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 6, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 7 to 37, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 38 to 44, inclusive, answered orally.

Drug Abuse.

Seán Crowe

Question:

45 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he has taken to address the explosion in cocaine abuse in Dublin and throughout the State in the past three years, and its effects on abusers of the drug, on abusers’ families and the communities they live in. [14966/07]

I have become increasingly aware of the concerns about the level of use of cocaine in Ireland over the past few years, broadly reflecting the increase in the availability and use of cocaine in Europe generally.

At my request, the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and the National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST) recently prepared a joint briefing paper on cocaine, based on existing data in Ireland. The paper, "An Overview of Cocaine Use in Ireland", concluded that all data sources indicated an upward trend in cocaine use, albeit from a low base. The paper also highlights the extremely high risks associated with cocaine and the physical and mental health problems that arise from its use.

Cocaine is particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol and other substances and these messages on the real dangers associated with its use need to be highlighted. The social and economic harm also needs to be stressed, not only to the users of cocaine, but also to their families and to communities that bear the brunt of the behaviour of criminal activity associated with the supply and use of cocaine. I have repeatedly stressed the dangers associated with so-called "recreational" or "week-end" cocaine use and the glamorising of cocaine in some quarters.

A number of recommendations are made in the paper, principally in regard to treatment, but also covering supply, prevention and research.

A key conclusion of the report is that treatment, primarily in the form of counselling, can and does work and, in this context, the provision of cocaine specific clinics in areas where cocaine problems are more acute is being considered. However, in the broader context, I am of the view that we should work towards having drug services that can cater for the individual problem drug user, regardless of the drugs they use.

Another key recommendation relates to the training of frontline personnel to deal with cocaine issues. I have already funded a training initiative in this regard, as well as four pilot cocaine treatment projects to examine different methods of treatment for cocaine use. The outcomes of those projects which have been completed are being examined at present to see to what extent they can inform the way forward. Furthermore, I have funded six cocaine specific projects under the LDTF Emerging Needs Fund and support for a further nine projects aimed at polydrug/cocaine use under that Fund has been provided. All in all, funding of about €1.4m has been allocated to these projects.

Progress on the implementation of the recommendations of the briefing paper is being closely monitored by the Inter-departmental Group on Drugs, which I chair. In addition, the National Drugs Strategy Team, along with the Drug Task Forces, will continue to review the needs in communities.

Meanwhile, work on the second all-island Drugs Prevalence Survey is in progress and it is expected that preliminary results will be available in the latter part of this year. This will give much greater clarity on the overall prevalence of cocaine.

The challenges posed by cocaine use are significant, but I am confident that we can meet these challenges through a co-ordinated approach utilising the structures of the National Drugs Strategy.

Rural Transport Services.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

46 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the areas to be serviced by the proposed Nitelink buses have been chosen; the criteria used to select the areas; the amenities that will be serviced; and when the service will commence. [14989/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

48 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals for rural transport; the expected sources of funding required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14983/07]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

49 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the rural transport initiative will be expanded to allow for night time rural buses; if so, when this will be introduced; the money to be allocated for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12679/07]

Paddy McHugh

Question:

673 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress being made in relation to the introduction of the proposed night time rural public transport system; when the system will be in place; if north east Galway will be included in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15083/07]

Dinny McGinley

Question:

697 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the expansion of late night public transport in rural areas, as earlier outlined by the him, will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15152/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 46, 48, 49, 673 and 697 together.

As the Deputies will be aware, in many rural areas, there are no public transport services at night. While there are, in the more developed rural areas, either hackney or taxi services, these are totally at the discretion of the providers of these services and do not provide a guaranteed service to rural people. I believe, therefore, that there is a need in rural Ireland for an evening transport service to allow rural people to fully participate in the various activities — community, sporting and social — that take place in their areas and to address the market failure that currently exists.

What I have in mind is that the new scheme will be additional to the existing Rural Transport Programme (RTP), run by the Department of Transport, and that a small number of areas will be selected to run it, over a 12 month pilot period.

In this context, the 34 groups currently delivering the RTP were invited by Pobal, who administer the RTP on behalf of the Department of Transport, to submit applications to be considered under the new scheme. Of those, 22 of the groups subsequently applied and the applications have been appraised having regard to such criteria as:

evidence of need;

strength of proposal;

capacity of the group;

value for money; and

geographical spread.

I hope to make an announcement on the half dozen or so pilot areas to be selected in the next week or two. The budget for the 2007 pilot will be of the order of €500,000 and I would expect the service to commence with a few weeks of the pilot areas being chosen.

All services will focus on maximising the general community good and I am, of course, conscious of the need to ensure that no displacement takes place of commercially viable existing services as a result of the introduction of the new scheme.

National Drugs Strategy.

Seán Ryan

Question:

47 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will publish the most recent six monthly Progress Report to the Cabinet sub-committee on social inclusion in regard to his Department’s overall responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15010/07]

My Department's report to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion in October 2006 focused, in particular, on developments in regard to the following five issues:

1. Cocaine Briefing Paper

I outlined the findings of the Cocaine Briefing Paper which was jointly prepared, at my request, by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and the National Drug Strategy Team (NDST). This Briefing Paper was subsequently published last month. It contains 13 recommendations which are being followed up with the appropriate Departments and Agencies and monitored through the Inter-departmental Group on Drugs (IDG), which I chair.

2. Research Outcome Study in Ireland (ROSIE)

The ROSIE study evaluated the effectiveness of the treatment of heroin users, the key finding of which is that treatment works. Specifically the study found:

significant reductions in heroin and other drug use;

27% abstinent from all drugs after 1-year;

extensive reductions in drug injecting;

improvements in physical and mental health;

extensive reductions in criminal activity; and

increased contact with health and social care services.

3. Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation

I provided an update on the progress of the Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation. Subsequently, the Cabinet Committee approved the Report of the Working Group and I envisage that it will be published in the coming weeks.

4. Progress on the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF)

This Fund is aimed at the young people who are most at risk and it provides facilities, programmes and activities that are designed to provide an alternative to the dangers of drug misuse. Through the Fund, young people are offered positive pursuits (including sports and various recreational activities) that increase the potential for healthy lifestyles. Investment in the Fund has increased substantially over the last five years.

5. Drug Prevalence Survey 2006/07

I up-dated the Cabinet Committee on the position with respect to the all-island Drug Prevalence Survey 2006/07 for which fieldwork had just been initiated at that time. This fieldwork is expected to be completed shortly, with a first report of prevalence figures and trends becoming available in the latter part of the year.

Finally, the Deputy should note that reports to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion are not published.

Questions Nos. 48 and 49 answered with Question No. 46.

Rural Development.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

50 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made during the lifetime of the Government in regard to the achievement in rural Ireland of vibrant sustainable communities with the range of age, income, occupational groups essential to adapt to ongoing economic, social, cultural and environmental change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15012/07]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

66 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made during the lifetime of this Government in regard to retaining the maximum number of rural households and family farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15013/07]

Jack Wall

Question:

71 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the contribution made by his Department in regard to individuals and families having a real choice as to whether to stay in, leave or move to rural Ireland on the basis of sufficient income and employment being available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15015/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

78 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his policy proposals in respect of rural development in the future; if this involves the cessation of existing schemes; the purpose of same; the expected impact on rural development in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14984/07]

Mary Upton

Question:

81 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which equity has been achieved in terms of opportunity between rural and urban communities and between communities in rural areas during the lifetime of this Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15014/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 50, 66, 71, 78 and 81 together.

Despite continuing urbanisation, Ireland is still a comparatively rural country. About 40% of the population continue to live in rural areas and while the rates of population growth over the past decade have been greater in urban than in rural areas, population growth in the regions has still been strong. There is little doubt, however, that in recent years, the rural economy has been undergoing rapid change. Rural areas will, therefore, need to continue to diversify and develop in the coming years to take account of the ongoing demographic, social and economic changes that impact on their communities.

One of the key goals of my Department is to promote and maintain living and working populations in rural areas by helping to foster sustainable and culturally vibrant communities. Since its establishment in 2002, my Department has been vigorously pursuing policies and programmes that seek to address the changing nature of rural communities, support their development and promote better regional balance.

The Rural Social Scheme (RSS), which I introduced in 2004, is particularly noteworthy in this context. The success of the Scheme is clearly evident from the fact that all available places have now been allocated. Participants work 19.5 hours per week. Significantly, the RSS has allowed people to supplement their farm income and yet remain involved in farming. In this way, many family farm incomes have remained viable, which I know the Deputies will appreciate is critical for the vitality of rural communities throughout the country. The RSS provides resources to maintain and improve local amenities and facilities in rural areas. Communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fisher persons, while the participants are provided with opportunities to improve existing skills, and develop new ones, as they perform valuable work in the community. Funding for the RSS for the period 2007-2013 is included in the new National Development Plan which clearly confirms the Government's continued and on-going commitment to the Scheme — and to rural communities — in the coming years.

Better infrastructure in rural areas means more people will live in them, taking pressure off the urban areas and in a completion of the circle, making the rural services more economically viable. The CLÁR (Ceantair Laga Ard Riachtanais) Programme supports physical, economic and social infrastructure in rural areas of special disadvantage across a variety of measures — such as electricity conversion, roads, water and sewerage, village, housing and schools enhancement, health, coastal and sports and community projects. CLÁR acts as a lever to elicit money from other sources through funding and co-funding arrangements with Government Departments, State Agencies and Local Authorities. In the years 2002 — 2006, €71m was spent on investments under the Programme with related public and private expenditure in the region of €61m. Over €18.6m is available for investment under the Programme in 2007.

Over 4,000 projects have been approved for funding in CLÁR areas from 2002 to date. Specific examples include more than 600 Class 111 roads assisted to the value of €9.6m and almost €19m spent on the improvement of Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) roads. Nearly 100 minor health projects and 660 schools playground projects have been approved since 2004. Just under €1.4m was provided to projects at Knock Airport. More than 345 water and sewerage projects have been approved since 2002. Many of these projects would not have gone ahead without CLÁR funding and in adding to the infrastructure of rural Ireland, I am sure the Deputies will agree that they have considerably improved the living conditions of rural communities.

It should also be noted that my Department has acted as the Managing Authority for the delivery of the two LEADER Programmes in Ireland for the 2000–06 round of structural funding, the Area Based Rural Development Initiative and the LEADER+ EU Initiative. The combined budget for the two EU co-funded Programmes of €150m was committed by the end of 2006 and full drawdown of all available expenditure is anticipated. Among the key achievements, to end December 2006, of the Programmes are the following:

No. of projects — 9,419;

No. of jobs created — 5,090;

No. of new enterprises assisted — 1,866; and

No. of persons trained — 59,711.

A new seven-year funding round commences this year under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 and I have secured an almost three-fold increase in funding available for LEADER in that period. Key outside the farm gate measures will be targeted such as diversification into non-agricultural activities, support for business creation and development, encouragement of tourism activities, services for the economy and rural population, village renewal and development, and conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage.

The work being done by the Western Development Commission (WDC) is also of relevance. The WDC promotes economic and social development in counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare through policy analysis and development, the promotion of regional initiatives and the operation of the Western Investment Fund.

One of the WDC's initiatives is the ‘Look West' promotion and advertising campaign which positions the West as an appealing place to live and work. It is aimed at people in and around the greater Dublin area who may consider moving to the West. The intention is to attract a broad range of people and skills to the western counties. The key message of the initiative is the excellent quality of life available in the western counties. Typically, people living in the West can enjoy shorter commuting times, lower house prices, more affordable childcare and other services and a rich and varied sporting and cultural life.

In addition, in the period 2002-2006, €17m was invested through the Western Investment Fund in 66 enterprises in the western region.

Furthermore, I see the area of countryside recreation and pursuits such as walking and cycling, in particular, as offering great potential for rural communities in the future. The development of countryside recreation will be a key part of the measures to be rolled out under the new Rural Development Programme.

The Local Development Social Inclusion Programme is also important in terms of supporting rural development. The programme has a particular focus on supporting people and communities suffering disadvantage and exclusion through a wide spectrum of locally promoted actions. Some €417m will be provided over the period 2007-2013 to support measures under the Programme in both urban and rural settings.

I would also like to briefly mention two other programmes run by my Department which, I believe, are of relevance. Firstly, under the Community Development Programme, the core costs of some 44 rural-based projects have been receiving, on average, just over €4 million annually from my Department to support their work. These projects provide a focal point for community activity within the local neighbourhoods.

Secondly, while the Community Services Programme is not a rural initiative per se, it aims to support the economic and social regeneration of local communities and to provide employment opportunities for the unemployed or other disadvantaged persons. Over 400 projects throughout the country are being funded.

I will also be announcing a new pilot night-time rural transport scheme in the next few weeks to allow rural people to fully participate in the various activities — community, sporting and social — that take place in rural areas in the evening.

Looking to the future, I believe that the signs are very encouraging for rural communities. As well as providing continued funding for the programmes operated by my Department, the National Development Plan (NDP) will — within the framework of other national policies and programmes — continue to assist in the social and economic development of rural areas through measures such as rural transport, non-national roads, rural water services, broadband and agriculture. Indeed, the Deputies should note that for the first time ever, a dedicated chapter on the development of the rural economy is included in the NDP. The implementation of the National Spatial Strategy over the coming years will, I believe, also have a significant impact on the development of rural communities.

Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

51 D’fhiafraigh Mr. O’Shea den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén dul chun cinn atá déanta leis an bhfoclóir leictreonach Gaeilge-Béarla. [15018/07]

Tuigim ó Fhoras na Gaeilge gur ceapadh Bainisteoir Tionscadail i mí Feabhra agus go bhfuiltear ag obair go dícheallach ó shin chun an próiseas tairisceana do Chéim a Dó den tionscadal foclóra, mar aon leis na socruithe gaolmhara eile is gá a dhéanamh, a chur chun cinn. Chomh maith leis sin, tuigim go mbeidh post mar Eagarthóir Foclóireachta á fhógairt i gceann cúpla seachtain.

I measc na ngníomhartha eile atá beartaithe taobh istigh d'achar gairid, tá:

Dhá chúrsa san fhoclóireacht dhátheangach, ceann i mBéal Feirste agus ceann i gCorcaigh.

Forbairt bhreise ar Chorpas Náisiúnta na hÉireann.

Painéal de phearsanra cáilithe a chur le chéile.

Ach na gníomhartha seo a bheith i gcrích, beifear in ann luí isteach ar thiomsú ábhar an Fhoclóra fein, idir an leagan leictreonach agus an leagan clóite.

Anuas air sin, tá socruithe á ndéanamh maidir le leagan leictreonach d'Fhoclóir Béarla-Gaeilge Uí Dhónaill, a bheidh in oiriúint do chóras oibriúcháin Windows, a chur ar fáil ar dhlúthdhiosca. Táthar ag súil go mbeidh an obair a bhainfidh leis sin i gcrích faoi dheireadh an tsamhraidh agus go mbeidh an diosca WinGléacht le fáil sna siopaí faoi dheireadh na bliana.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

52 D’fhiafraigh Mr. O’Shea den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an mó Scéim faoi Acht na dTeangacha atá glactha aige anois; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [15019/07]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

720 D’fhiafraigh Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé tar éis dréacht-scéim a lorg ó na heagraíochtaí iomchuí de réir Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003. [15367/07]

Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna Uimh. 52 agus 720 le chéile.

Tá 50 scéim teanga, a chlúdaíonn 78 comhlacht poiblí — mo Roinn féin ina measc — daingnithe agam anois agus iad foilsithe. Tá gach ceann de na scéimeanna sin ar fáil ar shuíomh idirlín an Choimisinéir Teanga, www.coimisineir.ie. Lena chois sin, tá 68 dréacht-scéim eile, a chlúdaíonn 126 comhlacht poiblí, á n-ullmhú faoi láthair agus tá mo Roinnse ag plé leis na comhlachtaí poiblí atá i gceist d'fhonn an próiseas i ndáil leis na scéimeanna sin a chríochnú a luaithe agus is féidir.

Irish Language.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

53 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress he has made over the term of this Government to advance the use of the Irish language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15006/07]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

75 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the contribution his Department has made to increase the use of the Irish language countrywide; the level of success achieved in regard to achieving this aim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15009/07]

Dinny McGinley

Question:

696 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when there will be a long-term Irish language strategy here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15151/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53, 75 and 696 together.

As I have previously indicated in response to similar questions in this House, a wide range of policies and initiatives in relation to the Irish language have been put in place in recent years. These initiatives include:

The enactment of the Official Languages Act in 2003, with all provisions of the Act in operation since 14 July 2006. To date 50 language schemes covering 78 public bodies have been confirmed by me and published. Both Dáil and Seanad Éireann have approved a draft of Regulations dealing with the use of the Irish and English languages by public bodies in pre-recorded oral announcements, on stationery and on signage, and I expect to be in a position to make these Regulations shortly.

The establishment of the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga.

Securing the recognition of Irish as an official working language of the European Union with effect from 1 January 2007.

The publication by Government in December 2006 of its Statement on the Irish Language. This Statement provides for the development of a 20 year strategy for the language based on the objectives set out in the Statement. It is intended that the Statement, which the Taoiseach launched before Christmas, will be the foundation for practical action for supporting and promoting the Irish language, based on a modern approach and an integrated strategy. Work on development of this strategy has already commenced and submissions on the strategy are being invited from the public. As I already indicated, it is intended that the strategy will be developed over a two year period.

Achievement of significant advances in line with the recommendations in the Report of Coimisiún na Gaeltachta in 2002. A number of new initiatives continue to be implemented in Gaeltacht areas, including the development of public awareness measures aimed at the Gaeltacht community in particular, as well as the continuing roll-out of the language planning initiative. These practical measures continue to further consolidate the language.

Significant resources continue to be made available to support the work of Foras na Gaeilge on an all-island basis.

The continued provision of grants from Ciste na Gaeilge to foster and promote the Irish language. During 2006 four sub-funds were launched within the Ciste:

to fund Irish courses in 3rd level institutions abroad;

to support the Business Fund, which covers organisations such as Gael Taca, Gaillimh le Gaeilge and Tiobraid Árann ag Labhairt;

for Placenames Research Fund to provide bursaries to postgraduate students who select placenames as a subject for research; and

for the provision of Irish language DVDs for children.

I am satisfied that the measures outlined above, including the work of Foras na Gaeilge, Údarás na Gaeltachta and the various groups funded from Ciste na Gaeilge, have helped to increase the number of people who are able to speak the Irish language countrywide, as demonstrated in the Census returns. They also help to foster significant goodwill towards the Irish language.

Drug Abuse.

Seán Crowe

Question:

54 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he will take to address the growing heroin problem in Ballyfermot, Dublin, and the lack of a strategy to address the rehabilitative needs of addicts or recovering addicts in the Dublin 10 area. [14965/07]

To date, under the National Drugs Strategy, my Department has made substantial funding available to Ballyfermot Local Drugs Task Force (LDTF) and this will continue in 2007, with nearly €1.5m being allocated. It is estimated that in the region of 40% of the projects being supported by the Task Force have a rehabilitative focus, much of this relating to heroin.

In total, the Ballyfermot area has received nearly €17m to address the problems of drugs misuse through the LDTF process and the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund.

In this context, I am delighted to inform the Deputy that I have in recent days approved expenditure of €500,000 under the Premises Initiative towards the refurbishment of the premises of Ballyfermot STAR Education & Training Programme (Realt Nua), located in Park West Industrial Estate. Currently Ballyfermot STAR organises a Community Employment Education and Training Programme for 25 people in recovery from drug misuse from the Dublin 10 and Chapelizod catchment areas. With the new capital funding, the project will be in a position to cater for an extra 25 people. This will involve people from Ballyfermot who are not, as yet, on a methadone treatment programme.

I understand that the Addiction Services of the HSE are currently planning the development of an Addiction Centre to provide a range of services to the communities of Clondalkin and Lucan. This service will address waiting lists in Ballyfermot by reducing the numbers of people from Clondalkin who are currently in receipt of treatment in Ballyfermot. In addition to this, I understand that the Addiction Services are in negotiation with two community projects in Ballyfermot for the provision of two prescribing clinics with a view to addressing the waiting lists in the shorter term, while the Clondalkin facility is under construction.

The Deputy should also note that the Report of the Working Group on Drug Rehabilitation is expected to be published in the next few weeks. The key recommendations focus on providing a continuum of care for clients through planned progression paths for each problem drug user, while ensuring that quality standards are achieved in the services provided. The Report also looks at the wider supports needed by recovering problem drug users in areas such as involvement in community employment schemes and support with progression to employment, educational supports, housing and childcare, while recognising the need to involve the families of problem drug users in the process.

Finally, with regard to the extent and trends in problem drug use, comprehensive data will start to become available from the second all-island Drug Prevalence Survey, the fieldwork for which is nearing completion, in the latter part of this year. With respect to heroin misuse in particular, a further national study is being commissioned by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and it is expected that the results of this will be available early in 2008. These surveys will give us a much clearer view of current drug misuse in Ireland.

Irish Language.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

55 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding made available by his Department for the teaching of Irish in educational institutions abroad; the amount of money allocated; the colleges and institutions to which money was given; the effectiveness of such programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15001/07]

In September 2005 I announced that a new fund would be made available from my Department to promote the teaching of Irish at third level overseas. Funding of €1 million over a 3-year period from Ciste na Gaeilge was allocated to this scheme.

Since the beginning of this scheme, grants have been approved for the following institutions and programmes:

Daltaí na Gaeilge, Washington, USA

Fealsún — Teagasc Gaeilge do Thosaitheoirí, Missouri, USA

Catholic University, Lublin, Poland

University of Cambridge, England

University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, USA

SKSK, Konigswater, Germany

Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, USA

Newman College of Aston, Philadelphia, USA

The Centre for Canadian Irish Studies, Concordia, Montreal, Canada

Rennes 2, University of Brittany, France

University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA

Boston College, Boston, USA

University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, USA

University of St. Thomas, Texas, USA

North American Association for Celtic Language Teachers, Ontario, Canada

University of Bonn, Germany

Freiburg University, Germany

Dusseldorf University, Germany

Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany

Marburg University, Germany

University of Liverpool, England

Cardiff University, Wales

Ionad an Léinn Éireannaigh, Karlova University, Prague, Czech Republic

Szeged University, Hungary

Karoli Gaspar University, Budapest, Hungary

University of Wales, Aberswtwyth, Wales

Irish College, Paris, France

University of Oslo, Norway

Institiúd na hÉireann, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Universitat Mannheim, Germany

Institiúid an Léinn Ghael-Mheiriceánaigh (Lehman), New York, USA

Humboldt — Scoil an Léinn Cheiltigh, Berlin, Germany

Wisconsin University, Milwaukee, USA

Ducis-Dalarna University, Denmark

I am satisfied that this is a worthwhile initiative, which promotes Ireland and our language and culture in a positive way abroad. The availability of this funding has increased awareness of the language in third level institutions and will lead to development of enhanced links between Ireland and the countries of these institutions with positive long-term impacts on the language.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

56 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he questioned the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government on the implementation of the Water Services Bill which provides a licensing system in order that group water schemes are checked regularly and meet water quality standards in view of the fact that his Department regularly dispenses funding under the CLÁR programme for group water schemes. [14990/07]

Eamon Ryan

Question:

62 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if there is an environmental quality standard criteria used for grant allocations given to group water schemes under the CLÁR programme. [14991/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 62 together.

Under the CLÁR Programme, Group Water Schemes are selected by the Local Authority on foot of applications received from local groups. Applications are then forwarded to my Department if the cost of the scheme is such that additional funding is required. The CLÁR Section of my Department, on a case-by-case basis, refers schemes to the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (D/EHLG), as warranted, after examination. My Department does not set environmental quality standard criteria, as all applications must meet the criteria set by the County Councils and the D/EHLG.

In addition, CLÁR provides funding for Group Water Schemes participating in Bundled DBO projects for the provision of new water treatment and disinfection plants. The local authority selects the schemes.

Community and Voluntary Sector.

John Gormley

Question:

57 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his Department will be taking on the task of promoting the group insurance scheme currently open to members of local community and voluntary fora as has been recommended by the Taskforce on Active Citizenship. [14994/07]

The recommendations in the Taskforce Report and how best to implement them are under consideration. However, I am inclined to believe that it is a matter for the national network of C&V Fora to advance promoting the insurance scheme referred to by the Deputy. In this scenario, how the network might best be supported to carry out this task will require further thought and no doubt will be considered also by the new Active Citizenship Office.

Drug Abuse.

Martin Ferris

Question:

58 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the growth in crack cocaine and crystal meths abuse; and the steps he has taken to address this. [14967/07]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

63 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the spread of crack cocaine in urban Ireland; if his attention has been drawn to recent reports that crack cocaine could potentially spread to increasing numbers of cities and towns; the efforts he has made to combat the spread of crack cocaine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15000/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 63 together.

I am aware of the dangers that crack cocaine and crystal meth use can pose in terms of their potential to add hugely to the harm caused to individuals, families and communities.

However, I am informed by the Garda authorities that, while there has been an increase in the number of seizures of crack cocaine over the past two years or so, this represents a small proportion of the total number of cocaine seizures recorded annually. They further inform me that crystal meth is currently not a major feature of the Irish drugs market and that only very small quantities of the drug have been seized to date. Also, it is worth noting that in my visits to various Drugs Task Force areas in the past year or so, these drugs did not arise to any great extent in my discussions with community representatives and others on the nature of the drug problem in their areas.

At the same time, vigilance is necessary in regard to crack cocaine and crystal meth and the Garda Authorities have taken a number of measures to address the matter. In this context, I understand that the National Drugs Unit, as well as local drug units, conduct intelligence gathering on individuals and groups suspected of involvement in the sale and distribution of drugs such as these. There is also targeted patrolling by uniform and plain-clothes personnel of potential problem areas in order to detect and disrupt persons involved in such activity.

