Border

Cavan

344

405

440

358

374

699

493

547

1,021

808

5,489

Donegal

331

419

479

608

827

379

391

408

705

537

5,084

Leitrim

322

91

162

66

387

181

601

177

62

70

2,119

Louth

743

741

631

1,256

666

447

251

620

578

662

6,595

Monaghan

299

459

452

385

355

376

330

348

540

425

3,969

Sligo

293

349

270

298

261

264

263

316

306

338

2,958

Mid-West

Clare

881

1,179

1,263

1,224

857

603

644

645

706

742

8,744

Limerick

1,260

2,405

2,826

2,088

1,006

845

691

1,025

1,173

1,649

14,968

Tipp. NR

310

213

573

449

347

342

345

236

302

249

3,366

South West

Cork

2,587

3,437

3,412

6,496

3,200

3,811

2,594

3,027

2,716

3,588

34,868

Kerry

468

459

854

1,029

550

378

257

289

397

304

4,985

Dublin

11,755

12,069

16,762

17,773

11,595

9,275

7,966

9,482

10,308

9,210

116,195

West

Galway

1,959

1,370

1,139

2,775

1,291

1,047

1,374

1,634

1,894

1,370

15,853

Mayo

417

744

493

898

606

322

290

329

485

331

4,915

Roscommon

194

303

200

288

213

250

224

189

187

92

2,140

Mid-East

Kildare

2,361

998

1,393

2,464

689

1,027

984

1,104

939

910

12,869

Meath

410

505

463

641

508

286

558

452

677

486

4,986

Wicklow

645

592

1,181

839

1,100

997

1,241

550

771

348

8,264

Midlands

Laois

135

112

217

83

277

133

70

101

132

207

1,467

Longford

287

301

217

241

446

120

359

257

417

326

2,971

Offaly

483

294

647

275

242

671

230

358

261

425

3,886

Westmeath

498

508

290

711

547

585

354

520

571

456

5,040

Totals

29,215

30,597

36,825

43,460

28,854

25,781

22,818

24,412

26,902

25,831

294,695

Industrial Development.

Ivor Callely

Question:

352 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the recent contacts with companies in the United States to promote Ireland as a suitable destination for investment; the level of jobs that have been created here by US companies over the past 10 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8300/07]

IDA Ireland is the statutory agency charged with the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) to this country. The agency has four offices in the United States — New York, Atlanta, Chicago and California, through which it continuously markets this country to potential investors for either first time or expansionary investment.

In the past 12 months I have visited the United States four times in support of IDA Ireland's marketing campaign. During 2006, I went to the West Coast in February, to New York in July, and to the Mid West in November. Last month, I again visited New York.

These visits involved meeting Chairs, CEOs and other senior executives of key companies in Pharmaceuticals, Medical Technologies, Information & Communications Technology and other leading sectors that IDA Ireland are targeting for new or expansion projects.

Many of the companies visited already have substantial and valuable activities in Ireland while others are considering major investments here for the first time.

The meetings confirmed the high standing in which Ireland is viewed as a business location by leading global companies and the importance of the steps being taken by Government to strengthen research, education capabilities and infrastructure, while retaining the flexibility and responsiveness of Ireland's operating environment and tax regime.

At present there are 95,515 permanent jobs in US companies in Ireland. Details of the number of new jobs created in U.S. companies in Ireland in each of the past 10 years are set out in the following tabular statement.

Table showing the number of new jobs created by US companies in Ireland in each of the past 10 years

Year

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Number of Permanent Jobs

10,930

10,770

12,468

17,247

8,352

7,184

7,073

7,593

8,375

8,313

Ivor Callely

Question:

353 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the mechanism in place to encourage regional development; the evaluation that has been carried out on regional development over recent years; the areas that have been identified as requiring further investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8301/07]

The National Spatial Strategy (NSS) and the National development Plan (NDP) 2007-2013 are the principal mechanisms in place to facilitate and encourage regional development. Overall responsibility for the NSS rests with my colleague Mr. Dick Roche T.D. Minister for the Environment and Local Government and overall responsibility for the NDP rests with my colleague Mr. Brian Cowen T.D. Minister for Finance.

In so far as the industrial development agencies under the aegis of my Department are concerned, their strategies are closely aligned with the NSS and they are actively working with a wide range of players at both county and regional levels to maximise the attractiveness of regional locations for new investment. While Enterprise Ireland's role in encouraging and facilitating indigenous industry is demand-lead, IDA Ireland has a marketing role in relation to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). Shannon Development is responsible for regional economic development in the Mid-West region.

Balanced regional development has been a major policy issue for Government for many years. The objective of IDA's regional strategy has at all times been to facilitate the implementation of the goals and objectives of Government in this area. The Agency's regional plans take account of the locational behaviour and requirements of the next generation of FDI projects, infrastructure capacities, the importance of building critical mass, and leveraging the advantages of existing sectoral clusters. IDA Ireland's main focus will be to attract projects which, while they may be located close to larger urban areas e.g. the Gateways and Hubs, will make a positive contribution to the development of the surrounding rural communities.

IDA has significantly raised the potential for regions to prosper by implementing a national programme of investment in the vital infrastructure of business park development and the provision of sites for major projects. The Agency has made significant investment in the development of strategic utility-intensive sites in Waterford, Cork, Galway and Louth. It is proposed that this initiative will be rolled out further under the new NDP. The success of the Agency's strategy is evidenced, for example, by the fact that in 2006 alone there were 89 new investment projects, including 46 R&D investments, located outside of Dublin.

IDA Ireland policy with regard to regional development and the management of its property programme has evolved over decades in response to the changing market demands of FDI. In the 1970's the prevailing view was that advance factories should be available in a wide variety of locations throughout the country whereas the current approach involves closer alignment with the NSS. The challenge for the Agency is to build on Ireland's reputation globally as a location for advanced manufacturing, sophisticated business services and, increasingly, for leading research and innovation.

Research and Development Expenditure.

Ivor Callely

Question:

354 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the level of research and development that Irish companies were spending as a percentage of GDP in 1987 and 1997 and the expected comparison in 2007; the expected ratio of business expenditures on research and development as a percentage of GDP over the next 10 years; the benefits of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8302/07]

A more meaningful reflection of spending on research and development in the business sector (BERD) is arrived at by using expenditure comparisons to GNP rather than GDP.

BERD expenditure in Ireland rose from €124 million in 1987 (0.52% of GNP) to €612 million in 1997 (1.03% of GNP). Latest data show that estimated BERD rose to €1,560 million in 2006 (1.05% of GNP), which represents a doubling in percentage terms of GNP on the 1987 figure. The recently published Government Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 (SSTI) sets a target to grow BERD to €2.5 billion by 2013.

Increased investment in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), and in particular research and development (R&D), is a vital part of Ireland's plan to become a more knowledge-driven economy. Increasing international competition is creating pressure for improvements in efficiency, quality and productivity and a growing need to innovate. These pressures will increase and intensify. Increased and continuing investments in STI/R&D activities will be crucial to maintaining future economic stability, improving Ireland's competitive position on the international stage through higher productivity, and sustaining high levels of future employment.

Over the lifetime of the current NDP 2007-2013, the State will invest €6.1 billion in STI, of which Enterprise STI will account for €1.29 billion. The SSTI, which is a principal pillar of the NDP, sets out a vision of an Ireland in 2013 being internationally renowned for the excellence of its research and at the forefront in generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress, within an innovation driven culture. Increased investment in STI, and in particular R&D, will enable Ireland to better compete internationally in the face of ever increasing globalisation and greater demand for customised products and services.

Developing new and better products and processes will be the drivers of future success for enterprise. R&D activity will help ensure high-value, knowledge intensive activities that will support high-value added jobs and prosperity in the future. Companies must undertake high quality, sophisticated R&D in order to internationalise into new markets efficiently and quickly. Enhanced R&D capacity is also essential to reinvigorating Ireland's attractiveness for Foreign Direct Investment.

Departmental Staff.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

355 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a new chief executive officer for the Health and Safety Authority has been appointed; when the transition will take place; the terms of contract, including remuneration package, for the new CEO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8374/07]

The former Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority resigned with effect from 31st January 2007. A new Chief Executive for the Health and Safety Authority has not yet been appointed.

The appointment of a Chief Executive of the Authority is a matter for the Board of the Authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 39 and Schedule 6 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

I understand that the Board of the Authority has put in place arrangements and procedures to recruit and appoint a new Chief Executive and that an advertisement appeared in the Press on Friday 23rd Feb 2007. I expect that this process will be completed within the next few months.

The remuneration for the post will be within the scale €122,594 — €140,384 (class A PRSI) or €116,462 — €133,367 (class D PRSI) with a performance bonus of up to 20%. The post of Chief Executive will be offered on a five year contract on condition that the person appointed relocates to Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny when scheduled under the Government's relocation programme.

County Enterprise Boards.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

356 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of full time staff in each County Enterprise Board as of 31 December 2006; the number of part time staff in each as of 31 December 2006; the budget allocated to each for 2007; the intended staffing levels of each for 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8375/07]

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

As of 31st December, 2006 there were 146 posts within the CEB network comprising of 141 full-time and 10 part-time employees working within the County and City (CEB) network. Full details in respect of each Board are attached at Appendix 1. I expect staffing levels in 2007 to remain at about this level.

In 2007, a total of €31.856 million has been allocated to fund the thirty-five County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs). An additional €4m is also being made available in 2007 by way of capital carryover from 2006. As my Department is currently in the process of finalising the individual 2007 budget allocations for each Board I am not in a position to furnish the Deputy with individualized budgets for each CEB. However, I am satisfied that the funding will be sufficient to enable the CEBs to carry out their activities.

Nos. of County Enterprise Boards staffing posts (Paid from DETE Vote) as at 30 December, 2006

CEB

CEO

Ass. CEO

Bus. Adv/Dev/ Traing Off.