I am not aware of any specific studies on the use of crack cocaine being carried out in Ireland. The only available figures on prevalence come from the joint 2002/2003 Drug Prevalence Survey. That survey showed that the use of crack cocaine was very low at that time — 0.3% reported lifetime use; 0.1% reported use in the previous 12 months and there were no positive respondents in relation to last month use. However, a new Drug Prevalence Study is currently underway with fieldwork due to be completed in early May. Preliminary analysis will be done in the months following that, with the first report of national prevalence figures and trends expected in the latter part of 2007. This will give an up-to-date picture of overall problem drug use in Ireland.

In addition, I understand that funding has been provided by the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform for a study into the nature and extent of crack cocaine use in Dublin. A researcher has recently commenced work on this and it is hoped that the work will be completed early in 2008.

In relation to crystal meth, it is worth noting that the Drug Treatment Centre Board has not recorded any case of a person presenting for treatment in relation to its use. However, as it is used in the UK, the Gardaí are particularly aware of the risks involved and are closely monitoring the situation.

National Drugs Strategy.

Liz McManus

Question:

59 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the recent report of the Working Group on Drug Rehabilitation, that represents the fifth pillar of the National Drugs Strategy; the main recommendations of this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15004/07]

Martin Ferris

Question:

60 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if consideration has been given to increasing the number of community employment places ringfenced as part of the rehabilitation strategy of the National Drugs Strategy, and to increasing the duration of the CE term to take account of the chaotic nature of the lives of many of the drug addicts when they begin CE and the damage caused to their rehabilitation programme if the stability CE brings to their lives is undermined by an arbitrary cut-off date. [14968/07]

Dinny McGinley

Question:

702 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made by the working group on the rehabilitation tier of the National Drugs Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15159/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 59, 60 and 702 together.

The Report of the Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion last month. It is currently being printed and it is envisaged that the report will be launched in the next few weeks.

The Working Group has taken a holistic view of rehabilitation and, while recognising the importance of clients being activated and prepared to fulfil their own role towards rehabilitation, it sees — as a key aim of the overall process — the empowering of recovering problem drug users so that they can re-engage with society in a manner consistent with their needs and expectations.

The key recommendations of the Report focus on:

an effective inter-agency approach (protocols, service level agreements, quality standards);

treatment facilities (in particular regarding detoxification);

community employment related; and

broader life issues including medical support, employment, access to education, housing, particular issues relating to the rehabilitation of offenders, childcare, the role of families in the rehabilitation process and research.

The Working Group acknowledged the contribution Community Employment (CE) is making to the drugs rehabilitation effort. They are recommending an increase from 1,000 to 1,300 in the number of drug-specific CE places, with increased focus on the educational and health requirements of participants. A pre-CE stabilisation initiative is also recommended.

An Teanga Ghaeilge.

Jack Wall

Question:

61 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Wall den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad iad na cainteanna a bhí aige leis an gCoimisinéir Teanga mar gheall ar a Thuarascáil Bhliantúil don bhliain 2006. [15017/07]

Mar is eol don Teachta, tá an Coimisinéir Teanga neamhspleách i gcomhlíonadh a chuid feidhmeanna agus ní bheadh sé cóir go mbeadh plé idir an Aire agus an Coimisinéir maidir le hábhar a bheadh beartaithe ag an gCoimisinéir le haghaidh a Thuarascáil Bhliantúil. Tá dualgas reachtúil ar an gCoimisinéir, de réir alt 30 d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003, a Thuarascáil Bhliantúil a ullmhú agus a thabhairt don Aire, agus tá dualgas ar an Aire an tuarascáil sin a leagan faoi bhráid Thithe an Oireachtais.

Ar bhonn níos leithne, tig liom a dhearbhú go mbíonn teagmháil rialta idir mo Roinnse agus Oifig an Choimisinéara maidir le réimse leathan ábhar a bhaineann le feidhmiú an Achta.

Question No. 62 answered with QuestionNo. 56.
Question No. 63 answered with QuestionNo. 58.

Community Development.

Joe Costello

Question:

64 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will report on the operation of the RAPID scheme over the past 12 months; his views on whether more communities should be designated as RAPID areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14999/07]

The RAPID Programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to tackling the spatial concentration of poverty and social exclusion within the 45 designated RAPID areas. In addition, RAPID priority status was extended to Ballyfermot in 2006. My Department, with the support of Pobal, has overall responsibility for the co-ordination of the RAPID programme. It is a matter for each Department to respond to issues of funding within their area of responsibility.

The House will be aware that I introduced the RAPID Leverage Schemes in 2004. Under these schemes, My Department directly funds schemes to provide playgrounds, improve traffic measures, improve health facilities, provide CCTV, support sporting organisations as well as improve local authority housing estates and flat complexes. Some €11m was committed to projects identified in co-operation with the local communities in 2006.

The evaluation of the programme published on 1 June last indicates that the experience of the RAPID Programme has been very positive in many areas. The evaluators concluded that substantial progress had been made in identifying the needs of disadvantaged communities and in implementing important local projects in response to those needs. The evaluator stated that the leverage schemes appear to have secured a greater ‘buy-in' from local stakeholders and were facilitating further activity at local level. The report also identifies strengths and weaknesses of the Programme and proposes 25 recommendations. Work on advancing the implementation of these recommendations commenced in 2006 and is continuing; these include, enhanced monitoring structures, the adoption of annual work programmes, and improved corporate and business planning in agencies to prioritise RAPID areas for investment.

The RAPID Area Implementation Team (AIT) structure has allowed for effective engagements with the local communities and provided community representatives with greater opportunities to work with the local authorities and statutory agencies in identifying the problems that affect their areas. Matters requiring attention have been identified and prioritised for funding. There is widespread agreement that local consultation has played a key role in supporting statutory agencies in developing appropriate responses. Community representatives are supported to work in their immediate neighbourhoods to ensure deeper and wider involvement of the community with RAPID and the statutory agencies.

It is my strong view that we should build on the successes of the RAPID programme as shown through the community participation and local buy-in achieved to-date. I believe that the achievements of the local structures established under RAPID should be acknowledged from both the physical transformation that has begun to take shape in RAPID areas and the improved levels of community involvement and confidence in the process. I believe that the AITs provide a solid basis for moving forward with the programme.

As I have previously indicated I have no plans at present to further extend the areas covered by the RAPID Programme.

Departmental Funding.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

65 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his Department will be introducing an initiative to help community and voluntary organisations to meet compliance costs and ensuring these costs are proportionate as recommended by the Taskforce on Active Citizenship. [14995/07]

The Department's existing White Paper Grants Schemes provide for the core costs of applicant organisations. This includes provision for compliance costs, such as audit or governance requirements. Similarly the Department provides core funding to Partnership Companies, Community Development Projects, LEADER Groups, Community Services Projects, Rural Social Scheme Projects etc., which includes provision of funding to cover compliance costs.

I hope to be in a position to announce the follow-on to the existing white paper support programmes shortly. Separately the wider implementation of the Taskforce Report on Citizenship falls for consideration. Following Government decision, an Active Citizenship Office is being established to lead implementation of the Taskforce recommendations.

Question No. 66 answered with QuestionNo. 50.

Countryside Access.

Joan Burton

Question:

67 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals arising from the report of Comhairle na Tuaithe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15016/07]

Dinny McGinley

Question:

695 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made with the development of a country walkways strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15150/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 695 together.

Comhairle na Tuaithe presented its report on a National Countryside Recreation Strategy to me in September 2006. The Strategy defines the scope and vision for countryside recreation and it sets out the broad principles under which sustainable countryside recreation can be managed into the future. It also sets out the tasks that should be undertaken to achieve this vision and recommends the actions needed to be taken and by which bodies.

Following my consideration of the report, I have taken a number of actions. Firstly, I have reached agreement with Fáilte Ireland and the National Trails Office regarding the employment of 11 Trail Managers. Their role will be to promote walking tourism in areas where there are clusters of suitable, accessible walks.

Secondly, my Department in consultation with the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, Fáilte Ireland, Comhar LEADER na hÉireann and the National Way Marked Ways Advisory Committee, are identifying a further 30 looped walks and Way Marked ways for development in 2007. Fáilte Ireland has informed me that 15 of these will be underway by June 2007 and I have set aside funding of €1.5m in 2007 for this purpose. In this context, the Deputies should note that 14 looped walks have already been developed with the assistance of the Rural Social Scheme and my Department.

Thirdly, my Department is actively pursuing the possibility of using former railway infrastructure as recreational trails for walking, cycling etc. with the Department of Transport and Iarnród Éireann. Officials from my Department have met with representatives of Iarnród Éireann and CIE to discuss the possibility of using disused railway infrastructure around the country for recreational development as walkways, cycle paths etc. They confirmed that the only line abandoned and definitely available for development is Tralee to Limerick.

Meetings are also taking place with Comhar LEADER na hÉireann, which represents the LEADER companies to discuss with them the proposal for the use of abandoned railway lines.

Separately, discussions are continuing with Coillte and Bord na Móna to discuss the possibility of expanding the use of their lands for recreational purposes and I will continue to progress this matter.

Fourthly, to ensure that a number of legal issues are addressed as a matter of priority, I have established an expert group, comprising a Senior Counsel and officials from the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and my own Department. I have asked the group to report back to me by the end of this month.

Finally, meetings have been held with the interested groups to discuss ways of moving forward with the implementation of the Strategy. However, I want to make it clear that payment for access is not under discussion. What is being sought is a payment for the maintenance of specific walks throughout the country and I am fully in agreement that there should be no cost burden on farmers from the maintenance of permissive ways open to the public at no charge.

I recently attended a meeting with Comhairle na Tuaithe and my Department has drafted proposals in relation to the development and maintenance of both new and existing waymarked ways and looped walks which was circulated for observations to the members of Comhairle na Tuaithe in the last few days.

My view continues to be that a local community-based approach is the best way forward where issues of access to the countryside arise. Where it is not possible to reach agreement, in a particular location, alternative routes should be explored and developed so that landowners' rights over access to their lands are not interfered with.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

68 D’fhiafraigh Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an gcreideann sé go bhfuil tábhacht mhór phoiblí le léarscáil Shuirbhéireacht an Ordanáis, faoi fhorálacha Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003, Cuid 3, Alt 10 (e) agus Cuid 1, Alt 2; agus go bhfuil dualgas air dá réir impí ar an Aire Airgeadais an maoiniú cuí a chur ar fáil chun an léarscáil seo a bheith ar fáil sa dá theanga oifigiúla. [14964/07]

Ní fheictear dom go mbaineann na forálacha d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 atá luaite ag an dTeachta le léarscáileanna de chuid na Suirbhéireachta Ordanáis. Dírím aird an Teachta, áfach, ar alt 34 den Acht sin.

Is fiú dom a lua freisin go bhfuil iarrtha agam ar Shuirbhéireacht Ordanáis na hÉireann dréacht-scéim teanga faoin Acht a ullmhú agus a sheoladh chugam le daingniú. Is cinnte go dtiocfaidh méadú ar líon na seirbhísí i nGaeilge a bheidh á soláthar ag Suirbhéireacht Ordanáis na hÉireann de thoradh na scéime sin, nuair a bheidh sí i bhfeidhm.

Oileáin Mhara.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

69 D’fhiafraigh Mr. McGinley den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil iarratas ina Roinn maidir le hoibreacha ar Oileán Ghabhla; cad iad na hoibreacha atá i gceist agus an gceadóidh sé deontais ina leith. [14981/07]

Tá iarratas faighte ag mo Roinnse le déanaí ar chúnamh le haghaidh na hoibreacha seo a leanas a dhéanamh ar Ghabhla:

síneadh a chur le Cé Thrá na mBláithín, balla cosanta a thógáil ar chúl na cé agus soilse sábháilteachta a chur ar fáil;

síneadh a chur le Cé Phort a' Chrainn agus balla cosanta a thógáil ar a cúl;

dramhaíl a thabhairt as an oileán; agus,

bóithre ar an oileán a fheabhsú chun go mbeidís feiliúnach do shiúlóirí.

Tá na hiarratais seo á meas faoi láthair i gcomhthéacs an airgid a bheidh ar fáil dom le caitheamh ar fhorbairt oileán i 2007/2008 agus na n-éileamh éagsúil ar an airgead sin.

An Teanga Ghaeilge.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

70 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Sargent den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfoilseoidh sé láithreach an Staidéar Teangeolaíochta Gaeltachta. [14987/07]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

82 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Sargent den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cé na coinníollacha atá ann chun Gaeltacht agus Breac-Ghaeltacht a aithint. [14988/07]

Tá i gceist agam Ceisteanna Uimh. 70 agus 82 a thógáil le chéile.

Maidir leis an staidéar teangeolaíochta atá luaite ag an Teachta, faoi mar a chuir mé in iúl don Teach seo cheana, tá an obair ar an staidéar críochnaithe anois agus tuarascáil curtha ar fáil do mo Roinnse.

Mar is eol don Teachta, bhí an staidéar dírithe ar úsáid na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht mar bhunús chun:

forbairt theangeolaíoch na Gaeltachta mar cheantar labhartha Gaeilge a threisiú; agus

athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar na limistéir oifigiúla Gaeltachta.

Tá socruithe idir lámha chun an tuarascáil a chur faoi bhráid an Rialtais chomh luath agus is féidir agus tá súil agam go bhfoilseofar í ina dhiaidh sin.

Maidir le teorainneacha na Gaeltachta, tuigfidh an Teachta gur faoi Ordú na Limistéar (Gaeltacht) 1956 a aithníodh ceantair áirithe a bheith sa Ghaeltacht. Cuireadh leis na teorainneacha sin trí huaire ó shin trí orduithe éagsúla. Tá míniú mar a leanas tugtha sa réamhrá leis na hOrduithe sin ar an gcúis gur bronnadh aitheantas Gaeltachta orthu:

‘De bhrí gur limistéir ar Gaeilgeoirí mórchuid de na daoine iontu nó limistéir ina n-aice sin ar dóigh leis an Rialtas gur cheart iad a áireamh sa Ghaeltacht d'fhonn an Ghaeilge a chaomhnú agus a leathnú mar ghnáthurlabhra na limistéar a shonraítear sa Sceideal a ghabhann leis an Ordú seo'.

Níl aon aitheantas tugtha do Bhreac-Ghaeltacht sna hOrduithe.

Question No. 71 answered with QuestionNo. 50.

Clár na dToghthóirí.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

72 D’fhiafraigh Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta ar chóir go mbeadh sráidaimneacha agus logaimneacha eile dátheangach ar a laghad i gClár na dToghthóirí agus an raibh aon teagmháil idir é féin, oifigigh a Roinne agus an tAire Comhshaoil nó oifigigh ón Roinn úd maidir leis an cheist seo. [14963/07]

Cé go mbíonn teagmháil rialta agam le mo chomhghleacaithe Rialtais, tuigfidh an Teachta nach bhfuil aon fhreagracht ormsa mar Aire i ndáil le Clár na dToghthóirí. Is gnó é seo a bhaineann leis an Roinn Comhshaoil, Oidhreachta agus Rialtais Áitiúil.

Drug Abuse.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

73 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he has taken in the past four years to address the major challenges faced by the families of drug abusers who are incapable of rearing their own children, including steps to inform the grandparents or other relatives who are caring for such children of their rights and entitlements in this regard and the way to go about legally adopting, fostering or otherwise caring for their siblings' children. [14969/07]

The Deputy will appreciate that statutory responsibility for childcare, and issues relating to childcare, rests with the Office of the Minister for Children which oversees the provision of services relating to legally adopting, fostering or otherwise caring for children whose parents — whether for reasons relating to problem drug use or otherwise — are incapable of rearing their children. It is open to family members to engage with these services to seek appropriate information to facilitate the pursuit of the best option that takes into consideration the well-being of both the child/children and the parent(s).

I have long been of the opinion that families of problem drug users need to have appropriate, accessible and timely services available to help them cope with the problems they are facing. This issue is reflected in Action 108 of the National Drugs Strategy, which was recommended in the mid-term review of the Strategy in 2005. It seeks the active encouragement by the Drug Task Forces to prioritise the provision of family services in their areas and to support family support networks in their work in the area of information provision and assistance to local family support groups.

In this context, the Deputy should note that, since 2005, approximately €1.1 million has been allocated to 16 projects that have a family support aspect to their activities under the Emerging Needs Fund. Under the Regional Drug Task Force plans, 18 projects with strong family support elements have been allocated funding of €1.7 million for 2007. These additional funds augment the activities of a further 126 projects across all LDTF areas that have a family support dimension to their programmes.

I am also expecting to shortly receive a recommendation from the National Drugs Strategy Team for an increased role for the Family Support Network.

National Drugs Strategy.

Dan Boyle

Question:

74 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the adjustments to re-focus priorities and accelerate the roll out and implementation of the various key actions of the National Drugs Strategy that have been implemented on foot of the mid-term review. [14986/07]

Joe Sherlock

Question:

83 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made to date in regard to the ten Regional Drug Task Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15011/07]

Dinny McGinley

Question:

700 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the targets and achievements reached by Regional Drugs Task Forces in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15157/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74, 83 and 700 together.

The Report of the Steering Group on the Mid-term Review of the National Drugs Strategy was published in June 2005. The key conclusions of the Steering Group were that the aims and objectives of the Strategy were fundamentally sound and that progress was being made across the pillars. However, the Steering Group found that some adjustments were required in order to re-focus priorities and accelerate the roll out and implementation of the various key actions in the remaining period of the Strategy up to the end of 2008.

The Review found that 49 of the 100 actions had already been completed or were on-going tasks over the life of the Strategy; progress had been made on 45 other actions with more work underway to fully deliver them; and there were six actions upon which considerably more work was required. Also, the Steering Group's recommendations resulted in 17 of the Strategy's existing 100 actions being either amended or replaced, with a further 8 new actions being added.

Since then the Government has placed great emphasis on progressing all 108 Actions now included in the National Drugs Strategy across prevention, supply reduction, treatment, rehabilitation and research. While the implementation of the Actions is very challenging, I am confident that the momentum built up around the various initiatives will see them implemented within the Strategy timescale.

The 10 Regional Drug Task Forces (RDTFs), which cover all parts of the country not serviced by a Local Drugs Task Force, are charged with researching, developing, implementing and monitoring a co-ordinated response to illicit drug use in their areas. All RDTFs produced strategic plans for their regions and they are now in the process of implementing specific actions identified in those plans.

Considerable progress was made in 2006 when approximately €4.175m was expended by the RDTFs on around 90 projects. The projects involved range from prevention initiatives and work with youth to treatment services and out-reach work. I am happy to advise that I have doubled the amount available to the RDTFs for the roll-out of the action plans in 2007 and it is envisaged that funding will be increased on an incremental basis as required to achieve the full roll-out of the RDTF plans, currently estimated to cost €14.1m on an annual basis.

Overall, significant progress was made by the RDTFs in the implementation of their strategic plans and I know that they are continuing to build on this to achieve accelerated progress and increased impact.

Question No. 75 answered with QuestionNo. 53.

Irish Language.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

76 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will report on the operation of the Official Languages Act 2003 since it came into force; if he is satisfied with the implementation and effectiveness of the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14998/07]

As I have outlined on a number of occasions in this House, considerable progress has been made to date in the implementation, on a phased basis, of the provisions of the Official Languages Act 2003.

A total of 50 schemes, which cover a total of 78 public bodies, including my own Department, have now been confirmed by me and published. All 50 schemes are available on the website of An Coimisinéir Teanga, www.coimisineir.ie. In addition, 68 draft schemes covering a total of 126 public bodies are currently in the course of preparation and my Department is currently in discussion with the public bodies concerned in relation to the completion of the process of drafting of these schemes.

All provisions of the Act are now in operation.

On 14 December 2006 both the Dáil and the Seanad approved a draft of Regulations dealing with the use of the Irish and English languages by public bodies in pre-recorded oral announcements, on stationery and on signage. My Department subsequently wrote to all public bodies covered by the Act in order to provide them with an opportunity to comment on the draft Regulations. I expect to be in a position to make the Regulations shortly.

Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla has been established. The Coimisinéir recently published his Annual Report for 2006.

In April 2006, I made Regulations that updated the list of public bodies covered under the Act.

I have made 10 Placenames Orders to date including An tOrdú Logainmneacha (Ceantair Ghaeltachta) 2004.

At my request, Foras na Gaeilge has developed an accreditation system for Irish language translators. To date 75 translators have achieved the required standard.

Having regard to the achievements I have just outlined, I am fully satisfied with the progress made to date in the implementation of the Act. I am also satisfied that the public bodies are able to fulfil their obligations under the Act and that they have accepted the challenge with a positive attitude and in the proper spirit. I should remind Deputies that each language scheme prepared by the public bodies under section 11 of the Act has been drawn up in the context of the resources — both in terms of finances and personnel — currently available or to be made available to bodies during the lifetime of each scheme. As I have stated from the beginning, while it will not be possible to achieve everything overnight, my main objective is that improvements in the range and quality of services available through Irish will be achieved over the lifetime of a number of schemes, subject to demand.

National Drugs Strategy.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

77 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the funding available for 2007 for the Ballyfermot Local Drug Task Forces’s Support for Childcare Fund which is administered by the Ballyfermot Advance Project has already been allocated; and if he will make additional funding available as a matter of urgency. [14970/07]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

681 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the funding available for 2007 for a fund (details supplied) has already been allocated; and if he will make additional funding available. [14564/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 681 together.

I understand that an application for additional funding has recently been made to the National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST) by the Project. I will consider any recommendation arising from this application if and when it is received in my Department from the NDST.

Question No. 78 answered with QuestionNo. 50.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

79 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the organisations that have been allocated funding from the Dormant Accounts Fund since the start of 2007; the amount allocated on each occasion; the name and location of each organisation; the purpose of the funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15002/07]

To date in 2007, the Government has approved funding in the sum of €19.978m from the Dormant Accounts Fund to support over 1,600 groups as per the table below:

Funding Measures approved in 2007

Category

Applications Approved

Value of Approvals

€m

ICT Initiatives for Disadvantaged Young People

Social & Economic Disadvantage

39

2.347

Projects addressing Alcohol Related Harm

Social & Economic Disadvantage

18

1.062

Small scale Equipment Grants for Youth Clubs/Groups

Social & Economic Disadvantage

1,446

2.025

RAPID Ballyfermot Priority Projects

Social & Economic Disadvantage

10

0.300

Recreational and Personal Development Opportunities for Disadvantaged Young People

Social & Economic Disadvantage

51

1.123

Small scale Building/Building enhancements in Residential Care Units.

People with Disabilities

28

3.704

Transition from Residential Care Settings to Community Care Housing.

People with Disabilities

15

7.151

Aids and Appliances for People with physical and sensory Disabilities.

People with Disabilities

15

2.266

Summary Totals

1,622

19.978

Details of the projects which have been approved for funding under the various measures listed above, including amounts awarded and purpose of funding, are available on my Department's website at www.pobail.ie.

I should add that earlier today the Government approved funding of €10.34 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund to support nine jointly-funded flagship projects. In addition to the Dormant Accounts grants, these projects have managed to secure over €25.7 million from private, philanthropic and community sources. Details of these projects will be announced when the project promoters have been informed regarding the grant amounts and the specific conditions attaching to each grant. There are a number of projects remaining to be assessed under this funding measure and it is anticipated that further allocations from the Dormant Accounts Fund will be made in respect of projects which have substantial funding commitments from private, philanthropic and community sources when the assessment process has been fully completed.

Charities Regulation.

Joan Burton

Question:

80 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the reform and the need for regulation of the charities sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14997/07]

The Government has recognised that Irish charity law is in need of modernisation. To address this, the Charities Bill 2007 was published on 12th April last. This draft legislation has been developed to ensure accountability and to protect against abuse of charitable status and fraud. It also aims to enhance public trust and confidence in charities and increase transparency in the sector.

Question No. 81 answered with QuestionNo. 50.
Question No. 82 answered with QuestionNo. 70.
Question No. 83 answered with QuestionNo. 74.

Gaeltacht Areas.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

84 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress he has made to promote and support the sustainable and inclusive development of Gaeltacht communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15005/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department implements a range of schemes aimed at supporting the maintenance and strengthening of the Irish language as the principal language of both household and community in the Gaeltacht. These include Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge, Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge (Gaeltacht Summer Colleges), Infrastructural Improvement Schemes, Gaeltacht Housing Grants, Gaeltacht Summer Camps, Language Assistants, Youth Sports Training, etc.

In addition, a number of new initiatives have also been undertaken, including:

community-based language planning;

the further development of third-level education provision through the medium of Irish in the Gaeltacht;

the commissioning of a comprehensive linguistic study of Irish language usage in the Gaeltacht; and

the implementation of a targeted language awareness campaign focused on intergenerational transmission of the Irish language.

A significant increase has been seen for a number of years now in my Department's Gaeltacht expenditure, in particular on infrastructure such as roads, piers, village renewal and community facilities, including community halls, summer colleges, sports and recreational facilities. By improving the infrastructure, these grants are aimed at improving the social, cultural and economic life of the Gaeltacht areas, as well as strengthening the Irish language as the community language within such areas.

In addition, Údarás na Gaeltachta, which is charged with developing the economy of the Gaeltacht and encouraging the preservation and extension of the Irish language as the principal means of communication in the Gaeltacht, promotes productive schemes of employment and supports community development initiatives throughout the Gaeltacht. Since the establishment of my Department in 2002, I have approved €227m in total in Exchequer funding to enable Údarás to achieve its objectives, and the benefits of this investment have been evident in the areas of job creation, community development and enterprise, and in the successes achieved across a range of projects based on the use of the resources in the Gaeltacht, including the Irish language.

Departmental Funding.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

85 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding provided by combat poverty to an organisation (details supplied) in County Donegal; if he is satisfied that the funding is used for the purpose intended and not for the promotion of a political party; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15372/07]

I understand that the organisation to which the Deputy refers has received funding of some €1.36m in total for 4 projects over a 10 year period through Border Action, an intermediary funding body under the Peace Programme comprising Pobal and Combat Poverty. While funding for a range of measures under the Peace Programme — including the measure under which the organisation in question was funded — is channelled from my Department through the Special EU Programmes Body, the assessment and approval of funding applications is carried out independently by Selection Committees established by Border Action for this purpose.