Administrator

Clerical

Other

Total

Carlow

1

1

0

1

0.5

0

3.5

Cavan

1

1

1

1

1

0

5

Clare

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Cork City

1

1

0

0

1

0

3

Cork North

1

0

0

2

0

0

3

Cork South

1

1

1

1

0.5

0

4.5

Cork West

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Donegal

1

1

1

0

2

0

5

Dublin City

1

1

1

1

1

0

5

Fingal

1

1

1

0

1

0

4

Dublin South

1

1

0.5

1

1

0

4.5

Dún Laoghaire

1

1

1

1

1

0

5

Galway

1

1

0

1

1

0

4

Kerry

1

2

0

1

1*

0

5

Kildare

1

1

0

2

0

0

4

Kilkenny

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Laois

1

1

0

0

1

0

3

Leitrim

1

1

1

1

1*

0

5

Limerick City

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Limerick Co.

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Longford

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Louth

1

1

1

1

0.5

0

4.5

Mayo

1

1

1

0

1

0

4

Meath

1

1

1

1

1

0

5

Monaghan

1

1

1

1

1

0

5

Offaly

1

1

1

1**

0

0

4

Roscommon

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Sligo

1

1

1

1

1

0

5

Tipperary NR

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Tipperary SR

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Waterford City

1

0

0

1

0

0

2

Waterford Co

1

1

0

1

0

0

3

Westmeath

1

1

1

1

0

0

4

Wexford

1

1

1

1

1

0

5

Wicklow

1

1

1

1

1

0

5

Totals

35

34

25.5

32

19.5

0

146***

*Kerry CEB & Leitrim CEB each employs 2 part-time clerical employees.
**Offaly CEB 2 part-time administrators.
***This figure is composed of 141 full-time and 10 part-time employees.

Community Employment Schemes.

Phil Hogan

Question:

357 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will intervene in respect of the community employment scheme in order to ensure that participants continue to partake in the important community work that they has been undertaken by participants in view of the commitment that he has given in respect of the flexibility of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8391/07]

The primary purpose of the Community Employment Programme is to assist unemployed people to re-enter the labour market by breaking their experience of unemployment through the establishment of a work routine supported by the enhancement/development of technical and personal skills.

The programme is also designed to facilitate the movement of participants, thereby allowing new participants who might not otherwise have such an opportunity to avail of the programme.

FÁS operates the Community Employment Programme at local level in a flexible way in order to meet the needs of the participants and support their progression into employment.

Work Permits.

Finian McGrath

Question:

358 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will assist a person (details supplied) in County Galway in working here; and if he will work with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in resolving their basic needs. [8404/07]

The Employment Permits Section of my Department informs me that an application was received on the 3rd August, 2006. This application was refused on the 26th September 2006 on the basis that the position the employer seeks to fill could be filled from within the EU. Having heard an appeal, the original decision was upheld in this case. The employer was notified of these decisions in writing. To-date no further correspondence has been received in this case.

Job Advertising.

Martin Ferris

Question:

359 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way Irish workers are expected to compete in the employment market if firms do not advertise job vacancies locally but do so through agencies in other EU States; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8421/07]

Martin Ferris

Question:

360 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether there is an obligation in the interests of fairness and equal opportunities for Irish firms to advertise job vacancies here at the same time that they do so in other EU States. [8422/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 359 and 360 together.

As a Member State of the European Union, Ireland is part of a wider EU labour market of some 200 million workers, including workers from the ten new Accession States who were admitted to the Irish labour market without restrictions on 1st May, 2004. Employers are therefore free to advertise in and recruit from within any part of the European Union. There is no obligation to advertise within a specific part of the European Union.

I would point out that FÁS Employment Services provide a wide range of services and supports for Irish workers. These include career advice and guidance and information on job and training opportunities. FÁS Employment Services also provide information on suitable vacancies which may be available locally.

I would also mention that under the principle of "Community Preference", firms must advertise all job vacancies throughout the EU to ascertain whether a suitable candidate can be obtained within the European Economic Area, before offering them to a third country national from outside this Area.

Question No. 361 answered with QuestionNo. 148.

Decentralisation Programme.

Pat Carey

Question:

362 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when it is proposed to relocate the offices of Enterprise Ireland and related agencies from its present site at Glasnevin, Dublin to another Dublin location; if there are plans to relocate parts of the operations of these agencies as part to the Government’s decentralisation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8499/07]

It has been a key strategic objective for Enterprise Ireland (EI), since the agency was established in 1998, to bring all Dublin based staff, currently spread over four separate buildings across the city, together in one location.

Having explored a number of possible solutions, the Board of Enterprise Ireland decided that the single site office solution offered in the East Point Business Park was the most appropriate from a number of perspectives, including value for money and flexibility. In September of 2006, following the Board decision, Enterprise Ireland signed a lease on two units in East Point. Enterprise Ireland will vacate the Glasnevin Site in the early part of 2008.

Enterprise Ireland is currently establishing its National Regional Development Headquarters as well as the County Enterprise Support Unit in Shannon. In addition, the functions hitherto carried out by Shannon Development in relation to the development of indigenous industry in the Mid-West Region were transferred to EI with effect from 1 January 2007. This transfer of function also involves the transfer of posts from Shannon Development to EI. The necessary arrangements to give effect to these changes are in train and will be completed over the coming months.