I understand that the funding in this case has been used to deliver a programme of information and advice, education and training, counselling and mentoring as a progression to employment and integration. I am also informed that the expenditure has been verified and audited in accordance with procedures required under EU Regulations.

Employment Statistics.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

86 Mr. Kehoe asked the Taoiseach the most recent figures for the number of persons working here with a breakdown of the figures in relation to the different sectors involved. [14425/07]

Statistics on sectoral employment are compiled from the Quarterly National Household Survey. The most recent information relates to the fourth quarter of 2006 (September to November). The information as requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Persons aged 15 years and over in employment (ILO) classified by sex and NACE Economic Sector

'000

Economic sector (NACE Rev. 1)

Sep-Nov 04

Jun-Aug 05

Sep-Nov 05

Dec-Feb 06

Mar-May 06

Jun-Aug 06

Sep-Nov 06

Males

A-B

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

102.3

109.0

104.9

104.8

103.8

109.1

105.2

C-E

Other production industries

212.2

207.2

205.4

202.5

204.6

209.8

208.4

F

Construction

217.4

239.8

240.6

241.1

249.4

263.9

268.5

G

Wholesale and retail trade

134.6

142.1

141.5

143.5

143.7

147.7

146.8

H

Hotels and restaurants

45.7

50.5

48.0

49.1

49.7

50.5

48.6

I

Transport, storage and communication

90.5

91.2

91.9

91.3

91.8

97.7

89.8

J-K

Financial and other business services

123.0

130.4

130.5

136.4

136.2

134.7

141.5

L

Public administration and defence

46.7

50.0

50.2

51.3

51.5

49.8

52.0

M

Education

35.0

35.0

36.3

37.6

38.9

34.6

37.7

N

Health

33.4

32.8

32.5

33.7

34.9

38.1

35.0

O-Q

Other services

51.6

58.2

58.7

58.5

57.6

55.5

52.8

Total males

1,092.4

1,146.3

1,140.5

1,149.8

1,162.0

1,191.4

1,186.3

Females

A-B

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

10.2

10.6

10.4

10.7

10.7

12.5

10.7

C-E

Other production industries

88.9

87.4

82.8

82.5

83.9

86.8

83.6

F

Construction

10.0

12.2

12.5

12.7

13.3

13.9

13.2

G

Wholesale and retail trade

130.9

144.5

143.5

142.6

140.7

150.0

141.5

H

Hotels and restaurants

66.9

69.8

67.5

64.0

66.6

70.1

68.0

I

Transport, storage and communication

25.2

27.3

26.5

29.2

28.9

30.6

27.4

J-K

Financial and other business services

124.7

132.9

132.4

132.8

131.1

133.0

136.4

L

Public administration and defence

47.6

51.0

50.6

51.8

53.6

56.0

53.1

M

Education

83.5

84.8

91.5

95.3

96.7

89.2

101.9

N

Health

149.1

158.7

159.0

162.5

166.4

172.8

175.2

O-Q

Other services

64.7

64.2

63.4

64.2

63.0

66.9

68.8

Total females

801.7

843.5

840.1

848.3

855.0

881.8

879.8

All persons

A-B

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

112.5

119.6

115.3

115.5

114.5

121.7

115.8

C-E

Other production industries

301.1

294.6

288.2

285.0

288.5

296.6

292.1

F

Construction

227.4

252.1

253.2

253.8

262.7

277.8

281.6

G

Wholesale and retail trade

265.4

286.6

285.0

286.1

284.4

297.8

288.3

H

Hotels and restaurants

112.6

120.4

115.5

113.1

116.3

120.6

116.6

I

Transport, storage and communication

115.7

118.5

118.3

120.5

120.7

128.3

117.2

J-K

Financial and other business services

247.7

263.3

263.0

269.2

267.3

267.7

278.0

L

Public administration and defence

94.4

101.0

100.7

103.1

105.1

105.8

105.1

M

Education

118.5

119.8

127.9

132.8

135.6

123.7

139.6

N

Health

182.5

191.5

191.5

196.3

201.2

210.9

210.2

O-Q

Other services

116.3

122.4

122.1

122.8

120.6

122.4

121.6

Total persons

1,894.1

1,989.8

1,980.6

1,998.1

2,017.0

2,073.3

2,066.1

Decentralisation Programme.

Seán Ryan

Question:

87 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Taoiseach his views on whether the proposed transfer of staff from the Central Statistics Office in Swords, County Dublin to a city centre location is going against the principal of decentralisation; and if he will review the decision taken. [14737/07]

Additional staff were required for a six to nine month period to work on the processing of 2006 Census of Population in the CSO's Swords office. A number of these additional staff were drawn from the ranks of existing Dublin based Civil Servants on the understanding that they would be re-deployed within the Dublin area on completion of the Census work. These temporary arrangements were not part of the Decentralisation Programme.

Migrant Statistics.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

88 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach if there is a mechanism for collecting data regarding the various contributions made by immigrants here, including taxes and fees, volunteerism and local community participation, provision of caring services, and so on; if a report has been or will be provided showing that information; if not, if there are plans to collate such information; his views on putting in place resources to provide such information; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15368/07]

The CSO have taken a number of steps to capture statistical information on the Non-Irish population in recent times. Nationality data is captured in a number of CSO surveys including the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), the EU-Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), the National Employment Survey (NES) and the Census of Population (COP). It is therefore possible to varying degrees to cross-classify the information captured in these surveys by nationality, and in particular that collected in the COP.

A range of issues including volunteerism and the provision of unpaid caring services were included in the most recent Census of Population and data will be published on a phased basis throughout 2007. Topics of a similar nature were also included in a module on Sports and Social Capital attached to the QNHS in the third quarter of 2006, data for which should be available later this year. Labour market estimates classified by nationality are being published on an ongoing basis in the quarterly QNHS release and analysis of earnings data by nationality will also be possible from the NES 2006.

Awards System.

Finian McGrath

Question:

89 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Taoiseach the position regarding a system for honouring Irish citizens for doing voluntary and community work. [14019/07]

A National Presidential Citizens Awards system was one of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Taskforce on Active Citizenship which I was pleased to launch on 28 March last. The Report was prepared following extensive consultation and research carried out by the Taskforce since its establishment in April 2006. Copies of the Report have been placed in the Oireachtas Library.

The Taskforce proposes the introduction of National Presidential Citizens Awards to recognise outstanding contributions to civic and community life. It is recommended that the awards be presented to a limited number of people selected by an independent process based on nominations by members of the public. Presentation of the Awards could act as a focal point for the Active Citizenship Week also proposed by the Taskforce.

The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Taskforce in principle and also agreed to establish a non-statutory Active Citizenship Office as proposed in the Report. This cross-departmental office will develop a three-year implementation plan for the recommendations in the report, in consultation with relevant stakeholders. An Implementation Steering Group, to be chaired by Mary Davis, will be established to oversee the work of the office.

Animal Welfare.

Michael Lowry

Question:

90 Mr. Lowry asked the Taoiseach if, in view of a recent Supreme Court decision (details supplied) an analysis has been carried out as to the impact this decision will have on all EU regulations transposed into Irish law by regulations since joining the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14034/07]

The advice of the Office of the Attorney General is that the judgment in this case relates to the Animal Remedies Act, 1993. Whether the judgment has implications for other legislation is under review. However, the case has no implications for the regulations made under the European Communities Act, 1972, or the related legislation recently passed by these Houses.

Departmental Staff.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

91 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Taoiseach the provisions that have been made to increase the resources of the Offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Chief Prosecution Solicitor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12967/07]

Following a detailed examination of increases in both the volume and complexity of the work of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, an additional 28 posts were sanctioned in January 2007. This increase brings the total authorised staffing complement of the Director's Office to 202. The necessary additional funding to meet the costs of these posts was added to the DPP's Vote for 2007.

The 28 posts sanctioned were to deal with a range of increases in work which had taken place. I understand that the Director is in communication with the Department of Finance and the Tánaiste with regard to further additional staff which will be required to implement recent Government initiatives in the criminal justice area.

The Director has been in touch with the Chairman of the Office of Public Works who is urgently seeking accommodation for the additional staff.

Ministerial Staff.

Phil Hogan

Question:

92 Mr. Hogan asked the Taoiseach the names, titles, duties and dates of appointment of each of the special advisers, political advisers, personal assistants and press officers appointed by him; the salary level of each appointee including payments in lieu of pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14211/07]

Under the direction of the Programme Manager, the primary function of the Special Advisers is to monitor, facilitate and help secure the achievement of Government objectives and to ensure effective coordination in the implementation of the Programme for Government. They are also tasked with giving me advice and keeping me informed on a wide range of issues, including business, financial, economic, political, administrative and media matters and performing such other functions as may be directed by me, from time to time.

Each of the Advisers liaises with a number of Departments and acts as a point of contact in my Office for Ministers and their Advisers. My Advisers attend meetings of Cabinet Committees and cross-departmental teams relevant to their responsibilities. They also liaise, on my behalf, with organisations and interest groups outside of Government. One Adviser, assigned to the Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, provides advice to the Minister of State and is monitoring, facilitating and securing the achievements of Government objectives that relate to the Department of the Taoiseach, as requested by the Minister of State.

In addition, a number of my Advisers have specific responsibilities in relation to speech drafting. My Programme Manager meets other Ministerial Advisers on a weekly basis. He monitors and reports to me on progress in implementing the Programme for Government.

The Government Press Secretary, together with the Press Officers, provide an information service on Government policy to the public through the national and international media on behalf of myself, my Department and the Government, together with promoting a co-ordinated approach to media matters across all Government Departments.

The central task of the Deputy Government Press Secretary/Head of Government Information Services (G.I.S.) is to assist the Government Press Secretary in communicating to the media the decisions of Government.

The Personal Assistants in my Department have a range of duties including providing administrative assistance in my Private and Constituency Offices, Protocol Division and Government Chief Whip's Office. One Personal Assistant (who is also based in my Department) is assigned to assist and provide administrative assistance to both the Programme Manager to the Tánaiste and the Deputy Government Press Secretary and Head of Government Information Services.

The following table outlines salary details and dates of appointment for the Special and Political Advisers, Personal Assistants and Press Officers currently working in my Department.

Name

Title

Date of Appointment

Annual Salary including pension contributions

Gerry Hickey

Programme Manager & Special Adviser

27.06.97

225,410.00

Gerard Howlin

Special Adviser

08.06.99

133,367.00*

Úna Claffey

Special Adviser

13.11.00

133,367.00*

Brian Murphy

Special Adviser

01.03.99

100,299.00

John Lahart

Special Adviser to the Minister of State & Government Chief Whip

29.09.04

87,202.00*

Pádraig Slyne

Special Adviser with Special responsibility for co-ordination between all Ministers of State

01.10.04

66,376.00*

John O’Brien

Programme Manager to the Tanaiste

03.11.06

166,093.00

Mandy Johnson

Government Press Secretary

06.06.02

133,367.00

Mark Costigan

Deputy Government Press Secretary and Head of G.I.S.

29.08.05

104,343.00

Seán Nolan

Personal Assistant

27.06.97

51,352.00

Yvonne Graham

Personal Assistant

02.05.00

51,352.00

Olive Melvin

Personal Assistant

27.06.97

56,999.00

Denise Kavanagh

Personal Assistant

28.06.97

56,999.00

Sarah McLoughlin

Personal Assistant

02.04.01

51,352.00

Harry Murphy

Personal Assistant to the Minister of State & Government Chief Whip

27.10.04

46,078.00

Tracey Young

Personal Secretary to the Minister of State & Government Chief Whip

29.09.04

44,235.59

Perpetua Brady

Personal Secretary

14.08.00

37,772.58

*These members of staff, who are not members of a civil service pension scheme, receive a contribution towards their pension fund which they arrange separately. All other staff are members of civil service pension schemes, for which separate superannuation arrangements are in place.

Industrial Relations.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

93 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Taoiseach the position in relation to the long running dispute involving the State solicitors; the steps being taken to resolve outstanding issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15118/07]

Following a meeting on Thursday, 19 April, agreement has now been reached with the State Solicitors Association. This follows intensive negotiations between the State parties and the Association. It is expected that local State Solicitors will sign the new contracts by the end of this week allowing for the service to transfer to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as recommended in the Nally Report.

Legal Profession.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

94 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way many solicitors and others qualifying in the legal field can fulfil their training in view of the lack of apprenticeships positions currently available nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14392/07]

Section 29 (as amended by substitution by section 44 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994) of the Solicitors Act 1954 provides that five years continuous practice as a solicitor is required before a solicitor may, with the written consent of the Law Society of Ireland, take on an apprentice. The Law Society has recently submitted a proposal to me to amend the legislation to reduce to four years the number of years post-qualification experience required before a solicitor can take on an apprentice. The effect would be a higher number of solicitor apprenticeship positions becoming available. The proposal is to deal with the matter in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2006 that is before the House.

Violence Against Women.

Jack Wall

Question:

95 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the proposals to or actions already made by him into research into violence against women, domestic violence and violence against ethnic women; the cost of such research; the decisions reached as a result of such research; the actions taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14923/07]

Funding has been made available by my Department for a number of key research projects in the last five years relating to violence against women, violence against ethnic women and domestic violence.

In 2005, the National Crime Council, which is funded by my Department, published, in association with the Economic and Social Research Institute, the first ever large-scale study undertaken to give an overview of the nature, extent and impact of domestic abuse against women and men in intimate partner relationships in Ireland. This major survey cost approximately €225,000. The results of this study have informed our understanding of the extent of the problem of domestic violence in Ireland.

In 2004 funding of €108,054 over a period of three years was provided to the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland for research into attrition rates in rape cases in Ireland. This study is approaching completion and will also inform future decision making.

An amount of €24,600 was granted to Women's Aid in November 2006 to research female domestic homicide. In examining the crime in the context of Irish society it will help identify where opportunities for effective intervention were originally missed and recognise the identifiable risk factors present in many such deaths.

The Women's Health Council have been awarded a research grant of €94,500 in December 2006 to examine the experience of ethnic minority women in Ireland in relation to violence. This research will inform future decision-making on provision of services to women from ethnic minorities,

In addition, and at a total cost of some €86,000, my Department has commissioned two separate evaluations of the perpetrator and other intervention programmes which it has been supporting. The outcomes of these evaluations have contributed to the recently announced decision on the establishment of a new Executive Office within the aegis of my Department to prevent domestic violence.

One of the tasks of the new Office, which will be called COSC — Irish Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, will be to commission further research into the causes and effects of domestic violence and violence against women. The Department is also supporting the establishment of a dedicated researcher post in the National Crime Council to develop a permanent research competence in the field of violence against women and draw down emerging international research on the topic.

Regulatory Reform.

Finian McGrath

Question:

96 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 170 of 6 March 2007, the position regarding the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission and wards of Court issue. [15142/07]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Question No. 170 of 6 March 2007. The position remains the same other than to indicate that the necessary legislation is a commitment in the Government's Legislative Programme for the Summer Session as announced by the Chief Whip on 23 April 2007.

Community Policing Fora.

Dan Boyle

Question:

97 Mr. Boyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the commitment to set up 14 community policing fora under the 2002 National Drugs Strategy has not been fulfilled; and his views on whether community policing is an essential part of the efforts to control the supply of drugs in local communities. [14985/07]

Currently funding is made available via the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to a number of community policing fora which have been set up in the context of the Government's National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008.

The further establishment of community policing fora is being delivered in the context of the policy framework set out under the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This will ensure that such initiatives are developed in an appropriate, coherent and properly planned manner.

Under the 2005 Act, Joint Policing Committees (JPCs) are to be established in each of the local authority administrative areas throughout the State, which will bring together representatives from the local authority, Gardaí, public representatives (national and local) and representatives of the community and voluntary sector to discuss and make recommendations on matters affecting the policing of the area, including issues relating to drug misuse.

This is a significant new statutory arrangement with regard to how An Garda Síochána and local authorities will interact with elected representatives and representatives from local communities in relation to policing matters.

As the first phase towards implementation, the Government has established pilot JPCs (22) in the following areas: Fingal, Offaly and Wicklow County Councils; Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford City Councils; Drogheda and Sligo Borough Councils; and Athy, Arklow, Ballinasloe, Birr, Bray, Edenderry, Greystones, Letterkenny, Mallow, Tralee, Tuam, Tullamore and Wicklow Town Councils.

In Dublin city, five sub-committees corresponding to the operational areas of the City Council are also being established. These are all, at this stage, up and running.

During 2007, an evaluation of the pilot phase will be undertaken with the intention that JPCs will be established in all local authority areas in early 2008 and committees will be put in place until the next local elections in 2009.

In conjunction with this, section 36 (2) (d) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides for the establishment of local policing fora by a JPC where they are deemed necessary.

Taking account of these provisions, priority will be given to establishing local policing fora in all Local Drugs Task Force areas and other areas experiencing problems of drug misuse.

This will be done in conjunction with the continued implementation of Action 11 of the National Drugs Strategy by An Garda Síochána.

All of this reflects the Government's strong view that community policing fora initiatives continue to play an important role in enhancing drug supply reduction measures being taken under our National Drugs Strategy.

Citizenship Applications.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

98 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to an application for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14104/07]

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 on 6 December 2004.

Processing of the application has commenced and the case file will be submitted to me for a decision in the near future. I will inform the Deputy and the person in question when I have reached a decision on the application.

Garda Investigations.

Joe Costello

Question:

99 Mr. Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will establish an independent inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14114/07]

I refer the Deputy to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 196 of 04 May 2006. As the inquest into this tragic death is ongoing, the position as outlined in my previous reply remains unchanged.

Residency Permits.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

100 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the case of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14115/07]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that a decision in the case of an application for Family Reunification by the person in question was issued on the 6th December 2006.

Visas were granted for the spouse and 4 minor children of the person in question and visa applications were refused for the mother and 5 adult siblings under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996.

A request to review the refusals was received from the person's legal representative. This matter is currently under consideration and a decision will issue in due course.

Collection Permits.

Finian McGrath

Question:

101 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will have a complaint (details supplied) treated with due attention and as a matter of urgency. [14116/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that on 9 December, 2006 two persons were observed collecting at the junction of Parnell Road and Dolphin Road in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) South Division. When approached by Gardaí they produced a collection permit issued by the Chief Superintendent, Pearse Street Garda Station authorising a collection for charity in the DMR South Central Garda Division only. The location where the persons were collecting was outside this Garda Division and was not authorised by the Local Divisional Officer.

The collectors were advised that all collections must be authorised by a collection permit issued by the Chief Superintendent for the area and that each collector must be in possession of a written authorisation issued by the permit holder. One of the collectors produced a collection authorisation form signed by himself and not by the person to whom the permit was issued, while the second person produced an unsigned collection authorisation form. They were also advised that collecting at traffic lights after dark without torches and suitable fluorescent attire was importuning traffic.

The powers provided by section 20 of the Street and House to House Collections Act, 1962, which authorises members of An Garda Síochána in certain circumstances to take all the money collected in a collection and the collection box or other receptacle in which the money is contained and all badges, emblems and other tokens used in or in connection with the collection, were then exercised, and possession was taken of the collection boxes, which were unsealed, and the bibs.

I am further informed that the persons were advised of the Garda Station to which the members of An Garda Síochána were attached and it is understood that the persons called to both Sundrive Road and Crumlin Garda Stations, where the Member in Charge explained that under the provisions of the Street and House Collections Act 1962 the members of An Garda Síochána were entitled to seize the money boxes or receptacles and bibs and that these items would not be returned as there was a prosecution pending and the items were required as evidence.

Summonses for offences contrary to section 3 of the Street and House to House Collections Act 1962 of holding a collection without a permit and acting as a collector have been applied for in respect of both persons.

Garda Investigations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

102 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there is an investigation ongoing regarding the allegations that certain Gardaí are assisting a company (details supplied). [14117/07]

I can confirm that the Garda Commissioner has appointed a senior officer at Assistant Commissioner level to investigate these allegations and the Garda Síochána would welcome the receipt of any information that would assist the investigation.

Residency Permits.

Tom Hayes

Question:

103 Mr. Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for reunification submitted by a person (details supplied) will be decided, in respect of their parents. [14118/07]

The person in question made an application for Family Reunification under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996 on behalf of her parents in October 2006. This application is in the final stages of processing by my Department and a decision will issue in due course.

Registration of Title.

Pat Carey

Question:

104 Mr. Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 who has applied for the deeds of their house will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14126/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority was established as and from 4 November, 2006. The Property Registration Authority replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions.

In order to be of assistance I forwarded the Deputy's query to the Authority for its attention and direct reply. I understand that a reply has already issued.

I would also like to refer the Deputy to my letter of 26 May, 2006 to members of the Oireachtas regarding a new service for TDs and Senators concerning the current status of applications of this type. As outlined in my letter, the service was introduced, inter alia, to provide a speedier and more cost effective alternative to submitting Parliamentary Questions.

Citizenship Applications.

Michael Ring

Question:

105 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when Irish citizenship by naturalisation will be approved for persons (details supplied) in County Mayo. [14135/07]

Applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to were received in the Citizenship section of my Department on 1 June 2005.

Section 15 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, requires that an applicant must have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of the application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the State amounting to four years.

On examination of the applications, it was determined that the individuals concerned did not satisfy the above requirements. Letters informing them of this were issued in June 2005. The second named person subsequently forwarded documentation to show that she had since met the statutory requirements. Her application was accepted and was assigned its original reference number.

The first named individual made a new application for naturalisation which was received in the Citizenship section on 7 February 2006. On examination of this application it was determined that the person concerned now met the statutory requirements and his application was placed in chronological order.

Officials in Citizenship section are currently processing applications received in the latter half of 2004. There are approximately 2,000 applications to be dealt with before that of second named person and 5,500 applications before the first named person. It is likely, therefore, that further processing of the applications will commence in late 2007 and mid 2008 respectively. I will inform the Deputy and the persons in question when I have reached a decision on the applications.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

106 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to an application for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14145/07]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department on 7 December 2006.

Applications received in the latter half of 2004 are currently being processed and there are approximately 11,700 applications on hand to be dealt with before the person in question. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. It is likely, therefore, that the application will be submitted to me for a decision by mid 2009.

I will inform the Deputy and the person concerned when I have reached a decision on the application.

Visa Applications.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

107 Mr. Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a visa application for a person (details supplied) in County Carlow has been received by his Department; and when he expects to make a decision on same. [14150/07]

I am informed that the person concerned is currently resident in the State. I also understand that the Immigration Division of my Department has no record of having received an application from the person referred to by the Deputy, to regularise his immigration status in the State.

The person in question should contact the Immigration Division with details of his future intentions.

Residency Permits.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

108 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a decision has been made in relation to the application for renewal of IBC/05 permission to remain in the State, granted on 15 February 2005, by a person (details supplied) in County Louth; if a decision has not been made, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14180/07]

The application referred to by the Deputy was received in my Department on 2nd February, 2007. A decision in respect of the application was taken on 26th March, 2007. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the permission to remain for the person in question was renewed until 16th February, 2010.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

109 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a decision has been made on the application for renewal of IBC/05 permission to remain in the State, granted on 15 February 2005, by a person (details supplied) in County Louth; if a decision has not been made, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14181/07]

The application referred to by the Deputy was received in my Department on 2 February, 2007. A decision in respect of the application was taken on 26 March, 2007. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the permission to remain for the person in question was renewed until 16 February, 2010.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

110 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; if, in view of the evidence, he will grant them permission to remain in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14182/07]

I refer the Deputy to my previous reply to Question No. 228 of 24 October, 2006. My Department is currently appealing a number of matters related to the IBC/05 scheme, including the issue of continuous residency, to the Supreme Court. These matters will be further considered in the light of the findings of the Court.

Citizenship Applications.

John Curran

Question:

111 Mr. Curran asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects to make a decision regarding applications for naturalisation by persons (details supplied) in County Dublin. [14194/07]

Applications for certificates of naturalisation were received in the Citizenship Section of my Department on 17 October 2005. Officials in that section are currently processing applications received in the latter half of 2004 and have approximately 3,800 applications on hand to be dealt with before those of the persons in question. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. It is likely, therefore, that the applications will be submitted to me for a decision in early 2008. I will inform the Deputy and the persons concerned when I have reached a decision on the applications.

Ministerial Staff.

Phil Hogan

Question:

112 Mr. Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the names, titles, duties and dates of appointment of each of the special advisers, political advisers, personal assistants and press officers appointed by him; the salary level of each appointee including payments in lieu of pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14209/07]

The information as requested by the Deputy is as set out below:

Name

Title/Duties

Date Of Appointment

Salary

John O’Brien

Programme Manager

3/11/2006 – present

€122,590 – €140,385*

Sinead McSweeney

Special Adviser

07/06/02 –18/06/04

€74,466 – €91,841**

Cormac Lucey

Special Adviser

11/01/05 – present

€80,408 – €99,457**

Cathal Fitzgerald

Special Adviser

01/12/06 – present

€80,408 – €99,457**

Hugh Hardiman

Personal Assistant

01/08/02 – present

€43,445 – €55,147

Mary McCowan

Personal Secretary

06/08/02 – present

€28,523 – €47,039

*In addition to salary an acting allowance of €25,708 per annum is payable.

**Entitled to claim up to 11% of their total salary in lieu of pension.

Citizenship Applications.

Michael Ring

Question:

113 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will make a decision on applications for certificates of naturalisation from persons (details supplied) in County Mayo. [14214/07]

I refer the Deputy to my response to Parliamentary Question No 395 of 31 January 2007 regarding the second-named person. As I explained, the person in question did not satisfy the statutory residency conditions, as set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 as amended. Consequently, she was deemed ineligible to apply at that time and her legal advisor was advised accordingly. I also advised the Deputy that provided the person in question had kept her permission to remain in the state up to date, she was eligible to lodge a new application. Officials in the Citizenship Section of my Department inform me that as of 16 March 2007, no such application has been received. An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the first-named person was received in October 2006. Applications received in the second half of 2004 are currently being processed and there are approximately 10,200 applications awaiting processing before that of the applicant. It is likely that the processing of this application will commence in mid-2009. I will inform the Deputy and the person concerned when a decision is made on this case.

Michael Noonan

Question:

114 Mr. Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on an application for naturalisation by a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14217/07]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received in the Citizenship section of my Department on 24 March 2005. Officials in that section are currently processing applications received in the latter half of 2004 and have approximately 1,200 applications on hand before that of the person concerned. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. It is likely that the processing of this application will commence in the second half of this year. I will inform the Deputy and the person concerned when a decision is made on the case.

Juvenile Offenders.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

115 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of behaviour warnings issued to people aged 12 to 18 since 1 March 2007; the number of cases where a good behaviour contract has been entered into following such a warning; the number of meetings held with young people, parents and the Garda under the anti-social behaviour provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2006; the number of referrals to diversion under this Act; the number of anti-social behaviour warnings sought by the Garda in court or issued by the courts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14222/07]

There have been five Behaviour Warnings issued against children recorded by Gardaí under the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 for the month of March, 2007. There were no Good Behaviour Contracts entered into and no Behaviour Orders granted by the courts on application by the Garda Síochána for March 2007.

Visa Applications.

Pat Carey

Question:

116 Mr. Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on restoring, on humanitarian grounds, the visa waiver scheme which facilitated immediate clearance at Shannon Airport of children from Chernobyl coming to Ireland on short holidays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14224/07]

A number of years ago my Department introduced a scheme whereby the requirement to hold a valid visa prior to entering the State was waived for certain persons travelling from Belarus with the Chernobyl Children's Organisation for the purposes of visiting Ireland for a period of rest and/or recuperation. The groups involved were, at the time, limited in number and were well known to my Department. The number of groups seeking such visa exemptions has increased significantly and there are now between 35 and 40 groups. This practice worked well in the past but we found it necessary to re-evaluate the system for a number of reasons: The introduction of the Children's Act 2001 has placed extra obligations on all parties involved in the establishment of private foster care arrangements. Some, but not necessarily all, of the arrangements entered into between host families, the Chernobyl groups and the parents of the children involved, fall into the category "private foster care arrangements" as defined by the Department of Health and Children. Indeed officials of my Department met with officials of the Department of Health and Children on this matter to ensure consistency and agreement on the revised practices; The introduction of Carrier's Liability under Section 2.1 of the Immigration Act 2003 means that visa waiver letters are no longer an acceptable alternative to visa endorsements on passports; There are, unfortunately, indications that in certain cases children have not returned to Belarus on the agreed date. While my Department may not be directly responsible for the welfare of these children as such, we have an obligation to put into place a system that guarantees, in as much as it is possible, their safety. Were we to continue the practice of issuing visa waiver letters we could be in breach of the relevant legislation.

My Visa Office in the Irish Embassy in Moscow prioritises such applications. Ultimately our aim is to ensure the safety and welfare of the children who arrive into the care of this State and we are satisfied that the "one person, one visa" system for all is the best way forward in this regard. I would emphasise that the safety of the children concerned is the primary reason for the introduction of these revised practices. While I have no plans at this time to change current practices I am satisfied the Immigration Officials in Shannon will continue to facilitate such groups and make their arrival in this State as easy and simple as possible while insuring that immigration legislation is fully complied with.

Garda Training.

Denis Naughten

Question:

117 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will ensure that front line staff such as gardaí are provided with appropriate training to deal with domestic violence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14259/07]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that domestic violence training is provided as part of the Continuous Professional Development to serving members of An Garda Síochána. The Student Probationer School provides extensive training to new members of An Garda Síochána. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) incorporated Domestic Violence on the 1997 Core Programme for all members of Garda and Sergeant rank after the Domestic Violence Act came into force in 1996. Furthermore, a policy document was issued to all members. The Core Continuous Professional Development Programme for 2006 contained a module on Sexual Crime, developed in consultation with the Rape Crisis Centre Counselling Network and covered some areas pertinent to Domestic Violence. The situation is kept under constant review by Continuous Professional Development. Student /Probationer School deals with the area of Domestic Violence in two study areas, namely Social & Psychological Studies and Legal & Policing Studies as set out hereunder.

Social and Psychological Studies provides the following training to Student and Probationer Gardaí at the Garda College: 1. Women's Aid organisation provides 5 hours training in relation to the victim's perspective. This involves 1 hour in a lecture theatre and 4 hours training in workshops with groups of 20-23 Student Gardaí. 2. A representative of the organisation Men Overcoming Violent Emotions (M.O.V.E) provides a one hour training programme to Student Gardaí on the methods of dealing with offenders in relation to Domestic Violence.1. AMEN, an organisation representing male victims of domestic violence provides a three hour training awareness programme from the perspective of male victims of domestic violence to Student Gardaí. 1. Social and Psychological Studies staff provide training to Phase III Student Gardaí, through development work and role-play scenarios which depict practical incidents that they may encounter relating to domestic violence. This role-play type training develops their skills and competencies in dealing with all aspects of domestic violence. Phase III Student Gardaí are assessed in conjunction with training provided by Legal & Policing Studies.

Legal and Policing Studies facilitate the following instruction in relation to Domestic Violence to Garda Students: Phase I Students are facilitated with instruction on offences committed within the family. While the majority of this training deals specifically with domestic violence, it is recognised that the subject cannot be dealt with in isolation and therefore elements of the training deal with the Children Act, 1908, Child Care, Act 1991 and the Children Act, 2001, where they are impacted by domestic violence issues. Phase III is conducted in a facilitative style in classrooms rather than lecture theatres for the most part. Taking into consideration the experience gained by Student Gardaí on Phase II, training is also provided which goes more in-depth into the procedures when dealing with Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence training is always under consideration by the Garda College. Close liaison is maintained with the various stakeholders to ensure that the training provided is current.

Proposed Legislation.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

118 Mr. O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will introduce measures to have the UN protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking of persons, particularly women and children, and the Council of Europe’s Convention on Actions Against Trafficking in Human Beings ratified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14304/07]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

119 Mr. O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his legislative proposals in regard to human trafficking in order to prevent this human rights abuse, penalise those who engage in it, protect and rehabilitate those trafficked; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14305/07]

Jack Wall

Question:

127 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views in regard to submissions (details supplied); if his Department detected such tragedy here; if so, the action taken; the action he has taken through his contacts at EU or other such organisations; if the Government ratified all UN protocols in regard to the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14341/07]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

205 Mr. Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will bring before Dáil Éireann as a matter of emergency the criminal law (trafficking in persons and sexual offences) Bill; if he will enshrine the rights of victims of human trafficking in the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15041/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 118, 119, 127 and 205 together.

As I informed the House previously, 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.

The UN Protocol to prevent and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, was signed by Ireland in December 2000 and the Government recently authorised the Minister for Foreign Affairs to arrange for the signing by Ireland of the Council of Europe Convention on action against trafficking in human beings. This was done on 13 April 2007. In addition, the forthcoming Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, which is expected to be published shortly, will on enactment provide for a number of immigration related matters so as to comply with the relevant protection provisions in the Convention. In particular, in the context of the treatment of victims, the Bill will provide a framework whereby a victim of trafficking will be afforded an immediate period of recovery and reflection in the State and also, in circumstances where he or she wishes to participate in any criminal proceedings in the matter, a further period of residence in the State to enable him or her to do so. On enactment of these pieces of legislation, Ireland will be in a position to ratify the international instruments on trafficking. I am informed by the Garda authorities that they take a proactive approach and are ever vigilant to ensure that any allegations relating to the trafficking of women or children for sexual exploitation are vigorously investigated. In common with other EU countries, to date, all the indications are that, in Ireland, trafficking in human beings takes place on a much smaller scale than the facilitation of illegal immigration, i.e., smuggling of persons. Targeted Garda operations have been successful in disrupting trafficking activity.

Prisoner Transfers.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

120 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in cases of prisoner repatriation to this State, are the remission rules a prisoner is subject to that of the sentencing State or remission regime of this State; if, in cases of life sentence does he consider the remission regime or release criteria applying contemporaneously in the sentencing State or if he is obliged to do so; if, in cases of repatriated life sentence prisoners, does he or must he consult with the sentencing State in relation to the release of the life sentence prisoner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14320/07]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the mechanism for enabling the transfer of sentenced prisoners is the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The legislative basis for the operation of the Convention in Ireland is the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts, 1995 and 1997. The sentences of prisoners transferring into Ireland under the Convention are administered under the "continued enforcement" procedure in accordance with Article 10 of the Convention. Article 6.2b of the Convention provides that the sentencing state shall furnish, to the administering state, a statement indicating how much of the sentence has already been served, including information on any pretrial detention, remission, and any other factor relevant to the enforcement of the sentence. My Department will take the relevant information provided by the sentencing state (including remission already earned) into account when determining the sentence which will be applicable in this jurisdiction if a transfer proceeds. I should add that prisoners are fully informed, in writing, of the consequences on the enforcement of their sentence when their formal consent to the transfer is being sought. Article 9.3 of the Convention provides that the enforcement of the sentence upon transfer, shall be governed by the law of the administering state (i.e. the receiving state). There is no obligation on the Minister to consult with the sentencing state regarding the administration of the sentence. Article 15 of the Convention does provide that the administering state shall furnish information concerning enforcement of the sentence to the sentencing state in certain circumstances, including when it considers enforcement of the sentence to have been completed or if the sentencing state requests a special report.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

121 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the distress, anxiety and hardship being suffered in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 whose child has many serious special needs; if he will use his discretionary powers to offer temporary residency status entitling them to travel documentation or green card with a view to compliance with requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14329/07]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Questions No. 131 of Thursday, 29 March, 2007 (ref:12220/07), No. 131 of on Thursday, 8 March, 2007 (ref: 9372/07), No. 173 of Wednesday, 6 December, 2006 (ref: 42010/06) and No. 158 of Thursday, 11 May, 2006 (ref: 17811/06) and the written replies to those Questions. The position is unchanged.

Visa Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

122 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason visa applications were refused in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; if this application will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14330/07]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Parliamentary Question 313 of 31 January, 2007. As the requested additional documentation was not received by my Department the visa applications were processed and refused. The decision of the Visa Officer to refuse these applications was taken on 7 March, 2007. The applications were refused because the Visa Officer could not be satisfied, on the basis of the documentation supplied, the reference could financially support the applicants. In addition it was considered that the granting of the visas could result in a cost to public funds and public resources. To date, no appeal in respect of these applications has been received. All appeals must be submitted within two months of the initial refusal decision.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

123 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, as is provided for, he will accede to a request to him by a person (details supplied) in County Offaly to grant permission to resubmit an application for residency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14331/07]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Questions No. 109 of Thursday, 1 March, 2007 (ref: 8219/07), No. 378 of Wednesday, 31 January, 2007 (ref: 2172/07), No. 140 of Thursday, 19 October, 2006 (ref: 33847/06), and No. 358 of Wednesday, 27 September, 2006 (ref: 29160/06) and the written replies to those Questions. The position is unchanged.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

124 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14332/07]

I refer the deputy to my previous reply of 29 March 2007 in relation to the person in question. The position remains unchanged.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

125 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position on an application for citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14333/07]

The person referred to in the Deputy's question applied for a certificate of naturalisation in January 2004 and I decided to refuse the application. The reasons for my decision were disclosed to the individual concerned in a letter dated 1 December 2006. It is open to the person concerned to submit a further application at any time provided he satisfies the relevant statutory conditions applicable at that time. In doing so, however, he should give due regard to my reasons for refusing the previous application.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 228 of 17 October 2006, who the adoption society were; the information that suggests that the parents had ceded parental responsibility; the reason they say there is no evidence of this; when it is expected a response will be received from the Attorney General’s office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14334/07]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 228 of 17 October, 2006. As I advised the Deputy at the time, while there is information on file to the effect that the child's natural parents had ceded responsibility to a UK based adoption society ( the name of which is unknown ), there is no direct evidence from the parents or adoption society to support that contention. The information on file is contained in a submission dated 8 December, 1962 to the then Minister. A copy of the said submission was supplied to the individual concerned in June, 2003. Advice has been received from the Office of the Attorney General in this case. My Department is satisfied that the granting of citizenship to the person concerned was done entirely in good faith and with the best possible intentions. Solicitor's representing the individual were advised accordingly on 5 December, 2006.

Question No. 127 answered with QuestionNo. 118.

John Perry

Question:

128 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on an application for naturalisation by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14346/07]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department on 8 February 2007. Officials in that section are currently processing applications received in the latter half of 2004 and have approximately 13,100 applications on hand to be dealt with before that of the person in question. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. It is likely, therefore, that further processing of the application will commence in late 2009. I will inform the Deputy and the applicant when a decision has been taken in the matter.

Registration of Title.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

129 Mr. Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the timeframe for the resolution of the land ownership issue regarding land (details supplied) in County Dublin, which is being dealt with by the State Solicitor’s office, in view of the fact that this area is subject to frequent graffiti and that the local authority is willing to allocate a small piece of land to the owner to fence off and prevent graffiti and vandalism at this location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14353/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority was established as and from 4 November, 2006. The Property Registration Authority replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions. In order to be of assistance I forwarded the Deputy's query to the Authority for its attention and direct reply. I understand that a reply has already issued. I would also like to refer the Deputy to my letter of 26 May, 2006 to members of the Oireachtas regarding a new service for T.D.s and Senators concerning the current status of applications of this type. As outlined in my letter, the service was introduced, inter alia, to provide a speedier and more cost effective alternative to submitting Parliamentary Questions.

Asylum Support Services.

John McGuinness

Question:

130 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a submission made by Dóchas, Kilkenny, on behalf of a number of residents of a hostel (details supplied) in County Kilkenny, who wish to remain in Kilkenny following the closure of the hostel will be given positive consideration by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14362/07]

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department has a contract in place for the accommodation of asylum seekers at the Ormonde Hostel in Kilkenny until 9 May, 2007. After that time the premises will no longer be available for this purpose as the contractors have decided not to renew the contract. Obviously this decision is regrettable for the RIA but also for the residents of the centre who will have to be moved to alternative suitable accommodation. All State service providers (e.g., HSE, Department of Social and Family Affairs) have been advised of the closure of this centre so that they can prepare for the necessary adjustments to the provision of their services. In addition, the local support group, who have provided on-going support and assistance to the many residents who have resided at the centre since it first opened in December 2000, has also been advised of the closure. The Deputy will appreciate that the residents of this accommodation centre are involved in a process to determine the outcome of their claim for asylum in the State. Under a Government decision it was decided that all applicants for asylum would have their needs met through the system of direct provision. Direct provision is the means by which the State discharges its obligations to provide for the basic requirements of asylum seekers and represents, for the most part, a cashless system with suitable accommodation being provided on a full board basis.

In the event of a positive determination of refugee status, the residents will be free to reside in Kilkenny or anywhere else in the State. Officials from the Reception and Integration Agency visited the Ormonde Accommodation Centre to ascertain each resident's preference for alternative accommodation within the Reception and Integration accommodation portfolio. At this stage all residents have been made initial offers of alternative accommodation. Many of the residents have been offered their first accommodation preference and have taken up their new accommodation. All other residents will be moved by the date of closure on 9 May, 2007 and every effort will be made to facilitate their accommodation requests.

Registration of Title.

John Ellis

Question:

131 Mr. Ellis asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if maps will be issued for a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim. [14386/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority was established as and from 4 November, 2006. The Property Registration Authority replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions. In order to be of assistance I forwarded the Deputy's query to the Authority for its attention and direct reply. I understand that a reply has already issued. I would also like to refer the Deputy to my letter of 26 May, 2006 to members of the Oireachtas regarding a new service for T.D.s and Senators concerning the current status of applications of this type. As outlined in my letter, the service was introduced, inter alia, to provide a speedier and more cost effective alternative to submitting Parliamentary Questions.

Visa Applications.

Phil Hogan

Question:

132 Mr. Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review a decision in respect of a person (details supplied) seeking a tourist visa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14393/07]

The application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Dublin Visa Office on 24 November, 2006. It was refused by the Visa Officer on 7 December, 2006. The decision of the Visa Officer to refuse the application was upheld by an Appeals Officer on 13 February, 2007. As an applicant is entitled to one appeal only, no further review of the application can be undertaken. It is, however, open to the applicant to make a fresh application.

Citizenship Applications.

Phil Hogan

Question:

133 Mr. Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application will be processed for a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14394/07]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received in the Citizenship section of my Department in June 2004. I understand that the case in question will be forwarded to me for a decision shortly and I will inform the Deputy and the person concerned when I have reached a decision on the matter.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Pat Breen

Question:

134 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a closed circuit television system will be operational for Ennis, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14409/07]

I recently announced a major expansion of the Garda CCTV town centre scheme with over €7.5m provided in the Garda Vote for 2007 for CCTV projects. A total of 17 areas are included in the expansion and Ennis is one of these new locations. Installation is well underway in respect of three locations (Ballyfermot, Clondalkin and Tullamore) and the Garda authorities have issued a Request for Tender, with a closing date of today, 24 April 2007, for the installation of nine CCTV systems in Ennis, Castlebar, Drogheda, Kilkenny, Mullingar, Sligo, Tallaght, Portlaoise and Waterford. The responses received will be evaluated and it is anticipated, subject to appropriate contracts being put in place, that these systems will be installed in 2007. A further Request for Tenders will issue very shortly for the installation of Garda CCTV systems in respect of the remaining five locations: Athlone, Carlow, Clonmel, Dungarvan and Kinsale. These 17 schemes are in addition to garda systems already operational in areas such as Dublin city centre, Bray, Dundalk, Dún Laoghaire, Galway, Tralee and Limerick.

Missing Persons.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

135 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons reported missing who were later accounted for as having died in each year between 1999 and 2006; the number of those whose death was deemed to be the result of foul play; the number of those whose death was deemed to be the result of suicide; the average length of time that these persons were unaccounted for between the original missing persons report and their being located; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14421/07]

It has not been possible in the time available for the Garda authorities to supply the details requested by the Deputy. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Citizenship Applications.

Denis Naughten

Question:

136 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 499 of 30 May 2006, the position regarding an application; if he will expedite the case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14439/07]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question Number 258 of 31 January 2007. The position remains as stated.

Denis Naughten

Question:

137 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 189 of 14 November, 2006, the position regarding an application; if he will expedite the case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14440/07]

I informed the Deputy in response to Parliamentary Question No. 189 on 14 November 2006 that processing of the application of the person concerned would commence in the second half of 2008. The Deputy has not put forward any reasons why the matter should be expedited. Consequently, it is likely that processing of the application will commence in the second half of 2008.

Proposed Legislation.

John Perry

Question:

138 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement on correspondence (details supplied). [14468/07]

On 23 May 2006 the Supreme Court delivered its decision in the C.C. case in which it found that section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935 was inconsistent with the Constitution. That section, and the related provisions in the Act, formed an essential part of the legal regime for the protection of children from sexual abuse. The immediate response of the Oireachtas was to enact the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 which was enacted on 2 June 2006. That Act restored a regime of protection of children against sexual abuse and modernised and brought up to date the law in that area. Also, because of the urgency of the legislation, there had been little opportunity to engage in a process of consultation or period of reflection which would be normal in the case of such significant legislation. Therefore, the Joint Committee on Child Protection was established by resolutions of both Houses of the Oireachtas to engage in such a process of consultation and to reflect on the issues involved. Among its terms of reference, the Committee was asked to consider the implications arising from the consequences of the Supreme Court decision in the C.C. case and to examine the desirability or otherwise of amending the Constitution to deal with the outcome of that case and/or provide for a general right of protection for children. The Committee issued its report to the Houses of the Oireachtas on 30 November 2006. The Government is committed to the Report of the Joint Committee on Child Protection and that commitment is reflected in the proposed amendment to the Constitution in the Twenty-Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2007 presented by the Minister for Health and Children on 16 February 2007. This amendment, if passed by the people, will allow the Oireachtas to enact laws which will offer greater protection to children against sexual abuse by creating offences of absolute or strict liability. It has not been possible, given the time constraints, to debate the Twenty-Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Bill in the Houses of the Oireachtas, where it was hoped all-party agreement on the issue could be achieved. Accordingly, the referendum cannot be held before the Autumn, which leaves adequate time for consultations and reflection on the wording of the constitutional amendment.

Violence Against Women.

John Perry

Question:

139 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will address the concerns raised in correspondence (details supplied); the directive he has issued to secure NDVIA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14469/07]

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 67 of Wednesday 04 April 2007 (ref: 12934/07).

Registration of Title.

John Ellis

Question:

140 Mr. Ellis asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a case for a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim will be finalised. [14475/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority was established as and from 4 November, 2006. The Property Registration Authority replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions. In order to be of assistance I forwarded the Deputy's query to the Authority for its attention and direct reply. I understand that a reply has already issued. I would also like to refer the Deputy to my letter of 26 May, 2006 to members of the Oireachtas regarding a new service for T.D.s and Senators concerning the current status of applications of this type. As outlined in my letter, the service was introduced, inter alia, to provide a speedier and more cost effective alternative to submitting Parliamentary Questions.

Garda Operations.

Jerry Cowley

Question:

141 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost to date of the security operation in Ballinaboy, County Mayo to include all costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14501/07]

Jerry Cowley

Question:

142 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí deployed to Ballinaboy, County Mayo on a daily basis; the number of gardaí on stand-by on a daily basis in Ballinaboy, County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14502/07]

Jerry Cowley

Question:

143 Dr. Cowley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost of the security operations carried out by gardaí in Ballinaboy, that is the total cost of gardaí, including their basic salary, overtime, transport, subsistence and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14503/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 to 143, inclusive, together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the total cost, including salaries, etc., of the policing arrangements at Ballinaboy, Co. Mayo, as of 17 April, 2007, was approximately €5.4 million. For security and operational reasons, it is not Garda policy and it would not be in the public interest to disclose detailed information of a kind that could potentially have an operational impact on policing arrangements, including numbers of Garda personnel deployed on an ongoing daily basis and/or on stand-by. The Garda Síochána is statutorily required to provide policing services for the State with the aim of preserving public order and protecting life and property. In this regard, Garda resources are allocated according to, inter alia, the assessed threat of breaches of the criminal law, so it is the latter which ultimately determines the associated costs.

Prison Building Programme.

David Stanton

Question:

144 Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress on the proposed development of a prison at Kilworth, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14536/07]

The Department of Defence has consented to the assignment of land at Kilworth, County Cork to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for the purposes of developing new prison facilities to replace Cork Prison. Technical advisers have been appointed to carry out a range of preliminary studies, e.g. topographical survey, geology, ecology etc. These studies are currently underway and are expected to be completed shortly.

Departmental Properties.

David Stanton

Question:

145 Mr. Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans for the future of Spike Island; the discussions he has had with other Departments on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14537/07]

I wish to inform the deputy that plans for the future of Spike Island will be considered by an Interdepartmental Group comprising of representatives from my Department and the Departments of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Finance and Defence. This group will begin deliberations shortly.

Garda Districts.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

146 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 113 of 29 March 2007, the electoral divisions (details supplied) which each of the Garda stations cover in the Blanchardstown and Santry Garda districts; and the way the boundary between each is determined and the location where that boundary lies. [14538/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Blanchardstown Garda District includes Blanchardstown Garda Station, Cabra Garda Station and Finglas Garda Station. The Blanchardstown Garda District wholly or partially covers the following electoral divisions:

Ashtown A & B

Ballygall A, B & D

Blanchardstown — Abbotstown, Coolmine, Corduff, Delwood, Mulhuddart, Tyrellstown & Roselawn

Cabra A, B & C

Castleknock — Knockmaroon & Park

Finglas North A, B, & C

Finglas South A, B, C & D

The Ward

The Santry Garda District includes Santry Garda Station, Ballymun Garda Station, Whitehall Garda Station and Dublin Airport Garda Station. The Santry Garda District wholly or partially covers the following electoral divisions:

Airport

Ballygall C

Ballymun B, C, D & E

Beaumont A & B

Drumcondra South C

Kilmore A & B

Turnapin

Whitehall A, B, C & D

Garda District and Sub-District boundaries are not coterminous with electoral divisions.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

147 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 222 of 6 February, 2007, if he is in a position to provide the information requested. [14539/07]

I wish to inform the Deputy that a reply to her original question issued from my office on 23 April, 2007.

Departmental Correspondence.

Mary Upton

Question:

148 Dr. Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the dates of correspondence between his Department and An Garda Síochána in 1996 and his Department and the Department of Education and Science in 1996 relating to the investigation of concerns regarding possible abuse of children in a centre (details supplied) in Dublin 11; if he will confirm that all correspondence between his Department and the Garda relating to Finglas has been provided to the child abuse commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14544/07]

Mary Upton

Question:

149 Dr. Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the dates of all correspondence in 1996 between An Garda Síochána and the Department of Education and Science relating to the investigation of concerns regarding possible abuse in a centre (details supplied) in Dublin 11; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14545/07]

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

There is currently no indication that there was correspondence between my Department and An Garda Síochána and the Department of Education and Science in 1996 concerning the investigation referred to. However, I have asked for the matter to be investigated in my Department, and I will be in contact with the Deputy when the investigation has been completed. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the information sought in relation to dates of correspondence in 1996 between An Garda Síochána and the Department of Education and Science is currently being researched and an early response will issue. I have requested a response at the earliest opportunity, and I will contact the Deputy again when the information is at hand.