EI recently appointed a senior manager as Head of Regions and Entrepreneurship who will guide the transition and establishment of EI presence in the Mid-West Region. The CEO of EI, Mr Frank Ryan announced this appointment recently during a visit to the Region by the CEO and members of Enterprise Ireland's senior management team.

EI is currently sourcing a building in Shannon Town to accommodate the new functions being located in the Region and the staff transferring from Shannon Development. A number of options are under consideration and it is expected that a decision will be made by the end of March.

Progress on the full transfer of EI's HQ to Shannon, within the Government decentralisation programme, will be influenced by factors such as, the level of interest in the Shannon location expressed by CAF applicants and by progress made during discussions at a central level with regard to decentralisation.

Tax Collection.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

363 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he proposes to take to ensure that the reduction in VAT from 21% to 13.5% on car booster seats, which was announced in Budget 2007 and which will come into effect from 1 April 2007, is passed on to consumers by retailers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8515/07]

Where the rate of VAT applying to a specific good or service is reduced, I would expect that retailers would apply the reduced rate of VAT in respect of that good or service so that consumers ultimately benefit. The Revenue Commissioners as part of their function of collecting VAT returns also verify that the returns made by retailers accord with the provisions of the relevant tax code.

It may be that the Deputy is concerned that some retailers might use the opportunity of the reduction in VAT to profiteer by increasing the price of goods to consumers. In such circumstances, I would strongly urge consumers to use the power of their own pockets by only giving their business to retailers who they are satisfied offer value for money.

With regard to car booster seats, I understand that the reduction in VAT on these products brought about by the budget will take effect from 1st May. Consumers purchasing these products after that date may wish to query retailers as to whether the reductions in VAT have been passed on before satisfying themselves that the price being charged for the product represents a fair deal.

I have brought the matter to the attention of the Director of Consumer Affairs and the National Consumer Agency and have asked them to consider whether they might play a role in this matter.

Corporate Enforcement.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

364 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 134 of 15 November 2006 and No. 151 of 31 January 2007, if he has reached a decision on staffing levels at the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement; his views on whether an agency that brings funds into the Exchequer far in excess of its annual budget should be refused necessary staffing increases; when he will allocate the additional staff requested by the Director of Corporate Enforcement; if he has requested additional Gardaí to be assigned to the ODCE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8604/07]

Eight additional staff will be assigned to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) this year. The issue of the assignment of additional gardaí to the ODCE is being progressed also.

Consideration of any request for additional staffing has to take account of the overall demands for staffing both within the Department and its Agencies and Offices.

The ODCE does not in itself generate directly significant funds for the Exchequer.

Departmental Appointments.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

365 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the vacancies outstanding on State Boards within his portfolio; the time for which the position has been vacant; when he will fill each remaining vacancy; the appointments made to State Boards under his portfolio since September 2006, including the name and address of the person appointed, any remuneration due to appointees and the term of office for each appointee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8605/07]

The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Enterprise Ireland — There are currently 2 vacancies on the Board of Enterprise Ireland (EI). The positions have been vacant since 23rd July 2006. There have been no appointments to the EI Board since September 2006. The remuneration due to appointees to the EI Board is: Chairperson — €24,000; and Directors — €14,000. The terms of office for an appointee on the EI Board is no more than 10 years with the 2 longest members retiring on the anniversary of the establishment day each year.

Industrial Development Agency Ireland — There are no vacancies on the Board of Industrial Development Agency Ireland (IDA). Appointments made since September 2006 are set out below.

Mr Bernard Collins, Chairman, VHI House, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1

Prof Terry Scott, Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship, Citywest Business Campus Dublin 24

Remuneration is as follows: Chairperson — €24,000; Member — €14,000.

The term of office for an appointee on the IDA Ireland Board is no more than 10 years with the 2 longest members retiring on the anniversary of the establishment day each year.

Shannon Free Airport Development Co. — There are no vacancies on the Board of Shannon Free Airport Development Company (SFADCo). One appointment was made to the Board on 6th September 2006 as follows:

Ms Clare Dunne, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Dublin 2.

There is no remuneration in the case of Ms Dunne.

Two of the longest serving Board members must retire each year at the AGM.

Health and Safety Authority — There are no vacancies on the Board of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and no appointments have been made since September 2006. The rate of remuneration for an appointment to the Board is: Chairperson — €14,000; and Member — €9,000.

Personal Injuries Assessment Board — There are no vacancies on the Board of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) and no appointments have been made since September 2006. The rate of remuneration for an appointment to the Board is: Chairperson — €24,000; and Member — €14,000.

Forfás — There is 1 vacancy on the Forfás Board. This is due to be filled by Mr Frank Gannon in accordance with legislation which provides that the Director General of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) be on the Forfás Board.

Appointments since September 2006 are as follows:

Mr Don Thornhill — National Competitiveness Council, Wilton Place, Dublin 2

Mr Rody Molloy — DG FÁS, Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4

The rate of remuneration for an appointment to the Board is: Chairperson — €24,000; and Member — €14,000. One fifth of the Board retire on 1st January each year.