Insurance Industry.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

150 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement detailing the clear distinctions, protections and ethical guidelines to ensure that nobody pretends to be a person in authority and that people do not feel they are dealing with a person in authority investigating the claim from a different perspective in the context of an insurance claim investigation which he said should exist during a parliamentary exchange on 4 April 2007; and the protections to which he referred that are currently in place. [14549/07]

The Deputy refers to an exchange of views during Leaders Questions on 4 April last. As I said then, I share his view that it should be clear to people, when dealing with a person investigating an insurance company claim, that they are dealing with a representative of an insurance company, not a person implying or insinuating that he or she is a person in authority dealing with the same issue. Where this should happen in relation to serving members of the Garda Síochána the position is clear. Every allegation that a Garda is engaged in investigating claims on behalf of insurance companies will itself be investigated and the full rigours of the law brought to bear should an offence be disclosed. As regards the activities of insurance investigators, I understand that the Financial Regulator is now the authority responsible for the authorisation and ongoing supervision of insurance companies. I understand that a code of conduct has been issued to all regulated entities, including insurance companies, and this sets out requirements and provisions for the handling and processing of claims. Where a consumer is dissatisfied with the manner in which their claim is handled they may make a complaint through the company's complaints procedures. If they are not satisfied with the outcome of this process they may refer the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman who will adjudicate on the issue.

Visa Applications.

Michael Ring

Question:

151 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a visa will be approved to allow a person (details supplied) with a valid work permit to travel to Ireland. [14550/07]

The application referred to was received in the Visa Office on 19 February, 2007. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the visa application in question was approved on 16 April, 2007.

Citizenship Applications.

Billy Timmins

Question:

152 Mr. Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow who has applied for naturalisation; if same will be dealt with as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14557/07]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received in the Citizenship section of my Department on 8 February 2006. Applications are generally dealt with in chronological order as this method is deemed to be fairest to all applicants. However, due to circumstances outlined by the Deputy, I understand that a submission will shortly be made to my Office for a decision on whether this case might be expedited. I will inform the Deputy and the person in question once I have reached a decision on the application.

National Strategy for Older People.

Joe Higgins

Question:

153 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will commit to the development and implementation of a national strategy for older people as recommended by the older and bolder campaign to age proof all policy, legislation and access to services and deliver equality for older people. [14578/07]

The Employment Equality Act 1998, as amended by the Equality Act 2004, prohibits discrimination in relation to nine grounds, one of which is age. The Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004 give protection against discrimination in access to and provision of goods and services on the same nine grounds. My Department chairs a Working Group on Equality Proofing, the membership of which is drawn from the Four Pillars of Social Partnership and from relevant Government Departments, the Equality Authority and the Combat Poverty Agency. The Group is working towards the introduction of a wide ranging system of equality proofing to assess the impact of policy on all nine grounds identified in equality legislation. The Working Group articulates a vision of a single integrated equality proofing process. The target groups to be covered by equality proofing procedures are those grounds, which include age, covered by the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004 and the Employment Equality Act 1998. I am pleased to note that this year's activities to celebrate the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All 2007 will include a campaign to develop public awareness on ageism and older people.

Residency Permits.

John McGuinness

Question:

154 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application to remain here in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if permission will be granted in view of the fact that they are seven years here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14634/07]

I would refer the Deputy to my Reply to his Dáil Question No. 186 of 1 December 2005. The status of the person concerned remains as set out in that Reply. He is due to present again to the Garda National Immigration Bureau on 3 May 2007. The enforcement of the deportation order remains an operational matter for the Bureau.

Registration of Title.

John McGuinness

Question:

155 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in providing a dealing number to register a property at a location (details supplied) in County Kilkenny to Kilkenny Borough Council; and if he will request the property register section to expedite the matter. [14635/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority was established as and from 4 November, 2006. The Property Registration Authority replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions. In order to be of assistance I forwarded the Deputy's query to the Authority for its attention and direct reply. I understand that a reply has already issued. I would also like to refer the Deputy to my letter of 26 May, 2006 to members of the Oireachtas regarding a new service for T.D.s and Senators concerning the current status of applications of this type. As outlined in my letter, the service was introduced, inter alia, to provide a speedier and more cost effective alternative to submitting Parliamentary Questions.

Residency Permits.

Tony Gregory

Question:

156 Mr. Gregory asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the request to remain here on compassionate grounds in view of the age and background of the person (details supplied). [14636/07]

The person concerned, a Nigerian National, arrived in the State as an Unaccompanied Minor on 30 April, 2003 and made an application for asylum on 15 May, 2003. His application for asylum was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and on appeal by the Office of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. A notification under Section 3(3)(a) of the Immigration Act 1999 issued to the person concerned on 29 June, 2004 advising him of the decision to refuse him a declaration of refugee status and setting out the options open to him at that point; i.e. to leave the State voluntarily, to consent to the making of a deportation order or to make written representations within 15 working days to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform setting out the reasons as to why he should not be deported. Representations setting out reasons why the person concerned should not be deported have been received. A decision will be taken after consideration of a number of factors which are specified in section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended. These factors include considerations relating to the common good, the persons' individual family and domestic circumstances, age and humanitarian considerations. Consideration will also be given to the prohibition on refoulement which is contained in section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996, as amended.

Garda Operations.

Finian McGrath

Question:

157 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a person (details supplied) is under Garda surveillance; and if attempts are being made to discredit him by the Department. [14637/07]

I would refer the Deputy to my replies to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 382 and 507 of 2 March and 23 March, 2004, respectively. I categorically reject any suggestion that my Department is in any way seeking to ‘discredit' the person in question.

Crime Levels.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

158 Mr. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the statistics for headline crime in the Dublin north division for the last year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14638/07]

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

Garda Equipment.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

159 Mr. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Garda cars, vans and motorbikes that are currently available to each station in the Dublin region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14639/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the transport resources currently attached to stations in the Dublin Metropolitan Region, including the Dublin Metropolitan Region Traffic Division, are as set out in the following table. I would point out to the Deputy that in overall terms the Garda Fleet has never been more modern. The total spend for 2006 on the purchase of 1,378 new vehicles to upgrade the fleet was €27.45 million resulting in the renewal of over half of the entire Garda fleet in just a single year and further investment in new vehicles for the Garda will be made this year.

Vehicles — DMR

Station

Cars

Vans

Bike

4×4

M/Bus

Total

Airport

2

1

3

Ballyfermot

10

4

14

Ballymun

3

1

4

Blackrock

7

2

3

1

13

Blanchardstown

26

3

7

3

1

40

Bray

6

2

1

1

10

Bridewell

5

3

1

9

Cabinteely

3

3

Cabra

3

3

Clondalkin

10

1

11

Clontarf

7

7

Coolock

14

2

16

Crumlin

15

3

2

20

Dalkey

2

2

Donnybrook

7

5

12

Dundrum

4

1

5

Dún Laoghaire

9

5

2

1

17

Enniskerry

2

2

Finglas

8

1

9

Fitzgibbon Street

8

1

1

1

11

Greystones

4

4

Harcourt Terrace

4

1

5

Howth

3

1

4

Irishtown

3

3

Kevin St

12

2

1

1

16

Kill o'the Grange

2

2

Kilmainham

5

7

1

13

Leixlip

3

3

Lucan

5

2

7

Malahide

4

4

Mountjoy

9

2

11

Pearse Street

22

2

9

1

2

36

Raheny

4

2

6

Rathcoole

3

3

Rathfarnham

5

5

Rathmines

4

1

5

Ronanstown

8

1

1

10

Santry

25

17

8

2

3

55

Shankill

3

1

4

Stepaside

4

4

Store Street

34

6

10

2

1

53

Sundrive Road

7

7

Swords

8

1

9

Tallaght

15

5

1

1

2

24

Terenure

7

6

1

14

Whitehall

5

5

DMR Traffic

14

4

33

4

55

Total

373

86

83

22

14

578

Garda Stations.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

160 Mr. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of cells at Coolock, Raheny, Finglas, Ballymun, Clontarf and Swords stations; the number that are for men, women and persons under 18; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14640/07]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the number of cells in the Garda Stations referred to by the Deputy is as follows:

Station

Cells: Adult

Cells: Juvenile

Coolock

4

0

Raheny

2

0

Finglas

3

1

Ballymun

2

0

Clontarf

2

1

Swords

2

0

I am further informed that the cells in Garda Stations are not designated for use by gender.

Garda Operations.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

161 Mr. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount of overtime worked by Gardaí in Coolock and Raheny Districts under Operation Anvil for 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14693/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the amount of overtime incurred by Gardaí in the Coolock and Raheny Districts under Operation Anvil for 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 is detailed below in terms of both expenditure and hours worked.

Year

Coolock Expenditure

Raheny Expenditure

2005

395,470

275,627

2006

613,963

681,919

2007

611,258

453,681

Total

1,620,691

1,411,227

Year

Coolock Hours

Raheny Hours

2005

13,920

9,702

2006

20,541

22,814

2007

19,610

14,555

Total

54,071

47,071

Departmental Bodies.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

162 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the work of the interim national property services regulatory authority and of its director, appointed in June 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14696/07]

As the Deputy will be aware in July 2004 I established the Auctioneering/Estate Agency Review Group to carry out a review of all aspects of the auctioneering profession in Ireland and to make recommendations for any changes necessary in terms of structures and/or legislation.

A fundamental finding of the Review Group was that the existing statutory framework — the Auctioneers and Estate Agents Acts 1947 to 1973 — which regulates the sector is outdated, inappropriate and inadequate for the present day market and it recommended the establishment of a Regulatory Authority, on a statutory basis, to underpin new regulatory arrangements in the industry.

Last December I obtained Government approval for legislation to establish the Authority on a statutory basis and the general scheme of the Property Services Regulatory Authority Bill was published on 21st December 2006.

Clearly for the new Authority to be fully functional it will be necessary for it to be established on a statutory basis. However, pending enactment of the legislation, I set up an Implementation Group to assist and advise on practical matters relating to the establishment of the new body and a Chief Executive designate, who is working closely with the Implementation Group, has been appointed. While the Group and the Chief Executive designate are currently involved in establishing the basic organisational structures, systems and procedures, necessary to any organisation a number of specific issues, fundamental to the long term functioning of the Authority, have been identified which can be addressed in advance of it being established on a statutory basis. These include the acquisition of accommodation for the Authority, the development of a code of practice for the industry, the creation of a National Public Register of Property Services Providers and the development of consumer information packs.

To date significant progress has been made in each of these areas as follows. Accommodation has been acquired in Navan for the Authority and plans for the fitting out of the accommodation have been agreed. A Code of Practice has been drafted by the Group and has been circulated to a wide range of interested parties including bodies representing the industry and consumer interests. Once discussions with the various interest groups have been concluded it is intended to publish the Code. A National Public Register of Auctioneers and House agents is being developed in conjunction with the Courts Service and the Revenue Commissioners. It is intended that this Register will be published as soon as possible after the Code of Practice has been agreed. Public information material on the provision of property services, including the purchase and sale of property, is currently being prepared. It is planned to have this material available before the end of the year.

Visa Applications.

Bernard Allen

Question:

163 Mr. Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on the visa application of a person (details supplied) who is anxious to live permanently here in view of the fact that this is a most genuine and urgent matter. [14697/07]

My Department has no record of a current visa application from the person in question. An earlier application was refused on 21 April 2006 and that decision was upheld on appeal in June 2006. An applicant is entitled to one appeal only, so no further review of that application can take place. It is open to the applicant, however, to make a fresh application.

Missing Persons.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

164 Mr. Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number who died violently at sea and accidentally in relation to missing persons who were found dead during the period 1999 to 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14698/07]

It has not been possible in the time available for the Garda authorities to supply the details requested by the Deputy. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Residency Permits.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

165 Mr. Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14699/07]

The person in question was granted permission to remain in the State on 1st February 2006 under the revised arrangements for parents of Irish children born prior to 1 January 2005, commonly referred to as the IBC/05 Scheme.

An application for renewal of this permission to remain in the State was acknowledged by my Department on 5th March 2007. A request for additional documentation issued to the person in question on 18th April 2007.

The renewal application will be considered further upon receipt of the requested documentation. In the interim the person in question is advised to contact the local office of the Garda National Immigration Bureau to seek short-term registration while the renewal application is pending and to inform the benefit authorities accordingly.

Ground Rents.

Pat Carey

Question:

166 Mr. Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there has been a recent change in the policy regarding fees for the collection of ground rents; if a fee of €302.50 replaces the fee which was hitherto set at €70; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14711/07]

The Property Registration Authority (PRA) administers a scheme under which owners of leasehold property can apply to purchase the ground rent and enlarge their interest into a freehold.

I understand that there are two types of such applications and that different fees apply to each. There has been no change in fee levels since 1984.

In cases where agreement has already been reached in advance between the parties (‘consent cases') and the purchase price has been paid to the landlord, the fee is €30 if the applicant is in occupation of the dwelling house and €65 otherwise.

In cases where no advance agreement has been reached, the purchase price is determined by arbitration under the relevant legislative provisions. While this sum is paid to the PRA, it can then be claimed by the ground rent landlord. In these cases the PRA fee is €105 where the applicant is in occupation of the dwelling house and €195 otherwise.

Citizenship Applications.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

167 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to an application of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14722/07]

I have approved the application of the person in question.

The Citizenship Division of my Department have written to the individual requesting certain documentation and the payment of the prescribed fee. When the documentation and the fee are received, a certificate of naturalisation will issue to him.

John McGuinness

Question:

168 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of an application for naturalisation in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if their application will be expedited in view of the number of years they have been here and the community they are supporting and assisting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14741/07]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received in the Citizenship section of my Department on 31 August 2006.

Applications are generally dealt with in chronological order. However, due to circumstances outlined by the Deputy, I understand that a submission will be made to my Office shortly for a decision on whether this case might be expedited.

I will inform the Deputy and the person in question once I have reached a decision on the matter.

John Perry

Question:

169 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on an application for naturalisation for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14742/07]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received in the Citizenship section of my Department on 8 August 2006.

Officials in that section are currently processing applications received in the latter half of 2004 and have approximately 9,500 applications on hand to be dealt with before that of the person concerned. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. It is likely, therefore, that further processing of the application will commence in the first half of 2009.

I will inform the Deputy and the person concerned when I have reached a decision on the application.

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Finian McGrath

Question:

170 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he will take with regard to recent attacks on young people at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will put in a safety and community policing plan in the area. [14776/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is regularly patrolled by uniform and plain clothes Gardaí from its local Garda station with a view to ensuring a concentrated and visible Garda presence in the area. These patrols are backed up by the District Detective and Drug Units, the Community Policing Unit and the Mountain Bike Unit, supplemented by the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps.

Local Garda management is aware of the ongoing problem with public disorder and anti-social type behaviour being experienced by local residents in this area. A number of incidents of local youths gathering and drinking in public have been recorded in the vicinity of the area referred to and these incidents have been dealt with by Gardaí under public order legislation.

The local Community Policing Unit continues to liaise with local residents' groups and the local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators and offers advice, support and assistance on all matters brought to their attention. Visits by Gardaí to the local primary and post-primary schools in the area will also continue.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that current policing plans in the area are predicated on the prevention of anti-social and public order offences, the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence, against persons and property and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of quality of life of the residents. This strategy will continue to be central to the delivery of a policing service to the area.

Finian McGrath

Question:

171 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will put in a local safety and security plan to deal with anti-social activity at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will work with local residents on this matter. [14777/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is regularly patrolled by uniform and plain clothes Gardaí from the local Garda station with a view to ensuring a concentrated and visible Garda presence in the area. These patrols are backed up by the District Detective and Drug Units, the Community Policing Unit and the Mountain Bike Unit, supplemented by the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps.

Local Garda management is aware of the ongoing problem with public disorder and anti-social type behaviour being experienced by local residents in this area.

The local Community Policing Unit continues to liaise with local residents' groups and the local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators and offer advice, support and assistance on all matters brought to their attention. Visits by Gardaí to the local primary and post-primary schools in the area will also continue.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that current policing plans in the area are predicated on the prevention of anti-social and public order offences, the prevention of crime, including crimes of violence, against persons and property and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of quality of life of the residents. This strategy will continue to be central to the delivery of a policing service to the area.

Firearms Act.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

172 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the firearms licence fee has gone up by 50% even though the three-year licence means that less Garda man-hours are needed to administer it compared with the previous system. [14778/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

173 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the fact that the proposed list of restricted firearms contains Olympic pistols, an association (details supplied) and other relevant sporting bodies will be given an opportunity to have input into the second draft of the Statutory Instrument; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14779/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

174 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will be commencing the remainder of the Firearms Act 2006, in view of the fact that the Criminal Justice Bill 2007 is already amending it before it has been fully commenced. [14780/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

175 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the Garda Commissioner’s guidelines for superintendents with relation to the Firearms Act 2006 will be published. [14781/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

176 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the firearms range inspector will be appointed by the Minister. [14782/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

177 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason several firearms ranges have already had to spend tens of thousands of euro on upgrades to comply with Garda demands for range certification in view of the fact that the relevant legislation has not been commenced and that the range inspector not been appointed. [14783/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

178 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the official regulations to which firing ranges must conform will be published. [14784/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

179 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will give assurances that target shooters wishing to compete in international competitions who find their sporting equipment listed on the restricted list will not find themselves required to comply with draconian and onerous demands to obtain firearms certificates. [14785/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

180 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason shotgun licences cost €115 for a three-year period with each subsequent shotgun on the licence costing €30 but an air rifle licence costs €170 and can only have one air rifle on it. [14786/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

181 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason in view of the obvious benefit to tourism that the 2012 Olympics represent, the firearms licence costs for foreign visitors have been increased to €57; and the reason no free visitors’ permit mechanism has been created to encourage the tourism that competitive target shooting represents. [14787/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

182 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to strong concerns expressed by an association (details supplied) regarding recent changes to firearms legislation and licensing systems; if he will meet the association; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14788/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

188 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received correspondence in relation to licence fees; his plans to address this issue in early course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14823/07]

Martin Ferris

Question:

194 Mr. Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason it was necessary to increase the fees for firearms licences and training licenses by so much; and his views on whether this constitutes an exorbitant and unfair expense on tens of thousands of people who participate in gun sports here. [14866/07]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

203 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of firearms licences currently in place for each category of shotguns, rifles, pistols and other firearms; the number of firearms licences currently in place in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14943/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 172 to 182, inclusive, 188, 194 and 203 together.

The Criminal Justice Act 2006 was signed into law by the President on the 16th July 2006. All sections of that Act relating to firearms have been commenced other than the following sections: 28 (Firearms training certificate); 30 (Application for, and form and effect of firearm certificates); 32 (Conditions of grant of firearms certificate); 33 (Authorisation of rifle or pistol clubs or shooting ranges); 38 (Registered Firearms Dealers); and 40 (Reloading of ammunition).

A Project Board, Chaired by an Assistant Commissioner of An Garda Síochána comprising members of my Department and An Garda Síochána is actively addressing the issues which need to be put in place before these sections can be commenced, including significant changes to the Garda PULSE computer system.

Officials of my Department met recently with two of the Shooting Organisations to discuss a number of issues relating to the new licensing regime. I am anxious that the programme of change which is being undertaken proceeds smoothly and has legitimate regard to all the interests involved, not least the public interest. It is in that context that I am considering the establishment of a consultative panel to bring the relevant stakeholders together on a structured basis.

The licensing of firearms and registration of Firearms Dealers is governed by the Firearms Acts 1925-2006. The Criminal Justice Act 2006 substantially amended the existing legislation to provide for a new firearms licensing regime. The present frequency of licensing of firearms and the registration of Firearms Dealers on an annual basis is changing to a three yearly basis — primarily to free up Garda time and resources. The new scheme, however, will not take effect until 2008, so the licensing process will go ahead on the usual annual basis this summer under the old fee structure.

In relation to the increase in charges, the Department of Finance and Revenue Commissioners advised me that, since the last time the fees were changed in 1992 there had been a 51% increase in the Consumer Price Index. The new fee structure reflects this increase as well as a tripling of the annual rate to reflect the new three year term.

It was not intended that the increase should cause undue hardship or difficulties for those who have to obtain licences. I am in receipt of correspondence regarding the fees from various members of the shooting community and as it will be some time before the new fees arise there will be time to consider the legitimate concerns that have been expressed.

Under Section 29 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 I may, by statutory instrument and in the interests of public safety and security, declare specific firearms and ammunition as "restricted", by reference to their category, calibre, working mechanism, muzzle energy and description. It should be noted that where a firearm is deemed "restricted" it does not mean that the possession or sale of such firearms is prohibited.

Where a person wishes to possess such a firearm they will be required to make an application to the Garda Commissioner for the grant of a firearms certificate and satisfy the Commissioner that they comply with the conditions set out in Section 4 of the Firearms Act, 1925, as amended by the 2006 Act. In addition firearms dealers will be required to seek an authorisation from me for the importation for sale of such firearms.

My Department has consulted with An Garda Síochána, organisations representing different shooting interest groups and firearms dealers representatives regarding the drafting of this statutory instrument. I am satisfied that the final version which will be published, within the near future, will represent a reasonable balance between allowing people go about their business or interests lawfully while at the same time having due regard to public safety and security.

The Commissioner in consultation with my Department has prepared draft guidelines on firearms licensing. The draft is currently being finalised and it is my intention that it will be circulated when ready.

The Firearms Act 1925, as amended, provides that gun clubs and ranges may be authorised by a Garda Superintendent. However, a Superintendent shall not grant such an authorisation unless he is satisfied that the possession, use or carriage of firearms in pursuance of such authorisation will not endanger public safety or the peace. In so far as the grant of an authorisation for a gun club or range is concerned the courts have ruled that the Superintendent is persona designata in relation to such decisions and cannot be fettered in any way.

In addition, under Section 4 of the Firearms Act 1925, a Superintendent before granting a firearms certificate shall be satisfied that such person can be permitted to have in his possession, use and carry a firearm or ammunition without danger to the public safety or to the peace.

We are in transition phase, however, and Section 33 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, when commenced will provide that the owner or operator of a rifle/pistol club or range shall be required to apply to the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána for an authorisation. Such ranges and clubs shall be required to meet minimum standards as set down by me, by way of Statutory Instrument. In the case of a range authorisation, the application must be accompanied by a range certificate as issued by the Firearms Range Inspector.

Proposals are being finalised at present in my Department in relation to the Range Inspection function.

On statistics, I am informed by the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána that the there are currently 220,715 firearms licences in the State, including 49,218 rifle, 170,156 shotgun, 1,228 handgun and 113 other various firearms licences. I am informed by the Commissioner that providing a breakdown of firearms licences by county could not be achieved without a disproportionate use of time and resources. The following table sets out firearms licences by Garda divisions.

Garda Division

Total No. of firearms licensed

Mayo

10,613

Clare

7,895

Kerry

8,948

Donegal

11,288

Limerick

8,759

Cork City

3,739

Cork West

10,260

Cork Nth

8,579

Tipperary

14,347

Galway West

8,911

Louth/Meath

17,362

Laois/Offaly

13,030

Sligo/Leitrim

6,802

Carlow/Kilkenny

15,865

Cavan/Monaghan

14,379

DMR Eastern

4,157

DMR West

3,821

DMR Nth

3,617

DMR Nth Central

223

DMR South

2,675

DMR Sth Central

511

Wexford/Wicklow

17,815

Longford/Westmeath

11,478

Roscommon/Galway

11,052

Waterford/Kilkenny

11,644

Garda Strength.

Tony Gregory

Question:

183 Mr. Gregory asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there are plans to increase in 2007 the number of gardaí and community gardaí in the Cabra Garda Station covering the Cabra and Navan Road districts in view of the many requests made by the local communities for greater Garda visibility in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14800/07]

I am 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 13,178 following the attestation of 273 new members on Wednesday 14 March, 2007. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) on 30 June 1997 and represents an increase of 2,476 (or over 23%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength (all ranks), of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training on 14 March 2007 was 14,258. Furthermore, I should say that on 19 December 2006, as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of approximately 1,100 new recruits per annum into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006.

Cabra Garda Station forms part of the Dublin Metropolitan Region, Western Division. The personnel strength (all ranks) of Dublin Metropolitan Region, Western Division as at 19 April 2007 was 730. The personnel strength of Cabra Garda Station (all ranks) as at 19 April 2007 was 71. The personnel strength (all ranks) of the Community Policing Unit as at 19 April 2007 was 7.

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. All Gardaí have a responsibility, inter alia, to be involved in Community Policing issues as they arise.

It is the responsibility of the Divisional Officer to allocate personnel within their Division. Garda personnel assigned throughout the country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public.

However, the situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next become available the needs of Cabra Garda Station in the Dublin Metropolitan Region, Western Division will be fully considered within the overall context of the needs of Garda Divisions throughout the country.

Garda Reserve.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

184 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost to date of establishing the Garda Reserve. [14804/07]

The amount expended to date on the Garda Reserve is approximately €580,000. As the Reserve is in its start-up phase, the main expenditure to date has related to recruitment, training, development and initial equipping of Reserve members.

Asylum Applications.

Pat Carey

Question:

185 Mr. Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an application for family reunification has been decided upon in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 who has refugee status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14805/07]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person in question made a Family Reunification application in December 2005.

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.

The Family Reunification section issued a request to the legal representative of the person in question for further documents on the 16th of March 2007 and is currently awaiting a response. Once a response is received this application will be considered further by my Department.

Residency Permits.

John McGuinness

Question:

186 Mr. McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an application to remain in the State by a person (details supplied) in County Carlow will be approved and expedited on the basis of their marriage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14807/07]

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

The application in question is currently being processed. A decision will be made after full consideration of all circumstances particular to this case.

Garda Reserve.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

187 Mr Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of fully qualified members of the Garda Reserve and the stations to which they are currently attached in respect of the latest date for which figures are available; the number of attested members of the Reserve; the number of recruits currently in training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14818/07]

The Garda Commissioner is proceeding with the recruitment and training of Garda Reserve members. The first group of 36 Garda Reserve members completed their training and were formally attested as members of An Garda Síochána on 15th December 2006. They have been deployed in Dublin (Store Street and Pearse Street), Cork (Anglesea Street), Galway City and Sligo.

Two further groups consisting of 86 trainees are continuing their training programme and will be formally attested in May and June of this year. Further groups of Reserve trainees will commence training every four to six weeks with the next group commencing this coming Saturday, 28th April 2007.

Applications to join the Garda Reserve are still being accepted by the Public Appointments Service and further interviews will take place over the coming weeks and months.

Question No. 188 answered with QuestionNo. 172.

Departmental Correspondence.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

189 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received correspondence (details supplied); his plans to address this issue in early course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14826/07]

The National Women's Strategy 2007-2016; including the establishment of COSC — the Irish Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence; represents the policies of the Government on equality of women matters. My Department is generally responsive to campaigns which the relevant organisations collectively organise together.

The Department is of course already involved in the funding of a number of these organisations to deliver initiatives which link in with the work of the Department in relation to gender equality and violence against women (including domestic violence).

Garda Strength.

Joan Burton

Question:

190 Ms Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí allocated to the Dublin west district; the breakdown by rank and area of activity; the number of community gardaí and the areas to which they are assigned; the number in each area; the equivalent numbers for May 2005; his proposals to appoint additional gardaí to the area in view of the developments taking place in the area and the consequent significant growth in population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14849/07]

I am 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 13,178 following the attestation of 273 new members on Wednesday 14 March, 2007. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) on 30 June 1997 and represents an increase of 2,476 (or over 23%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength (all ranks), of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training on 14 March 2007 was 14,258. Furthermore, I should say that on 19 December 2006, as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of approximately 1,100 new recruits per annum into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006.

The personnel strength of the Dublin Metropolitan Region West Division is 730 (all ranks) as of 19 April 2007. The personnel strength of each Garda station in the Dublin Metropolitan Region West Garda division by rank as at the 19 April 2007 and 31 May 2005 was as set out in the following table. The Deputy will appreciate that, as with any large organisation, on any given day, the overall strength of the organisation may fluctuate due, for example, to retirements, resignations etc.

Blanchardstown

Rank

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

C/Superintendent

1

1

Superintendent

2

2

Inspector

5

5

Sergeant

26

23

Garda

143

136

Total

177

167

Cabra

Rank

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

Inspector

1

1

Sergeant

10

11

Garda

60

50

Total

71

62

Finglas

Rank

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

Inspector

1

1

Sergeant

7

9

Garda

79

72

Total

87

82

Lucan

Rank

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

Superintendent

1

1

Inspector

3

4

Sergeant

7

9

Garda

62

56

Total

73

70

Leixlip

Rank

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

Sergeant

3

3

Garda

22

23

Total

25

26

Ronanstown

Rank

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

Inspector

1

1

Sergeant

14

14

Garda

75

72

Total

90

87

Ballyfermot

Rank

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

Inspector

1

1

Sergeant

13

11

Garda

74

64

Total

88

76

Clondalkin

Rank

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

Superintendent

1

1

Inspector

2

2

Sergeant

10

11

Garda

82

69

Total

95

83

Rathcoole

Rank

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

Inspector

1

Sergeant

2

2

Garda

22

23

Total

24

26

The number of personnel (all ranks) allocated to Community Policing duties in each Garda station in the Dublin Metropolitan Region West Garda division as at 19 April 2007 and 31 May 2005 was as set out in the following table.

Station

19/04/2007

31/05/2005

Blanchardstown

20

18

Cabra

7

4

Finglas

11

12

Lucan

7

7

Leixlip

4

4

Ballyfermot

9

10

Clondalkin

11

11

Ronanstown

8

12

Rathcoole

1

1

Total

78

79

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. All Gardaí have a responsibility, inter alia, to be involved in Community Policing issues as they arise.

It is the responsibility of the Divisional Officer to allocate personnel within their Division. Garda personnel assigned throughout the country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public.

However, the situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next become available the needs of the Dublin Metropolitan Region West Garda Division will be fully considered within the overall context of the needs of Garda Divisions throughout the country.

Crime Levels.

Joan Burton

Question:

191 Ms Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals to deal with the number of unsolved murders, gangland killings and other serious crimes committed in recent years in the Dublin 15 area which remain unsolved; his views on the fact that confidence in the criminal justice system is eroded by failure to apprehend people who commit serious criminal acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14850/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that all incidents of crime, including those involving firearms, are subject to a rigorous investigation. The identification of all evidence available is a key element of the investigation and prosecution process. I am assured that all resources necessary, including national specialist units, are deployed in the investigation process.

When such an investigation is completed an investigation file is prepared for consideration by the Law Officers who direct what charges, if any, are to be preferred against those suspected of being involved in the commission of the crime. Every effort is made to ensure that all suspected offenders are prosecuted but prosecutions can only be taken where the evidence sustains the taking of a prosecution.

All killings, regardless of the circumstances involved, are the subject of rigorous investigation by An Garda Síochána. While the term "gangland murders" tends to be widely used in the media in referring to the nature of certain unlawful killings and speculation in this respect is understandable, it does not reflect the manner in which An Garda Síochána classifies crime or particular offences. Caution is necessary in ascribing particular motives to any particular incident as, potentially, this might jeopardise the procedures which need to be followed for the proper investigation and prosecution of offences.

Operation Anvil is central to the strategy of the Garda Síochána in combating serious crime and in particular murder. The Operation, which commenced in the Dublin Metropolitan Region in May, 2005 and was subsequently extended nationwide at my request, has proved to be very successful in disrupting the criminal activities of a number of key criminal gangs. It has resulted in a number of high-profile arrests and the acquisition of intelligence on the movements of criminals. Notable improvements have been achieved in the recorded number of incidents of crime being targeted by the Operation. In particular, I am pleased to note the increase of 34% in detections of possession of firearms in the fourth quarter of 2006 which I believe has contributed to the reduction of 3.4% in discharges of firearms. I believe that Operation Anvil has also contributed to the increase in that quarter of detections of offences of possession of drugs for sale or supply, which is closely associated with many murders using firearms.

Under the Operation, 74 arrests have been made in connection with murder and 914 in connection with serious assaults. There have been 643 firearms seized or recovered and 26,497 searches for drugs.

The personnel strength of the Organised Crime Unit at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been augmented to address the problem of organised criminal activity. Enforcement by the Unit has resulted in arrests, seizure of firearms and substantial quantities of drugs and the disruption of criminal activities.

On 19 December last, the Government agreed my proposals for an unprecedented package of measures which includes: a further increase of 1,000 in the strength of An Garda Síochána to bring the total to 15,000 over the next three years; a proportionate increase in the targeted strength of the Garda Reserve from 900 to 1500; sanction for 300 additional civilian administrative support posts for An Garda Síochána; the recruitment of the seven senior civilian posts recommended by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and Senator Maurice Hayes; an increase in the retirement age for Gardaí, Sergeants and Inspectors from 57 to 60; increased staffing for the Forensic Science Laboratory, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Courts Service; and no limit on funds available for the Witness Protection Programme.

As a result of the Criminal Justice Bill 2007 which is currently before the Oireachtas the law enforcement agencies will be in a much better position to ensure that those involved in gun crime will be made accountable for their actions.

I regularly meet the Garda Commissioner regarding all policing matters in order to keep the measures and resources for tackling crime under continued review.

Joan Burton

Question:

192 Ms Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the figures for serious crimes such as homicide, fraud, burglary and sexual offences broken down by category for the Dublin west district; the same figures specifically for the Dublin 15 area; the percentage of cases for all of the above categories in both the Dublin west district and in the Dublin 15 area for which proceedings were initiated and convictions were recorded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14851/07]

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

I have requested the CSO to provide the information sought by the Deputy directly to her.

Departmental Bodies.

Joan Burton

Question:

193 Ms Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his proposals in relation to drafting legislation to allow for a Property Services Regulatory Authority; when this legislation will be brought before Dáil Éireann; the functions and powers of the proposed authority; the remedies it will be able to provide for residents who are receiving an unsatisfactory service or being overcharged by their management companies; the powers the proposed authority will have in relation to companies that are meeting their statutory obligations as an Irish company. [14852/07]

The Government Legislation Programme published on 23 April provides for publication of the Property Services Regulatory Authority Bill in 2007. This legislation will give effect to key recommendations of the Auctioneering/Estate Agency Review Group, including establishment of the Property Services Regulatory Authority to control and regulate the provision of property services provided by auctioneers, estate agents and property management agents. Details of the proposed legislation are available on my Department's web site (www.justice.ie).

Pending enactment of the legislation, I have established an Implementation Group to assist and advise on practical matters relating to the new body and to prepare for the new licensing system. A Chief Executive designate has also been appointed and is engaged in preparatory work for establishment of the Authority.

As regards difficulties arising in relation to the operation of property management companies, the Law Reform Commission's Consultation Paper on Multi-Unit Developments makes it clear that action will be required across a broad range of policy areas, including the planning and development code, company law, consumer protection law and the development of regulatory structures. In recognition of this, and the cross-cutting nature of many of the issues, the Government has approved the establishment of a high-level interdepartmental committee to assist in the development of a coherent and comprehensive legislative response to the difficulties arising in relation to property management companies.

A key task of this committee is to identify the key legislative and administrative actions to be taken and to determine a timescale for implementation as soon as possible. In particular, the committee will have regard to recommendations for legislative reforms contained in the Law Reform Commission's Report on Multi-Unit Developments which will be published later this year.

I should also mention that the National Consumer Agency has produced a very valuable booklet entitled ‘Putting Consumers First' which contains information and guidance for those who have bought an apartment or house in a multi-unit complex, or are considering doing so. In addition, the Director of Corporate Enforcement has launched a draft consultation paper on the governance of property management companies which provides essential information for the members and directors of management companies and is seeking submissions from interested parties.

Pending the enactment of future legislation, I believe that improved awareness of their rights, and a better understanding of the corresponding duties and responsibilities of developers and builders, will enable the owners of apartments and houses in multi-unit complexes to assert their rights as company members, become involved in the management of their company and combat abuses.

Question No. 194 answered with QuestionNo. 172.

Legislative Programme.

Denis Naughten

Question:

195 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 135 and 136 of 14 December 2006 and 273 of 27 September 2006, if he will report on the issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14886/07]

Denis Naughten

Question:

196 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will publish the Family Law Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14887/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 and 196 together.

Following Government approval I recently established, on an interim basis, the Legal Costs Regulatory Body recommended by the Implementation Advisory Group. Work has commenced in my Department on proposals to put the Regulatory Body on a statutory basis.

As indicated in my reply to Question No. 136 of 14 December 2006 work on the general scheme of a Family Law Bill is ongoing in my Department. The position is also outlined in the Government's Legislative Programme for the Summer Session, as announced by the Chief Whip on 23 April 2007.

Sexual Offences.

Joe Costello

Question:

197 Mr. Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will answer the specific questions raised in Parliamentary Question No. 190 of 27 March 2007 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14889/07]

Persons who have been convicted of sex offences abroad who, at the time of the conviction or thereafter, become resident for the qualifying period in this jurisdiction are subject to the provisions of the Sex Offenders Act 2001, where there is comparability between the offence to which the foreign conviction applies and offences covered by the Act. It is not necessary for the offence or the conviction to occur after the coming into force of the Act.

The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit of An Garda Síochána monitor and manage the notification provisions as they apply to those subject to them.

Citizenship Applications.

Michael Ring

Question:

198 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects to deal with an application for naturalisation by a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [14890/07]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received in the Citizenship section of my Department on 5 March 2007.

The application has not yet been examined in detail. Examination of the residency requirement will take place in the near future and the applicant will be contacted at that time informing him if he satisfies the residency requirement under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended.

Garda Deployment.

Enda Kenny

Question:

199 Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has reviewed the situation pertaining to a full-time immigration and customs post at Knock International Airport, County Mayo; if, in view of the imminence of weekly transatlantic flights, he will make arrangements to have such facilities provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14910/07]

Four members of An Garda Síochána are employed on Immigration duties when flights arrive at Ireland West (Knock) Airport, seven days per week. These gardaí are drawn from personnel allocated to Swinford Garda District. When the members are not performing immigration duty they are available for regular policing duties within Swinford District.

In deciding on the number of personnel to be assigned to immigration control duties at ports of entry to the State, and the manner in which they are to be deployed, cognisance is taken of such issues as; throughput of passengers, the frequency of their arrival on particular routes, the jurisdictions from which they travel, and the result of any risk assessment completed with a view to establishing the extent to which illegal immigrants are likely to target a particular port of entry, route, flight or sailing.

Local Garda Management report that they have been informed by the management of Ireland West (Knock) Airport that transatlantic flights from and to the United States of America will commence in May 2007.

Local Garda Management report that its arrangements for the deployment of gardaí in Immigration duties are currently under review in light of the commencement of the transatlantic flights.

The question of a full time customs post is a matter for Customs and Excise Authorities.

Garda Recruitment.

Pat Carey

Question:

200 Mr. Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way a person who competed in a competition for employment as part of the Garda civilisation programme can establish where they are placed on the panel; the length of time they may be waiting for the next stage of the competition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14912/07]

Recruitment to An Garda Síochána is a matter in the first instance for the Public Appointments Service and then for the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána. I have no function in the process.

The Public Appointments Service is located in Chapter House, 26-30, Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1, and can be contacted at Lo-Call 1890 449999 or by email at info@publicjobs.ie.

Prison Building Programme.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

201 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if arrangements have been made to purchase additional lands in connection with the proposed prison project at Thornton Hall; and the details of any such proposed purchase, including area and price. [14913/07]

Two landowners in the area have approached the Irish Prison Service to offer a corridor of land that would allow a 1.5 km private access route to the site at Thornton. While the existing access route on the R130 is perfectly acceptable, the provision of services to the site would require the existing road to be excavated to accommodate pipes etc. and then to be resurfaced.

The technical advice is that the cost of laying services and constructing a new road on the route now offered would be less costly, less disruptive and quicker than routing services under the R130. The Irish Prison Service is engaging with the preferred bidder and the landowners in question to confirm that the parties concerned will enter into contracts that would result in a more cost effective route to Thornton. As the matter has not been finalised, I am not in a position to disclose details as to price etc. at this stage.

Garda Training.

Jack Wall

Question:

202 Mr. Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his Department provided funding or training for members of the Garda in relation to dealing with domestic violence cases; the amounts provided; the type of course or courses pursued; the number of gardaí both male and female involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14926/07]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that domestic violence training is provided as part of the Continuous Professional Development to serving members of An Garda Síochána. The Student Probationer School provides extensive training to new members of An Garda Síochána.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) incorporated Domestic Violence on the 1997 Core Programme for all members of Garda and Sergeant rank after the Domestic Violence Act came into force in 1996. Furthermore, a policy document was issued to all members.

The Core Continuous Professional Development Programme for 2006 contained a module on Sexual Crime, developed in consultation with the Rape Crisis Centre Counselling Network and covered some areas pertinent to Domestic Violence. The situation is kept under constant review by Continuous Professional Development.

Student /Probationer School deals with the area of Domestic Violence in two study areas, namely Social & Psychological Studies and Legal & Policing Studies as set out as follows. Social and Psychological Studies provides the following training to Student and Probationer Gardaí at the Garda College. Women's Aid organisation provides 5 hours training in relation to the victim's perspective. This involves 1 hour in a lecture theatre and 4 hours training in workshops with groups of 20-23 Student Gardaí.

A representative of the organisation Men Overcoming Violent Emotions (M.O.V.E) provides a one hour training programme to Student Gardaí on the methods of dealing with offenders in relation to Domestic Violence.

AMEN, an organisation representing male victims of domestic violence provides a three hour training awareness programme from the perspective of male victims of domestic violence to Student Gardaí.

Social and Psychological Studies staff provide training to Phase III Student Gardaí, through development work and role-play scenarios which depict practical incidents that they may encounter relating to domestic violence. This role-play type training develops their skills and competencies in dealing with all aspects of domestic violence. Phase III Student Gardaí are assessed in conjunction with training provided by Legal & Policing Studies.

Legal and Policing Studies facilitate the following instruction in relation to Domestic Violence to Garda Students: In Phase I students are facilitated with instruction on offences committed within the family. While the majority of this training deals specifically with domestic violence, it is recognised that the subject cannot be dealt with in isolation and therefore elements of the training deal with the Children Act, 1908, Child Care, Act 1991 and the Children Act, 2001, where they are impacted by domestic violence issues. Phase III is conducted in a facilitative style in classrooms rather than lecture theatres for the most part. Taking into consideration the experience gained by Student Gardaí on Phase II, training is also provided which goes more in-depth into the procedures when dealing with Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence training is always under consideration by the Garda College. Close liaison is maintained with the various stakeholders to ensure that the training provided is current.

The information requested in relation to the number of male and female Gardaí provided with domestic violence training is not readily available and can only be obtained by the disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources relative to the information sought.

Funding is available to members of An Garda Síochána who pursue educational courses including a Diploma in Conflict and Dispute Resolution.

Question No. 203 answered with QuestionNo. 172.

Residency Permits.

Michael Ring

Question:

204 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when long term residency will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [15030/07]

As I outlined in my replies to previous Parliamentary Questions put down for answer by the Deputy on 31 January 2007(Question No. 418) and 8 March 2007(Question No. 118), 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 on 16th June 2006. I understand that due to the significant volume of applications on hand, applications received in early June 2006 are currently being dealt with. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified.

Question No. 205 answered with QuestionNo. 118.

Refugee Status.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

206 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to refugee status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15050/07]

The person concerned was the subject matter of an Adjournment Debate in the Dáil on Thursday evening, 22 March 2007. During this debate it was indicated on my behalf that I had directed my officials to look again at the circumstances surrounding the proposed deportation. In the meantime an application for revocation of his deportation order was received from his legal representatives on 23 March 2007. Further representations were also received on 16 April 2007. These are currently being examined in my Department and a decision will issue to the applicant in due course.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

207 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15052/07]

The persons in question made an application for permission to remain in the State on the basis of family dependency in December 2005. An initial request for documentation issued in February 2006 which was returned by An Post as the persons were not residing at the given address. A second request issued in August 2006 and although some documentation was received in August 2006, it was insufficient to finalise the applications.

A third request for documentation issued in October 2006 and again the documentation received was insufficient to finalise the applications. A final request to give the persons in question one last opportunity to provide the specific documentation required issued on 5 April 2007. To date, no response has been received in respect of this correspondence. A decision on their applications will be made shortly.

Refugee Status.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

208 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15053/07]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 27 April 2000 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, he was informed by letter dated 31 October 2002, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State; leaving the State before an order is made or consenting to the making of a deportation order. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned.

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). I expect the file to be passed to me for decision in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

209 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if permission to remain in the State will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15054/07]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 11 November 2002 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, he was informed by letter dated 26 February 2004, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State; leaving the State before an order is made or consenting to the making of a deportation order. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned.

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). I expect the file to be passed to me for decision in due course.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

210 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the application for citizenship will be acceptable in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15055/07]

Applications for certificates of naturalisation were received in the Citizenship section of my Department on 22 August 2006.

Section 15 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, requires that an applicant must have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the State amounting to four years.

The application of the first named individual was examined and it was determined that he did not satisfy the aforementioned residency requirements. A letter informing him of this was issued on 8 March 2007. It is open to him to lodge a new application if and when he is in a position to meet the statutory requirements.

Officials in the Citizenship Division are currently processing applications received in the latter half of 2004 and have approximately 9,100 applications on hand to be dealt with before that of the second named person. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. It is likely, therefore, that further processing of her application will commence in the first half of 2009.

I will inform the Deputy and the person in question when I have reached a decision on the case.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application for family reunification submitted by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15056/07]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that a decision to refuse an application for Family Reunification by the person in question was issued on 7 December 2006. This matter is currently under review and a decision will issue in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

212 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to family reunification in the case if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15057/07]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that a Family Reunification application by the person in question was refused in July 2006. At present there are no Family Reunification applications pending in respect of any family members of the person referred to by the Deputy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

213 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedures available to appeal the decision to refuse an application for family reunification for a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15058/07]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the Family Reunification application from the person in question was refused because the people applied for do not come under the definition of a ‘dependent member of the family', as outlined in Section 18.(4)(b) of the Refugee Act 1996. There are no provisions under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996 for the appeal of a Family Reunification decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

214 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position of the application for residency and family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15059/07]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the application for family reunification under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996 by the person in question is under consideration by my Department. I expect that a decision will be reached in this matter shortly.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a new application for family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 will be entertained in view of the grounds of previous decision of 18 January 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15063/07]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that it is open to the person in question to submit a new application for Family Reunification. Each application is processed on its own merits and the decision reached is based on the information submitted.

Garda Deployment.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

216 Mr. Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Garda station that is responsible for ensuring that the bus lane at the Long Mile Road outbound approaching Naas Junction is kept clear, as there seems to be some confusion in this regard as to whether this is the responsibility of Clondalkin or Crumlin station; the number of fines and prosecutions issued at or near this location since this bus lane has been opened; the amount of times the bus lane near the Lough and Quay Clondalkin is monitored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15110/07]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the bus lane on the Long Mile Road from its junction with the Walkinstown Road to the intersection with Robinhood Road is in Crumlin Garda District and from there to the Naas Road junction is in Clondalkin Garda District. The bus lane on the Nangor Road near the Lough and Quay licensed premises is in Clondalkin Garda District. I am also informed that both Garda Districts are regularly patrolled by uniform and plain clothes personnel including the District mobile units, foot patrols, mountain bike unit personnel supplemented by the regional Traffic Corps personnel based in Dublin Castle and the Divisional Traffic Corps Units.

Garda Recruitment.

Willie Penrose

Question:

217 Mr. Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath is still on the entry list for training with An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15115/07]

Recruitment to An Garda Síochána is a matter in the first instance for the Public Appointments Service and then for the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána. I have no function in the process. The Public Appointments Service is located in Chapter House, 26-30, Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1, and can be contacted at Lo-Call 1890 44 99 99 or by e-mail at info@publicjobs.ie.

Garda Strength.

Joan Burton

Question:

218 Ms Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the strength in each of the Garda divisions; the breakdown of the number in each division by area and by full-time and part-time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15173/07]

I am 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 13,178 following the attestation of 273 new members on Wednesday 14 March, 2007. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) on 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,476 (or over 23%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength (all ranks), of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training on 14 March, 2007 was 14,258. Furthermore, I should say that on 19 December, 2006, as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of approximately 1,100 new recruits per annum into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006. The personnel strength (all ranks) of each Garda Division as at 23 April 2007 was as set out in the following table.

Carlow/Kildare

District

Strength

Job-sharing

Naas

141

2

Kildare

81

Carlow

101

1

Baltinglass

65

2

Total

388

5

Cavan/Monaghan

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Cavan

80

1

Monaghan

127

Bailieboro

65

Ballyconnell

40

Carrickmacross

81

1

Total

393

2

Clare

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Ennis

181

Ennistymon

33

Killaloe

41

Kilrush

36

Total

291

Cork City

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Anglesea Street

312

1

Gurranabraher

94

1

Mayfield

105

Togher

132

Total

643

2

Cork North

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Fermoy

82

1

Cobh

56

1

Mallow

61

1

Middleton

73

Total

272

3

Cork West

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Bandon

103

2

Bantry

45

1

Clonakilty

45

1

Kanturk

43

Macroom

41

2

Total

277

6

DMR East

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Dún Laoghaire

197

Bray

209

Blackrock

186

2

Total

592

2

DMR North

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Santry

250

1

Raheny

178

1

Coolock

224

4

Total

652

6

DMR North Central

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Store Street

280

1

Bridewell

170

Fitzgibbon Street

207

3

Total

657

4

DMR South

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Crumlin

172

Tallaght

248

Rathmines

175

Total

595

DMR South Central

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Pearse Street

347

4

Donnybrook

179

Kevin Street

217

Total

743

4

DMR West

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Blanchardstown

335

3

Clondalkin

207

3

Lucan

188

2

Total

730

8

Donegal

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Letterkenny

175

Buncrana

91

1

Ballyshannon

92

Glenties

48

Milford

49

Total

455

1

Galway West

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Galway

228

1

Clifden

31

Gort

35

Loughrea

48

Salthill

70

3

Total

412

4

Kerry

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Tralee

118

Caherciveen

43

Killarney

84

1

Listowel

54

Total

299

1

Laois/Offaly

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Portlaoise

125

Abbeyleix

41

1

Tullamore

87

1

Birr

45

Total

298

2

Limerick

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Henry Street

297

1

Askeaton

42

Bruff

43

Newcastle West

48

Roxboro Road

122

Total

552

1

Longford/Westmeath

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Mullingar

111

1

Athlone

75

Longford

66

Granard

45

Total

297

1

Louth/Meath

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Drogheda

115

2

Dundalk

145

Ashbourne

79

5

Balbriggan

59

Navan

69

Trim

46

Kells

51

Total

564

7

Mayo

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Castlebar

79

1

Ballina

57

Belmullet

31

Claremorris

43

Swinford

49

Westport

39

Total

298

1

Roscommon/Galway East

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Ballinasloe

52

1

Boyle

37

Castlerea

42

Roscommon

71

Tuam

58

2

Total

260

3

Sligo/Leitrim

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Sligo

150

1

Ballymote

31

Manorhamilton

52

Carrick-on-Shannon

56

1

Total

289

2

Tipperary

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Clonmel

73

Thurles

79

Templemore

53

Tipperary

43

Nenagh

45

2

Cahir

54

Total

347

2

Waterford/Kilkenny

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Waterford

167

1

Kilkenny

94

Dungarvan

54

Thomastown

40

Tramore

44

Total

399

1

Wexford/Wicklow

District

Strength

Job-Sharing

Wexford

104

New Ross

49

Enniscorthy

48

Gorey

89

Wicklow

64

Total

354

Garda personnel assigned throughout the country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of garda resources, and the best possible garda service is provided to the general public.

Crime Levels.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

219 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to his response to Parliamentary Question No. 149 of 5 April 2007, if he will explain his statement that headline crime in the Carlow/Kildare division has reduced when it has in fact increased by 12% in 2006. [15222/07]

Any interpretation of the crime figures has to factor in the increase in population. In 1995, with a population of 3.6 million, there were 28.5 crimes per 1,000 of the population. In 2006, with a population of over 4.2 million, there were 24.5 crimes per 1,000 of the population, a significant reduction by any standard.