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) — There are no vacancies on the IAASA Board and no appointments have been made since September 2006. Terms of office range from 3-5 years. The rate of remuneration for an appointee to the IAASA Board is: Chairperson — €14,000; Member — €9,000.

Intertrade Ireland — There are no vacancies on the Intertrade Ireland Board. 1 appointment (Ms Rosaleen Doherty) was made since September 2006, under the Northern Ireland nominee process in accordance with the joint Ministerial decision-making process.

Science Foundation Ireland — There is one vacancy (ex-officio) on the SFI Board. There have been 3 appointments since September 2006 as follows:

Mr Don Thornhill, re-appointment, National Competitiveness Council, Wilton Place, Dublin 2;

Sean Aherne, Boston Scientific, Galway;

Martin Shanagher, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Dublin 2.

The remuneration of the appointees to the SFI Board is Chairperson — €24,000, Member — €14,000. There is no remuneration in the case of Mr Shanagher. The Board is rotated and no term can be longer than 10 years.

FÁS — There are no vacancies on the Board of FÁS, and no appointments have been made since September 2006. The remuneration for an appointee to the Board of FÁS is: Chairperson — €24,000, Member — €14,000.

National Standards Authority of Ireland — There are no vacancies on the NSAI Board, and no appointments have been made to the Board since September 2006. The terms of office for an appointee on the NSAI Board is that the 3 longest members retire on the anniversary of the establishment day each year.

Departmental Agencies.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

366 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will give favourable consideration to the disposal of a site (details supplied) as requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8676/07]

It is my understanding that Enterprise Ireland (EI) will vacate its Glasnevin site during 2008. Thereafter the disposal of the site will be a matter for EI, in close consultation with the relevant Government Departments.

Work Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

367 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of work permits applied for in each of the past five years; the number approved, rejected or unresolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8901/07]

The Employment Permits Section of my Department have informed me that the following are the figures for permits applied, approved and rejected in the past five years.

Total Received

Approved

Rejected

2003

48,562

46,943

1,619

2004

34,491

33,206

1,285

2005

27,416

26,288

1,128

2006

22,626

21,502

1,124

2007 to date

3,341

2,950

391

Job Losses.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

368 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of manufacturing jobs lost throughout County Kildare in the past eight years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8902/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

377 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he has taken or proposes to take to address the issue of job losses from County Kildare to other and more competitive economies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8911/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 368 and 377 together.

The following tabular statement sets out the position in relation to full time permanent jobs in manufacturing in Enterprise Agency (Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland) assisted firms in Co. Kildare in the past eight years. In that period 8,112 new permanent jobs were created in manufacturing, while job losses amounted to 5,169 giving a net increase over the period of 2,943 permanent jobs. The total number of permanent manufacturing jobs in Co. Kildare in firms assisted by the Enterprise Agencies stood at 14,690 at end 2006.

Today we have a predominantly modern manufacturing base which competes internationally in a range of growth sectors More attractive cost environments abroad will inevitably entice some firms to relocate. However where relocation has occurred to date, it has largely been confined to relatively low technology, labour-intensive activities. In the case of Co. Kildare over the past eight years there has been a net increase in permanent employment of 3,254 in all enterprise agency assisted firms.

The enterprise development agencies are committed to promoting Kildare as a location for investment, as well as supporting and developing businesses already present in the county. Over the past 5 years, IDA Ireland's focused strategy for Kildare has been to promote the County as part of an integrated East Region, with access to a population base of 1.5 million people. IDA Ireland's strategy for County Kildare is to:

Progress the development of a knowledge economy;

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

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

Provide modern property solutions with supporting infrastructure;

Work with Local Authorities and relevant infrastructure providers to influence the delivery of appropriate infrastructure to the county.

To support this strategy, IDA Ireland is working closely with educational institutions in the County, to develop the skill sets necessary to attract high value added employment to the county. IDA Ireland is also working with FÁS to provide guidance in developing the skill sets needed by those already in the workforce who are interested in upskilling. Kildare has in recent years attracted some world class manufacturing companies such as Intel, Braun Oral B and Hewlett Packard. IDA Ireland is also working to attract the International Services, Software, Financial Services and Pharmaceuticals sectors.

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

New companies — now leaders in the consumer products market — have been established and have created new employment. The consumer foods sector in particular, has shown rapid growth over the last number of years, reflecting significant changes in eating habits and an increase in demand for convenience foods. In the last two years we have seen significant investment by Green Isle Foods and Dawn Farm Foods Ltd, both supported by Enterprise Ireland, leading to significant employment increase in both of these state of the art facilities.

Permanent Full Time Jobs in Manufacturing in Enterprise Agency Assisted Firms in Co. Kildare.

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Total

Job Gains

1,060

2,143

608

882

843

1,020

773

783

8,112

Job Losses

-893

-277

-951

-499

-747

-733

-382

-687

-5,169

Net

167

1,866

-343

383

96

287

391

96

2,943

Questions Nos. 369 and 370 answered with Question No. 105.

Grocery Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

371 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he has monitored food price increases with particular reference to the price fall he predicted in the aftermath of the abolition of the Groceries Order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8905/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

372 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which price increases have been identified in the wake of the abolition of the Minimum Prices Order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8906/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 371 and 372 together.

Since the abolition of the Groceries Order almost 12 months ago, I have regularly reviewed the Consumer Price Index, which is published monthly by the Central Statistics Office. The CPI includes statistics on items previously covered and not covered by the Groceries Order. Despite the implication in the question, I never predicted that price reductions would result from the removal of the Order nor did I predict any period of time over which such reductions might be expected to occur. I am on record as saying that I expected prices to be lower in the future than they would otherwise be had the Groceries Order remained in force. CSO figures are consistent with this view, particularly when grocery price inflation is compared with overall inflation. The Consumer Price Index for January shows that the prices of products previously covered by the Groceries Order fell by 1.2% in the ten-month period from April 2006 to January 2007 while during the same period, prices of products not covered by the Groceries Order rose by 2.4%. The overall impact on all groceries prices (Groceries Order and Non-Groceries Order items) is a decrease of 0.4% in the same period. The real benefits however will be felt over time, as price competition re-emerges at retail level in the trade.

Following the enactment of the legislation which abolished the Groceries Order, I asked the Competition Authority to review and monitor developments in the grocery sector in light of the new regulatory environment. I am anxious to ensure that the benefits of removing the Order are not thwarted by the emergence of other anti-competitive practices. That is why, for example, the Competition Act 2006 prohibits practices such as resale maintenance, which were institutionalised by the Order. It would be damaging to consumer interests if such practices were to emerge within the grocery trade in another guise. Since removal of the Order, the Competition Authority has received no complaints of anti-competitive behaviour in the sector, nor has it seen any evidence of such behaviour. The Authority's monitoring of the sector is ongoing but I understand it believes it is too early to reach any conclusions. Next month, one year's worth of data will be available for analysis and I understand the Authority intends to publish, later in the year, an analysis of developments in the grocery sector focusing on pricing trends, market structure and barriers to entry. Thereafter further analyses will be published annually for as long as necessary.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

373 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he will take to provide sufficient funding to FÁS to facilitate the restoration in full of schemes curtailed or abandoned due to lack of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8907/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

374 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the degree to which adequate fudging is available to FÁS in 2007 to meet its full compliment of requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8908/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 373 and 374 together.

A budget totalling €1,046,861,000 has been allocated to FÁS for 2007. This budget ensures that overall numbers on schemes are maintained at 2006 levels. I am satisfied that this level of funding is more then adequate to support the ongoing requirements of FÁS in the delivery of its labour market programmes.

Decentralisation Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

375 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which the Government’s decentralisation programme has been activated by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8909/07]

My Department has been making good progress in the relocation of the required 250 posts to Carlow under the Government's Decentralisation Programme. With regard to the property side of the Department's move, the Office of Public Works completed the purchase of a site in Carlow town centre late in 2005. On 31st May 2006, the OPW commenced the tendering process by seeking expressions of interest from developers in relation to the design, build, finance and maintenance of new office accommodation and car parking for the Department in Carlow. On completion of this stage, a shortlist of developers will be drawn up from whom tenders will be invited. Following the tender evaluation process the preferred tenderer will be requested to seek suitable planning permission. On obtaining this, the OPW will formally award the contract and construction will commence. The OPW expects construction to be completed by the end of 2009.

In order to accommodate staff who wish to move earlier than the projected building completion date, officials of my Department, in consultation with the Department of Finance and the OPW, as well as decentralising staff and Business Units, are progressing an earlier move to Carlow. The OPW have advised my Department that negotiations on the procurement of interim accommodation to facilitate an advance move are nearing completion. I expect this advance move option to allow for the movement of approximately 100 decentralising staff to Carlow during the second quarter of 2007, on a voluntary basis. In total, the number of posts in Business Units decentralising to Carlow, as at 5th March, is 288. As at 5th March, my Department has 103 Carlow-bound applicants assigned within the Department, with a further 71 Carlow-bound applicants yet to be assigned to the Department. It is hoped to have all decentralising posts filled in sufficient time to ensure that staff are adequately trained in advance of the move to Carlow.

Under the current Government Decentralisation Programme, four of the Agencies under the aegis of my Department are due to decentralise. FÁS is to move 383 posts to Birr, County Offaly. Enterprise Ireland is to move 292 posts to Shannon. The Health and Safety Authority is to move 110 posts to Thomastown, County Kilkenny. The National Standards Authority of Ireland is to move 132 posts to Arklow, County Wicklow. My Department continues to provide advice and support to each of the four Agencies in progressing their decentralisation programmes and there is a dedicated Agency Decentralisation Committee to drive the process forward. In addition, I am satisfied that each Agency is fully engaged in the process and taking all of the relevant steps to advance their decentralisation plans. In outlining the current Agency position on decentralisation, it must be remembered that data from the Central Applications Facility is based on "priority first preference" applications.