During the two full years of the Rainbow Coalition Government (1995 and 1996), the corresponding figures were 28.5 and 27.8. Since 2003, the first full year of this Government, the figures dropped from 26 crimes per 1,000 of the population in 2003 to 24.5 in 2006, with the figures for 2004 and 2005 being 24.5 and 24.8 respectively. The crime rate per 1,000 of the population in 2006 was therefore the lowest in the period of office of this Government.

The most recent crime statistics are the provisional headline crime statistics published by the Central Statistics Office for the fourth quarter of 2006 and the full year of 2006. The figures for the fourth quarter of 2006 continue the improvement in the headline crime statistics evident since the second quarter of the year. Following a worrying increase of 10.1% in the first quarter, there was a slight increase of 0.8% in the second quarter, followed by accelerating decreases of 1.5% and 3.2% in the third and fourth quarters. As a result, the outturn for the year was an increase in headline crime of 1.4%, compared with an increase of 3% in 2005. The reduction in headline crime in the Carlow / Kildare Division for the fourth quarter of 2006 is in line with the reduction nationally. The initiatives put in place by local Garda management in the Division have contributed to this improvement.

Garda Deployment.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

220 Mr. Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the population per Garda division and the number of Gardaí assigned to each Garda division using the 2006 Census figures. [15223/07]

I am 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 13,178 following the attestation of 273 new members on Wednesday 14 March, 2007. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) on 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,476 (or over 23%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength (all ranks), of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training on 14 March, 2007 was 14,258. Furthermore, I should say that on 19 December, 2006, as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of approximately 1,100 new recruits per annum into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006. I have also been informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength (all ranks) of each operational Garda Division on 20 April, 2007 was as set out in the following table.

Division

20/04/07

Carlow/Kildare

388

Cavan/Monaghan

393

Clare

291

Cork City

643

Cork North

272

Cork West

277

D.M.R. East

593

D.M.R. North Central

657

D.M.R. North

652

D.M.R. South Central

743

D.M.R. South

595

D.M.R. West

730

Donegal

455

Galway West

412

Kerry

299

Laois/Offaly

298

Limerick

552

Longford/Westmeath

297

Louth/Meath

564

Mayo

298

Roscommon/Galway East

260

Sligo/Leitrim

289

Tipperary

347

Waterford/Kilkenny

399

Wexford/Wicklow

354

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that the Central Statistics Office are presently examining the 2006 Census of Population figures in relation to Small Area Population Statistics (SAPS). It is not expected that these SAPS figures will be available until October 2007. It is, therefore, not yet possible to provide population figures for each Garda Division based on the 2006 Census figures.

Garda Strength.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

221 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number, rank, duties and location of Gardaí located at each Garda station in County Louth for the years 2002 and 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15263/07]

I am 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 13,178 following the attestation of 273 new members on Wednesday 14 March, 2007. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) on 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,476 (or over 23%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength (all ranks), of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training on 14 March, 2007 was 14,258. Furthermore, I should say that on 19 December, 2006, as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of approximately 1,100 new recruits per annum into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006. I have been further informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength of the Louth/Meath Division on 31 December, 1997 and on 20 April, 2007 was 532 and 564 (all ranks) respectively. This represents an increase of 32 (or 6%) in the number of personnel allocated since that date.

The Garda authorities state that the personnel strength (all ranks) of each Garda Station in the Louth/Meath Division on 31 December, 2002 and on 20 April, 2007 was as set out in the following tables.

Stations 31/12/02

Chief Supt

Supt

Insp

Sergt

Gda

Drogheda

1

2

2

13

71

Castlebellingham

0

0

0

1

3

Clougherhead

0

0

0

1

2

Dunleer

0

0

0

1

3

Laytown

0

0

0

1

6

Ashbourne

0

1

1

4

31

Dunboyne

0

0

0

2

13

Dunshaughlin

0

0

0

2

9

Kilcock

0

0

0

1

5

Dundalk

0

0

3

13

80

Carlingford

0

0

0

1

2

Hackballscross

0

0

0

2

12

Dromad

0

0

0

2

11

Omeath

0

0

0

1

13

Louth

0

0

0

1

0

Blackrock

0

0

0

1

3

Kells

0

1

0

4

26

Crossakeel

0

0

0

0

1

Athboy

0

0

0

1

5

Oldcastle

0

0

0

1

3

Nobber

0

0

0

1

2

Trim

0

1

0

2

21

Kilmessan

0

0

0

0

1

Summerhill

0

0

0

1

1

Enfield

0

0

0

2

14

Ballivor

0

0

0

1

1

Balbriggan

0

1

1

5

28

Skerries

0

0

0

1

9

Lusk

0

0

0

1

3

Rush

0

0

0

1

3

Garristown

0

0

0

1

2

Navan

0

1

1

6

39

Ardee

0

0

0

1

8

Collon

0

0

0

1

1

Duleek

0

0

0

0

3

Slane

0

0

0

1

3

Stations 20/04/07

Chief Supt

Supt

Insp

Sergt

Gda

Drogheda

1

1

1

12

81

Castlebellingham

0

0

0

1

3

Clougherhead

0

0

0

0

1

Dunleer

0

0

0

1

3

Laytown

0

0

0

1

9

Ashbourne

0

1

1

4

44

Dunboyne

0

0

0

2

13

Dunshaughlin

0

0

0

2

7

Kilcock

0

0

0

1

4

Dundalk

0

1

3

15

91

Carlingford

0

0

0

1

2

Hackballscross

0

0

0

2

9

Dromad

0

0

0

1

6

Omeath

0

0

0

2

5

Louth

0

0

0

1

1

Blackrock

0

0

0

1

4

Kells

0

1

0

4

33

Crossakeel

Athboy

0

0

0

1

5

Oldcastle

0

0

0

1

3

Nobber

0

0

0

1

2

Trim

0

0

0

4

22

Kilmessan

Summerhill

0

0

0

1

1

Enfield

0

0

0

2

12

Ballivor

0

0

0

1

2

Balbriggan

0

1

1

4

27

Skerries

0

0

0

1

11

Lusk

0

0

0

1

3

Rush

0

0

0

1

6

Garristown

0

0

0

1

2

Navan

0

1

1

5

45

Ardee

0

0

0

2

7

Collon

0

0

0

1

1

Duleek

0

0

0

1

2

Slane

0

0

0

1

2

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 Garda authorities also state that the number of Gardaí (all ranks) currently assigned to administrative duties in the Louth/Meath division is 11. This number was calculated on the basis of those personnel who are in receipt of Designated post and Ex-Gratia allowance and as such are employed on administrative duties. The total personnel strength (all ranks) of the Traffic Corps in the Louth/Meath Division 31 December, 2002 and on 31 March, 2007 was 23 and 46. This represents an increase of 23 (or 100%) in the number of personnel allocated since that date. I should add that Garda Divisional boundaries do not correlate with the County boundaries.

The information requested in relation to the number of Gardaí employed on administrative duties in each station in 2002 is not readily available and can only be obtained by the disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources relative to the information sought.

Citizenship Applications.

John Gormley

Question:

222 Mr. Gormley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a person (details supplied) who wishes to become an Irish citizen and who has an Irish university degree is unable to remain here in order to pursue a career and contribute to this country with their skills and education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15264/07]

I understand the Immigration Division of my Department has been in contact with the person concerned outlining the options open to her. The person referred to by the Deputy should now contact the Immigration Division regarding her future intentions in the State.

Garda Deployment.

Denis Naughten

Question:

223 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 124 of 29 March 2007, when a response will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15284/07]

I have since been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel resources, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 13,178 following the attestation of 273 new members on Wednesday 14 March, 2007. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) on 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,476 (or over23%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength (all ranks), of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training on 14 March, 2007 was 14,258. Furthermore, I should say that on 19 December, 2006, as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of approximately 1,100 new recruits per annum into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006.

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.

I have been further informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength and opening hours of each Garda Station in the Sligo/Leitrim Division and the Roscommon/Galway East Division on 31 December, 1997, 2002 and on 28 March, 2007 are set out in the following tables. I should also point out that Garda Divisional boundaries and County boundaries are not coterminous. The situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next become available, the needs of these Divisions will be fully considered within the overall context of Garda Divisions throughout the country.

Sligo-Leitrim Division

Sligo-Leitrim

Strength at31-12-97

Strength at31-12-02

Strength at28-03-07

Opening HoursMon.-Fri.

Opening HoursSat.

Opening HoursSun.

Ballymote

22

21

21

24 hr.

24 hr.

24 hr.

Carrick-on-Shannon

27

30

40

24 hr.

24 hr.

24 hr.

Manorhamilton

25

26

27

24 hr.

24 hr.

24 hr.

Sligo

98

115

136

24 hr.

24 hr.

24 hr.

Collooney

4

4

4

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Skreen

2

2

2

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Coolaney

2

2

2

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Cliffoney

2

2

1

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Rosses Point

2

1

2

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Grange

3

2

3

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Tubbercurry

5

5

4

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Gurteen

2

2

2

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Riverstown

2

2

2

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Aclare

1

2

1

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Bunnandden

1

0

1

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Cloone

1

1

1

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Dromod

1

1

1

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Drumshambo

4

4

4

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Keshcarrigan

1

1

1

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Mohill

4

5

6

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Roosky

3

3

3

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Kiltyclogher

3

1

2

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Dromhair

3

2

3

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Drumkerrin

3

3

3

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Kinlough

11

9

7

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Glenfarne

0

1

1

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Dowra

3

3

3

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Blacklion

22

9

5

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Total

257

259

288

Roscommon-Galway Division

Roscommon-Galway

Strength at31-12-97

Strength at31-12-02

Strength at28-03-07

Opening HoursMon.-Fri.

Opening HoursSat.

Opening HoursSun.

Roscommon

55

51

61

24 hr.

24 hr.

24 hr.

Ballinasloe

36

39

37

24 hr.

24 hr.

24 hr.

Boyle

24

27

26

24 hr.

24 hr.

24 hr.

Castlerea

24

29

30

24 hr.

24 hr.

24 hr.

Tuam

34

41

47

24 hr.

24 hr.

24 hr.

Athleague

1

2

2

10 a.m.-11 a.m.

6 p.m.-7 p.m.

Closed

Strokestown

3

3

3

10 a.m.-11 a.m.

6 p.m.-7 p.m.

Closed

Ballyforan

1

1

10 a.m.-11 a.m.

6 p.m.-7 p.m.

Closed

Creggs

1

1

1

10 a.m.-11 a.m.

6 p.m.-7 p.m.

Closed

Ballygar

3

3

3

10 a.m.-11 a.m.

6 p.m.-7 p.m.

Closed

Knockcroghery

1

1

1

10 a.m.-11 a.m.

6 p.m.-7 p.m.

Closed

Ahascragh

1

1

1

*1 hr. daily

Closed

Closed

Kilconnell

1

1

1

*1 hr. daily

Closed

Closed

Menlough

1

1

1

*1 hr. daily

Closed

Closed

Moylough

1

1

1

*1 hr. daily

Closed

Closed

Ballaghadereen

6

6

6

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Ballinlough

2

2

2

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

12 p.m.-2 p.m.

Loughlynn

2

2

1

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

12 p.m.-2 p.m.

12 p.m.-2 p.m.

Ballintubber

1

1

1

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

12 p.m.-2 p.m.

12 p.m.-2 p.m.

Elphin

3

3

3

10 a.m.-12 p.m.

10 a.m.-12 p.m.

10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Mountbellew

7

9

9

10 a.m.-2 p.m.,2 p.m.-5 p.m.

Closed

Closed

Taughmaconnell

1

1

1

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,6 p.m.-7 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,6 p.m.-7 p.m.

Closed

Ballyfarnan

2

2

2

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,2-3 p.m. & 8-9 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,2-3 p.m. & 8-9 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,& 8-9 p.m.

Cootehall

0

1

1

10 a.m.-12 p.m.,2-3 p.m. & 8-9 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,2-3 p.m. & 8-9 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.& 8-9 p.m.

Frenchpark

1

2

3

10 a.m.-12 p.m.,2-4 p.m. & 8-10 p.m.

10 a.m.-12 p.m.,2-4 p.m. & 8-10 p.m.

10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Keadue

1

1

1

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,2-3 p.m. & 8-9 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,2-3 p.m. & 8-9 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.& 8-9 p.m.

Tulsk

1

2

1

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,2-3 p.m. & 8-9 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.,2-3 p.m. & 8-9 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.& 8-9 p.m.

Ballymoe

1

1

1

7 p.m.-8 p.m.

7 p.m.-8 p.m.

7 p.m.-8 p.m.

Kiltormer

1

1

Members attached to Ballinasloe deal with issues pertaining to Kiltormer

Closed

Closed

Clonark

1

1

Members attached to Ballinasloe deal with issues pertaining to Clonark

Closed

Closed

Williamstown

1

1

1

Mon.-Thurs.10 a.m.-11 a.m.Fri. 5-6 p.m.

10 a.m.-11 a.m.

12 p.m.-1 p.m.

Milltown

2

2

1

Mon.-Thurs.10 a.m.-11 a.m.Fri. 5-6 p.m.

5 p.m.-6 p.m.

12 p.m.-1 p.m.

Kilconly

1

1

1

Mon.-Thurs.10 a.m.-11 a.m.Fri. 5-6 p.m.

5 p.m.-6 p.m.

12 p.m.-1 p.m.

Glenamaddy

4

3

2

Mon.-Thurs.10 a.m.-11 a.m.Fri. 5-6 p.m.

5 p.m.-6 p.m.

12 p.m.-1 p.m.

Dunmore

4

4

3

Mon.-Thurs.10 a.m.-11 a.m.Fri. 5-6 p.m.

5 p.m.-6 p.m.

12 p.m.-1 p.m.

Corofin

1

2

2

Mon.-Thurs.10 a.m.-11 a.m.Fri. 5-6 p.m.

5 p.m.-6 p.m.

12 p.m.-1 p.m.

Barnadearg

1

1

1

Mon.-Thurs.10 a.m.-11 a.m.Fri. 5-6 p.m.

5 p.m.-6 p.m.

12 p.m.-1 p.m.

Total

231

251

258

*Open 1 hour daily with no set time.

Missing Persons.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

224 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of persons reported missing in 2005; the number who remained untraced at the end of 2005, in view of the information in the Garda Annual Report of 2005 that states that 5,997 persons were reported missing in 2005 with 75 persons left untraced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15353/07]

A clarification has been sought and will be communicated to the Deputy as soon as the information is received from the Garda authorities.

Garda Investigations.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

225 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the name and the rank of the member of An Garda Síochána who is handling the investigation into allegations made by a person (details supplied) in County Wexford in order that the individual will be able to provide documentation to the investigating officer. [15369/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that any documentation from the person referred to should be sent to the Commissioner, An Garda Síochána, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8. I am also informed that the complaint referred to has been referred to the Chief Superintendent, Cavan/Monaghan Garda Division for investigation.

Traffic Fines.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

226 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the new policy of traffic wardens and Gardaí of not placing parking fine notices or illegal parking notices on cars, making it immediately apparent to the motorist that a fine has been issued, but of only sending a notice in the post; and if he will recommend that this practice be discontinued. [15371/07]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that prior to the roll-out of the Fixed Charge Processing System on 3 April, 2006 a number of non-penalty point offences were dealt with by the fines on the spot system. Since 3 April, 2006 the use of hand-held devices and notepads replaced the fines on the spot system and all offences are now being dealt with under the Fixed Charge Processing System.

This system involves the detecting Garda or traffic warden recording the offences on either a hand-held terminal or a notepad. A fixed charge notice is then issued and posted from the National Processing Office to the owner of the vehicle as recorded on the National Vehicle File. It should be noted that traffic wardens are mainly employed by the local authorities. However, a number are still employed by the Garda Commissioner.

Port Status.

Joan Burton

Question:

227 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; his proposals to grant port of entry status to private airports without such status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15382/07]

Joan Burton

Question:

228 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 examined; the financial implications in respect of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15383/07]

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

I refer the Deputy to my previous answer to Question Nos. 193 and 194 of 6 March, 2007 and Question 27 of the 4 April 2007. The position as set out in those answers has not changed. 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

As I set out in my answer to the Deputy's previous Questions 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 Siochána 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.

Motor Taxation.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

229 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Finance if he will exempt certain categories of people from the recent increase in registration tax on high powered vehicles when such vehicles are used by people with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14363/07]

I wish to assure the Deputy that there has been no recent increase in registration tax on high powered vehicles. As the Deputy will be aware, in Budget 2007 I announced that it is planned to review the current VRT system to take account of environmental issues, in particular Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions. A public consultation in this regard has commenced with a view to making such a move with effect from a target date of 1 January 2008. With respect to vehicles used by persons with certain disabilities, there continues to exist the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concession) Scheme which provides that persons who qualify under a specific medical criteria can purchase a car and qualify, subject to certain limits, for VRT and VAT refund on this purchase.

Motor Vehicle Registration.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

230 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the action he will take to ensure that no car number plates will be provided to a person without the furnishing of verifying documentation to ensure the authenticity of the number plates sought; and if he will ensure that those who manufacture such number plates retain a record of such identifying documentation to ensure that false number plates are not readily available for criminal purposes. [14459/07]

The Revenue Commissioners are the vehicle registration authority in the State. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that under legislation, the format, dimensions and technical specifications of identification marks (vehicle registration plates) to be displayed on vehicles in the State are set out in Statutory Instrument (S.I.) 318/92 as amended by S.I. 432/99. The owner or driver of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring that his/her vehicle registration plates comply with the law and it is an offence under Section 139(1)(b) of the Finance Act 1992 to be in possession of a vehicle displaying a vehicle registration plate in a format other than as prescribed. The legislation does not impose any obligations or restrictions on the manufacture or supply of number plates as long as they comply with these specifications.

There are no plans at present to impose further regulatory control in this area, such as by regulating plate providers as current controls are satisfactory in the collection of VRT.

National Development Plan.

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

231 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Finance if there has been a strategic environmental assessment of the National Development Plan; if he will carry out such an assessment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13615/07]

It was not necessary to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the National Development Plan 2007-2013. The Plan is primarily a strategic document and indicative financial Plan. It is not unduly prescriptive as regards projects over the period and does not impact on the planning or environmental framework within which consent is given for individual projects. It accordingly does not fall within the framework of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive and it was not therefore subject to a formal SEA. I would point out, however, that Environmental Sustainability is a key horizontal objective of the Plan and Chapter 6 of the Plan deals with this issue in some detail, including the positive impact of Plan investment on the environment.

Tax Code.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

232 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if a certificate of standard rate cut point and tax credits from the Revenue Commissioners will be issued for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [14099/07]

The tax credits and standard rate cut off point for 2007 for the person in question were updated on 10 April 2007 and the appropriate certificate was issued on 11 April 2007.

Paudge Connolly

Question:

233 Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure an adequate income for older women by abolishing VAT on fuel and on homecare costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14134/07]

The position is that the VAT treatment of goods and services is governed by EU law with which Irish VAT law must comply. The rate of VAT that applies to a particular good or service is determined by the nature of the good or service, and not by the status of the customer. There is no provision in European VAT law that would allow the application of an exemption or reduction of VAT on supplies of fuel to customers over a certain age. However, I would point out that in last years Budget the excise duty on Kerosene and LPG for home heating was reduced to zero with effect from the 1st January 2007. This measure follows through on the commitment in Budget 2006 when these rates were halved. This measure is estimated to cost €24 million in 2007.

In addition, late last year, in response to energy price increases, the Government took steps to improve the social welfare Household Benefits Package scheme by increasing the amount of electricity or gas entitlements covered under the scheme. This will benefit over 340,000 social welfare recipients and cost almost €50 million per annum.

In relation to the VAT treatment of homecare services, following an amendment to the VAT Act 1972 introduced in this years Finance Act, homecare services provided by private operators which are recognised by the HSE are exempt from VAT. This is an important measure designed to support the Government's initiative aimed at supporting the elderly and others who wish to continue living at home.

Jack Wall

Question:

234 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) has met all of their commitments in relation to PAYE deductions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14137/07]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the PAYE balancing statements which outline the taxpayer's liability to income tax for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 was issued to him on 11 April 2007, together with cheques in settlement for overpayments arising in 2005 and 2006. For the year 2007, an amended certificate of tax credits and standard rate cut off point issued to the taxpayer on 10 April 2007, with appropriate adjustments made for the age tax credit and the tax liability due on his Old Age Contributory Pension.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

235 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will address the unfairness of stamp duty on credit cards, being based on the number of cards held, rather than the amount owed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14143/07]

Stamp duty on credit card accounts has existed since 1982. The current annual rate of stamp duty is €40. The system of imposing a flat rate of stamp duty is simple, as issues such as the number of transactions on an account, the balances outstanding at different times and the value of transactions do not affect the amount payable. I have no plans to introduce changes which would make the system more complicated.

Richard Bruton

Question:

236 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if, in the scheme for VAT refunds on aids and appliances used by people with disabilities, he will include mobile homes to be used for holidays by the disabled person in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14168/07]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that paragraph (xixa) of the Second Schedule to the VAT Act 1972 (as amended) provides for the zero-rating of a range of medical equipment and appliances for use by disabled persons. In addition, to the zero-rating of the medical equipment specified in the Second Schedule, under the Value-Added Tax (Refund of Tax) (No. 15) Order 1981 repayment may be claimed of the VAT paid on certain special aids and appliances for people with disabilities. However, aids and appliances, which have not been specially constructed or adapted, but might reasonably be treated as having been adapted having regard to the particular disablement of a person may qualify. Therefore a VAT refund may be available on the cost of necessary adaptations to a caravan but not for on the overall cost of a caravan. The relief is also available in certain circumstances to persons other than disabled persons who purchase such goods for handing over to a particular disabled person.

Further information on VAT (Refund of Tax) (No. 15) Order, 1981 is available from VAT Unregistered Repayments Section, Office of the Revenue Commissioners, 3rd Floor, River House, Charlotte Quay, Limerick.

Ministerial Staff.

Phil Hogan

Question:

237 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Finance the names, titles, duties and dates of appointment of each of the special advisers, political advisers, personal assistants and press officers appointed by him; the salary level of each appointee including payments in lieu of pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14206/07]

I have appointed Mr Gerry Steadman (30 September 2004) and Mr Colin Hunt (11 September 2006) as Special Advisers as set out in Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act, 1997, which provides that a Special Adviser provides advice to me and monitors, facilitates and secures the achievement of Government objectives that relate to my Department, and performs such other functions as may be directed by me. Mr Gerry Steadman is a serving civil servant. Mr Colin Hunt concurrently provides special adviser role to myself and the Minister for Transport. However, he is engaged under a single contract of employment with the Minister for Transport and is paid by that Department. I have also appointed Ms Sinead Dooley (8 October 2004) and Ms Elaine Hogan (11 October 2004) as Personal Assistant and Personal Secretary respectively to provide administrative/secretarial support to me. The salary scales in each case are set out in the following table.

Title

Salary Scale

Mr Steadman

€61,755 – €77,703 + 10% allowance

Personal Assistant

€43,445 – € 55,147

Personal Secretary

€28,523 – €45,262

Tax Code.

Enda Kenny

Question:

238 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a group of people (details supplied) have been excluded from the Irish Seafarers Tax Allowance Scheme and that this group meet the three qualifying conditions for this tax allowance, however, are excluded under the Finance Act 1998, Section 14 Paragraph (3) (a) (ii); his plans to amend this legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14230/07]

Section 472B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 is the legislative basis for the seafarers' allowance. Where the section applies, a deduction of €6,350 is available to a qualifying individual, who is resident in the State, against income arising to him or her from a qualifying employment. Subsection (3)(a) specifically excludes circumstances where an employment is:

an employment the emoluments of which are paid out of the revenue of the state, or

an employment with any board, authority or other similar body established in the State by or under statute.

Accordingly, the allowance is not available to State employees such as, for example, Navy personnel, or employees of statutory bodies established in the State. In all other circumstances a qualifying individual must show that he or she was absent from the State for at least 161 days in a year of assessment for the purposes of performing the duties of a qualifying employment in order for the allowance to apply for that year.

A "qualifying employment" is one which is performed on a "sea going ship"on a voyage which begins or ends in a port outside the State or at a rig, platform or installation in a maritime area. The term "sea-going ship" excludes ships other than ships, registered in a member state of the European Communities, which are used solely for the trade of carrying by sea passengers or cargo for reward. Fishing vessels are also excluded.

EU approval of the allowance was received on the basis of the above conditions under the EU State Aid Guidelines relating to the maritime transport sector.

In summary, the allowance was aimed at, and is available to, employees of commercial, EU registered, passenger ferries and freight carrying vessels, including employees of vessels servicing drilling rigs in any maritime area.

On the basis of the information available to the Revenue Commissioners, the group of people in question are excluded from entitlement to the seafarers' allowance as:they are employees of a statutory body, and the activities of their employer do not constitute the trade of carrying, by sea, passengers or cargo for reward. I have no plans at this time to amend the legislation in question.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

239 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Finance when the cleaning of a river details supplied) in County Donegal will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14256/07]

The channel in question does not form part of any scheme for which my Office has a maintenance responsibility under the Arterial Drainage Acts. OPW officials have not been made aware of any flooding in the area concerned. Therefore, my Office currently has no plans to carry out work on this channel.

Prison Building Programme.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

240 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the arrangements made with the multi-disciplinary design team producing a redevelopment plan for the Mountjoy sale site, including the main terms of such contract; the persons involved; their qualifications; and the amounts paid to them to date and payable in the future. [14276/07]

The Commissioners of Public Works have appointed a multi-disciplinary Design Team, headed by Heneghan Peng Architects, in order to seek full Planning Permission for the re-development of the Mountjoy Prison site. The total value of the contract is €2,042,679 excluding VAT, of which €408,535.80 excluding VAT , has been paid to date. Details of the Conditions of Contract are set out below in Appendix A. Particulars of the Design Team are contained in Appendix B.

Appendix A

The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland (CPW)

Mountjoy Site Redevelopment

SERVICES

CONDITIONS OF CONTRACT

1. Definitions:—

1.1The "Contracting Authority" is the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland (CPW) 51/52 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.