Under the Government's decentralisation programme, FÁS is due to transfer its head office including some 383 posts to Birr, County Offaly, by 2009 and is actively putting measures in place to advance the process. FÁS has two staff members physically located in Birr and another staff member has agreed to relocate, bringing the total to 3 staff members. These FÁS staff members are currently in rented accommodation in the Birr Technology Centre. It is anticipated that between 40 to 50 staff will be located in Birr by the end of the year. Staff located in Birr will consist of volunteers and new recruits, who continue to have the decentralisation clause in their contracts. To date, a total of 102 FÁS staff have expressed an interest in relocating to Birr. 26 FÁS staff have volunteered to move outside the Central Applications Facility. 6 FÁS staff have signed up through the facility. 34 New Entrants have signed contracts with the relocation clause. 36 promoted staff have signed contracts with the relocation clause; however following industrial action these cases are being examined by the parties and the matter has been referred to the Labour Court. The negotiations for the purchase of a site in Birr are continuing.

Enterprise Ireland is to move 292 posts to Shannon under the decentralisation programme. Figures available to Enterprise Ireland indicate that 19 of its staff have applied for decentralisation to Shannon, of which 15 are based in Dublin and 4 are based outside Dublin. I understand that the number of applications received from within the civil and public service, including my Department, amounts to 33, thus giving a total overall of 52 persons. Enterprise Ireland is establishing its National Regional Development Headquarters as well as the County Enterprise Support Unit in Shannon. In addition, the functions hitherto carried out by Shannon Development in relation to the development of indigenous industry in the Mid-West Region were transferred to Enterprise Ireland with effect from 1 January 2007. This transfer of function also involves the transfer of posts from Shannon Development to Enterprise Ireland. The necessary arrangements to give effect to these changes are in train and will be completed over the coming months.

Enterprise Ireland recently appointed a senior manager as Head of Regions and Entrepreneurship who will guide the transition and establishment of its presence in the Mid-West Region. The chief executive officer of Enterprise Ireland, Mr. Frank Ryan, announced this appointment recently during a visit to the Region by the chief executive officer and members of Enterprise Ireland's senior management team. Enterprise Ireland is sourcing a building in Shannon Town to accommodate the new functions being located in the Region and the staff transferring from Shannon Development. A number of options are under consideration and it is expected that a decision will be made by the end of March. Progress on the full transfer of Enterprise Ireland's headquarters to Shannon, within the Government decentralisation programme, will be influenced by factors such as the level of interest in the Shannon location expressed by Central Applications Facility applicants and by progress made during discussions at a central level with regard to decentralisation.

The Health and Safety Authority is required to move 110 posts to Thomastown, County Kilkenny as part of the Government's decentralisation programme. To date a total of 62 people (11 HSA staff, 41 Civil Servants, 10 Public Servants) have expressed an interest through the Central Application Facility process in transferring to Thomastown. In anticipation of the move to Thomastown, the Authority established an interim office in Kilkenny city in August 2006 — 17 staff have relocated to that office. All staff who move in the interim to the Kilkenny office will transfer to Thomastown when the premises there are completed. The Authority has been advised by Office of Public Works that as the site procurement process is in its final stages, the current estimated timeline for availability for occupancy is late 2008 or early 2009. All newly recruited Dublin based staff are ultimately contracted to move to Thomastown.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland, with a total of 132 staff, is to be relocated to Arklow. The latest available figures from the Central Applications Facility show a total of 107 first preference priority applications for Arklow from the wider public sector subject to the decentralisation programme. The number of staff from the authority who have, to date, applied for decentralisation is 11. The total number required to be decentralised is 132 and none have been decentralised to date. The authority is liaising with the OPW in identifying office accommodation in the Arklow area. The authority's current implementation plan anticipates a target date of April 2009 as the completion date of its decentralisation programme. However, this is dependent on the resolution of matters at central level.

Job Losses.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

376 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which Government policy is expected to be revised to combat job losses through relocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8910/07]

The relocation of businesses within particular types of industry, and with it a certain number of jobs, is a reality of modern global manufacturing for a highly developed economy such as Ireland. The factors that influence a firm's decision to relocate are varied and complex. In addition to relative wage rates and other cost factors, these may include business takeovers, consolidations and changes in product or market focus. While offshoring can contribute to job losses for firms in some sectors, productivity gains achieved through offshoring some activities also represents an opportunity to develop higher-end manufacturing and related activities domestically. The phenomenon of globalisation is changing the way economic production is organised the world over. Lower barriers to trade and improvements in transport technology are increasing the specialisation of production, resulting in global supply chains. Ireland experiences both benefits and costs resulting from globalisation. The clearest demonstration of the benefits to Ireland from globalisation is illustrated by inward Foreign Direct Investment. This has been one of the principle causes of the strong economic performance of Ireland over the last two decades. However, as Ireland has gained from the mobility of modern production and supply chain models, competition from other locations for mobile FDI has intensified.

This shift in the structure of international trade poses challenges to economic policy makers in all countries. Ireland has so far been sufficiently flexible and adaptable to move to higher value added activities, providing quality sustainable jobs. Almost 300,000 new permanent full-time jobs were created in enterprise agency assisted firms since 1997. Furthermore, in large companies this process of transformation is often accommodated by a reallocation, retraining and upskilling of staff within the company, which leads to improved productivity. Where relocation has occurred to date, it has mainly been confined to relatively low technology, labour intensive activities. We are continuing to pursue policies to promote lifelong learning and upskilling to improve labour market flexibility and, where necessary, ensure that appropriate training supports are provided for workers in sectors that are no longer competitive, if they need to find alternative employment. The Government is committed to ensuring that Ireland continues to be an attractive place to do business and to helping to foster economic competencies higher up the value chain. In that regard, it has made significant progress in working towards maintaining and enhancing framework competitive conditions and promoting new areas of competitive advantage by developing this country's research and development base, investing in critical physical and communications infrastructure and promoting tertiary education and lifelong learning. Clearly the strategies set out in the new National Development Plan, which support the continued implementation of these policies, will play a crucial role in maintaining Ireland's attractiveness as an investment location.

Question No. 377 answered with QuestionNo. 368.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

378 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he has identified the cause or causes of job relocation from this country to other economies in the past five years; the steps he will take to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8912/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

379 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of jobs relocated from this country to more competitive economies in the past 10 years; the number of which were value added jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8913/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

380 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he has taken to address the issue of job relocation to more competitive economies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8914/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 378 to 380, inclusive, together.

Economies throughout the developed world experience flows of capital as firms make adjustments to their operations and decide where to locate different aspects of their value chain. In this context and with the extending influence of globalisation, every major economy of the European Union has seen plants and jobs relocate to other economies. There will always be shifts in production units as companies react to market signals or changing circumstances in their individual product sectors. Companies relocate activities from Ireland for many reasons. Firms adjust their plant location and utilisation strategies to address matters such as accessing new markets, moving production nearer to customers, meeting firm or market specific customer relationship issues, accessing technology or other competitive considerations. Our best response to the realities of globalisation is to ensure that Ireland remains attractive for investment and enterprise growth. Enterprise support policies have consistently evolved to meet the needs of foreign direct investment and growth orientated indigenous firms. As a result Ireland is deeply connected with the global economy. When new technologies, products and services emerge in global trading our policies change to ensure we win for Ireland the leading companies that are at the forefront of global products and services. An increasing part of our economy is sophisticated, highly productive and value driven. This will continue as enterprise policies reposition our ability to offer the skills, education, research and innovation capabilities that modern mobile and indigenous firms need to be competitive in world markets. While Forfás undertakes an annual survey of employment in companies supported by the enterprise development agencies, no data is collected on the number of jobs that have relocated to other economies. Neither is data collected on employment that is attracted here from other less competitive economies.

What establishes the competitive credentials of the economy, however, is its ability to replace quality jobs with others of the same or higher skill level. There is a sustained flow of investors who, having made rigorous assessments of the economy, decide to significantly invest in the country and the skills of our labour force. Some of these investors have established plants here, know well the competitive benefits of doing business from Ireland and decide to reinvest and expand their operations. In 2006, IDA Ireland won 71 new projects involving total investment of €2.6 billion. These decisions are strategically important for investors. They are not taken lightly in the board rooms of multinational companies and are not made in favour of unattractive economies. Many of these investments are being won by regional locations where existing competitive strengths will be improved by economic infrastructure investment under the National Development Plan. Others are in the Research and Innovation space where investment under the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation will increase research funding and stimulate advanced graduate output to underpin the needs of these innovation orientated and customer focussed projects. Under my Department, Enterprise Ireland is making excellent progress in delivering its strategic ambition to invest and build the competitive strengths of indigenous firms in innovation, productivity, management development, technology acquisition and opening new markets in fast growing markets, globally. For example, the latest initiative by Enterprise Ireland, announced at the start of the year will see the agency contribute almost €1.5 million in support of five industry networks who are undertaking collaborative projects under its Industry-Led Networks Pilot initiative.

Employment Rights.

Sean Fleming

Question:

381 Mr. Fleming asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the rules and guidelines regarding workers who work overtime but are given time off in lieu instead of overtime payment; the situation regarding employees who work a large number of hours one week and effectively then have no work the following week and never receive any overtime payment for the excessive hours they work in the particular week; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8945/07]

There is no specific employment rights legislation governing the payment of overtime. While the Organisation of Working time Act 1997 regulates rest breaks and maximum weekly working hours it does not cover overtime payment. Employees do not have a statutory right to overtime pay except in certain employments covered by employment regulation orders or registered employment agreements. Policy in relation to overtime pay may be decided by the employer and agreed as part of the employee's terms and conditions of employment or through collective agreements negotiated between employers and employee representatives.

Terms and conditions of employment are determined in the main by a process of collective bargaining between the employers and employees or their representatives. Within this system parties are free to negotiate or not to negotiate. The State facilitates the bargaining process by providing a framework and institutions through which good industrial relations can prosper. Institutions have been established that can assist in the resolution of disputes between employers and workers such as the Labour Relations Commission, includ