1.2The "Project" means the Redevelopment of the Mountjoy Site of some 7.9ha for CPW at North Circular Road, Dublin 7.

1.3The "Contract Documents" mean the Instructions to Tenderers, Form of Tender, Brief of Services Required and Conditions of Contract.

1.4The "Lead Consultant" means the Architect in the partnership or company appointed by CPW who will contract with CPW and shall be identified in the Contract as the Consultant who alone shall have primary responsibility and liability for the performance of the full range of Services, notwithstanding the appointment by such Consultant of the other Members of the Grouping as Sub-Consultants. Such Sub-Consultants will be required to execute and provide collateral (direct) Warranties to CPW in the form set out in Appendix 1. The Architect of the Services Team will co-ordinate and direct the inputs from other Consultants involved in the Project and provide information to, discuss proposals with and co-ordinate and incorporate the input of these Sub-Consultants.

1.5"VAT" means Irish Value Added Tax.

2. Indicative Period for Completion of Services

CPW envisages that a Planning Application will be lodged with the Local Authority at the end of December 2006. The Planning process may then take some 3 months with the possibility of Requests for Further Information (RFI) and Third Party Appeals extending this period by a further 6 months. If Third Party Appeals lead to An Bord Pleanala Oral hearings etc., this indicative time period could be extended to 12 months.

The Services Provider shall facilitate this indicative timeframe or as may be amended by CPW.

N.B. No increase in the lump sum fee tendered will be given, if the above indicative timeframe changes.

3.Health and Safety Duties of the Services Provider

The fee for this shall be deemed to be part of the tendered fee.

4. Skill, Care and Diligence

The Services Provider shall have and shall exercise all reasonable skill and care in the provision of the services and duties to be performed or undertaken by them and shall carry them out diligently and in good time and with all necessary resources.

5.Collaboration with other Services Team Members

The Lead Consultant shall collaborate fully and intensively with CPW and with the other members of the Services Team at all stages of the Project and shall provide them with any necessary information reasonably required for their purposes and with copies of such documents, as may be required by them.

6. Professional Indemnity Insurance

Each Member of Grouping/Entity, shall maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance for 6 (six) years after the date of receipt of Planning Permission for the Project (with a well established and reputable insurance office or underwriter of repute carrying on business in the European Union) with a limit of indemnity not less than €2.54m for any one occurrence arising out of any one event arising out of any negligence, omission or default on the part of the Grouping/Entity. As and when the Grouping/Entity is reasonably requested to do so by the Contracting Authority the Grouping/Entity shall produce for inspection sufficient documentary evidence that the insurance required under this Clause is being maintained in accordance with the terms of this Document.

7. Tax Clearance

It shall be a condition of the award of this Contract that the successful Grouping/Entity be able to produce promptly a Tax Clearance Certificate or, in the case of a non-resident, a Statement from the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland confirming suitability on tax grounds. In the event of a Group bid, this condition shall apply in respect of each and every member of the Group bid.

8. Scope of Works

CPW reserves the right to amend the "redevelopment of the Mountjoy Site — Scope of Works" (as set out in Section 4 of this Document) and to require amendments to the design in line with the development of the Master Plan. The Services Provider shall have no entitlement to increase the fee tendered as a result of any such change.

9. Financing of the Project and basis of Fee

The Services Provider shall be paid for the Services required, under the headings:—

(1)Lump Sum Fees or per hour/ per diem rates if or where applicable (see Sections 2 and 3 of this document).

The Lump Sum shall not include VAT or any similar tax payable on professional fees. Any such taxes shall be added separately to the fees calculated in accordance with the above.

Tenderers should note, in particular, that fees will not be paid on VAT at any time.

Lump sum for expenses

The sum quoted in the Services Provider Tender for expenses shall cover all items of expenses, howsoever arising, to enable the Services required to be performed.

Time spent in travelling shall not be payable as an extra cost.

VAT on expenses shall be shown separately.

10. Additional Fees

Additional fees may be paid for additional professional services at the tendered per hour/per diem rate.

Before any work, meriting additional fees, on a time basis, is carried out, CPW must be informed that such work will involve extra fees and CPW's formal approval to the carrying out of the work must be obtained. It must be clearly established that the work in question is not such as would be reasonably expected to be covered within the "Brief of Services Required" specified in Section 6 of this Document.

11. Payments

Fees upon completion of:—

(a)Initial Stage up to and including presentation of a Master Plan and its agreement with CPW.

(b)Development of Master Plan Stage.

(c)Development of Planning Application and E.I.A Documentation Stage.

(d)Submission of Planning Application Stage.

—all as specified in the "Brief of Services Required" (Section 6 of this Document) shall be 20%, 30%, 30%, 15% and for (a), (b), (c), (d) respectively of the Lump Sum tendered. CPW will pay the final 5% of the Lump Sum tendered on validation of the Planning Application by the Planning Authority.

All payments will be contingent on the Services provider having a then current Tax Clearance Certificate or Statement from the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland confirming suitability on Tax grounds.

12. VAT

The addition made for VAT in the Tender sum shall be regarded as a Provisional Sum. In the Tender it shall be calculated at 21% of the Tender before tax prior to any payments issuing. In any payment invoices it shall be calculated at such rate(s), applied to the Invoice before tax, as may be properly decided by the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland under the powers vested in them by the Value Added Tax Act, 1972, but shall exclude any over-payments made or penalties incurred under the Act.

13. Withholding Tax

Payment on foot of the Services Contract shall be subject to Irish Withholding Tax at the rate of 20% (or as amended) as laid down by the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland. Non-residents may be able to reclaim such deducted Tax from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland, International Claims Section located currently at Government Buildings, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Ireland (Tel: 01-6774211).

14. Proceeding with Project

While it is envisaged that the Project will proceed to conclusion, CPW shall have no liability to the Services Provider arising out of any failure to proceed with the Project, in respect of any costs, losses or expenses (whatsoever or howsoever arising and including without limitation, loss of profit or contribution to overheads) save in respect of any fees or expenses properly due pursuant to acceptance of the Services Provider Tender for Services provided prior to the making of the decision not to proceed.

Furthermore, if CPW decides not to proceed with the Project, (or any part thereof) for whatever reason, the Services Provider shall have no entitlement or right by virtue of acceptance of Tender or otherwise, to participate in any future development work at the site at North Circular Road, Dublin 7, unless CPW expressly agrees in writing by further Appointment.

15. Abandonment of the Services Contract

The Services Contract will be deemed to be abandoned if instructions necessary for the Services Provider to continue the work are not received from CPW within nine calendar months after such instructions were formally requested. If a Contract, which has been postponed is resumed without substantial alterations within two years any fees paid shall be deemed to be payment on account towards the total fees payable on the execution of the Services.

16. Termination of the Services Contract

CPW shall have the right of optional termination of the Services Contract on thirty days notice subject to an entitlement on the part of the Services Provider to be paid such part of the fee and expenses as is proportionate to the part of the total Service performed at the date of the issue of the termination notice.

17.Assignment of the Services Contract by the Services Provider

The Services Provider shall not assign his interest in the Services Contract to any other party without the agreement of CPW.

18.Assignment of the Services Contract by Commissioners of Public Works (CPW)

The Services Contract may be assigned by CPW, by means of absolute legal assignment to another person taking an assignment of CPW's interest in the project, without the consent of the Services Provider being required and such assignment shall be effective upon written notice.

19. Copyright

The copyright in all designs, drawings, reports, specifications, consents, papers and other similar documents produced by the Services Provider in connection with the Project (theDocuments) shall remain vested in the Services Provider but CPW shall have a perpetual, non-exclusive, irrevocable and assignable royalty free licence to reproduce, copy and use the Documents for all purposes connected with the Project. The licence granted to the CPW shall include a right for CPW to grant sub-licences.

CPW shall be entitled (at its own cost) to full and proper copies of the Documents in the possession or control of the Services Provider and the Services Provider will not claim copyright or a lien in respect of them against CPW.

20. Law

The Services Contract will be interpreted and construed in accordance with the laws of Ireland.

21. Irish Building Control Act 1990

The law applicable to design and construction of work in Ireland is the Irish Building Control Act 1990 and any Regulations made thereunder.

22. Language

The Services Provider shall provide all services in the English Language.

23. Disputes

Any dispute arising out of this Contract shall be referred to the Arbitration of a person to be mutually agreed upon or, failing agreement, of some person nominated by the Chairman for the time being of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (if the Chairman is willing to so nominate) and any such reference shall be deemed to be a submission to Arbitration within the meaning of the Arbitration Act, 1954, or any statutory re-enactment thereof for the time being in force.

24. Collateral Agreement

The Services Provider shall be required to execute, when requested by the Contracting Authority, a Collateral Agreement in the form set out in Appendix I attached.

Appendix B

Mountjoy Prison — Redevelopment Project:

Design Team:

Heneghan Peng — Architects & Design Team Leader

Arthur Gibney & Partners — Conservation Architects

Tiros Resources Ltd — Planning Consultants

Buro Happold — Services Engineers

Buro Happold — Fire Consultants

Michael Punch & Partners — Structural Engineers

Faber Maunsell — Traffic Consultants

Irish Archaeology Consultancy Ltd — Archaeology

Boyd Creed Sweet — Quantity Surveyors

H O K — Property Consultant

Tiros — Landscape & Visual Impact

Scott Cawley — Flora & Fauna

Awn Consulting — Waste Management, Noise, Air Quality

Pension Provisions.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

241 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the number of State employees, either civil servants or State agency employees, who have had any of their entitlements or retirement allowances withheld due to payments levied on them in respect of legal costs claimed by the State but not ordered by the courts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14406/07]

As Minister for Finance I have primary responsibility for civil service pensions. Other Ministers have primary responsibility for pensions in their own respective areas. As regards serving staff, I can only respond in relation to my own Department.

There is a facility under Report No. 1276 of the Civil Service General Council whereby, in cases involving financial loss to the Exchequer, the amount of the loss, plus interest, can be recovered by means of deduction from superannuation entitlements. However, I am not aware of any case in the Civil Service where entitlements or retirement allowances were withheld in respect of legal costs claimed by the State but not ordered by the Courts, nor have there been any cases involving serving staff in my own Department.

Tax Code.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

242 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the justification for the imposition of a stamp duty on banks for credit and laser cards; and the action he has taken to ensure that this tax is not passed on to customers. [14453/07]

Stamp duty exists on various financial cards in order to provide Exchequer revenue. The stamp duty on cheques has existed for many years and when electronic means of money transfers were subsequently introduced, stamp duty was gradually extended to these products to ensure that the stamp duty from cheques was not eroded. The stamp duty is payable by the financial institutions who are entitled to recover the amounts paid from their customers.

Jack Wall

Question:

243 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person donates a building site to a family member for their own personal use as a site for a personal family home, the transaction will be effected by taxation criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14456/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a transfer of a building site, in the circumstances outlined, would have implications for a number of taxes. The person concerned would be well advised to seek specific advice from a tax professional. The general practice is as follows.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

The transfer of a site is a chargeable occasion for the transferor. As the parties are connected the disposal proceeds are taken as the market value of the site at the date of transfer.

The CGT payable is calculated by reference to the difference between the disposal proceeds and the cost of the site 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 a parent transfers a site to a child to enable the child construct a dwelling house for use as his or her only or main residence. For this relief the value of the site must not exceed €254,000 and the size of the site must not exceed 1 acre (excluding the area of the house).

A separate and distinct relief may also apply where an individual, aged 55 years or over, disposes of land which he/she has owned and used for farming or a trade throughout the period of 10 years ending on the disposal. Both reliefs are subject to conditions and in certain circumstances may be clawed back.

Capital Acquisitions Tax (Gift and Inheritance Tax)

The transfer of a site is a gift made to that family member and whether gift tax arises on that gift depends on the circumstances.

For the purpose of Gift and Inheritance Tax, the relationship between the person who provided the gift or inheritance (the disponer) and the person who received the gift or inheritance (the beneficiary), determines the maximum tax-free threshold- known as the " Group threshold". Apart from the total exemption of transfers between spouses, there are three Group thresholds based on the relationship of the beneficiary to the disponer and these Group thresholds are indexed annually by reference to the Consumer Price Index as published by the Central Statistics Office.

The indexed Group thresholds for 2007 are as follows:

Group A: €496,824. This applies to gifts/inheritances received by a child, a stepchild and a foster child from a parent. Group A also applies in certain circumstances to gifts/inheritances received by a parent from a child and by a grandchild from a grandparent.

Group B: €49,682. This applies to gifts/ inheritances received by brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren and parents.

Group C: €24,841. This applies to gifts/ inheritances received by a beneficiary who does not come under Group A or B. Any other gifts/inheritances that might have been received by the beneficiary from within the same Group since 5 December 1991 will also be taken into account when applying the threshold for the purposes of calculating the gift/inheritance tax on the donation of the building site. If the total value of all gifts and inheritances received by the beneficiary since this date from within the same Group is above the threshold figure, then a 20% rate of gift/ inheritance tax will apply on the excess over the threshold figure.

Finally, where both Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) both arise on a gift of an asset, the CGT paid can be allowed as a credit or offset against the CAT liability.

Stamp Duty

A gift of a building site attracts a stamp duty liability on the basis of the market value of the site transferred. The normal stamp duty payable is reduced by 50% where the gift is between family members who are related to a certain degree (e.g. parents, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews).

Section 83A of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999 provides for an exemption from stamp duty where a parent transfers a site to a child to enable the child construct a dwelling house for use as his or her only or main residence. As is the case with Capital Gains Tax, the value of the site must not exceed €254,000 and the size of the site must not exceed 1 acre (excluding the area of the house).

Paul Kehoe

Question:

244 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if, due to the delay in on-farm inspections in order to approve the payment of grants, he will take action to alleviate the necessity of farmers having to submit the original invoice in respect of the VAT refunds (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14553/07]

The position is that claims made by unregistered farmers for refund of VAT are made under the Value Added Tax (Refund of Tax) (No. 25) Order, 1993.

Under this Order farmers are required to submit original invoices in support of the claim. However, as explained in the claim form, where farmers want to have the original invoices returned to them, they should also enclose a set of photocopies. I understand from the Revenue Commissioners that, when requested, the original invoices are returned without delay.

Road Signage.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

245 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if signage will be improved on all approach roads to an abbey (details supplied) in County Wexford in order to cater for visitors from outside the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14567/07]

The OPW have been liaising with the National Roads Authority (NRA) recently in relation to their new guidelines governing the introduction of signage on public roads. It is intended, following these discussions, to assess the position regarding all signage, including the site in question.

Tax Code.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

246 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Galway is entitled to a refund of stamp duty paid on a house which they purchased in view of the fact that they are a single parent and in receipt of social welfare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14585/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, based on the details given in the deed which was executed in this case, the person referred to by the Deputy is not a first time buyer. Accordingly, stamp duty at the rate of 5% (amounting to €13,500) was assessed and paid on a secondhand residential property costing €270,000. There is no statutory provision for exemption or relief from stamp duty for single parents or individuals in receipt of social welfare payments.

Flood Relief.

Michael Ring

Question:

247 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance if a report has been carried out (details supplied); if he will provide this Deputy with a copy of same; and the action the Office of Public Works will take if the local authority will not deal with this issue through the planning process. [14591/07]

Michael Ring

Question:

248 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance the information which the Office of Public Works has in relation to a channel of a river (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will provide a copy of it to this Deputy. [14592/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 247 and 248 together.

Mayo County Council sought a hydrological analysis of the impact of the development in question from the developer. In this context, the Council requested details of any data available to the OPW in relation to the condition of the channel. The Commissioners replied on 2nd April. A copy of this letter will be provided to the Deputy. The OPW drawings referred to in the letter are available for viewing in OPW's office in Headford.

The enforcement of planning requirements is a matter for the Local Authority. The OPW will continue to work with Mayo County Council to reduce the risk of flooding in Crossmolina. Mitigating works are currently being undertaken by the Council as a preliminary to a joint study to identify a comprehensive solution to the problem.

Firearms Licences.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

249 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Finance if the increases in firearms licence fees provided for in the Finance Act 2007 were recommended by the Department of Justice. Equality and Law Reform; if other submissions were considered by him in determining the rate of increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14618/07]

Richard Bruton

Question:

254 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the reason for the scale of increase in firearm licence fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14769/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

255 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if he has received correspondence in relation to firearms licence fees; his plans to address this issue in early course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14824/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 249, 254 and 255 together.

At the request of the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform, the Finance Act 2007 provided for new three-year rates for Firearm Certificates and for registration duties for Firearm Dealers to replace the existing annual rates and the introduction of four new categories of certificate/authorisation/licence. This move follows provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which require that firearm certificates and firearms dealers registrations will be renewable every 3 years from the date of issue/registration. The administration of firearm certificates is dealt with by the Garda Síochána with the excise duty collected being remitted to the Revenue Commissioners.

The rationale for moving from an annual to a three-year lifespan for these certificates/ registrations is primarily to free up Garda time and resources. Because there are 170,000 registered firearms in circulation, currently there is considerable time spent in ensuring compliance in this area. These changes come into effect on 31 December 2007.

Excise duty rates on firearm certificates and firearms dealer registrations were last increased in the Finance Act 1992 and consequently it was deemed appropriate that they be adjusted to take account of CPI increases since then. Therefore the new rates take account of i) the fact that the new rates now covers three years rather than one year, and ii) inflation since 1992 (i.e. 15 years). My Department has received a number of representations with respect to these changes.

Tax Collection.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

250 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners will consider a grant of postponement of liability to the collection of the inheritance tax on hardship grounds in the circumstances of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14675/07]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that under the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 the Revenue Commissioners do not have the power to waive gift or inheritance tax properly due. However Section 59 of that Act does provide for the postponement of tax by the Commissioners where excessive hardship would be involved. The Revenue Commissioners Statement of Practice (SP-CAT/1/90) outlines the practice and procedure to be followed in relation to applications for postponement of payment of tax and each case is examined on an individual basis. The Statement of Practice can be accessed on the Revenue Commissioners Website: www.revenue.ie.

However, given the circumstances of the person concerned he may be entitled to claim dwelling house relief under Section 151 of the Finance Act 2000 on this inheritance. This Section provides that inheritances of a dwelling house taken on or after 1 December 1999 will be exempt from capital acquisitions tax provided that the following conditions are complied with—

the recipient must have occupied the dwelling house continuously as his or her only or main residence for a period of three years prior to the date of the gift or inheritance

the recipient must not at the date of the gift or inheritance be beneficially entitled to any other dwelling-house or to any interest in any other dwelling house

the recipient must continue, except where such recipient was aged 55 years at the date of the inheritance, or has died, to occupy that dwelling-house as his or her only or main residence for a period of 6 years commencing on the date of the gift or inheritance.

If the person concerned has any further queries in relation to the dwelling house exemption he can contact the staff of the Revenue Commissioners Capital Acquisitions Tax Advisory Unit on Lo-call 1890 20 11 04 who will provide him with any further information required. Further information is also available on the Revenue Commissioners Website: www.revenue.ie.

Tax Code.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

251 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if there are tax reliefs available for high performance athletes for the costs incurred in their training, equipment and attending competition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14676/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there are no specific tax reliefs available for high performance athletes. However, there are a number of general provisions in the tax code which may apply to some high performance athletes where those athletes are engaged in athletic performance on a professional for profit basis. In such cases, a professional athlete would be entitled, for tax purposes, to set against his or her earnings from athletic performance all costs incurred in training and attending competitions where those costs are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of his or her athletic profession. Capital allowances may also be available for expenditure incurred on the purchase of equipment for use by such a professional athlete for the purposes of his or her training or performing as an athlete. Capital allowances would allow the cost of any such equipment to be written off over 8 years at the rate of 12.5% per annum.

In addition, section 480A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 makes provision for relief from income tax in respect of certain earnings of sportspersons listed in Schedule 23A of that Act. The sportspersons concerned are: athlete, badminton player, boxer, cyclist, footballer, golfer, jockey, motor racing driver, rugby player, squash player, swimmer and tennis player. The earnings to which the relief applies are earnings deriving directly from actual participation in the sport concerned such as prize money and performance fees, but not other earnings such as sponsorship fees, advertisement income or income from endorsements. The relief takes the form of a deduction from earnings equal to 40% of those earnings for up to any ten years of assessment back to and including the tax year 1990/91 for which the sportsperson was resident in the State. The relief is given by way of repayment of tax and is claimed in the year in which the sportsperson ceases permanently to be engaged in that sport provided they are resident in the State in that year. There are provisions whereby relief granted may be withdrawn if the person subsequently recommences participation in that sport, though this does not prevent a subsequent claim for the relief if and when the sportsperson finally retires at a later time.

I would also point out that over €274 million has been allocated by the Government to Sports and Recreation Services for 2007, a 41% increase on the figure for 2006. This includes an allocation of over €2 million to Ireland's elite athletes and players in grants under the International Carding Scheme administered by the Irish Sports Council, which is the statutory body responsible for the development of sport. This scheme provides direct support in terms of grant-aid and indirect support in terms of sport science and medical backup to athletes.

Departmental Offices.

Richard Bruton

Question:

252 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance when building will commence on the offices for the District Vet Office for County Leitrim based in Drumshanbo; when tenders will be sought for construction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14767/07]

Tenders have recently been received and are currently being examined. It is anticipated that a contract will be awarded by mid May with work commencing on site in June 2007.

Richard Bruton

Question:

253 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the cost to his Department regarding the provision of temporary offices for the DVO for County Leitrim based in Drumshanbo; and the rental cost and other maintenance costs per year to the Office of Public Works of the same building. [14768/07]

The annual rent for the provision of temporary office accommodation for the District Veterinary Office in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim is €51,500 plus VAT. The cost of fitting out the offices to the requirements of the Department of Agriculture & Food was €130,000 plus VAT.

Questions Nos. 254 and 255 answered with Question No. 249.

Tax Code.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

256 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the tax relief available to commuters who travel by train to work. [14842/07]

Section 118(5A) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for an exemption from benefit-in-kind tax where an employer provides a monthly/ annual rail or bus pass to employees or directors. From 1 January 2004 this also includes passes for travel on the Luas. The exemption was further extended with effect from the 1 January 2005 to include passes for travel on commuter ferry services which operate within the State in respect of journeys which begin and end in the State.

The bus, rail or ferry pass is one that is issued by either:

CIE or any of its subsidiaries (e.g. Bus Eireann, Iarnrod Eireann, Bus Atha Cliath); or

a private bus operator holding a passenger licence under Section 7 of the Road Transport Act 1932; or

a person who provides a passenger transport service under an arrangement entered into by CIE in accordance with Section 13(1) of the Transport Act 1950; or

a person who has entered into an arrangement with the Railway Procurement Agency, in accordance with section 43(6) of the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001 to operate a railway; or

a person who provides a ferry service within the State, operating a vessel which holds a current valid (1) passenger ship safety certificate, (2) passenger boat licence, or (3) high-speed craft safety certificate, issued by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. It is to be noted that this exemption applies only where passes are purchased by the employer and given to the employees.

Additionally, in the specific context of the provision of bus/rail and ferry passes, the exemption referred to above may also apply where employees agree to sacrifice salary with the employer purchasing the train, bus or rail pass with such salary sacrificed by the employee. In this latter context, the conditions to apply for the tax exemption to apply are as follows

there must be a bona fide and enforceable alteration to the terms and conditions of employment (exercising a choice of benefit instead of salary);

the alteration must not be retrospective and must be evidenced in writing;

there must be no entitlement to exchange the benefit for cash;

the choice exercised (i.e. a benefit instead of cash) cannot be made more frequently than once a year and then only with the consent of the employer.

Where the conditions are met:

the employee will not be chargeable to tax on the remuneration sacrificed; and

the corresponding amount paid by the employer to provide a monthly or annual bus/rail or ferry pass will not be regarded as a taxable perquisite.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

257 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if an application for tax refund on refuse charges has been received from a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and when he expects a decision on same. [14857/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that an application for tax refund on refuse charges has been received and was processed on 16 April. Notices of assessment have issued for 2004, 2005 and 2006. A tax refund of €316.59 arises for the year 2005 and a cheque for this amount issued on 19 April. There is no refund due for 2004 and 2006 as no tax was paid in those years. An amended certificate of tax credits dated 16 April issued to the person's employer for the current year and his employer, through the operation of the PAYE system, will make any refund due for this year.

Political Representations.

Joan Burton

Question:

258 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of representations from TDs that the Revenue Commissioners have received for each of the years, 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007; the number of representations received by the Revenue Commissioners from himself for each of these years; the number of his representations that resulted in a payment being made to the person on whose behalf the representation was made for each of these years; the total sum paid out as a result of the representations from him for each of the years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14873/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that 816 representations were received from TDs in 2005 and 854 in 2006. Figures for 2007 are not available in the time available and will be sent to the Deputy as soon as possible. (The figures for each year may not include a small number of representations which would have been made on Human Resource matters related to Revenue staff). Revenue figures indicate that they received 130 representations from me in 2005, 94 in 2006 and 53 to date in 2007.

Political representations are a longstanding feature of a parliamentary democracy and both Revenue and the members of the Oireachtas have traditionally operated on a strict understanding of the constraints within which such representations must function. While members of the Oireachtas, including members of the Government, reserve the right to articulate a constituent's concerns, it is accepted that the Revenue Commissioners must remain steadfastly independent in their interpretation and application of the law as enacted.

I assure the Deputy, and the Revenue Commissioners confirm, that payments are not made as a result of such representations being made by me or anyone else. Where a payment is made by Revenue, it is always on the basis of entitlement to the payment and a valid claim having been made or requisite information having been provided.

The Revenue Commissioners have indicated that they are satisfied that all such representations are dealt with in a professional manner, at an appropriate level in their offices.

Flood Relief.

Michael Ring

Question:

259 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance if a local authority (details supplied) has carried out a report on an issue; if this report has been carried out; the proposals that have been made; and the estimated cost to resolve the problems which have been iden